NHL

NHL Power Rankings: One word to describe each team’s 2022-23 season

The Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils continue to pile up the points, while the defending Stanley Cup champ Colorado Avalanche suffered a major injury blow this week with the news that Nathan MacKinnon would miss time. Recent additions on the ice and behind the bench have done their fair share to influence their new teams — or have disappointed. And a new class of superstars has emerged, from Jason Robertson to Tage Thompson to Matty Beniers and many more.

It might be tough to sum up the first two months of the 2022-23 NHL season in just one word per team, but along with this week’s Power Rankings, we’ve attempted to do just that.

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 Dec. 2. Points paces are through Thursday’s games.

Previous ranking: 1
Points percentage: 86.00%
Next seven days: @ ARI (Dec. 9), @ VGK (Dec. 11), vs. NYI (Dec. 13), vs. LA (Dec. 15)

Commanding. How else to describe a Boston team that hasn’t dropped back-to-back decisions all season or slid out of a top-three spot in the standings? The Bruins have been a consistent force since Game 1.

Previous ranking: 2
Points percentage: 82.69%
Next seven days: vs. NYI (Dec. 9), @ NYR (Dec. 12), vs. DAL (Dec. 13), vs. PHI (Dec. 15)

Magnificent. Truly, it’s hard to pick a single term for the Devils. What can really capture the ride New Jersey has been on? A 13-game win streak was impressive enough. But the Devils are multidimensional, their success hardly predicated on any one element or one player or one position.

Previous ranking: 6
Points percentage: 71.43%
Next seven days: vs. CGY (Dec. 10), vs. ANA (Dec. 13), @ NYR (Dec. 15)

Fascinating. Somehow Toronto went from a mediocre start — with a near-full complement of healthy players available — to a 12-game point streak amid losing three-quarters of its top four defensemen and both goalies to injury. Quite a turnaround.

Previous ranking: 10
Points percentage: 70.00%
Next seven days: @ CHI (Dec. 9), vs. WSH (Dec. 11), vs. VGK (Dec. 13), vs. NSH (Dec. 15)

Renewed. These aren’t last season’s Jets. New coach Rick Bowness has earned buy-in on the defensive side that’s translated to consistent effort — and success — for Winnipeg in becoming one of the league’s top teams. Connor Hellebuyck playing like a Vezina Trophy contender hasn’t hurt, either.

Previous ranking: 5
Points percentage: 66.00%
Next seven days: @ WSH (Dec. 9), @ FLA (Dec. 11), @ TB (Dec. 13), @ CAR (Dec. 15)

Striking. The Kraken bolted their way into the top 10 with an incredible 11-2-1 run through November into early December that went widely underreported. But give Seattle its flowers — even after a couple of losses — because the second-year squad has come a long way from its modest rookie-season roots.

Previous ranking: 3
Points percentage: 69.64%
Next seven days: vs. PHI (Dec. 9), vs. BOS (Dec. 11), @ WPG (Dec. 13), @ CHI (Dec. 15)

Convincing. Vegas answered its doubters early and often after missing the playoffs last season. Logan Thompson has been excellent in net. Jack Eichel — prior to a recent injury — looked even better than his old self. Defensively, the team pulled together. Even when Vegas shows its inconsistencies — as it has more lately — that foundation is bound to keep it in good standing.

Previous ranking: 8
Points percentage: 65.39%
Next seven days: @ NYI (Dec. 10), @ DET (Dec. 13), vs. SEA (Dec. 15)

Diligent. Carolina started hot, cooled off and recently caught fire with a four-game win streak that’s helped propel it back up the standings. The Hurricanes might not be blowing teams out (and will drop the occasional dud, like an overtime loss to Anaheim), but they stick to the plan and earn results.

Previous ranking: 4
Points percentage: 64.81%
Next seven days: vs. DET (Dec. 10), @ PIT (Dec. 12), @ NJ (Dec. 13), @ WSH (Dec. 15)

Electrifying. And that’s just Jason Robertson. The Stars are fun, flashy and have gone toe-to-toe with just about everyone (that shutout against Toronto being a rare exception). Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have been resurgent, Jake Oettinger has played great, and the Robertson-led top line makes Dallas appointment viewing.

Previous ranking: 11
Points percentage: 61.54%
Next seven days: @ BUF (Dec. 9), vs. BUF (Dec. 10), vs. DAL (Dec. 12), @ FLA (Dec. 15)

Experience. As in, there’s no substitute for it. Pittsburgh has gone through its lulls — and one well-documented seven-game winless streak — to come out the other side with more consistent good habits to put it back in the league’s top tier.

Previous ranking: 15
Points percentage: 59.62%
Next seven days: @ DAL (Dec. 10), vs. CAR (Dec. 13), @ MIN (Dec. 14)

Refined. The Red Wings have significantly improved from being one of the league’s worst defensive teams a year ago. New coach Derek Lalonde has helped Detroit gain some polish, and GM Steve Yzerman’s additions — particularly netminder Ville Husso — have seriously moved the needle. The Red Wings require more consistency but have come a long way.

Previous ranking: 21
Points percentage: 54.17%
Next seven days: vs. OTT (Dec. 10), @ STL (Dec. 12), vs. EDM (Dec. 13), @ WPG (Dec. 15)

Patient. Nashville just goes about its business. The Predators weren’t getting hero-like goaltending from Juuse Saros, which hurt them early on, but lately Nashville has started to gain real traction and bank some solid victories.

Previous ranking: 9
Points percentage: 59.26%
Next seven days: @ NJ (Dec. 9), vs. CAR (Dec. 10), @ BOS (Dec. 13)

Stable. The Islanders have established a formula: excellent goaltending behind full-team defense supported by enough solid offense and special teams to get the job done. More often than not, it’s getting good results.

Previous ranking: 13
Points percentage: 62.00%
Next seven days: vs. FLA (Dec. 10), vs. SEA (Dec. 13), vs. CBJ (Dec. 15)

Steady. The Lightning embody that not-too-high-or-too-low cliche. They’ve scaled a few mountains, after all. Tampa Bay’s season started out rocky, but now the Lightning are winning more often when they should. Confidence appears to be building. Full steam ahead.

Previous ranking: 16
Points percentage: 56.00%
Next seven days: @ EDM (Dec. 9), @ VAN (Dec. 10), vs. EDM (Dec. 12), vs. DET (Dec. 14)

Adaptive. Minnesota turned the page on its slow start thanks to more complete team efforts and a record-setting (not to mention exhilarating-to-watch) Kirill Kaprizov, who now owns the longest goal and point streak in Wild history. GM Bill Guerin’s addition of Ryan Reaves to the mix is paying big dividends, too. Sometimes small changes can have a big impact.

Previous ranking: 14
Points percentage: 55.17%
Next seven days: @ MTL (Dec. 10), @ CBJ (Dec. 11), @ BUF (Dec. 13), @ BOS (Dec. 15)

Chaotic. L.A. has been all over the map, even more than usual lately. The overtime losses started building — like that mind-bending 9-8 defeat against Seattle — and the Cal Petersen drama was unexpected. The Kings need some wins, especially against good teams, on their current road swing.

Previous ranking: 18
Points percentage: 55.77%
Next seven days: @ CBJ (Dec. 9), @ TOR (Dec. 10), @ MTL (Dec. 12), vs. VAN (Dec. 14)

Streaky. The Flames posted consecutive wins only two times from late October to early December. They’ve vacillated on the ice from close loss to blowout win in 48 hours, and they recently shuffled in net from 2022 Vezina Trophy runner-up Jacob Markstrom to backup Dan Vladar. Who knows what’s next?

Previous ranking: 7
Points percentage: 56.25%
Next seven days: vs. NYR (Dec. 9), @ STL (Dec. 11), vs. PHI (Dec. 13), vs. BUF (Dec. 15)

Star-crossed. The reigning Stanley Cup champs cannot catch a break with injuries. It started with Gabriel Landeskog requiring surgery before the season even started and snowballed into a laughably long list of sidelined skaters that now includes Nathan MacKinnon. No surprise the losses are beginning to pile up.

Previous ranking: 12
Points percentage: 55.56%
Next seven days: vs. MIN (Dec. 9), @ MIN (Dec. 12), @ NSH (Dec. 13), vs. STL (Dec. 15)

Satisfactory. Edmonton is humming along on the backs of its top players without necessarily blowing anyone away. Which is fine. Jack Campbell‘s struggles in net have certainly slowed the Oilers down at times, but there’s plenty of talent there to keep them on track.

Previous ranking: 17
Points percentage: 55.36%
Next seven days: @ COL (Dec. 9), vs. NJ (Dec. 12), vs. TOR (Dec. 15)

Perplexing. New York’s season has been as head-scratching as its recent six-game run that included losses to Anaheim, Ottawa and Chicago. The Rangers have been an up-and-down .500 team when expectations were high that they’d pick up where last season ended — as enforcers of the East. There’s still time.

Previous ranking: 19
Points percentage: 55.56%
Next seven days: @ TB (Dec. 10), vs. SEA (Dec. 11), vs. CBJ (Dec. 13), vs. PIT (Dec. 15)

Fickle. Those Florida felines have fooled us a few times, following up runs of great hockey with confounding losses. But hey, these Panthers are never dull.

Previous ranking: 23
Points percentage: 53.85%
Next seven days: vs. LA (Dec. 10), vs. CGY (Dec. 12), @ OTT (Dec. 14), vs. ANA (Dec. 15)

Surprising. Montreal has turned heads. The team’s combination of forward talents — led by Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield — has challenged opponents and made the Canadiens an entertaining, unexpectedly successful group. Can they carry that momentum through midseason? Time will tell.

Previous ranking: 27
Points percentage: 48.08%
Next seven days: vs. PIT (Dec. 9), @ PIT (Dec. 10), vs. LA (Dec. 13), @ COL (Dec. 15)

Enlightening. Buffalo is learning on the job. Fueled by their rising stars (Tage Thompson, anyone?), the Sabres have stumbled and shone, struggled and recovered. It’s all part of the growth process from which Buffalo will benefit in the future.

Previous ranking: 24
Points percentage: 50.00%
Next seven days: vs. MIN (Dec. 10), @ CGY (Dec. 14)

Turbulent. Vancouver has had issues across the board. Lengthy winless streak? Check. Coaching uncertainty? Indeed. Drama surrounding star players (looking at you, Brock Boeser)? Of course. Somewhere in the middle of all that, the Canucks actually pulled themselves close to a playoff spot, only to promptly fall back out of it. But, of course, Vancouver’s been winning more of late. Where does that take it?

Previous ranking: 22
Points percentage: 50.00%
Next seven days: vs. SEA (Dec. 9), @ WPG (Dec. 11), @ CHI (Dec. 13), vs. DAL (Dec. 15)

Mediocre. The Capitals’ most relevant storyline is Alex Ovechkin chasing history. Otherwise, Washington has been a run-of-the-mill squad, neither great nor terrible but somewhere in the crowded middle.

Previous ranking: 20
Points percentage: 44.44%
Next seven days: vs. COL (Dec. 11), vs. NSH (Dec. 12), @ EDM (Dec. 15)

Mystifying. Everything about St. Louis’ season gives you whiplash. The demoralizing eight-game losing skid. The resurgent seven-game win streak. Feisty Jordan Binnington picking fights. Top players producing, then not. Who are the real Blues?

Previous ranking: 26
Points percentage: 42.31%
Next seven days: @ NSH (Dec. 10), vs. ANA (Dec. 12), vs. MTL (Dec. 14)

Frustrating. Ottawa was supposed to be better than this. GM Pierre Dorion worked all offseason with that goal in mind. The Senators have just failed to come together often enough on the ice. Ottawa’s recent performances suggest hope for a potential turnaround, but the real question is why these Senators tripped so hard out of the gate.

Previous ranking: 29
Points percentage: 42.59%
Next seven days: @ VGK (Dec. 9), @ ARI (Dec. 11), @ COL (Dec. 13), @ NJ (Dec. 15)

Painful. The Flyers did have that 5-2-0 stretch out of the gate. They have not won five games total since. Injuries have been an issue, and goaltender Carter Hart could only do so much for so long. Philadelphia knew this season might be rough, and so it has been.

Previous ranking: 25
Points percentage: 36.21%
Next seven days: @ ANA (Dec. 9), vs. ANA (Dec. 13)

Dismal. San Jose has hovered — somewhat inexplicably — near the bottom of the league despite some top-end talents in the lineup. The Sharks have been one of this season’s underachievers, and it’ll be curious to see how GM Mike Grier goes about adjusting course.

Previous ranking: 28
Points percentage: 36.00%
Next seven days: vs. CGY (Dec. 9), vs. LA (Dec. 11), @ FLA (Dec. 13), @ TB (Dec. 15)

Cursed. But seriously. The Blue Jackets landing Johnny Gaudreau should have been a terrific omen for this season, which instead has been defined by who’s not in the lineup. Zach Werenski, Patrik Laine, Elvis Merzlikins, Jake Bean, Jakub Voracek; the list goes on of players who have missed time (some of them now out long term). That’s no excuse, though. Laine and Merzlikins are back, and the Blue Jackets still can’t avoid being regularly blown out.

Previous ranking: 30
Points percentage: 36.00%
Next seven days: vs. WPG (Dec. 9), vs. WSH (Dec. 13), vs. VGK (Dec. 15)

Predictable. Chicago was meant to be in the thick of the Connor Bedard sweepstakes. For the most part, that’s where the Blackhawks have remained — with some enjoyably competitive contests tossed in. But mostly Chicago appears to be staying on task.

Previous ranking: 31
Points percentage: 37.50%
Next seven days: vs. BOS (Dec. 9), vs. PHI (Dec. 11), @ SJ (Dec. 13)

Punishing. Any team could buckle under the weight of a 14-game road trip. The Coyotes have gotten some great goaltending from Karel Vejmelka, and their top players have made steady contributions, but there’s no denying the Coyotes’ early-season slate has had a negative impact.

Previous ranking: 32
Points percentage: 31.48%
Next seven days: vs. SJ (Dec. 9), @ OTT (Dec. 12), @ TOR (Dec. 13), @ MTL (Dec. 15)

Disappointing. Anaheim’s pool of young talent — led by the electrifying Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry — should at least keep them competitive. Yet the Ducks have managed a single regulation win this season and produced an alarming number of lopsided losses (with a few surprising overtime wins tossed in). The rebuild is clearly still on.


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