For this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings, we have identified the toughest remaining stretch for each team for the duration of the season. These games will have an outsized impact on the playoff races — and the draft lottery.
How we rank: A panel of ESPN hockey commentators, analysts, reporters and editors rates teams against one another — taking into account game results, injuries and upcoming schedule — and those results are tabulated to produce the list featured here.
Note: Previous ranking for each team refers to the most recent edition, published Feb. 24. Points percentages are through Thursday’s games.
Previous ranking: 1
Points percentage: 81.75%
Next seven days: vs. DET (March 11), @ DET (March 12), @ CHI (March 14), @ WPG (March 16)
Boston makes everything look easy this season. But the Bruins do have a short road trip coming up against three teams banking on points to keep pace in the playoff race: Winnipeg, Minnesota and Buffalo. The latter two are back-to-back tilts, and Boston could have its hands full fending off some desperation-fueled clubs.
Previous ranking: 2
Points percentage: 74.60%
Next seven days: vs. VGK (March 11), @ NJ (March 12), vs. WPG (March 14)
Carolina will need all hands on deck at month’s end when, in a week’s span, it takes on the Rangers (twice), Maple Leafs, Bruins and Lightning. That’s a heavyweight schedule to handle for any team — even one so impressive as the Hurricanes.
Previous ranking: 3
Points percentage: 67.19%
Next seven days: vs. EDM (March 11), vs. BUF (March 13), vs. COL (March 15)
Toronto steps right past the trade deadline into a six-day, four-game homestand against Edmonton, Buffalo, Colorado and Carolina. All of those teams are in playoff position, or battling for a spot. Lineups filled with star players. One after the other. At least the Leafs have home-ice advantage?
Previous ranking: 5
Points percentage: 70.31%
Next seven days: @ MTL (March 11), vs. CAR (March 12), vs. TB (March 14), vs. TB (March 16)
New Jersey’s post-deadline present is a week-and-a-half-long slate that includes facing Carolina and Tampa Bay (twice). Add a stopover against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals plus the upstarts in Montreal and it projects to be a real baptism-by-fire for the new-look Devils.
Previous ranking: 4
Points percentage: 63.08%
Next seven days: vs. CHI (March 11), vs. WPG (March 12), @ NJ (March 14), @ NJ (March 16)
Tampa Bay will navigate a weird wrinkle in its schedule when it takes on New Jersey three times in six nights (with a meeting against Montreal sandwiched in between for good measure). The Devils were tough enough before the Timo Meier acquisition; they’ll be even harder for the Lightning to manage with him in the fold.
Previous ranking: 7
Points percentage: 63.85%
Next seven days: @ SEA (March 11), @ SEA (March 13), @ VAN (March 14), @ EDM (March 16)
Dallas has a mighty road trip to tackle in March. It starts in Buffalo, swings to Seattle for two games against the Kraken, then takes the Stars through all three Western Canada clubs — in just 10 days. Dallas had a rough February; rebounding in March won’t be easy, either.
Previous ranking: 9
Points percentage: 64.62%
Next seven days: @ CAR (March 11), @ STL (March 12), @ PHI (March 14), vs. CGY (March 16)
Vegas owns a precarious hold on the Pacific Division’s top seed. Los Angeles is right behind, which makes the Golden Knights’ run at the end of the month with meetings against Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton (twice) as potentially impactful a stretch as any they’ll see through the remaining regular season.
Previous ranking: 13
Points percentage: 63.64%
Next seven days: vs. NSH (March 11), vs. NYI (March 14), vs. CBJ (March 16)
Los Angeles had better keep something in the tank for the home stretch. In a short 10-day period they’ll see Edmonton twice, plus playoff-bound Seattle, Vegas and Colorado. A supreme testing ground for the Kings.
Previous ranking: 8
Points percentage: 61.54%
Next seven days: vs. DAL (March 11), vs. DAL (March 13), @ SJ (March 16)
Seattle’s upcoming schedule includes a key slate of matchups against Western Conference clubs — Edmonton, Dallas, Nashville (twice) and Minnesota — from whom the Kraken need to take points. Seattle’s clinging to third in the Pacific now and those nine days of action, if successful, go a long way in securing the Kraken’s postseason debut.
Previous ranking: 15
Points percentage: 62.31%
Next seven days: @ SJ (March 11), @ ARI (March 12), @ STL (March 15)
Minnesota transitions from March to April with a jam-packed slate of Seattle, Colorado, Vegas — twice — and Pittsburgh. Depending on what postseason fates have already been determined by then, it’ll give Minnesota plenty with which to cope.
Previous ranking: 6
Points percentage: 63.28%
Next seven days: @ BUF (March 11), @ PIT (March 12), vs. WSH (March 14), vs. PIT (March 16)
New York loaded up before the trade deadline. They’ll need their talent rolling by mid-month with three (!) meetings against Pittsburgh in seven days, plus a tilt with Washington thrown in too. Follow that up with a home-and-home against Carolina and the Rangers have a heavy workload ahead.
Previous ranking: 12
Points percentage: 60.61%
Next seven days: @ TOR (March 11), vs. OTT (March 14), vs. DAL (March 16)
Edmonton should already be eyeing what’s ahead in late March into April: A crucial stretch run with two games apiece against Vegas and Los Angeles, the Pacific Division foes with whom they’ve been jockeying in the standings. Those games could be quite meaningful in the end.
Previous ranking: 11
Points percentage: 60.32%
Next seven days: vs. ARI (March 11), @ MTL (March 13), @ TOR (March 15), @ OTT (March 16)
Colorado is in for a potentially hard finish into April when they face Los Angeles, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Nashville in four of their final regular season games. Depending on how March plays out there could be serious playoff-positioning points on the line.
Previous ranking: 10
Points percentage: 57.69%
Next seven days: @ FLA (March 11), @ TB (March 12), @ CAR (March 14), vs. BOS (March 16)
Winnipeg’s most daunting post-deadline dates? A back-to-back in the Sunshine State with Florida and Tampa Bay, followed by games against the Eastern Conference powerhouses in Carolina and Boston. Add a back-to-back with Nashville and St. Louis right after and … ouch.
Previous ranking: 14
Points percentage: 57.81%
Next seven days: vs. PHI (March 11), vs. NYR (March 12), vs. MTL (March 14), @ NYR (March 16)
Pittsburgh’s best chance of making the playoffs is in a wild-card slot. Taking points from their Metropolitan Division rivals is also imperative — hence why their mid-March movement with three games against the New York Rangers and one against the Islanders will be so tough. There’s a lot riding on the Penguins’ performances.
Previous ranking: 19
Points percentage: 56.72%
Next seven days: vs. WSH (March 11), @ LA (March 14), @ ANA (March 15)
New York runs right into a pack of playoff hopefuls late this month with games that might have seismic implications — the Islanders tangle with Buffalo, New Jersey, Washington, Tampa Bay (twice) and Carolina in rapid succession. How high could the fun meter be there?
Previous ranking: 25
Points percentage: 54.69%
Next seven days: @ VAN (March 11), @ CGY (March 12), @ EDM (March 14), vs. COL (March 16)
The Sens have propelled themselves back into the playoff hunt, but theirs is a difficult schedule until the end. Likely to be the most challenging: an early-April slate of Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina and Buffalo. Much could go wrong. Much could go right. One way or another, that’s where the Senators’ (regular) season ends.
Previous ranking: 17
Points percentage: 54.62%
Next seven days: vs. ANA (March 10), vs. OTT (March 12), @ ARI (March 14), @ VGK (March 16)
Calgary’s toughest upcoming week is populated by Western Conference dynamos. Namely, there’s a pair of meetings with Vegas, one with Dallas and another with Los Angeles. Could be a make-or-break moment in Calgary’s quest for a wild-card postseason slot.
Previous ranking: 21
Points percentage: 55.65%
Next seven days: @ LA (March 11), @ ANA (March 12), vs. DET (March 14), vs. CHI (March 16)
Nashville might not be headed for the playoffs this season, but it doesn’t make a steady diet of Seattle (twice), Toronto, Boston and Pittsburgh in the course of an upcoming week any less challenging — especially if the Kraken and Penguins are desperately seeking points.
Previous ranking: 18
Points percentage: 53.13%
Next seven days: vs. NYR (March 11), @ TOR (March 13), @ WSH (March 15)
Buffalo projects to battle for a playoff berth until April. How potentially meaningful could a pair of games early that month against Florida and Detroit be in seeing that happen? By then, the standings could be tighter than ever. Those three days playing significant opponents will tell us a lot about Buffalo.
Previous ranking: 20
Points percentage: 53.85%
Next seven days: vs. CHI (March 10), vs. WPG (March 11), vs. MTL (March 16)
Florida works through four of its Atlantic Division rivals in short order late this month into April. If they’re still clinging to playoff aspirations, it’ll be a critical juncture seeing Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal on the road, before heading home to face Buffalo. Then again, at that point the Panthers may have nothing to lose.
Previous ranking: 16
Points percentage: 52.34%
Next seven days: @ BOS (March 11), vs. BOS (March 12), @ NSH (March 14)
Detroit has a cruel April schedule ahead. It starts in Toronto, ends against Carolina and Tampa Bay (on the road) and has Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Dallas in between. That could have been quite a playoff primer for the Red Wings, though the postseason is looking like more of a distant outcome these days.
Previous ranking: 22
Points percentage: 52.27%
Next seven days: @ NYI (March 11), @ NYR (March 14), vs. BUF (March 15)
Washington comes out of trade deadline week into a devilish schedule that takes them into tilts with the Islanders, Rangers and Sabres. Those teams all added someone in the last few weeks, while the Capitals subtracted.
Previous ranking: 23
Points percentage: 47.66%
Next seven days: @ CBJ (March 11), vs. VGK (March 12), vs. MIN (March 15)
St. Louis could be singing a sour tune after a week-long stretch of tough Western Conference matchups against Vegas, Minnesota and Winnipeg. Add a trip to Washington in between to up the ante on a hard grind.
Previous ranking: 26
Points percentage: 46.09%
Next seven days: vs. OTT (March 11), vs. DAL (March 14), @ ARI (March 16)
Vancouver’s upcoming homestand features Pacific Division foes in Calgary (twice), Los Angeles and Seattle. The Canucks will have their work cut out to get the best of those rivals and finish the season strong.
Previous ranking: 24
Points percentage: 45.38%
Next seven days: @ PIT (March 11), vs. VGK (March 14)
Philadelphia must grimace at their April schedule opening against Buffalo into a four-game road trip through Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Dallas and the Islanders. Then waiting at home? Boston. That’s a taxing nine days.
Previous ranking: 27
Points percentage: 44.62%
Next seven days: vs. NJ (March 11), vs. COL (March 13), @ PIT (March 14), @ FLA (March 16)
Montreal has a daunting seven-game stretch ahead featuring a cast of top-end teams. The drive starts with New Jersey, ends with Boston, and rotates through Colorado, Tampa Bay (twice), Pittsburgh and Florida. Oof.
Previous ranking: 28
Points percentage: 37.88%
Next seven days: vs. MIN (March 11), vs. CBJ (March 14), vs. SEA (March 16)
San Jose is in for a rough ride to the end of their season with back-to-back matchups against Colorado, two tilts against Edmonton and meetings with Winnipeg and Calgary. The schedule maker was not kind to the Sharks on this one.
Previous ranking: 29
Points percentage: 43.08%
Next seven days: @ COL (March 11), vs. MIN (March 12), vs. CGY (March 14), vs. VAN (March 16)
Arizona will be finishing out the month of March going head-to-head with Colorado (twice) and Edmonton (twice) and then hosting Dallas. That’s a little too much familiarity with some top-tier teams if you ask us.
Previous ranking: 32
Points percentage: 39.23%
Next seven days: @ CGY (March 10), s. NSH (March 12), vs. NYI (March 15)
Anaheim glides into late March and early April on their last road trip of the season. It’s something of a doozy for the Ducks, though, who will say hello to Seattle, Edmonton and Calgary before hosting the Oilers back home. That’s some Pacific punch.
Previous ranking: 31
Points percentage: 36.72%
Next seven days: vs. STL (March 11), @ SJ (March 14), @ LA (March 16)
Columbus will spend 10 days grinding through six teams (including the Rangers twice!) that are already in or gunning towards a playoff spot. Painful. Perhaps the Blue Jackets can play spoiler somewhere?
Previous ranking: 30
Points percentage: 38.28%
Next seven days: @ FLA (March 10), @ TB (March 11), vs. BOS (March 14), @ NSH (March 16)
Chicago plays seven of its next eight games on the road — with a home tilt against Boston mixed in! — and suffice it to say when more than half those upcoming games are against projected playoff-bound teams (including Tampa Bay, Colorado and Minnesota) it ain’t going to be an easy run.