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NHL Power Rankings: Kings get hot, Senators Collapse

The Central remains strong while the Atlantic flounders

A myriad of reasons why we haven’t released our power rankings in a few weeks, but we’re back. A lot has transpired in the time since our last release, so bear with us! Let’s go ahead and take a look at the pecking order as we see it with our latest NHL Power Rankings. Each team’s previous ranking is in brackets after team record.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning (22-6-2) (1)

The Lightning continue to reign supreme. Last night’s 3-0 win over the St. Louis Blues kept them in first place overall while Andrei Vasilevskiy continues to make his Vezina case in the process. The best all-around team in hockey.

2. L.A. Kings (20-9-3) (6)

The Kings were sliding the last time we did these, but that’s certainly not the case now. They were cooled off last night in New Jersey, but rattling off eight straight wins is impressive nonetheless.

3. St. Louis Blues (21-9-2) (2)

The Blues have the second most points in the league, but now they face adversity. Jaden Schwartz (ankle) is gone for six weeks and Alex Pietrangelo is on IR with a lower-body injury. Their depth will now be under the microscope.

4. Winnipeg Jets (18-8-5) (5)

You don’t want to face this team in the playoffs. The Jets are lethal at home at 11-2-1 and their 1.79 average goal differential at Bell MTS Centre is tops in the league by a wide margin.

5. Nashville Predators (18-7-4) (3)

They’re in the toughest division in hockey and they are quietly right in the mix. This team gets it done at both ends of the ice, and both of their specials teams reside in the top seven. A nice concoction, to be sure.

6. Toronto Maple Leafs (20-11-1) (4)

They are 12-4-1 over their last 17, but have relied too much on goalie Frederik Andersen. Andersen, November’s second star of the month, posted a .938 Sv% in November and sports a .939 mark in December. There’s also the question of when Auston Matthews will return from an undisclosed upper-body ailment.

7. Vegas Golden Knights (19-9-2) (17)

Okay, we were as guilty as most in expecting the Golden Knights to come back to earth. The NHL’s newest franchise continues to defy expectations and are three points behind the Kings with two games in hand for top spot in the Pacific Division. Could be a nice little rivalry moving forward.

8. Columbus Blue Jackets (19-11-1) (7)

They were waxed by the Oilers last night, but as long as Sergei Bobrovsky is their goaltender Columbus is a tough out. Artemi Panarin is settling in and 2016 first rounder Pierre-Luc Dubois has eight points over his last eight games.

9. Washington Capitals (19-12-1) (16)

A tale of two teams. On the road they are 6-7-1, yield 3.79 goals per game (30th) and Braden Holtby has an .885 Sv%. At home, they are 13-5-0, yield 2.22 goals per game (2nd) and Braden Holtby has a .935 Sv%. They have the league’s leading goal scorer once again and that’s always a good thing.

10. New York Islanders (17-10-3) (9)

Again, another team that is lightyears better at home. The Islanders lead the NHL with 4.50 goals per game at home. On the down side, they’re in a 27th place tie with 3.30 goals against per game overall. Clean up the back end, perhaps get a goalie, and the Isles are in business.

11. San Jose Sharks (16-10-3) (11)

They say defense wins championships. We aren’t saying the Sharks are championship caliber, but ranking 2nd in team defense and on the penalty kill will keep you competitive. They also have the 12th-ranked power play, but general manager Doug Wilson should look for some scoring help where his team ranks 24th with 2.69 goals per game.

12. New Jersey Devils (17-9-4) (10)

We don’t get to say this often, but this team needs to be much better at home. They hammered the Kings 5-1 at the Prudential Center last night, but that improved them to just 7-5-2 at home compared to 10-4-2 on the road. Their home offense ranks 26th, but they will get a chance to improve upon that in short order with six of their next seven at home.

13. Boston Bruins (14-9-4) (24)

Dear Boston, please play some games so we know how good you are. The Bruins have played the fewest games in the NHL at 27 and have as many as five games in hand on Eastern Conference opponents. Nonetheless, they’re 8-2-0 over their last ten and are sitting pretty in the third spot of a weak Atlantic Division.

14. Minnesota Wild (16-11-3) (18)

The Wild are coming along just nicely. They are 7-3-0 over their last ten contests and Devan Dubnyk has allowed more than two goals once in his last five starts.

15. New York Rangers (16-11-3) (13)

Tough to decipher who should be 14 or 15 between the Wild and Rangers as they have identical records, but since the Rangers schedule has been favorable they lost out. The blueshirts have played 20 home games and just ten road games to date. They’ve still been good, going 7-2-1 over their last ten and are firmly in the postseason picture.

16. Dallas Stars (17-13-1) (21)

The Stars need to improve on the road and Ben Bishop has been maddingly inconsistent. Yet, the Stars occupy the second Wild Card spot in the west thanks to their stout 10-4-0 record at American Airlines Arena.

17. Chicago Blackhawks (15-11-5) (23)

The good news is they’ve won three straight. The bad news is they were against the 31st, 30th and 27th ranked teams in the NHL, by an average margin of 1.33, with two coming in overtime, with all three games at home. Not the same dominant Hawks we’ve come to know.

18. Calgary Flames (16-12-3) (14)

The Flames have been pretty average across the board this season. They haven’t been good at home (8-8-0), their offense is 21st, and their defense is 12th. They aren’t excelling in any phase or location and it’s worth wondering where they would be without the herculean play of Hart candidate Johnny Gaudreau.

19. Pittsburgh Penguins (16-3-3) (12)

The thought has always been that as long as this team has Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin they are contenders. That may hold true, but boy this team doesn’t look like anything close to last year’s championship club. Depth and goaltending are issues, and the Penguins are the NHL’s worst road defense at 3.81 goals against per game.

20. Anaheim Ducks (13-11-7) (25)

Give this team some fricken credit. Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Eaves, Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm and Ondrej Kase have all missed significant time this season with injuries. As soon as Getzlaf returned on Monday, Corey Perry went down with a long-term injury. Oh, and Anaheim is two points out of a playoff spot in the west.

21. Philadelphia Flyers (12-11-7) (22)

The Flyers have followed up their ten-game losing streak with four straight wins to stay afloat in the East. Problem is the Metropolitan Division is an absolutely logjam with six teams ahead of them. The good news is the Metro could very well send five teams to the playoffs this season.

22. Carolina Hurricanes (12-11-7) (20)

The Hurricanes are pretty much in the same boat as the Flyers, as per their identical records. Scott Darling isn’t a number one goalie yet and their offensive group is poor. Still, that’s an awfully appealing group of young defenders they have.

23. Vancouver Canucks (14-13-4) (19)

Rookie head coach Travis Green is squeezing everything he can out of his rebuilding club. What he can’t do for them is score, something they haven’t done since Bo Horvat went down. They were already the league’s 27th ranked offense at the time of his injury, but have scored just four times in three games since.

24. Florida Panthers (12-14-5) (29)

It’s a bit of a logjam with the bottom eight teams, but Florida has some upside to get better. Sasha Barkov is a legit number one center and Jonathan Huberdeau is having a season. It’s unfortunate Robert Luongo went down, but after some tough starts James Reimer allowed just four goals over his last two games, on back-to-back nights to boot.

25. Colorado Avalanche (14-14-2) (28)

The Avs finished their four-game road trip with a 2-2-0 record and now they play nine of their next 11 at home, where they have been much better this season. Colorado’s 3.57 goals per game at home rank 7th and Semyon Varlamov’s save percentage increases 27 points at home. This is a season-defining stretch for the Avs.

26. Edmonton Oilers (13-16-2) (15)

We believed Edmonton would turn it around as per their last ranking, but since that time they haven’t shown an ability to sustain momentum. They’ve played excellent in three straight road games, winning two and dropping a tough 1-0 affair in Toronto on Sunday. Let’s see them take this momentum back home where they play eight of their next ten.

27. Montreal Canadiens (13-4-4) (26)

Carey Price came back and unfortunately provided some false hope for Canadiens fans before yielding 11 goals over his last two and a half games of hockey. The Habs need to waive the white flag and move whatever assets they can to begin that inevitable rebuild.

28. Detroit Red Wings (11-13-6) (27)

The Red Wings surprised to the upside early on, but a 1-5-4 record over their last ten has quieted any false hopes in the motor city. They have a solid group of young forwards to build around and a proven general manager to guide them through a rebuild, if you’re looking for positives.

29. Ottawa Senators (9-13-7) (8)

See what a few weeks can do? The Senators swept the two-game Global Series in Sweden over the Avs, and then the wheels blew off. Ottawa has dropped 11 of 12 and lost to the worst team in the Eastern Conference last night in Buffalo. GM Pierre Dorion is about to be a very popular man.

30. Buffalo Sabres (8-17-6) (30)

Give the Sabres a little bit of credit for their recent play. They went 1-0-2 on their three game road trip including overtime losses in St. Louis and Chicago before returning home to beat the reeling Senators 3-2 last night. Let’s see if rookie GM Jason Botterill can bring back a sizable return for Evander Kane.

31. Arizona Coyotes (7-21-5) (31)

After a white-hot October, rookie Clayton Keller has just eight points over his last 20 and just three over his last ten. That said, it’s tough to produce as part of the league’s 30th-ranked offense, one that needs to take step forward next season.

 

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