Rich 10 NHL Rankings (May 10-16, 2021)

Time sure does fly, doesn’t it? 

The final “full” week of the 2021 NHL regular season is finally here, and while the playoff picture is as clear as day at this point, no one can turn away a few more old-fashioned hockey games with bragging rights solely on the line. 

Although several teams have already concluded their season, the show must go on. And so, here is another installment of Rich 10 NHL Power Rankings. 

At the edge of the crease: Edmonton Oilers (33-18-2, 68 points)

Previous ranking: N/A

Record over past week: 3-1-0

Connor McDavid is a deity living amongst mere mortals. His four-point performance against the Vancouver Canucks officially put the Ontario, Canada native in a class of his own this season if he was not in one already. Yes, McDavid now has 100 points in only 53 games played. Per NHL Public Relations, McDavid is the ninth player in NHL history to amass 100+ points in 53 games or fewer in a single season. The last time a skater was able to do this was during the 1995-96 season when both Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr did it in 38 and 52 games, respectively. This was before McDavid was even born. Yes, in case you needed a reminder – he is 24.

10. Tampa Bay Lightning (36-16-3, 75 points)

Previous ranking: 6

Record over past week: 1-2-0

Some might think I am being a tad too harsh on Tampa Bay. But let’s be honest. Regardless of the injury issues, champions find a way to get the job done. In what was a monumental game against Florida on May 8, Tampa Bay fizzled out in what was a 5-1 defeat. However, there is some good news. To start, Tampa Bay was the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Champion for a reason, and the mentality to win come crunch-time is still there. They will have a chance to show it on May 10, as they will do battle against the Panthers once more in a game that will determine who holds home-ice advantage. Butter up your popcorn. This will be tasty.

9. Boston Bruins (32-15-7, 71 points)

Previous ranking: 8

Record over past week: 2-1-1

Can anyone get enough of David Pastrnak? Well, any team who plays against him could probably do without him, given he has the tendency to score a goal or two in practically every game he plays. At least, so it seems. Then again, my confirmation bias might not be that extreme – with his netter against the New York Rangers on May 8, the 24-year-old now has 200 NHL goals to his credit. Per NHL Public Relations, Pastrnak’s 437 games needed to reach the 200-goal mark is the fifth-fastest among all active skaters, behind Alex Ovechkin (296), Steven Stamkos (354), Sidney Crosby (396) and Evgeni Malkin (417). Solid company, don’t you think? 

8. Washington Capitals (35-15-5, 75 points)

Previous ranking: 10

Record over past week: 3-1-0

No week was as exhilarating as this one for Washington fans (and team members) out there. While sparks ignited and extracurricular activities erupted between the Capitals and Rangers thanks to Tom Wilson, T.J. Oshie tallied his fifth-career hat trick and his first since 2017 on May 5. The performance came a day after the death of his father. You simply cannot script any of this. Oshie, however, was forced to exit the game against the Philadelphia Flyers on May 8 after suffering an ankle injury. Washington will limp into their final regular season game on May 11 when they host the Bruins. 

7. Toronto Maple Leafs (35-13-6, 76 points) 

Previous ranking: 4

Record over past week: 2-0-1

Another week, and another well-earned paycheck for Auston Matthews. While his point totals over the past week are certainly solid in and of itself (two goals and one assist), his goal streak was even more impressive – before his streak was snapped on May 8 thanks to the Montreal Canadiens, Matthews scored at least one goal in each of his last five contests dating back to Apr. 28 against, ironically enough, the Canadiens. The more Matthews skates, the more of a norm it is for him to find the back of the net. Just another day at the office (or rink?) for the American. 

6. Minnesota Wild (35-14-5, 75 points)

Previous ranking: 9

Record over past week: 3-0-1

Minnesota just has a knack for making games entertaining, don’t they? While their two overtime thrillers against the Anaheim Ducks over the weekend would certainly prove this to be true, it was a May 3 regulation game against the Vegas Golden Knights that took the cake, as the Wild scored three unanswered goals with less than 10 minutes to go in the third period. After Kirill Kaprizov scored the game-tying goal with less than two minutes to go in regulation, 27-year-old defenseman Jonas Brodin delivered the backbreaker less than 30 seconds later. With the finish, Minnesota blue-liners have now delivered a game-winning goal in six games this season. This is a deep team, ladies and gentlemen. 

5. Pittsburgh Penguins (37-16-3, 77 points)

Previous ranking: 7

Record over past week: 3-1-0

The Penguins concluded their regular season by beating up on the hapless Buffalo Sabres for a pair. While their final two games will not tell us much (or at least anything new) about the MassMutual East Division winners, they did reinforce the obvious – Pittsburgh will need their stars to do some heavy lifting. Getting assistance from supplementary veterans like Jeff Carter will also help – in 14 games played with the Penguins, the former Philadelphia Flyer, Columbus Blue Jacket and Los Angeles King has 11 points (nine goals, two assists). The 36-year-old’s four-goal performance against Buffalo on May 6 was the first for an NHL skater 35 years old or older to score at least four goals in a game since Patrick Marleau did it on Jan. 23, 2017 (he scored four against Colorado). Dating back to the 1979-80 season, Carter’s electric game is one of only eight to fit the criteria. As it turns out, salty and grizzled veterans can still turn out production usual for a youngster every now and then. 

4. Colorado Avalanche (36-13-4, 76 points)

Previous ranking: 5

Record over past week: 3-1-0

If you want to know how good Colorado has it on the blue line side of the puck, look no further than their game against the Kings Saturday evening. All three of their goals scored came from their defensemen, as Devon Toews notched two and Cale Makar netted the other. Trying to figure out how many scoring options Colorado truly has would be as tedious as counting the blades of grass out in your front lawn. They have that many. Colorado will need all of them primed and ready to go, as they will have to first run the gauntlet of Minnesota and Vegas before they have any chance of hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time in 19 years. 

3. Florida Panthers (36-14-5, 77 points)

Previous ranking: 3

Record over past week: 2-0-0

A penalty-filled May 8 date with the Lightning eventually saw the Panthers reign supreme in what amount to a grind-it-out (and fight-it-out) 5-1 rout. Although Sam Bennett compiled 12 of Florida’s 76 penalty infraction minutes during the bout, he has still been a significant force on the scoring and checking front. When including his power-play goal during the second period, the former first-round pick has already tallied more points in 10 games with Florida than he did in 38 games with Calgary this season (he has 15 points with the Panthers compared to 12 with the Flames). Bennett’s physical presence (he has 29 hits while donning a Panther sweater) will be key should Florida maintain their smash-mouth approach come playoff time when they square off against the Stanley Cup champions. 

2. Vegas Golden Knights (39-13-2, 80 points)

Previous ranking: 2

Record over past week: 3-1-0

Three unanswered goals courtesy of the Wild on May 3 prevented Vegas from reclaiming the top spot in this ranking installment. Sometimes you simply tip your cap to the opponent and chalk it up as a bad day on the ice. Regardless, Vegas is still as potent as ever, and if Reilly Smith continues to show anything close to what he did against the St. Louis Blues Saturday night, they will only be more dangerous. His hat trick against the Blues was the first of his 10-year NHL career. Vegas will close out the regular season with a home game against Colorado on May 10 before taking to the road one last time to face San Jose on May 12. 

1. Carolina Hurricanes (36-11-8, 80 points)

Previous ranking: 1

Record over past week: 2-1-1

This team might have fluctuated in this ranking installment over the entirety of this ranking series, but just know this – this team is elite. The Hurricanes should feel good about themselves regardless of where they stand in these ranking installments, though. After all, the team clinched the Discover Central Division on Friday. Why is this significant outside of the obvious? Well, this is Carolina’s first division title since the 2005-06 season when they were part of the now-defunct Southeast Division. Carolina’s reward for clinching the first-overall seed in the division? Instead of matching up with Florida or Tampa Bay in the first round, they get Nashville, a team they have a 6-1-0 record against this season. 

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