The 2017-18 NHL season passed the halfway point Saturday, and the standings likely do not match anyone’s preseason expectations.
There has been some significant shuffling among potential playoff teams. Seven teams that missed out on the 2017 postseason would qualify for the playoffs if the season ended today — Tampa Bay Lightning, Winnipeg Jets, New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars and the Vegas Golden Knights (who didn’t exist). Three of those, Tampa Bay, Winnipeg and Vegas, currently lead their respective divisions.
But only one team can be considered No. 1. in the first installment of our power rankings. To see how the league stacks up we estimate each team’s talent level by averaging four components:
- Their actual win-loss record.
- Their expected win-loss record based on goals scored and allowed, also known as their Pythagorean win percentage.
- Their expected win-loss record based on expected goals for and against, a metric created by hockey metrics site Corsica, which takes into account the likelihood a shot becomes a goal based on distance, angle and whether the attempt was a rebound, on the rush or generated on the power play.
- Their regressed win-loss record to account for a small sample size of less than an 82-game slate.
This is then compared to how much better or worse their opponents are in relation to a 41-win team to get our power ranking, which is on a scale from 1 to 100. A good team playing against good opponents will be near the top (higher score) while those who struggle against mediocre or poor teams will trend toward the bottom.
Not too confusing, right? Good. Here are this week’s power rankings. Disagree with any of the them? Let me know on Twitter.
|Rank||Team||Power Rank (1 to 100)|
|1||Tampa Bay Lightning (31-9-3, 65 points)||68|
|2||Vegas Golden Knights (29-10-2, 60 points)||65|
|3||Winnipeg Jets (26-11-7, 59 points)||61|
|4||Boston Bruins (23-10-7, 53 points)||61|
|5||Dallas Stars (24-16-3, 51 points)||59|
|6||Los Angeles Kings (24-13-5, 53 points)||58|
|7||Nashville Predators (25-11-6, 56 points)||58|
|8||St. Louis Blues (26-17-3, 55 points)||58|
|9||Chicago Blackhawks (21-15-6, 48 points)||57|
|10||Toronto Maple Leafs (25-16-3, 53 points)||57|
|11||Washington Capitals (27-13-3, 57 points)||57|
|12||Colorado Avalanche (22-16-3, 47 points)||57|
|13||San Jose Sharks (21-13-6, 48 points)||56|
|14||Calgary Flames (22-16-4, 48 points)||55|
|15||New York Rangers (22-15-5, 49 points)||55|
|16||Minnesota Wild (22-17-4, 48 points)||55|
|17||New Jersey Devils (22-11-8, 52 points)||55|
|18||Columbus Blue Jackets (25-16-3, 53 points)||55|
|19||Philadelphia Flyers (19-15-8, 46 points)||55|
|20||Pittsburgh Penguins (22-19-3, 47 points)||54|
|21||Carolina Hurricanes (19-15-8, 46 points)||53|
|22||New York Islanders (21-18-4, 46 points)||52|
|23||Anaheim Ducks (19-15-9, 47 points)||50|
|24||Edmonton Oilers (18-23-3, 39 points)||50|
|25||Montreal Canadiens (18-20-4, 40 points)||49|
|26||Florida Panthers (18-18-6, 42 points)||49|
|27||Detroit Red Wings (17-17-7, 41 points)||47|
|28||Vancouver Canucks (16-21-6, 38 points)||46|
|29||Ottawa Senators (14-18-9, 37 points)||44|
|30||Buffalo Sabres (10-24-9, 29 points)||39|
|31||Arizona Coyotes (10-27-6, 26 points)||35|
The Lightning appears to be the team to beat. Coach Jon Cooper and his squad have a 12-point lead in the Atlantic Division with a league-leading goal differential of plus-53, 23 goals higher than the Golden Knights, who are second (plus-30).
Led by MVP candidate Nikita Kucherov, the league leader in goals (27) and points (60), and Steven Stamkos, who is scoring a career-high 1.2 points per game, the Bolts produce 33 even-strength scoring chances per 60 minutes, the second-highest rate in the NHL this season.
Tampa Bay’s netminder, Andrei Vasilevskiy, has a league-leading six shutouts behind a .933 save percentage, giving the Lightning a quality start — average or better save percentage in a game — in 24 of his 36 games played. No netminder with at least 30 starts this season has more.
Meanwhile, the Golden Knights are making history. The expansion team has 29 wins and 60 points in 41 games, putting them on pace for a 120-point season. That would crush the debut of the 1993-94 Florida Panthers, who finished the regular season with 83 points, the best mark by an expansion team to date. Vegas is also the only expansion team since 1991-92 to post a positive goal differential in the first half of the regular season.
|Expansion team||G||W||L||T||OL||Points||Goal differential|
|1991-92 San Jose Sharks||41||9||29||3||0||21||-72|
|1992-93 Ottawa Senators||41||3||35||3||0||9||-104|
|1992-93 Tampa Bay Lightning||41||14||25||2||0||30||-25|
|1993-94 Florida Panthers||41||16||17||8||0||40||-4|
|1993-94 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim||41||15||24||2||0||32||-19|
|1998-99 Nashville Predators||41||14||23||4||0||32||-36|
|1999-00 Atlanta Thrashers||41||10||24||4||3||27||-59|
|2000-01 Columbus Blue Jackets||41||13||22||4||2||32||-36|
|2000-01 Minnesota Wild||41||13||18||8||2||36||-11|
|2017-18 Vegas Golden Knights||41||29||10||0||2||60||30|
The Washington Capitals are one of the hottest teams in the league, winning seven of their last 10 games, giving them the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. What hurts Washington from rising higher in the power rankings is their expected goal differential. After taking into account shot quantity and quality, the Capitals expected goal differential should be minus-24 instead of their actual goal differential of plus-14. That’s just one expected goal worse than the Anaheim Ducks, who currently have a 1-in-3 chance of making the playoffs (33 percent).
Things may not be as rosy as they appear for the Caps entering the second half.