NHL Power Rankings: 32 stats. One for every team
Thursday was American Thanksgiving, an important day on the NHL calendar. It’s when the season is one-quarter done and when the playoff race really starts becoming meaningful. It’s when small sample sizes become actual trends to watch.
It’s also a day free from games on the NHL schedule, which gave us some extra time to dig deeper. Dom usually does that every two weeks with ‘16 Stats,’ but because we’re so thankful for you, our beloved and loyal readers, we’ve decided to double the fun this week. Twice as many stats! 32 Stats!
Every team ranked, one stat for every team. Let’s go.
Last Week: 2
Dom rank: 1
Sean rank: 1
We could start with the most important stat for the league’s best team: odds of winning the Stanley Cup. The Bruins rank first at the moment at 22 percent and that shouldn’t be a shock for anyone who has watched them run over the league — with and without Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy.
But there’s one subtle key to Boston’s dominance, one that started last season: splitting up The Perfection Line. That’s not possible without Jake DeBrusk’s emergence, which has allowed Boston to run two dominant lines, creating arguably the league’s best top six.
DeBrusk was put on Boston’s top line in late February last season and since then has looked like a changed man offensively. In 32 games last year he scored 16 goals and 25 points and has kept that pace up this year with 16 points in 19 games. In 51 games on the top line, DeBrusk has 23 goals and 41 points — a 37-goal, 66-point pace. Not bad at all.
The Bruins are 17-3-0 this year, but they were also 22-9-1 in their final 32 games last year with DeBrusk on the top line. Is 39-12-1 good?
Last Week: 1
Dom rank: 2
Sean rank: 2
The Devils’ 13-game win streak was snapped Wednesday night, so let’s marvel a bit at their numbers during that streak.
Goals Percentage: 74.8 (1st)
Goals For: 3.64 (1st)
Goals Against: 1.22 (1st)
Expected Goals Percentage: 61.5 (1st)
Expected Goals For: 3.33 (2nd)
Expected Goals Against: 2.09 (2nd)
Power Play Goals: 9.61 (9th)
Power Play Expected Goals: 9.36 (6th)
Penalty Kill Goals Against: 7.26 (11th)
Penalty Kill Expected Goals Against: 6.23 (5th)
The Devils were dominant in every inch of the ice during every game situation. That’s very hard to do over 13 games and they’ve more than deserved their record. The Devils started the season with a 43 percent chance at making the playoffs. That’s above 99.5 percent now, the largest increase of any team. It would take an absolutely catastrophic collapse for this team to miss after this start — and what they’ve shown from this start.
Last Week: 3
Dom rank: 3
Sean rank: 3
Last year, Alex Pietrangelo seemed ready to bounce back. It’s not that his first year in Vegas was bad, per se — it just wasn’t $8.8 million AAV good. The Golden Knights signed him to be a Norris-tier, No. 1 guy. Season No. 2 was nothing great either, featuring him playing huge minutes for a team that seemed cursed from the outset. In any case, two straight years of “whatever” is more than a blip on the radar, and certainly reason enough to stop assuming a return to form. That’s what Pietrangelo has done, though. He’s at a point per game, and Vegas is controlling better than 62 percent of expected goals with him on the ice. That’s tops among regular defensemen not on the Devils. What we’ve got here is a legitimately great season (so far) from a player with major pedigree. Sound like a Norris finalist to anyone else?
Last Week: 5
Dom rank: 4
Sean rank: 4
Jason Robertson is tied for the league lead in GSVA. He’s on a 13-game point streak and is tied for the league lead in goals.
Nobody should be all that surprised by that, though, so we’re going to drop another set of numbers here; Jamie Benn has 19 points in 11 games since Nov. 1 with an actual goals rate of 70 and an expected rate of 55. If that sticks — if Dallas gets legit, sustained production from Benn and Tyler Seguin — the Stars are going to have themselves a fun season.
Last Week: 6
Dom rank: 5
Sean rank: 5
When the Avs spent three mid-round picks and about $10 million on Alexander Georgiev after a rough season behind Igor Shesterkin, there were two reasons to like the deal. First, playing behind a Vezina winner is probably tougher than we realize. Second, Colorado has turned into a goalie haven. Lo and behold, Georgiev is holding up his end of the bargain (.929 save percentage, 5.9 GSAx) and then some. He and Pavel Francouz have helped Colorado’s skaters outrun a sluggish start to their Stanley Cup defense.
— NHL (@NHL) November 22, 2022
Last Week: 8
Dom rank: 6
Sean rank: 9
The Leafs lost yet another overtime game this week with what might have been some of the worst puck management the format has ever seen — and we’ve watched a lot of overtime hockey to make that claim. Toronto has been a three-on-three disaster this year and it’s difficult to pinpoint which stat encapsulates the team’s struggles best. Here are a few.
In seven minutes of three-on-three action so far the Leafs have given up four goals. They’ve only taken three shots on net.
Those four goals equate to 33.3 goals against per 60, well above the previous league high of 18.4 and Toronto’s average of 7.0 over the previous six seasons.
The same goes for the team’s expected goals against of 12.1 per 60, again, above the previous league high of 9.3, and nearly double the team’s usual chances allowed of 6.4.
The Leafs have been a bit unlucky in overtime this season, sure, but they have also been historically bad in the extra frame. It’s unlike them, but they’ve deserved their losses there so far.
Last Week: 10
Dom rank: 7
Sean rank: 8
At what point are we allowed to mention that Victor Hedman has a 47-percent expected goals rate and that his 3.45 expected goals against per 60 is the 12th worst mark in the league?
This could just be a shaky stretch for one of the best defensemen of all time. It could be Hedman not being 100 percent after an injury earlier this year. It might just be having to carry Cal Foote around for nearly half his minutes. It might also be having to play tougher minutes without Ryan McDonagh around.
Maybe it’s all of the above.
In any sense, Hedman’s results so far aren’t very Hedman-like. The Lightning are still on a 99-point pace and could improve further once Hedman picks up his game — but it’s still a worrying start to the season.
Last Week: 7
Dom rank: 10
Sean rank: 6
We’re at two straight weeks’ worth of compliments for the Jets. Since Nov. 1, they’re fourth in the league in expected goals percentage at 55.1 percent as they start to generate plenty of chances offensively and limit them the other way.
Sure, the Wild stomped them on Wednesday night, but they’re in the process of answering a whole bunch of questions in a way that should make folks in Winnipeg very pleased. Elite five-on-five play behind Connor Hellebuyck? Yep, that’d work.
Last Week: 4
Dom rank: 9
Sean rank: 7
As the Hurricanes fight through a run of rough goaltending, it’s probably more worth noting that Jesperi Kotkaniemi has three points in 20 games and the worst expected goals percentage on the roster. When is it time to start worrying about that contract? Kotkaniemi is 22. This is his fifth NHL season. At some point, the production has to live up to the price. He’s been worth exactly zero wins so far this season.
Last Week: 12
Dom rank: 11
Sean rank: 10
Thanks in part to Martin Jones, there are Kraken skaters going on a PDO (on-ice shooting percentage plus save percentage) bender. Imagine that. At the top of the list is Morgan Geekie, who through 16 games, somehow, was above 120. The full season record is around 108. He got there with a 24.0 percent on-ice shooting percentage, a .985 save percentage and personally scoring on 33 percent of his shots.
Last Week: 9
Dom rank: 8
Sean rank: 13
Why aren’t the Panthers higher in the standings? Part of it is that it’s been a struggle to finish chances, specifically for the team’s best players.
Going into Wednesday’s date with Boston, Florida had just four goals combined from Aleksander Barkov, Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett. The Panthers should’ve had closer 13.4. On the power play, Matthew Tkachuk was personally responsible for 4.2 expected goals to this point. He had zero, finally scoring his first against the Bruins. That’s 13.6 goals below expected — and that’s if those four finish at an average rate. They’re usually above. A course correction from the top guys could see the Panthers start climbing the standings closer to where they should be.
12. New York Islanders
Last Week: 11
Dom rank: 12
Sean rank: 11
Can someone get Oliver Wahlstrom some more ice time? His 2.74 points-per-60 at five-on-five this year comfortably lead the team and his 1.1 goals-per-60 are only a shade behind Kyle Palmieri for the team lead. Despite that, Wahlstrom is playing just under 11 minutes a game at five-on-five this season. That’s ninth on the team, only ahead of the fourth line, and a full minute behind anyone else in the top nine. He’s averaging about a minute of power play time, too.
Wahlstrom looks like one of the team’s better offensive weapons and hasn’t been a real liability defensively either. The Islanders would do well putting him in a bigger role.
Last Week: 13
Dom rank: 14
Sean rank: 12
If you read a preseason list of breakout candidates, K’Andre Miller was probably on it. There was plenty of reason for that. Miller’s skill and maturity in his first NHL season stood out. A 22-year-old playing big minutes for a contender is rare, and it seemed like a given he’d build on that in Year 2. By some measures, that hasn’t been the case. He and Jacob Trouba have looked, at times, out of sorts, and they’ve been on the ice for a whole bunch of goals against — but neither of us is planning to sell our stock in Miller. He’s carrying a 54 expected goals percentage (against a 39 percent actual goals rate) and, maybe more than any other Ranger, is getting dinged by Igor Shesterkin’s slow start. New York’s goalies are posting an .880 save percentage with him on the ice, and the skaters are shooting 5.9 percent.
Last Week: 15
Dom rank: 14
Sean rank: 15
Before going without a point against Calgary on Wednesday night, Sidney Crosby had put up 4.26 points-per-60, 11th among players with at last 200 minutes played. The only times he’s finished above 4.0 were in 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 — the three seasons he functionally lost to concussion-related issues. Wrist surgery ahead of last season was all that kept him from hitting 100 points, so this shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but it’s still an impressive (and sustained) run for a 34-35 year old. That guy might be good.
15. Calgary Flames
Last Week: 18
Dom rank: 15
Sean rank: 16
Con: Jonathan Huberdeau, after a 115-point season, has nine in his first 16 games with Calgary.
Pro: Thanks in part to playing lately with Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman, he’s putting up some of the best defensive numbers of his career — a 2.16 xGA/60 would be the lowest of his career, and his 0.92 GA/60 leads the Flames. Calgary’s grand ambitions probably rest on finding a middle ground.
Last Week: 20
Dom rank: 17
Sean rank: 17
The Red Wings would be holding the “Most Improved Team” belt were it not for the Devils, and as The Athletic’s Max Bultman outlined earlier this week, their free-agent group has a whole lot to do with it. Detroit is in playoff position based on points percentage. Where David Perron and Dominik Kubalik particularly help is on the power play; they’ve helped a group that finished last season on a 7-for-58 run (12.0 percent in their last 21 games) move comfortably to the middle of the pack.
The biggest addition continues to be Ville Husso, though. He showed exactly why Wednesday night with a shutout win. He is everything Alex Nedeljkovic wasn’t a year prior, actually delivering on a promising surprise season before becoming a Red Wing. By goals saved above expected he’s been a top 10 goalie this season.
🥳 VILARDI PARTY ON THE WEST COAST 🥳
Gabe Vilardi has now surpassed a previous career best of 10 with his 11th goal of the season in just game 22. 📈 pic.twitter.com/7RV7aCjQnj
— NHL (@NHL) November 23, 2022
Last Week: 14
Dom rank: 19
Sean rank: 15
It feels like the Kings section here has turned into a weekly Gabe Vilardi party. We love a big boy who scores goals, don’t we, folks? The league needs more of them.
Now, in addition to Vilardi already surpassing his career high in goals, which was 10, he also may have taken over as the league’s penalty differential king. Vilardi has drawn 13 and taken just one. Connor McDavid, you’re on notice. Big Gabe is coming for you.
18. Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 17
Dom rank: 16
Sean rank: 19
The Minnesota Wild needed that 6-1 stomping over the Winnipeg Jets. They needed it badly. The Wild have been one of the league’s most electric offensive teams over the past two seasons, but that hasn’t shined through much this season — and November has been particular unkind.
Before the game against the Jets, the Wild were scoring just 1.57 goals per 60 at five-on-five and 3.9 goals per 60 with the man advantage. Those marks ranked 30th and 32nd respectively and help explain Minnesota having just 18 goals in nine games prior to Wednesday.
A six-spot isn’t enough to take Minnesota out of the league’s offensive basement over the last month, but it could be the start of the team regaining its offensive mojo. With Marc-Andre Fleury currently sidelined, they’ll need it.
Last Week: 21
Dom rank: 18
Sean rank: 18
The Blues improbably went on an eight-game losing streak and then, just as improbably, followed that up with a seven-game winning streak. It’s hard to figure out what exactly the Blues are under those circumstances, but at the very least we can compare notes on the two streaks.
The Losing Streak
Expected Goals Percentage: 46.2 (25th)
Goals Percentage: 22.0 (31st)
Power Play Goals: 5.9 (25th)
Penalty Kill Goals Against: 13.4 (31st)
The Winning Streak
Expected Goals Percentage: 52.8 (10th)
Goals Percentage: 70.3 (3rd)
Power Play Goals: 9.8 (13th)
Penalty Kill Goals Against: 9.4 (22nd)
If you ask us, St. Louis should try doing the second thing more than the first thing.
One thing we’ve stressed over the past few seasons is that we’d like to see the Blues control the run of play more. They did just that during the winning streak and continuing that is vital to returning to contention status. With this team’s shooting talent, just being above 50 percent is enough. With the team’s special teams still a big question mark, they’ll need to.
Last Week: 16
Dom rank: 20
Sean rank: 20
Many folks expected the Oilers to be a Cup contender this year after how they played under Jay Woodcroft last season, advancing to the third round. This season has been far from rosy and that’s not just because of Jack Campbell’s struggles. The biggest issue right now is that the team’s top two players are losing their matchups at five-on-five.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are first and second in points this season, on pace for 144 and 127 respectively, but right now they’re a perfect example of points not being the whole story for a player’s effectiveness. Both superstars are doing everything they can right now, but at five-on-five they’ve both been outscored this season. That can’t happen for a team’s top two lines, not one with playoff aspirations — let alone Stanley Cup aspirations.
For McDavid, it’s a whole lot of offensive bad luck that likely won’t continue. Defensively, he’s regressed this season, but on this team his offence should be more than enough to make up for it. Draisaitl’s play is much more concerning. Defensive issues have always been his “but” when measuring his total value and that’s reached critical mass to start the season. It’s easier to overlook his defensive numbers when his expected goals percentage hovers close to 50 percent and he still outscores his opponents. This year, he’s at a career low 45 percent expected goals rate, which currently matches his actual goal rate. Draisaitl’s previous worst expected goals against rate was 2.92 in 2019-20. This year, it’s all the way up to 3.38 — and Edmonton’s goalies are allowing 3.77 goals against when he’s on the ice.
It’s not good enough. A player can score all the points in the world, but you won’t have a contending team if they’re giving it all back the other way. Draisaitl and the Oilers are learning that the hard way.
Last Week: 19
Dom rank: 22
Sean rank: 21
The Predators taking on Ryan McDonagh is starting to look like an all-timer in terms of bad decision-making. McDonagh has been one of the league’s best defenders for a while, but he’s got some serious miles on him and it’s showing. He’s rocking a 43 percent expected goals rate, by far the worst among Nashville’s defensemen. It’s nearly three percentage points worse than the next worst, Jeremy Lauzon, while the team’s top four are above break-even. Ouch.
Last Week: 26
Dom rank: 21
Sean rank: 23
This is becoming a weekly space to talk about one of nature’s greatest wonders: Mt. Tage. Thompson continues to impress and is up to 26 points in 20 games, a 107-point pace. Perhaps even more ridiculous is his personal chance rate. Thompson has 94 shots and 10.5 expected goals in 20 games, both very close to the league lead. On a per 60 basis, Thompson is firing 15.3 shots, which is just a shade behind David Pastrnak this season and the most since Alex Ovechkin’s 17.4 in 2008-09.
Last Week: 23
Dom rank: 23
Sean rank: 22
Martin St. Louis took over as coach of the Canadiens on Feb. 9, 2022. The next day, Cole Caufield scored. In 57 games under St. Louis, Caufield now has 34 goals and 56 points. That’s pretty easy math on the points and puts him at 49-goal pace overall. We’ll bump him up to 50 because he’s just a lil’ guy.
Last Week: 22
Dom rank: 24
Sean rank: 24
The Washington Capitals have a plus-14 penalty differential as a team this year, but they’re not taking advantage of it. Their special teams goal differential is only plus-one and that stems from an unusually weak power play that ranks 24th in the league with 6.7 goals-per-60. The Capitals look like they’re finally ready to ride off into the sunset and a failing power play is a big reason for that.
25. Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 24
Dom rank: 27
Sean rank: 25
It was the Brady Tkachuk conundrum — for all he brings to the table in terms of offensive ability and intangibles, he gave away too much in his own end to stand, truly, as an elite player. This season? Things have changed. Tkachuk’s 4.14 xGF/60 is second in the league behind only his brother. The box-score results are there, too. He’s over a point per game. That kind of production makes Tkachuk’s defensive game much, much less of an issue. It also makes him a star, no questions asked.
Last Week: 29
Dom rank: 26
Sean rank: 27
If you’re looking for one big reason the Canucks’ season careened off the seawall as soon as it began, you’re probably not going to find it. A failure this drastic takes the efforts of many. One change from the past, though, is that Thatcher Demko hasn’t been able to play the eraser. He’s got an .883 save percentage, which is self-evidently bad — but his GSAx of minus-9.18 is 67th in the league. Just two goalies (Alex Nedeljkovic and Elvis Merzlikins) have been worse, and Demko himself was better by a net of 16-17 in each of the last two seasons.
Last Week: 28
Dom rank: 25
Sean rank: 28
Timo Meier went nine games before scoring his first goal of the season, but once he got one he hasn’t looked back. Meier is on a goal-scoring tear that was capped with a hat trick on Wednesday against Seattle. That gives him 12 goals on the year and 12 in his last 13 games. That’s good for eighth in the league thanks to an absurd shot rate of over five per game. He’s putting tons of rubber on net and it’s working wonders for him.
Last Week: 25
Dom rank: 29
Sean rank: 26
Since Oct. 29, the Flyers have gone 2-6-5. In that stretch, they’ve allowed less than 30 shots and won the expected-goals battle three times. Carter Hart has a GSAx of 5.35, sixth best in the league. If he reverts back to the guy we’ve seen the last couple seasons, look out.
Last Week: 30
Dom rank: 28
Sean rank: 29
Against all odds, the Coyotes have the ninth-best power play at 8.7 goals per 60. The Coyotes! Ninth!
The main culprit for that isn’t even Clayton Keller, the team’s one actually decent player — it’s thanks to a second unit featuring Dylan Guenther, Mattias Maccelli and Juuso Valimaki. The trio have played 28 minutes together on the power play and in that time have been on the ice for an astonishing 12.6 goals per 60. For context, McDavid and Draisaitl were at 10.9 last season.
It’s a hot start, but there’s a reason they’re on the second unit, on the Coyotes no less. Despite scoring a lot, the trio aren’t actually generating a lot of chances together and only have an expected goals rate of 5.3 per 60. They’ll come back down to earth shortly.
Last Week: 27
Dom rank: 31
Sean rank: 30
Good news for Chicago? They’re probably not going to have to worry about a botched tank job all that much longer, given November’s 35 percent expected and 25 percent actual goals rates.
Last Week: 31
Dom rank: 30
Sean rank: 31
From month to month, the Blue Jackets have had an incredible glow up on the power play. In November, the team has fired 11.3 expected goals per 60 at the net, the second best rate in the league, and have been rewarded for it with 12.5 goals per 60, the third-best mark in the league. That’s a huge turnaround from the opening month where Columbus was 29th in expected goals per 60 (6.1) and 32nd in actual goals (1.4).
Last Week: 32
Dom rank: 32
Sean rank: 32
It feels like we’re doomed to shoot for new, creative ways to convey just how bad at everything the Ducks have been this season. Last week, they were last (or close to it) in all your favorite categories. Nothing has changed. Well, they did finally win in regulation. How about this one, though: Anaheim has the worst penalty kill in the league, partially due to its passivity — Anaheim’s 0.25 xGF/60 is ahead of only the Sharks, who at least limit chances and goals more effectively. Not our Ducks, though.
Data via Evolving Hockey, Natural Stat Trick, Hockey Reference, Hockey Stat Cards, NHL
(Top photo: Fred Kfoury III / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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