MassMutual East Division Power Rankings: Boston Bruins Lead Three Headed Race
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Feels like the season just started, didn't it? It feels that way because it kind of did. February was the first full month of the season in the NHL, and teams are already approaching the halfway mark.
Decided to do a weekly power rankings for each division. Eventually may combine everything together but for now will just do each division separately. We will start with the MassMutual East Division.
1. Boston Bruins: 12-5-2 (26 points) 68.4 Points%
Their convincing victory on Lake Tahoe against the Philadelphia Flyers really cemented their place at the top of the list. David Pastrnak is amazing, isn't he? Fair to say he is the best winger in the game right now?
Something to watch going forward for the Bruins, they rank 27th and 26th in save and shooting percentage, respectively, while at 5v5 according to Natural Stat Trick. Not exactly a recipe for success, but having the 11th best expected goal share in the league has helped stay on top.
2. Philadelphia Flyers: 11-4-3 (25 points) 69.4 Points%
No team has a higher shooting percentage at 5v5 than the Flyers, led by Joel Farabee's seven goals (at 5v5). While he's been a money scoring goals on the power play, James Van Riemsdyk has 14 assists at 5v5, leading the team.
While the goaltending hasn't been great, it's been good. Ranking the top three in order were hard, but in the end I still feel like Boston edges out Philly.
3. Washington Capitals: 12-5-4 (28 points) 66.7 Points%
It was hard to let the first place team in the division drop this far, but here are the Capitals. They may be playing better than anyone else in the division right now and can make a serious statement with a pair of games against the Bruins followed by one versus the Flyers - all of which are on the road.
The Flyers and Capitals are the only two teams in the league with a shooting percentage over 10% at 5v5 to this point in the season. Without Ilya Samsonov in net, the Capitals have relied on Vitek Vanecek to carry them and after some rough outings, he has responded with some strong play over the past couple of games.
With Samsonov back, Washington can look to improve on the 21st ranked save percentage they currently own.
4. New York Islanders: 11-6-4 (26 points) 60.0 Points%
If this ends up being the first round playoff matchups, there probably won't be a team more upset with their pairing than the Bruins. The Islanders have dominated their matchups, but have struggled against the rest of their division.
But then they put up the kind of dominating snooze fest that they did on Sunday against the Penguins that reminds you that their brand of hockey is the last thing you want to see.
Back-to-back shutouts from your 'backup' goalie will go a long way in showing just how difficult they can be to play against.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins: 11-8-1 (23 points) 60.5 Points%
This was tough. Are the Penguins a better team than the Islanders? That seems to vary from night-to-night. Pittsburgh have been a tough safe to crack this season. They have a lot of come-from-behind wins this season, meaning they don't quit. But they also spend a lot of time trailing.
It's hard to be confident about a team's playoff chances while they sport a negative goal differential, something that Pittsburgh currently sports. They also have just four regulation wins on the season, tied for the fewest in the division.
They looked good Saturday night before barely showing up Sunday. They played the same team so no one had any kind of rest advantage. They've shot the puck fairly well (10th in 5v5 SH%), and Tristan Jarry has been night and day from the start of the season (team is 4th in 5v5 SV%) but they need Evgeni Malkin to wake up from hibernation if they have any chance of making the playoffs.
6. New Jersey Devils: 7-8-2 (16 points) 47.1 Points%
You get the feeling the Devils are about a season away from being a team that you are going to have no choice but to take serious. MacKenzie Blackwood looks like he is the real deal and Jack Hughes is quickly wiping his rookie season from existence with his play this season.
They just need to start consistently beating the teams that they should beat, and steal one every now and again from the one's they shouldn't. This week is a good test for that, with two games against the Rangers. they also play the Islanders and Bruins throughout the week.
7. New York Rangers: 7-9-2 (17 points) 44.7 Points%
This team isn't built for this season, although wins like their 6-1 victory over the Bruins on Friday are great to see. With Alexis Lafreniere, K'Andre Miller, Igor Shesterkin and so much more, the Rangers are definitely a team to watch going forward, just not right now.
8. Buffalo Sabres: 6-10-3 (15 points) 39.5 Points%
Someone please help Jack Eichel. This team just isn't good and it seems so perplexing that it remains so year after year. They added hired gun Taylor Hall and are still one of the worst offenses in the league.
Is it possible to rebuild from a rebuild? The Sabres seem like they are going to test those waters.
What did you think of this weeks power rankings? Who would you have higher? How about lower? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site at the link above and follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy.