The 2021 NHL season is officially taking shape as the February schedule approaches. For this week’s Power Rankings, we’ve identified the biggest disappointment for each team so far.
How we stand: ESPN’s editors make a selection from 1 to 31 teams – taking into account past results and off-season additions – and these results are compiled into the list presented here.
Note: The previous rankings for each team are from our Week 2 edition, which was published on January 27. The rankings will be published in the games on February 2.
Previous score: 2Balance
: 5-1-1 This
week: vs DET (Feb. 3, 5); @ NSH (Feb. 8, 9).
It was a shame for Tampa Bay to win the Stanley Cup and then not be able to raise the banner in front of the fans. They also started their series with a 4-0 win at Amalie Arena, but have not yet been able to greet the public.
Previous Rankings: 4Registration:
week: vs. OTT (Feb. 4); @ OTT (Feb. 6).
It almost went well for the Habs, but they could have polished up the game a bit. Montreal had 53 penalties in the first 10 games and is second in the league with 12:18 penalty minutes per game.
Previous score: 3Record
: 7-2-1 This
week: against VAN (February 4, 6, 8).
Toronto’s defensive back-end was a stalemate. The team wants to give Mikko Lehtonen a chance, but is reluctant to use him too often in 5-on-5 because he still needs to get used to the North American game.
Previous score: 8Record
: 6-1-2 This
week : @ PHI (February 3, 5).
The Bruins had to adjust their lineups, especially the right wings, early in the season due to injuries. “It’s a right wing dilemma with [David] Krejci that we thought we would solve this year,” coach Bruce Cassidy said this week.
1Line: 5-1-1 This
Week: Against Los Angeles (Feb. 5, 7); Against ANA (Feb. 9)
Last season, the Golden Knights played in the top 10 on the power play, but it’s not working for them yet. They are now 28th in the league. Coach Peter DeBoer said last week that the team is trying out new concepts. “We haven’t come together as a group yet,” he said. “But I think that’s going to happen.”
Previous Rankings: 5Registration
: 6-1-3 This
week : @ NYR (Feb. 4); vs. PHI (Feb. 7, 9).
The Caps were the biggest disappointment of the season as Alex Ovechkin and three of his teammates violated the strictest traffic laws, forcing the captain to miss four games. Washington went 3-0-1 in his absence, however, with 55.6 percent of the game on power plays.
Previous Score: 18Balance
week: Against NSH (Feb. 4, 5); Against DET (Feb. 7, 9).
Perhaps the biggest disappointment for the Panthers is that they have the best offense in the league and a 5-0-1 record – while rookies Patrick Hornqvist and Carter Verhaeg have combined for 10 goals – but they probably don’t have enough credit for that.
Previous score: 9Registration
week: vs. BOS (Feb. 3, 5); @ WSH (Feb. 7, 9).
Travis Konecny is one of the best young attackers in Philadelphia. He has scored five goals in nine games. But the Flyers expect more, which is why he will be on the bench on Saturday. “His five-on-five game should be better in the areas he knows,” coach Alain Vigneault said.
Previous score: 16Record
: 6-1-0 This
week : @ CHI (Feb. 4); @ CBJ (Feb. 7, 8).
After four starts, Petr Mrazek leads the NHL in save percentage (.955) and goals-against average (0.99). But Mrazek was injured last weekend and coach Rod Brind’Amour says his absence will be “prolonged” and he may need surgery.
Previous ranking: 12Registration
week: against ARI (Feb. 4); against COL (Feb. 6, 7), @ MIN (Feb. 9).
Vince Dunn is an expensive analyst, but a slow start and a few healthy scrapes have put him on the trading block. At 24 years old and with an annual salary of less than $2 million, many teams are interested. But can the Blues get a first-round pick in return?
Previous Rankings: 6Registration
week: against MIN (February 4); @ STL (February 6, 7); against ARI (February 9).
Nathan MacKinnon has carried the load for the Avs squad for the past two seasons with injuries, but they will have to give something back after the star center missed “week after week” with a lower-body injury.
Previous Rankings: 7Registration
: 5-1-1 This
week : @ CBJ (Feb. 4); vs. CHI (Feb. 7, 9).
Joel Kiviranta was one of the favorites in the playoffs of the 2020 bubble and is expected to step up this season. But we haven’t seen the young Finn since the opening game (lower-body injury) when he joined Dallas’ injury list.
Previous score: 11Record
: 6-5-0 This
week : @ COL (Feb. 4); vs. ARI (Feb. 6, 7); vs. STL (Feb. 9).
Minnesota’s future looks bright, but the Department of Player Safety is also looking at the Wild this week. Kevin Fiala was suspended for three games for boarding and Nick Bjugstad was fined $5,000 for cross-checking.
Previous Score: 13Balance
week: vs CGY (Feb. 4); @ CGY (Feb. 9).
If the Jets, as an organization, are happy to have acquired Pierre-Luc Dubois, they need to look inward and evaluate their culture. If Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Laine and Jack Roslovic are casual players, it’s hard to get past the top three players who want to leave.
Previous score: 19Record
: 4-4-3 This
week: against DAL (February 4); against CAR (February 7, 8).
Here’s something the Blue Jackets aren’t used to seeing: In the first 10 games of the season in which the top duo of Seth Jones and Zach Wierenski were on the ice, Columbus outscored them 11-4.
Previous Rankings: 10Registration
week : @ NYI (Feb. 6); @ NJ (Feb. 9).
The malaise of injuries hit the Penguins hard in 2019-20 and did not let up in 2021. This time it reached the blue line. After the unexpected resignation of Jim Rutherford last week, the new general manager will have to deal with these issues.
Previous score: 15Registration
: 6-6-0 This
week : @ CGY (February 6); @ OTT (February 8, 9).
One hoped Kyle Turris would be able to resume his play in Edmonton after three disappointing seasons in Nashville. Not so much. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are still getting very little help from their teammates, including Turris (just three points in 12 games).
Previous score: 24Record
: 6-7-0 This
week : @ TOR (February 4, 6, 8).
Poor defense and lower-than-expected production from its biggest stars were the reason for the Canucks’ slow start. Vancouver is not in bad shape, but cannot afford to wait 20 to 30 games to get going.
Previous Rankings: 21Registration
week : @ WPG (Feb. 4); vs. EDM (Feb. 6); vs. WPG (Feb. 9).
Something is going on with Sam Bennett. His agent, Darren Ferris, told Sportsnet that the center wanted a “change of scenery,” but the Flames refused Bennett’s request for a trade. Either way, bouncing back from the last six is not ideal.
Previous score: 17Balance
week: against PIT (February 9)
It is good to see the Devils, led by the resurrected Jack Hughes, doing well this season, but their penalty shootout (a strength last season) did not do well, finishing 29th in the championship (67.7%).
Previous score: 14Record
: 3-4-2 This
week: vs. PIT (Feb. 6); @ NYR (Feb. 8).
The five games without a win are troubling, meaning the Islanders’ usual problems are getting worse. These include playing without an opposing goal (19th in the league, or 15.8%) and scoring goals overall (29th, or 2.11 goals per game).
Previous Rankings: 20Registration
: 4-5-0 This
week : @ FLA (Feb. 4, 5); vs. TB (Feb. 8, 9).
The Preds have had a poor start, ranking 27th in the league in goals scored (2.33 goals per game). In the first nine games, the Predators led in less than 38 minutes.
Previous ranking: 27Balance
week: Against WSH (Feb. 4); Against NYI (Feb. 8).
Tony DeAngelo was selected 12th overall for the Norris Trophy last season and received a $9.6 million contract in October. The 25-year-old is unlikely to play for the New York Rangers again. Disappointing fall.
Previous score: 23Record
: 3-4-2 This
week : @ VGS (Feb. 5, 7); vs. SJ (Feb. 9).
The Kings’ start to the season is promising, but the depth of the roster is starting to become a problem. Injuries have hit the blue line hard with defensemen Sean Walker (Matt Doomba with puck in face) and Matt Roy (Kevin Fiala on board) out of the game for “a long time.”
Previous ranking: 29Registration
week: vs. CAR (Feb. 4); @ DAL (Feb. 7, 9).
Even though it was an open game, Collin Delia and Malcolm Subban may have been disappointed that Kevin Lankinen grabbed the receiver so early. The young Finn (who is fourth in the league in save percentage) caused quite a stir.
Previous score: 28Record
: 3-5-1 This
week : @ STL (Feb. 4); @ MIN (Feb. 6, 7); @ COL (Feb. 9).
The Coyotes decided not to trade captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson this season, and now they are seeing how difficult it is to fill his role. Kyle Capobianco, Jordan Gross and Victor Soderstrom were traded for an injured captain, but it wasn’t the same.
Previous Ranking: 26Registration
: 4-4-2 This
week: All matches have been moved
Veteran Kyle Okposo sums up the Sabres’ season: “You can probably ask everybody if they’re happy with their offensive play, especially up front, and I think you’re going to get a lot of no’s, including me. … That will be our biggest challenge”.
Previous score: 22Record
: 3-5-0 This
week : @ ANA (Feb. 5, 6); @ LA (Feb. 9).
The biggest disappointment for the Sharks so far is that they are the only team yet to have a home game. Although the schedule has changed several times, it looks like San Jose will finally have a home game on February 13.
Previous score: 25Balance
week: vs SJ (Feb 5, 6); @ VGS (Feb 9).
Fans in Anaheim know that this season is looking forward. So perhaps it’s disappointing that Trevor Zegras hasn’t been called up yet, especially when he does things like this:
Yes, you can’t stop it!
Watch @tzegras11 score that beautiful goal in the penalty shootout to secure the win. #LetsGoGulls | #SDvsBAK pic.twitter.com/J6g9MhsCLs
– San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) February 1, 2021
Previous score: 31Record
: 2-6-2 This
week : @TB (Feb. 3, 5); @FLA (Feb. 7, 9).
The Red Wings are frustrated by the fact that while they were trying to establish their identity this season, they lost several players to COWIDA-related retirements. Such is life in the NHL in 2021.
Previous Rankings: 30Registration
: 1-8-1 This
week : @ MTL (February 4); vs. MTL (February 6); vs. EDM (February 8, 9).
Matt Murray won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh at the age of 23. He signed a big contract in Ottawa, but he’s struggling there (and it’s not just the fault of the team that’s in last place). His save percentage of .849 is 51st in the league among goalies who have played more than one game.
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