Weekly Power Rankings: The Florida Panthers are in trouble
This team has taken a massive step backwards and are running out of time to reverse that.
When the 2022-23 season began I had the Florida Panthers pegged as a team that was likely to take a small step backwards. At least from where they were a year ago when they won the Presidents’ Trophy with the league’s best record, had the league’s best offense by averaging more than four goals per game, and looked like a team that had a serious chance to win the Stanley Cup.
Then they went out and added a superstar in Matthew Tkachuk to their roster.
All of that was great.
The problem, however, was that even with the addition of Tkachuk they lost a LOT of talent from last year’s roster. They had to trade another superstar in Jonathan Huberdeau and a top-four defenseman in MacKenzie Weegar to get Tkachuk, they lost Claude Giroux and Mason Marchment in free agency, and then Anthony Duclair was starting the year injured and has yet to play a game this season.
As good as Tkachuk is, they lost way more than they were gaining.
Even more baffling was the decision to not bring back interim head coach Andrew Brunette and replace him with the perpetually mediocre Paul Maurice who is producing the exact results you would expect a Paul Maurice-led team to produce. Just consistent mediocrity.
After Sunday’s loss to the New York Rangers the Panthers now find themselves way down the Eastern Conference standings, are 25th in the league in points percentage, and are eight points back of a playoff spot even though they have played more games than the teams they are chasing. The defense is a mess, Sergei Bobrovsky has badly regressed in goal from what was a bounce-back performance a year ago, and even though Tkachuk has been great the entire offense has taken a massive step backwards. They are in trouble and are going to need an incredible second half to get back in the playoff picture and avoid going from top team in the league to out of the playoffs in just one year. T
They are also way down in this week’s NHL Power Rankings.
Elsewhere, the Boston Bruins maintain their hold on the top spot, while the Carolina Hurricanes continue to stay on their heels. The Dallas Stars also make a big push into the top-five this week. We look at all of that and more in this week’s NHL Power Rankings.
Where does your team sit?
To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!!
1. Boston Bruins. They are unbeatable at home. At least in regulation. They are pretty great on the road, as well. To be nearly at the halfway point and only have four regulation losses is incredible.
2. Carolina Hurricanes. Pyotr Kochtkov is one of the underrated stars of this team in goal. He enters the week with a 10-1-4 record in his starts with a .928 save percentage. That sort of goaltending with that roster will take you a long way.
3. Dallas Stars. They re-signed Joe Pavelski to a one-year, $3.5 million contract extension on Sunday. That is a steal. Pavelski might be 38 years old but he is still an incredible player, averaging over a point per game the past two years. Tremendous addition, fantastic re-signing. He is a huge part of the best top line in hockey with Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs. William Nylander does not get enough attention outside of Toronto. He is also the best bargain of their core against the salary cap.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy is starting to get things rolling. When that happens, this team becomes almost unfair to play against. They are 16-5-0 since starting the season 7-6-1 over their first 14 games. Just a model of consistency and dominance here.
6. Vegas Golden Knights. Still can not get over the career path of Chandler Stephenson. This guy was a complete non-factor in Washington and now he is the leading scorer on a really good Vegas team.
7. Pittsburgh Penguins. They had a couple of slip ups this week and need to do a much better job managing some of their player usage. But Ron Hextall also needs to address some spots on this roster.
8. New York Rangers. They need to let their young forwards find out if they are stars or not. If they are, this is a Stanley Cup contender.
9. Washington Capitals. Alex Ovechkin is rolling, and so is the rest of the team. They are not finished yet.
10. New Jersey Devils. There is a lot to like about them, and I love their young players, but I do not love the way things have been trending here over the past couple of weeks.
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