Things are heating up atop the Western Conference, and the Edmonton Oilers have a lot to do with it.
Since acquiring defenseman Mattias Ekholm ahead of the trade deadline, the Oilers have looked like a complete team capable of hoisting the Stanley Cup at the end of the season. Edmonton is 8-2-0 in its last 10 games, outscoring opponents 47-35.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl need no introduction, but Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman are both in the middle of career years themselves. Evander Kane has returned to the lineup too, and he scored a hat trick in his fifth game back.
As long as the Oilers' goaltending situation can hold up, they can win heavyweight bouts with the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche. Between an upgraded blue line and an embarrassment of riches up front, Edmonton will be a lot of fun to watch in the postseason.
With the Oilers rising quickly, here are the updated NHL Power Rankings.
|Jeremy Swayman has now posted shutouts in back-to-back starts. The Bruins are already tough enough to beat when Vezina Trophy contender Linus Ullmark is in the game, and now Swayman seems to be hitting his stride. Good luck beating Boston when both netminders are brick walls.||--||65-12-5|
|Even without Kevin Fiala and Sean Durzi in the lineup for a couple of weeks, the Kings just continue to bulldoze opponents on a regular basis. Drew Doughty has stepped up his offensive game lately with three goals in his last four games, which has doubled his total for the 2022-23 season.||2||47-25-10|
|The Avs are riding a six-game winning streak, and Nathan MacKinnon has been leading a shorthanded roster on a trail of destruction. MacKinnon is in the middle of a nine-game point streak, and he's tallied six goals and 10 assists in that time. No matter how many injuries Colorado is dealing with, MacKinnon makes the team a threat to beat any team on any given night.||6||51-24-7|
|Thanks to a recent hot streak from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers might have three players eclipse the 100-point mark in the 2022-23 season. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are already there, and Nugent-Hopkins is closing in on triple digits now, too. With 14 points in 10 games this month, Nugent-Hopkins is now on pace to finish the season with 99.||6||50-23-9|
|Sebastian Aho went from March 5 to March 17 without recording a single point, but he broke out of his slump with a hat trick against the Philadelphia Flyers. With Andrei Svechnikov done for the season due to injury, the Hurricanes can't afford for Aho to go silent in the playoffs. Maybe that hat trick gave him something to build upon down the stretch.||2||52-21-9|
|If there is one legitimate concern about the Devils heading into the playoffs, it's between the pipes. Vitek Vanacek has struggled in a few of his recent starts, and he has posted -1.86 goals saved above average in March. Rookie Akira Schmid has played relatively well, but he only has 22 games of NHL experience under his belt. The good news for New Jersey is that it doesn't really need elite goaltending to win the Cup with this roster.||4||52-22-8|
|Vegas has been one of the hottest teams in the NHL of late, but the team's underlying numbers are fairly concerning. Since March 1, the Golden Knights are 8-2-0, but they have controlled just 39.61% of the five-on-five expected goals in that span, per Natural Stat Trick. That ranks last in the NHL with teams like the Ducks and Canadiens sitting ahead of them.||1||51-22-9|
|Over the weekend, the Rangers showed what kind of offensive outbursts their roster is capable of producing. In back-to-back shutouts of the Penguins and Predators, the Blueshirts found the back of the net 13 times. I, for one, can't wait to see the Rangers get into some postseason shootouts.||3||47-22-13|
|With Kirill Kaprizov out due to injury, Matt Boldy has stepped into a first-line role, and he is taking advantage of the opportunity. Boldly scored a hat trick in Sunday's win over the Capitals, and he has 10 points in his last six games. If Boldy can keep up this level of production when Kaprizov returns, Minnesota may have solved its depth scoring issue.||4||46-25-11|
|With the playoffs in sight, Miro Heiskanen has taken his game to another level. Heiskanen has recorded a point in 11 straight games, and he has four goals and 14 assists in that span. As a result of his hot streak, Heiskanen has absolutely blown his previous career highs in goals, assists, and points out of the water.||4||47-21-14|
|I keep writing blurbs about Matthew Tkachuk's hot streak, and he just keeps one-upping himself. In his last six games, Tkachuk has recorded three or more points four times. He is on an incredible run, and that has resulted in the Panthers' surging into the Eastern Conference's second wild card spot. If Florida continues to play well heading into the postseason, they might be a dangerous first-round matchup.||1||42-32-8|
|The Islanders notched a massive win over the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night, and they increased their chances of landing the top wild card spot. That's pretty important considering the fact that the second wild card team will have to play a Bruins team on pace to set the record for most points in a single season.||2||42-31-9|
|Like the Golden Knights, the Maple Leafs have posted some terrible underlying numbers lately. Since the start of March, Toronto has controlled just 41.82% of the expected goals at five-on-five, per Natural Stat Trick. That ranks 29th in the NHL, and it does raise a red flag with just a few weeks left in the regular season. I'm sure I'll still pick the Leafs to beat the Bolts in the first round, though.||6||50-21-11|
|Matty Beniers may have hit somewhat of a rookie wall. He hasn't scored since Feb. 23, and he has just seven assists in his last 11 games. Beniers has been a huge part of Seattle's step forward in 2022-23, and the team needs him to find his rhythm again in order to be a real threat in the playoffs.||1||46-28-8|
|Nikita Kucherov has posted the third 100-point season of his career. After missing all of half of that last two seasons, Kucherov has been fully healthy this year, and his production has reflected that. Kucherov is an unstoppable force when he's in the lineup, and his favorite time of year isn't far away.||--||46-30-6|
|The Jets got a massive overtime win over the Predators on Saturday, and their playoff chances look much better as a result. They can really lock up a spot in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs over the next couple of weeks. Three of Winnipeg's next four opponents are well out of the playoff picture.||--||46-33-3|
|Since returning to the lineup on Feb. 27, goaltender Thatcher Demko has provided some stability for the Canucks. In his last eight appearances, Demko has recorded 6.97 goals saved above average, per Natural Stat Trick. That number leads the NHL in that stretch.||5||38-37-7|
|To this point in the 2022-23 season, the Flames have controlled 55.20% of the expected goals at five-on-five, per Natural Stat Trick. That is third in the NHL, so Calgary has done something right in this disappointing campaign. The issue is that the Flames are dead last in shooting percentage (8.85%) and 29th in save percentage (88.68%). That is a tough combo to overcome.||3||38-27-17|
|At what point is it safe to declare Tim Stützle a legitimate superstar in this league? I'm getting closer and closer by the day. In his third NHL season, the former No. 3 overall pick has 35 goals and 78 points. Stützle is only 21, and he will only get better from here, which is rather unfortunate news for the rest of the Atlantic Division..||--||39-35-8|
|It looks like the Capitals just won't have the legs to reach the postseason. The odds were stacked against them in the form of injuries to key players all year, and Washington will likely fall a little bit short of a playoff berth. Hopefully Washington can retool its roster in the offseason so Ovechkin can get another crack at a Cup toward the end of his career.||3||35-37-10|
|Not having Ovechkin in the playoffs will be weird enough, but Crosby missing the playoffs too would make me feel both a little sad and a little old. The last time neither Ovechkin nor Crosby made the playoffs was in 2006, when both players were rookies. With the Penguins dropping four straight games in regulation, we're heading in that direction again.||4||40-31-11|
|If real life were anything like "NBA Jam," Clayton Keller would be walking around the greater Tempe area engulfed in flames. He has quietly been one of the hottest players in the NHL this month with eight goals and nine assists in 10 games played. He's the main reason Arizona is 6-3-2 in March.||4||28-40-14|
|The Predators may finally be feeling the effects of their trade deadline moves and the injury bug. Nashville held on in the playoff race for as long as possible, but it is five points behind Winnipeg with just 13 games left. That math is not in the Predators' favor.||3||42-32-8|
|After remaining in the postseason picture for most of the season, the Sabres have been sinking like a stone in the standings. Buffalo has gone 2-7-2 in the month of March, and its latest loss was a 7-3 throttling at the hands of a depleted Predators team. If there is any silver lining, it's that the Sabres have been doing good work to improve their draft pick.||6||42-33-7|
|Jordan Binnington continued to live out his Slap Shot dream by taking a shot at the Wild's Ryan Hartman last week. That intensity is all well and good when the Blues are competing for a Stanley Cup, but it starts to wear thin when the team is 11th in the conference and Binnington has a 3.39 GAA.||--||37-38-7|
|It's been tough to find many positives for the Ducks this season, but I suppose that's to be expected when the team has a minus-100 goal differential with 12 games remaining. We'll see how many changes the organization makes this offseason, but landing a top-two pick would be a real shot in the arm.||1||23-47-12|
|In his first season with the Red Wings, David Perron has taken a step back. His production is down across the board from where it was in St. Louis, and it will be interesting to see what Detroit does with Perron in the offseason. Perron still has one year left on his contract at $4.75 million, and he could still be an appealing middle-six upgrade for a number of teams.||3||35-37-10|
|If you're fishing for positives for the Blackhawks as they play out the stretch, former sixth-round draft pick Cole Guttman has been a pleasant surprise in his first 14 NHL games. He has four goals and two assists so far, and it'll be interesting to see if he plays a bigger role next year.||--||26-49-7|
|After a somewhat underwhelming debut with the Flyers last season, Owen Tippett looks like he could be an important player moving forward. This season, Tippett has 21 goals and 18 assists in 65 games played. Tippett has probably earned a bigger role as Philadelphia continues its rebuild next season.||2||31-38-13|
|In his first game since Feb. 14, Kirby Dach opened the scoring in a 3-2 win over the Lightning. After a lower-body injury was initially misdiagnosed as an illness, the Canadiens have to be happy that Dach is back to full health and that he picked up right where he left off.||1||31-45-6|
|It didn't necessarily help their tank, but the Blue Jackets won a fun 7-6 shootout over the Capitals on Tuesday night. After struggling to find the back of the net lately, and for most of the season, Jack Roslovic scored a pair of goals, including the overtime winner.||1||25-48-9|
|If there is one criticism of the Sharks' tanking effort over the last couple of weeks, it's that they have picked up too many loser points. San Jose has lost seven games in a row, but three of those losses have come in overtime. Now is not the time for competitive losses.||--||22-44-16|