NHL Power Rankings: American Thanksgiving edition

Here's what you need to know from a busy Wednesday, where the Panthers triumphed in OT for their 11th straight home win to start the season, Auston Matthews and the Leafs blew out the Kings in L.A., and Connor McDavid came back in a major way, enjoying a four-point night.

All the food debates happening across America right now completely miss the point. The joy of Thanksgiving — regardless of which month you celebrate it — isn’t rooted in a single item on your plate; it’s the fact there’s no shame in filling that bad boy up as many times as you’d like.

Holidays are a hedonist’s paradise!

Of course, as a pal of mine likes to say, the bill for the good times always comes. And anyone who’s ever overstuffed on turkey can tell you, a deep, depilating lethargy often takes hold about two hours after dinner.

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This NHL campaign kicked off just after Thanksgiving in Canada and six weeks into the season, some players look like they’re still shaking out the drumsticks. Sleepy starts can be forgiven, naturally, as long as they don’t last too long.

With that in mind, this week’s power rankings highlight one player on every squad who could use a squirt of hot sauce in his diet.

1. Florida Panthers (14-2-3)

Patric Hornqvist isn’t a lead horse on this team, but he did score at a 26-goal pace for the Cats last season. It took him 11 games to get on the board this year and he’s buried just two pucks in 19 outings thus far.

2. Carolina Hurricanes (14-3-1)

I’m sure Jesperi Kotkaniemi is happy to be on a new team, I’m sure Carolina viewed the offer sheet as a long play for a guy who’s just 21 years old. That said, Kotkaniemi has three goals and just a single assist this year in 18 games. He’s also seen less than 10 minutes of ice in three of his past six contests.

3. Calgary Flames (12-3-5)

If I told you Calgary would be one of the teams surging to start the year, wouldn’t you assume Sean Monahan had recaptured 30-goal form? The big centre has just two markers all year. Monahan is scoring at a 14-goal pace in 70 contests dating back to the start of last season.

4. Edmonton Oilers (14-5-0)

Kailer Yamamoto has five points in 19 games as the 2017 first-rounder can’t seem to find anything close to the point-per-game pace he displayed over 27 games in 2019-20.

5. Washington Capitals (12-3-5)

It’s not that Vitek Vanecek has been bad, more like he just didn’t grab the bull by the horns when Ilya Samsonov was out or scuffling a bit upon his return from injury. Vanecek’s .916 save percentage at even strength ranks him 32nd in the league among tenders with at least five games played. (To be fair, Samsonov is only 30th at .918).

6. Colorado Avalanche (10-5-1)

We’re happy giving Darcy Kuemper time to adjust to his new team, but even during the Avs’ recent hot stretch, Kuemper’s save percentage during his past nine games is a ho-hum .908. He’s also on a bizarre run of losing skate blades in the middle of the action.

7. Tampa Bay Lightning (11-4-3)

Corey Perry scored his first of the year on Tuesday night during a win over Philly and did the whole thing where you pretend to grab the monkey that’s been residing on your back and toss it into the stands. Nobody expects the former MVP to light it up, but he should probably do a little more warm-up scoring before he’s expected to shine in the playoffs.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs (14-6-1)

Zero goals in 21 games is not what the team had in mind for Nick Ritchie, who has not been able to seize a prime opportunity to prove his 22-goal pace from last season was no fluke.

9. New York Rangers (12-4-3)

Igor Shesterkin may be the man, but a little support from Alexandar Georgiev would be nice. The Bulgarian has the worst save percentage (.858) of the 56 goalies who have appeared in at least five games.

10. Minnesota Wild (12-6-1)

This distinction was Kevin Fiala’s to lose as of last week, but he’s come alive with four points in his past five outings. As such, we have to stick it to the goalie duo of Cam Talbot and Kaapo Kahkonen, who have combined to provide the six-worst save percentage in the league (.896).

11. Columbus Blue Jackets (11-6-0)

Finding dogs on good teams is tough; finding them on over-achieving squads is nearly impossible. That said, it took Jack Roslovic 16 games to locate the back of the net and I think we can safely say Columbus was hoping for better production than that from the local boy.

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12. Pittsburgh Penguins (9-6-4)

Yep, we’re doing it! C’mon Crosby, shake the lead out! Sid has just one goal and two points in seven appearances and is losing 60 per cent of his faceoffs. Read this all again quickly before it changes.

13. Vegas Golden Knights (12-8-0)

We really had to reach here because so many key Vegas players have missed significant chunks of the season. Somehow we settled on Shea Theodore, who is, in fact, one of Vegas’s best skaters. The defenceman’s possession numbers have always been through the roof and his Corsi hasn’t dipped below 60 per cent in each of the past three seasons. Right now, though, he’s sitting at 50.7.

14. Boston Bruins (10-6-0)

He’s certainly going to eclipse the five goals he potted last season, but Jake DeBrusk is still scoring at just a 15-goal pace.

15. New Jersey Devils (8-5-4)

Nico Hischier isn’t a true light-it-up No. 1 overall pick and he’s scuffling along with a shooting percentage of 5.9 per cent, but two goals in 17 outings for the captain isn’t a super-great look.

16. St. Louis Blues (10-7-2) It’s wonderful to witness young players like Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas taking off in St. Louis, but the Blues would enjoy seeing Ryan O’Reilly get back to being that 70-point guy.

17. Anaheim Ducks (10-7-3)

Max Comtois is currently out after he had surgery on his right hand. We’ll see what happens when he returns, but his one point in 13 games did not pick up where his breakout year last season left off.

18. Winnipeg Jets (9-6-4)

Five assists (and no goals) in 14 games? Not a single point in the past four games, all losses for the Jets? Who is this imposter Blake Wheeler?

19. San Jose Sharks (10-8-1)

The net was Adin Hill’s to lose and lose it he has, posting an .890 save percentage while James Reimer has shone with a .936 mark.

20. Philadelphia Flyers (8-6-4)

The arrow has been pointing down on James van Riemsdyk for a few years, but JVR has just two goals in 18 games this season.

21. Nashville Predators (10-8-1)

It looked like the Eeli Tolvanen thing might finally be happening last season, but he’s sitting on a single goal in 19 games.

22. Dallas Stars (8-7-2)

The UFA contract Dallas gave Alexander Radulov in the summer of 2017 was always going to provide diminishing returns — and diminish those returns have, as the Russian has but a single marker in 17 games this year.

23. Detroit Red Wings (9-9-3)

While youngsters surge around him in the lineup, things just have yet to click for Filip Zadina. The sixth overall pick from 2018 is sitting on three goals in 21 games.

24. Los Angeles Kings (8-8-3)

We’re giving it to the entire defence corps because, prior to Wednesday night’s tilt with the Leafs, Drew Doughty was the only blue-liner on this club to register a goal all year. Sean Durzi, making his NHL debut against the team that drafted him, became the second in a 6-2 drubbing.

25. New York Islanders (5-9-2)

Between a 13-game roadie to start the year, a COVID outbreak and three straight L’s to kick off the UBS Arena era, I think we can safely say the Islanders are having a year from hell. Basically, everyone outside Ilya Sorokin has disappointed, but Mathew Barzal can wear it because he’s paid to be a 75-point guy, not a 50-point guy.

26. Chicago Blackhawks (6-11-2)

Obviously, everyone was going to cut Jonathan Toews a lot of slack as he returned from a year away from hockey. Still, the captain is playing 18 minutes a night and has yet to find the net.

27. Buffalo Sabres (7-10-2)

Offence from the blue line has always been Will Butcher’s calling card, but the former Devil has just two points in his first 15 outings as a Sabre.

28. Seattle Kraken (6-12-1)

Philipp Grubauer finished third in Vezina Trophy voting last year, so the Kraken surely thought they’d be seeing something better than an .890 save percentage through 16 games.

29. Ottawa Senators (4-12-1)

Tim Stützle seems to be working through a bit of a sophomore jinx with just one goal in 17 games.

30. Arizona Coyotes (4-14-2) Surely the Yotes would have loved for Phil Kessel to pump his trade value a bit by scoring more than three times in 20 contests.

31. Vancouver Canucks (6-12-2)

If the Canucks stand any chance of getting this season back on the rails, they’ll have to be sparked by better play from Elias Pettersson.

32. Montreal Canadiens (5-14-2)

In a sea of disappointment, Jeff Petry’s struggles have to be the most stark. The fluid, right-shot defenceman could be playing his way right off Team USA.


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