NHL Power Rankings: What’s the vibe at the quarter mark for all 32 teams?

With one quarter of the hockey season already wrapped up, Ryan Dixon goes over the players that have positioned themselves as serious contenders for the different NHL awards.

Once we’re one-quarter of the way through an NHL season, there’s a tendency to start examining hard figures.

How many points is the Art Ross leader on pace for? How many teams on the outside of the playoff picture at this point in the year typically climb back in? Is league-wide scoring up or down from past years?

All those number-driven topics have merit and, frankly, you can find all kinds of stuff on the web — starting with this fine website — that address those queries.

In this particular space, though, we’re going to lean more on gut than melon. With all but two teams — Washington and Ottawa — having played their 20th game of the season, we’re devoting this edition of the power rankings to something entirely unscientific: A good ol’ fashioned vibe check.

With 25 per cent of the season in the books, here’s how it feels around all 32 teams.

1. New York Rangers (16-4-1) The Rangers have been a rock-solid squad with very strong special teams. Adam Fox returning after a month-long absence on Wednesday should help this club — which ranks middle-of-the-pack in terms of goals per game (3.29) — score more, too. Party on.

2. Los Angeles Kings (13-4-3) The vibes are always horrible for the opponent in Kings games because L.A. is such a smothering outfit. Nobody is giving up fewer goals per game than the Kings at 2.35.

3. Boston Bruins (14-4-3) We should have asked last week, before the B’s endured their second, third and fourth regulation-time losses of the season. Despite the small skid, things are pretty great on an Atlantic-leading team that saw its top two centres retire in the summer.

4. Vegas Golden Knights (14-5-4) The feeling is certainly great around the goalies. Adin Hill and Logan Thompson have combined to provide the second-best five-on-five save percentage in the NHL (.935).

5. Colorado Avalanche (15-6-0) The Avs are cranking things up, with seven wins in their past eight games. They’re averaging 4.6 goals per game during that stretch while giving up just 2.0.

6. Dallas Stars (13-5-2) The Stars entered the season as a team many thought could win the Cup, and nothing has happened that would dispel that notion. Still, you’d love to see Jason Robertson — sitting on six goals — get on a nice heater.

7. Florida Panthers (13-7-2) There’s probably a soft case to be made that the Panthers’ season has been more impressive than anybody’s, given their top-two D-men — Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour — just joined the team less than two weeks ago. That, combined with fighting off any hangover from appearing in the Cup final, is really impressive.

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8. Vancouver Canucks (15-7-1) Do a quarter-mark awards check and you’ll find the Canucks have players firmly in the mix for the Hart (Quinn Hughes), the Art Ross (Hughes, J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson), the Vezina (Thatcher Demko) and the Rocket Richard (Brock Boeser). Any questions?

9. Washington Capitals (11-6-2) Alex Ovechkin isn’t really scoring and the power play scored zero — zero! — goals in November on 28 opportunities. Yet, somehow, a Caps club many predicted would again miss the post-season is feeling more than OK, sitting third in the Metro with games in hand on every squad in the division.

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10. Toronto Maple Leafs (11-6-3) The Leafs are probably the best example of a team where things feel just kind of … off? The record is fine; William Nylander is out of this world and Auston Matthews is on pace for 57 goals, yet there’s no denying — from Mitch Marner not being his elite self to an already questionable defence corps being banged up — things just don’t seem right with the Buds.

11. Detroit Red Wings (11-7-3) The vibes were pretty good in Detroit even before Patrick Kane joined the mix. It officially feels like making the playoffs is now a possibility.

12. Carolina Hurricanes (13-8-0) They’re getting there. The Canes are 10-4-0 in their past 14 after a six-game roadie to kick off the year turned in a 2-4-0 mark. Recovering from knee surgery, Andrei Svechnikov didn’t play his first game until Oct. 27 and scored his first goal on Sunday. (He was actually a late scratch ahead of Carolina’s win in Philadelphia Tuesday night). Frederik Andersen is also dealing with a  blood-clotting issue, which leaves the goaltending duties to Antti Raanta and Pytor Kochetkov, neither of whom have a save percentage over .900. Still, throw out a recent 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Tampa Bay and it seems like the Canes are rounding into form.

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13. Winnipeg Jets (12-7-2) Two days before the season began, Jets fans likely felt as though they were cheering for — at best — a bubble playoff team that might have to trade its No. 1 centre and/or No. 1 goalie this season to prevent losing either Mark Scheifele or Connor Hellebuyck for nothing as UFAs next summer. Well, one day before the season began, both guys re-upped on eight-year deals and the Jets have the inside track on a playoff berth in the West.

14. Tampa Bay Lighting (10-8-5) Andrei Vasilevskiy has been back for only two starts, so the vibes in Tampa will probably uptick based on his presence alone. If GM Julien BriseBois can find a way to acquire an impact defenceman, the mood will improve that much more.

15. Philadelphia Flyers (11-10-1) Philly fans had basically been told to brace for a tanking year, yet here they — with pretty legit underlying numbers — holding down a playoff spot one-quarter of the way into the season. That’s probably got some Flyers fans delighted, while others might be lamenting the chance to add a top-three draft pick.

16. Pittsburgh Penguins (10-10-1) Tense. After the Penguins missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006, this season began with a serious sense of urgency. We’ve seen two coaching changes in the NHL this season and it feels like we’re a four-game Penguins skid from a third.

17. New Jersey Devils (10-10-1) The idea this team could miss the playoffs was inconceivable before the season, but injuries to both Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes changed the calculous. Both are back, but it’s still panic time — or very close to it — in Jersey.

18. St. Louis Blues (11-9-1) The mood has certainly improved this month. St. Louis scored a microscopic 1.86 goals-per-game in October — worse than everybody, save San Jose — but have bumped that up to 3.36 in November, which at least puts them in the middle of the pack.

19. Nashville Predators 11-10-0 Two weeks ago, this team was ahead of only Edmonton and San Jose in the Western Conference standings. Today, they occupy a wild-card spot thanks to a six-game run. Of course, much of that has to do with Juuse Saros finding his game of late. The ceiling still might not be too high in Nashville, but making the playoffs is back on the table.

20. Buffalo Sabres (10-10-2) Tage Thompson is injured and the team is on the outside of the playoff picture. That makes for some all-too-familiar bad vibes in Buffalo. However, if Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen can stay on a hot streak — undefeated in his past three games, with a .941 save percentage — there would be a huge spike in happiness.

21. New York Islanders (8-7-6) A seven-game losing streak had some people wondering about big change, but nothing of the sort happened. This squad gives stale vibes harder than any other organization.

22. Arizona Coyotes (10-9-2) I mean, it’s never great times in the desert. But having a teenager such as Logan Cooley in the mix is invigorating and Lawson Crouse — with 10 goals in November — is only one off the league lead for the month.

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23. Edmonton Oilers (8-12-1) Let’s live in the here and now: Connor McDavid has 12 points (!) in his past three games and if the Oilers can turn a three-game winning streak into a seven-game run, they’ll actually be back to .500 — and, in the West, that gets you a playoff spot.

24. Montreal Canadiens (10-10-2) Juraj Slafkovsky has started collecting points recently and, in a year when nobody expects Montreal to make the playoffs, that determines the mood of the fanbase as much as anything.

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25. Calgary Flames (9-10-3) We’re just starting to dip our toe into NHL trade season and the Flames — with some legit players on the verge of free agency — could be the squad everything revolves around. Change is in the air.

26. Seattle Kraken (8-10-5) Some stops are needed to make Seattle feel better. Like last season, the team’s five-on-five save percentage ranks in the bottom third of the league.

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27. Ottawa Senators (8-9-0) From the Shane Pinto suspension to the Pierre Dorion firing, the Sens have to be in the running for worst vibes out there. This was a playoffs-or-bust year and it’s skewing hard toward the latter.

28. Columbus Blue Jackets (7-13-4) Nobody entered the season with worse vibes thanks to the Mike Babcock fiasco and things haven’t really improved from there. Despite better results lately, it’s still a pretty miserable scene in Ohio.

29. Anaheim Ducks (9-13-0) The ups and downs are fine because the team is so young, and all you have to do is watch Mason McTavish, Leo Carlsson and Pavel Mintyukov play to feel fantastic about where it is going.

30. Minnesota Wild (6-10-4) The Wild are 1-0 under John Hynes, but the fact they’ve already had a coach fired tells you all you need to know about this season. Among other things, Minny needs Kirill Kaprizov to start scoring and Filip Gustavsson to start stopping.

31. Chicago Blackhawks (7-13-0) Even with Connor Bedard’s rookie brilliance, it feels like there’s a black cloud over this franchise.

32. San Jose Sharks (5-15-2) A record as bad as the Sharks is also inherently hopeful. The vibe basically comes down to what happens at the draft lottery seven months from now.

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