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NHL Power Rankings: 1-31 poll, plus every team’s outlook for the stretch run

We’re just three weeks from the NHL trade deadline, meaning most clubs are looking inward, then readjusting expectations. For this week’s ESPN Power Rankings, we take stock of how all 31 teams feel heading into the spiritual second half of the season.

How we rank: The ESPN hockey editorial staff submits selections ranking teams 1-31, and those results are tabulated to the list featured here. Teams are rated through Tuesday night’s games, taking into account overall record, recent success and other factors such as injuries. The previous ranking for each team is its spot in last week’s edition.

Note: Standings point pace is as of the games on Jan. 29.

Previous ranking: 1
Standings point pace: 117

The Caps are just as talented as they are deep — and they’re staving off any goalie controversy, so far at least. There’s a reason Alex Ovechkin skipped All-Star Weekend; he’s resting up for what should be another long run.

Previous ranking: 2
Standings point pace: 113

Defending the Stanley Cup looks easy. St. Louis has cruised through the first half thanks to a complete roster. The depth has really shined ever since Vladimir Tarasenko went down in late October.

Previous ranking: 3
Standings point pace: 113

This group looks a lot like last season’s squad that made the Stanley Cup Final — except David Pastrnak looks like an even bigger star now. The challenge, really, is peaking at the right time.

Previous ranking: 4
Standings point pace: 110

No team was hit by the injury bug harder than the Penguins. And no team persevered better. They found ways to win without Sidney Crosby, and now that he’s back, Pittsburgh has high expectations the rest of the way.

Previous ranking: 6
Standings point pace: 104

GM Joe Sakic helped out his big three by acquiring some forward depth this summer, and so far it has been encouraging. There are few weak spots on this roster; the Avalanche should contend for the Cup.

Previous ranking: 5
Standings point pace: 107

The Lightning started off slow but didn’t fret. This season was all about finding a sustainable pace. And they seem to be picking up momentum right about now.

Previous ranking: 7
Standings point pace: 105

After cruising early on a 15-0-2 run, the Isles have cooled off. Goaltending and defense are still stingy, but the Isles could use some scoring help. They’re likely safe for a playoff spot, but sparse offense could prevent a long run.

Previous ranking: 10
Standings point pace: 102

With Joel Quenneville in charge, expectations are much higher for the Panthers. The players are adjusting to the new demands, but delivering. Florida is above the playoff border, but it’s not comfortable yet.

Previous ranking: 11
Standings point pace: 100

The Blue Jackets were supposed to be enduring a come-down after going all-in last season. Instead, they’ve been great overachievers thanks in large part to a surprisingly good goaltending tandem. The playoffs are within reach.

Previous ranking: 8
Standings point pace: 100

The Canes had a promising start, but they’re straddling the playoff line now. Losing Norris Trophy-caliber defenseman Dougie Hamilton is an obstacle they’ll need to overcome.

Previous ranking: 9
Standings point pace: 98

Once again, the Stars look stingy defensively, but they are struggling in the goal-scoring department. Offseason addition Joe Pavelski hasn’t provided much spark. Goaltending and defense should propel Dallas to the playoffs.

Previous ranking: 12
Standings point pace: 100

The Canucks are young, fast and super fun to watch. Strong performances from guys such as Elias Pettersson, Jacob Markstrom, Quinn Hughes and J.T. Miller are making it more and more likely this team could snag a playoff spot.

Previous ranking: 14
Standings point pace: 98

It was a tense early go for the Leafs, who can be weighed down by mounting expectations. Once they fired Mike Babcock and turned to Sheldon Keefe, the offense was liberated to play more creatively.

Previous ranking: 15
Standings point pace: 98

Philly got through the first half of the season not looking super dominant, but in decent shape. They’re still hoping Nolan Patrick can return at some point, and he could give them an instant boost in the middle six.

Previous ranking: 13
Standings point pace: 95

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl put on an excellent show every night — and just might drag this team to the playoffs. GM Ken Holland is looking for the long view, but you can tell the best player in the world is hungry to win now.

Previous ranking: 16
Standings point pace: 90

The organization put a premium on making the playoffs this season. A new owner meant new opportunities, like swinging for Phil Kessel and Taylor Hall. Now there’s pressure to seal the deal.

Previous ranking: 17
Standings point pace: 95

The best team in the West last season started off in a funk. Coach Bill Peters resigned after being embroiled in a scandal, and interim Geoff Ward looks like he has got this group back on track. It helps that goalie David Rittich is enjoying a breakout season.

Previous ranking: 18
Standings point pace: 90

The Golden Knights didn’t look too bad, but bad puck luck (go figure) prevented them from getting better results. They shocked everyone by firing coach Gerard Gallant and hiring their rival, Peter DeBoer, formerly of the Sharks.

Previous ranking: 19
Standings point pace: 87

The Jets endured a hellish summer of turnover on the blue line, and somehow they made it work with a patchwork defensive group. Now it’s all falling apart, though; the Jets hardly look like a playoff team these days.

Previous ranking: 21
Standings point pace: 87

Just like last season, it looks as if the Blackhawks are gearing up for a second-half run. But just like last season, it might not be enough. Goaltending kept this team in a lot of games. The postseason still seems a bit too optimistic.

Previous ranking: 20
Standings point pace: 89

The Predators have been lackadaisical, and their inconsistency is starting to become too much to overcome. Surprisingly bad goaltending hasn’t helped. The Preds are now in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013-14.

Previous ranking: 25
Standings point pace: 85

The Wild started off horrendously, then salvaged the season. Ever since, they’ve been mediocre. New GM Bill Guerin should play the long game and be a seller at this season’s deadline.

Previous ranking: 22
Standings point pace: 85

The Rangers are staying competitive, even though they’re probably one year away from saying the rebuild is over. Meanwhile, drama is brewing with a three-goalie carousel. They’ll need resolution on that soon.

Previous ranking: 24
Standings point pace: 84

New coach Ralph Krueger has installed better structure, and the streaky Sabres are hoping to break their playoff drought. It’s an uphill battle, but for a while it looked like Jack Eichel might drag them there himself.

Previous ranking: 23
Standings point pace: 82

Things have gone downhill quickly for the Canadiens, at one point a team that looked like it could make the playoffs. One of the only positive things that could happen now is snagging a high draft pick in exchange for Ilya Kovalchuk.

Previous ranking: 26
Standings point pace: 76

The first half of the season has been a disaster for the Sharks, who have some of the most porous goaltending in the league. Coach Peter DeBoer was an early casualty, but this veteran group doesn’t have much time to shape up.

Previous ranking: 27
Standings point pace: 74

It has been a transitional season for the Ducks, who are moving on to the kids. The youngsters are taking time to develop, while key injuries have prevented the team from being more competitive.

Previous ranking: 28
Standings point pace: 74

Under new coach D.J. Smith, the Senators are in better shape, but they still lack enough talent to be considered good. Some standout performances (none bigger than Anthony Duclair) are salvaging an otherwise forgettable season.

Previous ranking: 29
Standings point pace: 72

Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for the Devils, who fired their coach, traded their star player, then traded their general manager (in that order). Goaltending is still suspect, and another rebuild looms.

Previous ranking: 30
Standings point pace: 66

The Kings are in full rebuild mode, moving on from big, aging contracts (Los Angeles should be an active seller at the deadline) while looking to dip into their talented prospect pool for next season.

Previous ranking: 31
Standings point pace: 45

There’s plenty of hope in Detroit now that Steve Yzerman is in charge, but even he knows there’s a lot of work to do. Few teams look like they’re tanking for position to land Alexis Lafreniere quite like the Red Wings.

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