The nice thing about these NHL Power Rankings as the season moves on is we are starting to see teams for who they really are. Early on, there are some surprises on both sides of the ledger, but which are for real? As most teams hover around 34-35 games played, a clearer picture presents itself. Let’s go ahead and see how the 31 NHL teams stack up this week.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (24-7-2) (1)
Even the Tampa Bay Lightning were a victim of the ever-surprising Vegas Golden Knights in a 4-3 loss last night. Still, Tampa’s 50 points and +42 goal differential pace the NHL. This is still the best team in hockey.
2. Nashville Predators (21-8-4) (5)
We saw just how exciting a playoff series could be between the Jets and Predators last night. While the Jets came out on top 6-4, the Predators still sit one point ahead with two games in hand over the Jets and lead a tough Central Division.
3. Vegas Golden Knights (22-9-2) (7)
With their 4-3 triumph over Tampa, the Golden Knights now own the NHL’s best winning percentage at home (.823). They are tied with the Kings at 46 points, but have two games in hand, thus sit first in the Pacific Division.
4. Los Angeles Kings (21-10-4) (2)
A 1-1-1 week has the Kings slipping two spots from last week. That said, all three were on the road where the Kings are a very strong 11-5-2 this season. Very balanced team this season.
5. Winnipeg Jets (20-10-4) (4)
They went 2-2-0 over the last week, but finally got their road offense going with six goals last night in Nashville. We’ve said it before, but this is a team you don’t want to see in the postseason.
6. St. Louis Blues (22-11-2) (3)
The Blues are sliding. They’ve scored just six goals in five games without Jaden Schwartz and are 2-3-0 as well. They no longer command the Central and will need to pick it up with their next three games being played in Western Canada.
7. Washington Capitals (22-12-1) (9)
The Capitals are white-hot and are playing improved hockey away from home. Their 4-3 overtime win in Dallas last night was their seventh victory over their last eight and their third over their last four on the road.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs (21-13-1) (6)
The Maple Leafs dropped three straight before throttling the Carolina Hurricanes yesterday afternoon by an 8-1 count. They embark on a five-game road trip beginning tonight in Columbus before opening the New Year with six straight at home.
9. New Jersey Devils (19-9-5) (12)
The Devils remain right in the thick of the Metropolitan Division race. They’ve scored five goals in three of their last four and play their next four games at home including a big Thursday night tilt against the rival Rangers.
10. Boston Bruins (17-10-5) (13)
Boston dropped back-to-back games to end last week, but responded with a 7-2 pounding of the Blue Jackets on Tuesday. Throw in last night’s road shutout of the Sabres and the Bruins are 7-2-1 over their last ten and trending up.
11. New York Rangers (19-12-3) (15)
They’ve won three straight, but the schedule has very much been on their side thus far. They’ve played 22 games at home compared to 12 on the road. January will be a big month where they play eight of 12 away from Madison Square Garden.
12. San Jose Sharks (17-11-4) (11)
The Sharks sit fine point wise, but concern number one in San Jose is Logan Couture. He is currently sidelined with a concussion, and a timetable for his return is unknown. Safe to say the Sharks’ 26th ranked offense can ill afford to lose their leading scorer.
13. Columbus Blue Jackets (20-13-1) (8)
Columbus is a very hard team to gauge right now. They’ve given up 20 goals over their last four and Sergei Bobrovsky has an .878 Sv% in December. He’ll get it right, but Columbus is in danger of falling out of the Metropolitan Division race.
14. Chicago Blackhawks (17-11-5) (17)
The Blackhawks have rattled off five straight wins and are threatening for a top three spot in the Central. Their offense has perked up, but they can thank Corey Crawford for keeping them competitive thus far. Crawford ranks second league-wide in both GAA (2.11) and Sv% (.935) for the season.
15. New York Islanders (18-13-3) (10)
The good news is they score 3.50 goals per game. The bad news is they give up 3.50 goals per game. They’ve lost six of their last eight including yielding six goals at home last night to the lowly Red Wings.
16. Minnesota Wild (18-13-3) (14)
After a four-game win streak, the Wild dropped two straight. Prior to last night, they had scored only seven goals over their previous four games. They almost matched that total with a 6-4 win in Ottawa last night. An up-and-down club, one that should be on the playoff bubble for most of the season.
17. Dallas Stars (18-14-3) (16)
Here we have a team who can’t sustain any momentum. They win twice in New York, but follow that up with three straight losses. Big stretch coming up as they play eight of their next nine at home where they’ve been real good this season.
18. Philadelphia Flyers (14-12-7) (22)
Kudos to the Flyers. After losing ten straight, they rattled off six consecutive wins to stay alive. That streak was ended by the visiting Kings on Monday, but a new streak could be had as three of their next four are against basement-dwelling teams in the Red Wings, Sabres and Panthers.
19. Pittsburgh Penguins (17-15-3) (19)
The Penguins stay put at 19 despite losing four of their last five. This team is no where near championship caliber at the moment, but no one else is exactly forcing their way into the top 20.
20. Calgary Flames (17-4-3) (18)
A team expected to take a step forward this season, the Flames have caught a huge break with the makeup of the Pacific Division, but haven’t been able to take advantage. The Ducks, Canucks, Oilers and Coyotes occupy four of the bottom five spots in the West, but the Flames are still on the outside looking in. Being 8-10-0 at home hasn’t helped.
21. Carolina Hurricanes (14-12-7) (22)
The Hurricanes’ three-game win streak was snapped with a thud yesterday via an 8-1 blowout loss in Toronto. Offense continues to be a big issue despite pacing the NHL with a 54.33% Corsi% for the season.
22. Anaheim Ducks (14-3-8) (20)
When you’ve lost eight games in extra time, you’re left to wonder if those lost extra points will hurt you. They’re hurting the Ducks as they would be essentially tied for third in the Pacific if that number was six. Still, Anaheim continues to battle through big-time injuries to stay relevant in the west.
23. Colorado Avalanche (16-15-2) (25)
If nothing else, the Avalanche can hang their hats on the fact they swept the season series against the two-time defending champs after their 4-2 win over Pittsburgh on Monday. Said victory came in their third game of a nine-of-11 stretch of home games for the Avs. They can get back in the playoff picture with a very successful stretch at home.
24. Edmonton Oilers (15-17-2) (26)
We’ll keep the Oilers down here for now, but look out because they’re playing much better hockey. They’ve won three of their last four, scoring 15 goals in the process. Cam Talbot is back in goal and secondary scoring is taking place. A mid-season charge would serve them well, to say the least.
25. Montreal Canadiens (15-15-4) (27)
The Canadiens also haven’t been able to take advantage of their week division. Despite the Atlantic owning the four worst teams in the east, Montreal sits well out of a playoff spot. The problem is, they are the fifth worst team in the east.
26. Detroit Red Wings (13-13-7) (28)
The Red Wings didn’t outplay the Islanders last night, but a 6-3 win in Brooklyn is impressive nonetheless. They’ve actually managed points in four straight, but giving up 16 goals in a two-game stretch to Montreal is… not cool.
27. Vancouver Canucks (15-16-4) (23)
This team’s defense has fallen off a cliff. Yes, they’re without Erik Gudbranson and Chris Tanev on the back end. However, they’ve yielded 36 goals over their last seven, or 5.14 per game. They’ve surrendered at least six goals in three of their last four.
28. Florida Panthers (13-16-5) (24)
This team is much better off near the basement than a few spots higher in the standings. A quick turnaround could be had with the young talent on this team. Some help on the back end should be a priority this offseason.
29. Ottawa Senators (11-14-7) (29)
We thought at the time that the Matt Duchene trade wasn’t as big of a win for the Senators as was being touted. That’s turned out to be the case as Duchene has two goals and five points in 18 games with the Sens. A lost season in Canada’s capital.
30. Buffalo Sabres (8-19-7) (30)
Is it too late to schedule another team to play in the Rangers in the Winter Classic?
31. Arizona Coyotes (7-24-5) (31)
We are entering the point of the season where being in last by a mile becomes a grind. Just ask the Colorado Avalanche.