NHL Power Rankings: Caps still hold top spot, while Rangers surge into the top five

The February push has begun in the NHL.

As wild-card hunts intensify along with talks of potential trades, some teams have distanced themselves from playoff contention, while others have strengthened their case for a run at the Stanley Cup.

The Washington Capitals remain the clear-cut leader of the pack, and there’s no stopping the Colorado Avalanche from rounding out the 30-team hierarchy. But we do have a couple of big movers, starting with the New York Rangers’ ascension to top-five prominence:

Biggest Movers
6 Bruins
4 Predators
1 Capitals Back-to-back losses to Detroit (yes, really) and New York certainly put a dent in the Caps' once-apparent invincibility. But Washington, unbeaten in February until the Red Wings' upset, is still a force to be reckoned with both on paper and on ice. No one's managing the puck like them. -- 41-12
2 Wild The high-flying offense continues to click despite a 1-0 slip-up against Anaheim. They are still the class of the Western Conference. -- 39-14
3 Rangers Whoa there. Welcome to the top five. Four hundred career wins wasn't enough for Henrik Lundqvist, who's been headlining New York's surge in a competitive division. 3 39-19
4 Penguins Sidney Crosby is now the newest member of the 1,000-point club. And even though the Pens are not nearly as reliable as their offense suggests they should be, they're still scoring like nobody's business. -- 37-14
5 Blackhawks They've got a big chance to step forward with a matchup vs. Minnesota this week. If they can stay hot, their streaks will carry them above Pittsburgh in these rankings and, in the real world, closer to the Wild atop the Central Division. 2 38-18
6 Blue Jackets As a whole package, their season has been superior to that of the Rangers. But it's the offensive shortcomings and noted drop off from a historic win streak that have them on the brink of the league's five top contenders. 1 37-16
7 Sharks They've slipped up, but at least their losses have come in overtime, if we're solely considering points here. Somebody help out Patrick Marleau. -- 35-18
8 Ducks Quack, quack. The offense has sputtered but the 1-0 shutout of the Wild has to count for something. If the "D" keeps working, the Ducks will, too. 1 32-20
9 Oilers Can they consistently beat good teams? They're going to need more than Connor McDavid to do so. And some spotty signs of that offensive life give them a boost. 1 33-21
10 Canadiens Let's see if this Claude Julien reunion works out. If it's anything above .500, it'll be better than what the Habs have shown since their dominant run early in the year. 2 32-21
11 Senators Balance is key, and the Senators have plenty of it thanks to some superb play in the net and a plethora of A-game forward production, aside from in a loss to the Jets. 1 32-21
12 Bruins Careful not to overhype Bruce Cassidy's interim run with playoff guarantees. But the Bruins are, in fact, shaping up in a hurry, with depth and offensive balance triggering a turnaround. 6 31-24
13 Maple Leafs In a scrap for wild-card contention, the Maple Leafs absolutely slammed the New York Islanders, 7-1. They're riding off unexpectedly high expectations. -- 28-20
14 Blues So what if the Blues' big streak got fueled by wins over some lowly squads? The Kevin Shattenkirk-led team has also stood up to Montreal and built momentum. 2 31-24
15 Predators Talk about a mixed bag. The inconsistencies probably warrant them a lower spot, but when they're on their game and the talent shows through, it's hard not to like their potential. 4 29-22
16 Islanders Set aside the embarrassment against Toronto, and they've mostly been rolling under Doug Weight's guidance. 1 29-21
17 Panthers Getting reinforcements, especially from their own rehabilitating lineup, will be central to Florida's journey toward a wild-card spot. 3 28-22
18 Kings For the sake of Jeff Carter, let's hope the Kings can find their rhythm once they're fully back into the swing of things following their break. 4 29-27
19 Flyers As much as we'd all like to think this team can compete (or would we?), goaltender issues and an awful February stretch keep drowning what's left of deep postseason hopes. 4 28-25
20 Flames You can't always rely on a team that has the ability to string together goals but gives up far too many of them. And yet the Flames still have a nice little track record this month. 1 32-26
21 Devils They're still in the mix for a wild-card spot, but as the March 1 trade deadline draws closer, it seems more and more like they're on the verge of selling. -- 25-25
22 Lightning A shootout win over the Wild would've been a gem for this organization. 2 27-25
23 Hurricanes The promise of their youth isn't hard to see, but it is marred this season by a porous defense, particularly in the net. 1 25-24
24 Canucks Just because the Canucks are within reach of a playoff spot doesn't mean they could use a severe injection of long-term talent to accompany Bo Horvat and Co. 1 26-28
25 Sabres Evander Kane: Hot trade bait? We'll see, but this unit needs some defensive additions for the long haul. -- 26-24
26 Jets Better luck next year, when the Jets' fresh talent can blossom around whatever Winnipeg might be able to reel in come trade time. -- 28-29
27 Stars Big talent has resulted in nothing big for Dallas. It's still time for an overhaul. -- 24-27
28 Red Wings Things have only gotten worse lately. Granted, Detroit has faced top-of-the-league competition, but now, the real question is whether they can rebuild appropriately. -- 24-26
29 Coyotes Props to the Coyotes for catching the Penguins off guard, but we all know better than to think this club is close to vastly improving. At least they're flashing hope for the future. -- 21-32
30 Avalanche Will they break the puck possession rate in the worst way possible? Or will they get a massive haul for Matt Duchene? Either way, they deserve this seat in the cellar. -- 16-40
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