NHL Power Rankings: Predators vault to 2nd, Ducks take huge leap

theScore Staff
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 14: Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators controls the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on October 14, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Predators 2-1 in overtime.
Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images Sport / Getty

theScore's NHL Power Rankings are published every other Monday. Our 10th installment is put together by editors Josh Wegman, Flip Livingstone, and Cory Wilkins.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning (38-14-3)

Previously: 1st

The Lightning have been the best team in the league from the get-go, and they show no signs of slowing down. There's a chance they could finish the season with the Vezina, Norris, Hart, Art Ross, and Rocket Richard trophy winners on their roster. That's absurd. - Wegman

2. Nashville Predators (33-12-9) ▲

Previously: 5th

Though the Predators remain behind the Golden Knights in the standings, the return of Filip Forsberg - perhaps one of the league's most underrated players - makes them the NHL's second-best team. Moreover, they seem to be picking up steam, compiling a record of 10-1-3 in their last 14 games. - Wegman

3. Vegas Golden Knights (36-15-4) ▼

Previously: 2nd

It's crazy that seven wins in their last 13 games is considered a rough patch for the Golden Knights, but that's the reality. If it weren't for the surging Predators, they'd likely remain in the No. 2 spot. - Wegman

4. Boston Bruins (34-12-8) ▼

Previously: 3rd

The Bruins have been on a remarkable run, losing just five times in regulation since mid-November. In fact, their loss to Buffalo Saturday was Tuukka Rask's first regulation defeat since Nov. 26. They too have become a victim of the red-hot Preds. - Wegman

5. Winnipeg Jets (32-15-9) ▼

Previously: 4th

Winnipeg managed to go 11-2-3 with Mark Scheifele sidelined. Blake Wheeler filled in admirably down the middle during that stretch, giving head coach Paul Maurice endless lineup combinations to use with his top center back in the fold. - Wegman

6. Toronto Maple Leafs (33-19-5) ▲

Previously: 8th

The Maple Leafs are 7-1-0 since promoting Mitch Marner to the second line alongside Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau. Marner has as many goals (six) in that span as he did in his previous 49 games, and Kadri has also elevated his play, picking up 10 points during that stretch. A potent second line has made the Leafs a matchup nightmare for opposing coaches. - Wegman

7. St. Louis Blues (34-21-3) ▼

Previously: 6th

Can Carter Hutton maintain his otherworldly play in net? Will Doug Armstrong be able to add a scoring winger to aid a middling offense? Will Joel Edmundson's injury loom larger than one might think? There are questions that need to be answered with the Blues, but regardless, they're still one of the more well-rounded teams in the NHL. - Wegman

8. Dallas Stars (33-20-4) ▲

Previously: 10th

The Stars are the only team in the league to have four players with at least 50 points: John Klingberg, Alexander Radulov, Tyler Seguin, and Jamie Benn. The latter three rival the Bruins' trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak for the title of the league's best line. The Stars will go as far as their top unit takes them, and right now, they're on fire. - Wegman

9. Washington Capitals (32-16-6) ▼

Previously: 7th

Washington isn't going to win a third straight Presidents' Trophy, but it still remains the class of the Metro at this point, and that says a lot given how competitive the division is this year. - Wegman

10. Pittsburgh Penguins (31-22-4) ▲

Previously: 12th

The Penguins appear to have turned a corner, and that's incredibly scary for the other 30 teams in the league. They're 6-1-1 in their last eight games, and Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel are rolling. - Wegman

11. Minnesota Wild (30-19-6) ▲

Previously: 13th

There is no denying that the Wild are a group knocking on the postseason door, but that is likely the ceiling. Minny has the unfortunate trait of being a bubble team that is rather average in terms of top-end talent. Deadline improvements will be needed to book a ticket for playoff puck. - Livingstone

12. Anaheim Ducks (27-19-11) ▲

Previously: 17th

The Ducks have struggled to stay healthy this season. But, with Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler back in the lineup and the rest of the roster at full health, Anaheim is a completely different squad. Don't sleep on the Ducks, as they are a deep group with an outside shot at making some noise come April. - Livingstone

13. Los Angeles Kings (30-20-5) ▲

Previously: 18th

L.A. has gone 4-2 since the All-Star break, but those two losses came against the Lightning and Predators, arguably the two best teams in the league. With that and Jeff Carter's pending return in mind, the Kings are a side that no team will want to deal with in the first round. - Livingstone

14. Calgary Flames (29-19-8) ▼

Previously: 9th

Six losses in their last 10 see the Flames sputtering at the most crucial point of the season. Their top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Micheal Ferlund, and Sean Monahan has been lights out, but after that, Calgary's offense leaves something to be desired. Expect GM Brad Treliving to be a very busy man over the next two weeks in search of some added scoring. - Livingstone

15. San Jose Sharks (30-18-8) ▼

Previously: 11th

The Sharks have only missed the postseason twice since 1997. Let that sink in for a second. So, it should come as no surprise that San Jose finds itself firmly in the mix for one of the three Pacific Division playoff spots. Joe Thornton and Joel Ward are out for the foreseeable future, so don't be shocked if the Sharks make a move for some depth up front. - Livingstone

16. Philadelphia Flyers (28-19-9) ▼

Previously: 15th

Special teams continue to be the Flyers' biggest strength and weakness, as Philly sits sixth in power-play efficiency and third-last in penalty killing. A sensational top-six forward group that includes three players (Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Jakub Voracek) in the top 20 in points will need added reinforcements on the blue line if the Flyers want to compete for a Cup. - Livingstone

17. Colorado Avalanche (30-21-4) ▼

Previously: 14th

Considering last year's dumpster fire of a season, the rest of this campaign for the upstart Avalanche has to be considered gravy, as Colorado has taken a big step forward. The Avalanche are within striking distance in the West, but with burgeoning superstar Nathan MacKinnon out for the next couple of weeks, Colorado will be in tough to maintain its position. - Livingstone

18. Columbus Blue Jackets (28-23-4) ▼

Previously: 16th

A preseason pick by many to be in contention for the Cup, Columbus has struggled mightily to score all year, netting an embarrassing 141. Only the lowly Coyotes and Sabres have fewer goals, and that certainly is not enough to get the job done in the high-flying Metro Division. - Livingstone

19. New York Islanders (27-24-6)

Previously: 19th

The Islanders play an exciting brand of offensive-minded hockey, which has led them to scoring an impressive 190 goals - only the Lightning have more (196). Unfortunately, New York happens to lead the league in goals allowed and owns potentially the least reliable goaltending duo in the NHL with Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss. - Livingstone

20. New Jersey Devils (27-20-8)

Previously: 20th

New Jersey is picking a really bad time to play some of its worst hockey of the season. Losses in seven out of their last 10 contests have the Devils trending in the wrong direction and Cory Schneider's groin injury adds even more reason for concern. - Livingstone

21. Carolina Hurricanes (26-21-9) ▲

Previously: 23rd

The postseason is a priority for the Canes under new owner Tom Dundon, whose gone as far as stuffing the arena to create a playoff-like atmosphere. The Hurricanes are in the thick of the race in the East and could make their first appearance to the dance since 2009. - Wilkins

22. New York Rangers (27-24-5) ▼

Previously: 21st

The firesale is underway in Manhattan, with management acknowledging that some short-term pain is in order to restock for the future. That means fans could see some familiar faces shipped out ahead of the deadline, from veteran winger Rick Nash to captain Ryan McDonagh. - Wilkins

23. Chicago Blackhawks (24-23-8) ▼

Previously: 22nd

Years of cap challenges always meant the Blackhawks could miss the playoffs this season, but who saw Chicago sitting last in the Central Division and double-digit points back of the pack? That's led to Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman announcing his team is unlikely to be a buyer this deadline. - Wilkins

24. Florida Panthers (23-23-6) ▲

Previously: 27th

Not yet out of the mix, the Panthers can thank relief goaltender Harri Sateri for keeping alive the team's slim playoff hopes. With regulars Roberto Luongo and James Reimer on the sidelines, Sateri has shined, including a recent run that saw him post four straight victories. - Wilkins

25. Edmonton Oilers (23-27-4) ▲

Previously: 28th

This wasn't the sort of season Oilers fans and GM Peter Chiarelli had in mind. Edmonton is a seller heading toward the deadline, and the biggest decision could be what to do with Connor McDavid's linemate, Patrick Maroon, who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Maroon has netted 40 goals over the past two seasons and could command a significant raise to stick in Edmonton. - Wilkins

26. Detroit Red Wings (22-23-9) ▼

Previously: 24th

Defensive depth serves well in the playoffs, and the Red Wings have a prime trade chip ahead of the deadline in veteran rearguard Mike Green. Recouping young assets for the experienced defender will do a lot to further the Red Wings' rebuild, as would moving either goaltender Jimmy Howard or Petr Mrazek to a club needing to shore up its crease. - Wilkins

27. Montreal Canadiens (22-26-7) ▼

Previously: 25th

The wandering Canadiens would be well-served to follow suit of the Rangers and restock their prospect cupboard in the coming weeks. While long-term commitments to Carey Price and Shea Weber mean the Canadiens are still built to win now, that shouldn't stop GM Marc Bergevin from moving the likes of Tomas Plekanec, and possibly captain Max Pacioretty, for younger assets. - Wilkins

28. Ottawa Senators (19-26-9) ▲

Previously: 29th

Like many clubs at the bottom, the Senators recognize the playoffs aren't happening this year, and it's in the team's best interest to sell some veteran players in return for young talent. Recently extended GM Pierre Dorion won't move star players Erik Karlsson and Mark Stone, but anyone else could potentially be available. - Wilkins

29. Vancouver Canucks (22-28-6) ▼

Previously: 26th

Rookie sensation Brock Boeser, who's sure to be a Calder candidate at season's end, is a sign of what's to come in Vancouver. While this season is lost, more reinforcements are on the way with Swedish standout Elias Pettersson and up-and-coming Finnish blue-liner Olli Juolevi. - Wilkins

30. Buffalo Sabres (16-30-10)

Previously: 30th

Times are already tough in Buffalo, and the news that superstar Jack Eichel will be out of the lineup long term doesn't help matters. Should the Sabres move out other key pieces such as netminder Robin Lehner or scoring winger Evander Kane prior to Feb. 26, it'll be even more of a challenge for Buffalo to find the win column in the season's final stretch. - Wilkins

31. Arizona Coyotes (13-32-10)

Previously: 31st

With no playoffs coming to the desert for the sixth straight year, the focus turns to who is sticking around for the future. Goaltender Antti Raanta is a pending unrestricted free agent, while star blue-liner Oliver Ekman-Larsson can put his name on a long-term extension as soon as July 1. - Wilkins

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)