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NHL Power Rankings: Predators and Blackhawks Pull Away

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The Preds and Hawks are the best in the league. Will they stay there through April?

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Things are looking up in the Eastern Conference after a successful 2014.  6 of the top 10 teams in our power rankings are from the East and their record against the Western Conference is greatly improved year-over-year.  Can the East remain competitive through 2015 and into the playoffs?

About these rankings:

Two seasons ago, I set out to eliminate the non-sense behind power rankings by building a power rankings model based on underlying statistics and their predictive ability. The rankings were built on points earned, special teams, even strength play and goaltending, so they were constantly in flux.

I'm still playing around with the model, but here is my best effort at predicting the standings and playoff pairings at the end of the season. One item of note - 38% of the game is luck, and I don't attempt to predict or model that 38%, and I don't plan to.

Rank Team Share
1 Nashville Predators 2.9
2 Chicago Blackhawks 3.6
3 Anaheim Ducks 4.5
4 New York Islanders 4.9
5 New York Rangers 6.9
6 Pittsburgh Penguins 7.1
7 Montreal Canadiens 7.2
8 Detroit Red Wings 7.2
9 Tampa Bay Lightning 7.7
10 Vancouver Canucks 7.9
11 Washington Capitals 8.0
12 Winnipeg Jets 8.0
13 St. Louis Blues 8.6
14 San Jose Sharks 10.7
15 Los Angeles Kings 11.1
16 Minnesota Wild 11.5
17 Florida Panthers 12.4
18 Boston Bruins 13.5
19 Calgary Flames 13.9
20 Toronto Maple Leafs 14.6
21 Dallas Stars 16.0
22 Ottawa Senators 17.2
23 Philadelphia Flyers 19.2
24 Columbus Blue Jackets 19.4
25 Arizona Coyotes 19.9
26 Carolina Hurricanes 20.0
27 New Jersey Devils 20.1
28 Colorado Avalanche 20.5
29 Edmonton Oilers 21.6
30 Buffalo Sabres 22.4
  • Nashville and Chicago are well clear as the top two teams in the game right now.  Nashville has the NHL's best goaltending and is 4th at even strength.  If they straighten out the 19th-ranked power play, they will be frightening.  Chicago is 3rd in the league at evens and has had the 3rd-best goaltending.  Their weakness is on the PK.  Makes for an interesting stretch run and divisional playoff.

Western Conference Rankings

Rank Team Share
1 Nashville Predators 2.9
2 Chicago Blackhawks 3.6
3 Anaheim Ducks 4.5
10 Vancouver Canucks 7.9
12 Winnipeg Jets 8.0
13 St. Louis Blues 8.6
14 San Jose Sharks 10.7
15 Los Angeles Kings 11.1
16 Minnesota Wild 11.5
19 Calgary Flames 13.9
21 Dallas Stars 16.0
25 Arizona Coyotes 19.9
28 Colorado Avalanche 20.5
29 Edmonton Oilers 21.6
  • Don't look now, but Winnipeg isn't going away.  The regression of Michael Frolik has been fun to watch, and Jacob Trouba looks like a steal of a draft pick.
  • San Jose should start the climb back to the top of the pile any moment now, but Los Angeles - they aren't the team they used to be.  Their even strength dominance is has dried up.  Must be a lack of Penner.

Eastern Conference Rankings

Rank Team Share
4 New York Islanders 4.9
5 New York Rangers 6.9
6 Pittsburgh Penguins 7.1
7 Montreal Canadiens 7.2
8 Detroit Red Wings 7.2
9 Tampa Bay Lightning 7.7
11 Washington Capitals 8.0
17 Florida Panthers 12.4
18 Boston Bruins 13.5
20 Toronto Maple Leafs 14.6
22 Ottawa Senators 17.2
23 Philadelphia Flyers 19.2
24 Columbus Blue Jackets 19.4
26 Carolina Hurricanes 20.0
27 New Jersey Devils 20.1
30 Buffalo Sabres 22.4
  • The Rangers, Pens, Canadiens, Wings and Lightning are essentially the same team right now, each with their own weakness except Detroit.  The Rangers and Canadiens are the weakest of the group at evens, the Lightning struggle on special teams and the Penguins penalty kill is a wreck.
  • What in the world happened to the New Jersey Devils?  They're abysmal at evens and terrible on the power play.

Playoff Matchups:

Western Conference
Central Pacific
1 Nashville Predators 3 Anaheim Ducks
13 St. Louis Blues 15 Los Angeles Kings
2 Chicago Blackhawks 10 Vancouver Canucks
12 Winnipeg Jets 14 San Jose Sharks

Wild vs. Predators and Canucks vs. Jets - the series no one wants to see.

Eastern Conference
Metropolitan Atlantic
4 New York Islanders 7 Montreal Canadiens
11 Washington Capitals 17 Florida Panthers
5 New York Rangers 8 Detroit Red Wings
6 Pittsburgh Penguins 9 Tampa Bay Lightning