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NHL Power Rankings – February 29th

There’s a new team at the top in the latest edition of our NHL Power Rankings!

1 – Florida Panthers (39-16-4)

With twelve wins in their last fourteen games, Florida is now the top team in the Atlantic division. As of February 29th, Sam Reinhart is still the team’s top scorer, but Matt Tkachuk has been on a tear in 2024 and will most likely overtake him before the end of the season. In fact, only Nikita Kucherov and Connor McDavid have more points than Tkachuk since January 1st. Florida’s best-case scenario for the rest of the season would definitely be winning the division. However, depending on where Tampa Bay finishes, they might be totally fine with having New York beat them out for the conference’s overall top seed. Of the two current wild card teams, I would much rather see the Red Wings than the Bolts in the first round.

2 – New York Rangers (40-17-3)

 Like Florida, the Rangers have been one of the league’s hottest teams recently. With a record of 10-1-0 in their last eleven, they’re now seven points clear of the Carolina Hurricanes at the top of the Metro division. Artemi Panarin leads the way statistically by a considerable margin, but the Rangers have seen good seasons from a number of players, which may be a great thing for them down the road. Again, like Florida, New York’s best-case scenario would be winning a division and drawing anyone but the Lightning in the first round. It’s hard to imagine Florida or New York would take the top overall seed and play Tampa Bay over settling for the second seed and hosting a team like Detroit, Philadelphia, or New Jersey if the cards end up falling that way.

3 – Vancouver Canucks (38-16-7)

February wasn’t fantastic for the Canucks, but they’re still the top team in the West with a favorable schedule coming up in March. As of February 29th, they’ve won more games than any other team in the conference and have the best goal differential as well. Elias Pettersson hasn’t been at his best, but hopefully for the team and the fans, he’ll find his groove in the coming weeks before playoffs. Vancouver’s best-case scenario would definitely be seeing Pettersson lead the team to the conference’s top seed and drawing a team like Nashville in the first round. Even without the playoff experience, the Canucks will be a large threat in the postseason if they come in firing on all cylinders. 

4 – Boston Bruins (34-12-14)

Seven of Boston’s last eight games have been decided in overtime or shootout. Clearly, it’s been a very stressful few weeks for the team and fans alike, especially considering they’ve only won two of those contests. However, the Bs still find themselves right behind Florida in the Metro Division with a very realistic chance of winning the division. In an ideal world, Boston would make a few additions before the trade deadline to get them ready for a postseason run. It’s certainly a plus having two great goaltenders, but if Boston could flip Linus Ullmark for an established forward, the team could be better for it come playoffs.

5 – Winnipeg Jets (37-15-5)

As of February 29th, the Jets are the top team in their division with four games in hand on Dallas and three on Colorado. Because winning the Central is so important due to the two teams they’re competing with, it’s imperative that they keep their position at the top for the rest of the season. Having Connor Hellebuyck in the crease certainly helps, as the American goaltender is starting to emerge as the frontrunner for the Vezina Trophy. Obviously, if the Jets had it their way, they’d be the top seed in the conference as the conclusion of the regular season. No one wants to go up against Colorado or Dallas in the first round, but a meeting with the Predators, Kings, Flames or Blues wouldn’t be the worst thing at all. 

In the West, there really isn’t a Lightning-level threat lurking near the wild card, and because of that, everyone in the mix should be solely focused on getting the top position.

6 – Carolina Hurricanes (35-18-6)

The Canes don’t make a ton of noise, but they sure are a solid hockey team that seems to be hitting their stride at the right time. In their last fourteen games, Rod Brind’Amour’s team is 10-3-1 and now sit comfortably in second place in the Metro on February 29th. The team only has three players with more than 40 points and none over 65, but they win with depth and defence. In the playoffs, that can be a very dangerous combination. They’ve gone to the Conference Finals twice in the last five years, but the window to win does seem to be closing slightly. Of course, they’d love to overtake New York at the top of the division, but if the standings stay the same, a first round matchup with Philadelphia would be a pretty good result as well.  

7 – Toronto Maple Leafs (33-17-8)

Is this the year? As everyone knows, the Maple Leafs have been a great regular season team that can’t seem to get it done in the playoffs for quite some time now. Although the team makeup is very similar to that of years past, it’s always hard not to get excited about a team with the amount of star power that Toronto has. In their best-case scenario, either Joseph Woll or Ilya Samsonov will emerge as a clear number one goaltender in the coming months before playoffs. Samsonov was great last season, but it’s been a different story this year, while Woll had been playing very well before getting injured earlier this season. Now that he’s back, someone needs to take control and instill confidence in everyone that they can get the job done in the big moments.

8 – Edmonton Oilers (35-20-2)

Some regression was undoubtedly coming for Edmonton after their sixteen-game winning streak, but the Oilers still find themselves in a great position as we head into March. As of February 29th, Edmonton sits third in the Pacific division and just one point behind Vegas with two games in hand. Beating out Vancouver should still be the ultimate goal, but if that doesn’t happen, finishing ahead of Vegas for home ice advantage in the playoffs will be huge. A Golden Knights-Oilers first round matchup would be must-see TV and having that last game in Edmonton could very well be the difference in the series if it goes seven games. Give McDavid and Draisaitl a chance to close a series out at home this year and it won’t be easy to sneak away with a win.

9 – Colorado Avalanche (36-19-5)

They may currently be third place in the Central, but Colorado is still very alive in the hunt for the top. They may not have an edge against Dallas or Winnipeg in a lot of areas this year, but they have one thing that can’t be overlooked – star power. You could make a very good argument that the Avs have the three best players on any of these teams, and come crunch time, that has to count for something. The team could still realistically finish anywhere from first to third in the division, but getting home ice advantage in the first round should be more important to them than anyone else maybe in the conference. As of February 29th, the Avs are currently 23-6-0 on home ice and just 13-13-5 on the road.

10 – Dallas Stars (35-17-9)

Finally, we get to the Stars. Like Carolina, they don’t get talked about a lot, but they’re certainly a legitimate threat in the West that cannot be taken lightly. Dallas has a lot of good younger pieces, but a fair number of veteran players who are still looking for their first Stanley Cup as well. Most of these guys have been on deep postseason runs numerous times, and for that reason, this Dallas team may be the most motivated of any in the league. However, as much as we’d like to see them finally get it done, the road will NOT be easy if they don’t win the Central Division. Thinking about going against either Winnipeg or Colorado in the first round just to play the other one in the second is a scary, scary, thought. 

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