NHL Power Rankings: Players under the most pressure in the final month

The playoff races are getting tighter. So is the race for teams vying for a place ahead of the NHL Draft Lottery. Because that’s what happens when the NHL is in its last full month of the season.

Don’t forget about the players. There are a number of them that will also be on the lookout for one reason or another, either in these playoff races or as they get closer to free agency. That’s why in this week’s NHL Power Rankings we’ve identified the players who are under the most pressure as the regular season draws to a close.

How we evaluate: Sportzshala’s panel of hockey commentators, analysts, reporters and editors rank teams against each other – taking into account game scores, injuries and upcoming schedules – and those scores are tabulated to create the list presented here.

Note. Each team’s previous rankings refer to the most recent edition published on March 10th. Point percentages refer to Thursday’s games.

1. Boston Bruins

Previous rating: 1
Point Percentage: 79.85%
Next seven days: @ MIN (March 18), @ BUF (March 19), vs. OTT (March 21), vs. MTL (March 23)

Can the whole team respond? And this is a serious question. Are the Bruins really going to go all out and win it all? What they’ve done makes them one of the greatest regular season teams of all time, and could become the greatest team of all time if they win the championship. Of course, there is one caveat that the last nine Presidents Trophy winners have not won the Stanley Cup. The Bruins know this because it has happened to them twice since 2013-14. Also, we saw it most recently in the 2018-19 season when the 128-point Lightning were eliminated in the first round. Is this the team that will become the next Icarus, or will it burn everything and everyone in its path?

2. Carolina Hurricanes

Previous rating: 2
Point Percentage: 72.73%
Next seven days: @ TOR (March 17), @ PHI (March 18), @ NYR (March 21) vs. New York (March 23)

Jesse Pulujärvi has a pretty strong case. The Hurricanes are already without Max Pacioretti for the rest of the season, and earlier this week it was announced that Andrey Svechnikov will also miss the rest of the season with an ACL tear. The loss of two forwards from the top six within a few months is a serious blow for any team, not to mention to fight for the Stanley Cup. This does not mean that Puljujarvi can be a quick fix. But any offensive input he could provide would be welcome.

3. New Jersey Devils

Previous rating: 4
Point Percentage: 69.85%
Next seven days: @ FLA (March 18), @ TB (March 19) and MIN (March 21)

There are several options here, starting with Timo Meier. To get it, the “devils” parted with a considerable sum, thinking that the pending RFA could help them in the interim and possibly in the future. But there’s also a prospect named Luke Hughes, who potentially gives the Devils another opportunity to use the puck after he leaves the University of Michigan. It could also be in anticipation of Jesper Bratt’s RFA, who has a shot at what will be his first 30-goal campaign.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs

Previous rating: 3
Point Percentage: 66.42%
Next seven days: vs CAR (March 17), @OTT (March 18), @NYI (March 21), @FLA (March 23)

Matt Murray’s return to the Leafs after missing more than a month with an injury hasn’t gotten off to a rough start. He conceded over four goals per game in his first three matches, two of which were losses to the Leafs. While the Leafs are seeded right now, Murray’s consistency could be vital to his team’s playoff chances. He has two Stanley Cups and over 50 playoff games, while Ilya Samsonov has one playoff win in eight games.

5. Vegas Golden Knights

Previous rating: 7
Point Percentage: 65.22%
Next seven days: vs. CBJ (March 19), @VAN (March 21), @CGY (March 23)

After scoring four goals and eight points in his first nine games, Ivan Barbashev helped the Golden Knights find a temporary solution to the problem left by captain Mark Stone. The loss of Stone left the Golden Knights without one of the best two-way hitters in the league. It seems that Barbashev, a candidate for the UFA, may be the one to fill this gap. And if so, it will make his offseason quite interesting.

6. Los Angeles Kings

Previous rating: 8
Point Percentage: 64.49%
Next seven days: vs. VAN (March 18), vs. CGY (March 20)

The Phoenix Copley-Junas Korpisalo tandem played only six games together. But the Kings won five of those games, with one loss coming in overtime. It may be a small sample size, but it’s what allowed the Kings to enter the Ides of March with seven wins in their last 10 games and move three points clear of the Golden Knights for conference and division leadership.

7. Dallas Stars

Previous rating: 6
Point Percentage: 63.04%
Next seven days: @CGY (March 18), vs SEA (March 21) vs PIT (March 23)

Prior to the arrival of Max Domi, the Stars had six players who accounted for 67% of their goals. Domi gives them another top 9 forward who can not only score but also create for others. They are much more productive than last season, when the playoff team scored the fewest goals in the regular season. But they also know the value of getting contributions from as many sources as possible.

8. New York Rangers

Previous rating: eleven
Point Percentage: 64.71%
Next seven days: vs PIT (March 18), vs NSH (March 19), vs CAR (March 21), @CAR (March 23)

Patrick Kane? Vladimir Tarasenko? Let’s go with both. The Rangers were already Stanley Cup contenders before adding the top two wingers with four titles between them to create a roster that should make them one of the most formidable teams in the entire NHL. The addition of Kane and Tarasenko to the Rangers fuels expectations that the East will be a hurdle for a team that makes it to the Stanley Cup Finals.

9. Tampa Bay Lightning

Previous rating: 5
Point Percentage: 63.77%
Next seven days: vs MTL (March 18), vs NJ (March 19), @MTL (March 21), @OTT (March 23)

This is due not so much to pressure as to circumstances. What Alex Killorn has done this season confirms why he is important to the Lightning roster, and how their ability to draft and develop past the first round remains the foundation of their overall success. He has the strongest offensive campaign and has a chance to start a new points career. But… he’s also an unrestricted free agent on a team that should have a $2.4 million ceiling ahead of next season.

10. Minnesota Wild

Previous rating: 10
Point Percentage: 63.24%
Next seven days: vs BOS (March 18), vs WSH (March 19), @NJ (March 21), @PHI (March 23)

Some wondered how the Wild would score goals without star striker Kirill Kaprizov. They responded by averaging 5.67 goals in their first three games without him. Even if it’s only three games, it proves that the Wild is capable of scoring more. Will they be able to maintain something close to this level of skill after the return of Kaprizov and perhaps add Gustav Nyquist? This could change expectations for a roster that currently has the fewest goals in the Western Conference in the playoffs.

11. Colorado Avalanche

Previous rating: 13
Point Percentage: 62.69%
Next seven days: @ DET (March 18), vs CHI (March 20) vs PIT (March 22)

Bowen Byram is healthy, which in itself is a big deal considering the Avalanche season has been shaped by injuries. The Aws have seen Bayram deliver on his promise to be a minute-guzzling defender who can ease possession of the ball and who can be trusted in a number of areas. What Bayram does in the last month will play a role in where the Avs are seeded. It could also play a role in their being Stanley Cup champions again. But as for how much it might cost them to keep an unfinished RFA? This is one of the many questions the Avs will have to answer this offseason.

12. Edmonton Oilers

Previous rating: 12
Point Percentage: 60.87%
Next seven days: @ SEA (March 18), vs. SJ (March 20), vs. ARI (March 22)

Evan Bouchard is the most dangerous powerplay quarterback in the league and is also one of the top four defensemen. So far it hasn’t been the season many were expecting given Bouchard is averaging 0.40 points compared to the 2021-22 season when he averaged 0.53 points. But perhaps the new role will see Bouchard find continuity in his game, and possibly influence his upcoming contract negotiations as an RFA in progress.

13. Seattle Kraken

Previous rating: 9
Point Percentage: 61.03%
Next seven days: vs. EDM (March 18), @DAL (March 21), @NSH (March 23)

Philipp Grubauer opened March with four victories in a row. Although he lost his last two starts, it was one of his strongest months in a season of ups and downs. Grubauer’s consistency is critical given the Kraken are trying to secure a playoff spot at a time when goaltending is at its peak. Martin Jones has lost six of his last eight starts, and Chris Dredger continues to recover from an ACL tear he suffered last season. If Grubauer can offer continuity, it could provide Kraken with a balance of sorts that makes the already difficult task of reaching the playoffs more manageable.

14. Pittsburgh Penguins

Previous rating: 15
Point Percentage: 57.35%
Next seven days: @ NYR (March 18), vs. OTT (March 20), @ COL (March 22), @ DAL (March 23)

In Tristan Jarry’s last performance, he conceded four goals in the first period, continuing a tough March. Jarry has an average of 4.73 goals conceded and a .832 shooting percentage in his first five games this month. In fact, he has conceded four goals in four of his last five games. The Penguins have still won seven of their last 10, but a consistent Jarry will help them keep their first wildcard spot.

15. Winnipeg Jets

Previous rating: 14
Point Percentage: 57.25%
Next seven days: @NSH (March 18), @STL (March 19), vs ARI (March 21), @ANA (March 23)

It’s not just one player under pressure from the Jets. They…

Source: www.espn.com

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