NHL Power Rankings: Oh, Carolina

The Hurricanes are riding high in the Central Division, while the Maple Leafs are cleaning up in the North. Check out our team-by-team rankings.
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Andre Ringuette/USA TODAY Sports

Andre Ringuette/USA TODAY Sports

We are starting to see some serious stratification in the NHL right now. The contenders are beginning to emerge and with the exception of the Dallas Stars in the Central, the games are evening out (Texas is obviously dealing with a climate disaster right now and by the sounds of it, the Stars are taking care of each other which is good to hear). And while much has been made about the level of competition in the North, a quick look at some of the worst goaltenders in the league shows that each division has its share of Glass Joes to feast upon.

With all that in mind, let's get to the latest power rankings.

1. Carolina Hurricanes: The Canes have points in eight of their past 10 games and are coming off a 4-0 shutout of Tampa Bay. Plus it's been one year since the David Ayres game so Carolina wins the tiebreaker over Toronto this week.

2. Toronto Maple Leafs: Sure, the Ottawa loss was embarrassing, but the Leafs still have the best winning percentage and goal differential in the NHL. Auston Matthews is basically unstoppable right now and that never hurts.

3. Boston Bruins: David Pastrnak won the weekend with his cool shades in Tahoe, plus the Bruins won the actual game. I'm not saying throwback 90s ski jackets are the key to success, but I'm not not saying it either.

4. Colorado Avalanche: Taking out the Golden Knights in Tahoe was the latest triumph for the Avs, who continue to get better and are now legitimately fearsome, as opposed to the 'theoretically fearsome' stage they were in at the start of the year.

5. Vegas Golden Knights: The only thing that can beat the Knights, it appears, are the wearing of golden helmets and games played on golf courses. Luckily, there are no more golf course games on the schedule.

6. Florida Panthers: The Cats would have been higher if they didn't lose to Detroit in their most recent game, but overall they've been scary. Jonathan Huberdeau is on a mission, Chris Driedger remains hot in net and the team that never gets off to a good start is off to a good start.

7. Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid is on another planet right now and Leon Draisaitl isn't far behind. You can feel the gravitational pull of their awesomeness and contributions from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Darnell Nurse only add to the positivity.

8. Tampa Bay Lightning: As good as the Bolts have been, we do have to remind ourselves that they could get Hart Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov back for the playoffs. I don't want to scare the rest of the Central, I'm just sayin'...

9. St. Louis Blues: Know who doesn't get enough credit? David Perron. That dude is making a mockery of aging models. The veteran is 32 and seems to be getting better every year - he's leading the Blues in scoring with more than a point per game right now.

10. Washington Capitals: Alex Ovechkin has more assists than he has goals this season. This is a world I am unfamiliar with (though for the record, it has happened three times in his 15-year career).

11. Winnipeg Jets: I feel like the Jets are the team no one is talking about in the North, and that the Jets are completely fine with that. Pierre-Luc Dubois notched his first three points in a Winnipeg uniform against Vancouver.

12. Philadelphia Flyers: Why didn't we get a Gritty skinny-dipping incident in Lake Tahoe? Feels like a missed opportunity. Elsewhere, James van Riemsdyk is having himself a career year.

13. Dallas Stars: The most important thing in Texas right now is getting power and water to everyone. Three straight games against the high-flying Panthers is at least an intriguing distraction.

14. Chicago Blackhawks: So this Hawks thing might not be a mirage, as Chicago has earned points in eight of its past 10 games. The acid test will come once divisional rivals have a good book on sizzling rookie netminder Kevin Lankinen.

15. Montreal Canadiens: It's been a precipitous drop in Montreal, where the Habs have seemed to lose their confidence faster than Jemaine as David Bowie in Flight of the Conchords. Feel free to speculate who gets to play Murray.

16. Pittsburgh Penguins: Speaking of losing confidence, I have no idea what to make of the Penguins this year. Pittsburgh is 5-4-1 in its past 10 games but isn't suffering any consequences because most of the East is painfully mediocre right now.

17. New York Islanders: I believed in you, Islanders, and then you dropped two in a row to Pittsburgh. Not cool.

18. New Jersey Devils: Naming Nico Hischier captain was a good call for the Devils, as the organization begins to look toward a bright future. The present is just kinda alright - but they're working on it.

19. Columbus Blue Jackets: Coach John Tortorella said his top line "sucked" against Nashville on Saturday. That line featured recent trade acquisitions Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic, so everything is going just fine in Columbus!

20. Minnesota Wild: The bar for Minnesota making the playoffs is ridiculously low this year: just be better than Arizona and the three California teams. With games in hand, they're on pace to do it, but it's not a foregone conclusion.

21. Calgary Flames: Matthew Tkachuk is promising to go full Braveheart this week and Sean Monahan is coming back from injury, so either the wins come or the Geoff Ward era nears an end.

22. Los Angeles Kings: I kid you not, the Kings currently have the longest winning streak in the NHL at four games. Drew Doughty continues his war on punditry with 15 points in 16 games, the best pace of his career.

23. New York Rangers: Absolutely no one in the English-speaking world believes Andrei Nazarov.

24. Arizona Coyotes: The most exciting news in Arizona this past week was the fact the Coyotes didn't have to play St. Louis again. Conor Garland is having a career year for the Desert Dogs.

25. San Jose Sharks: Brent Burns leads the NHL in average ice time at 27:26 while sophomore Mario Ferraro is logging more than 23 minutes per game. This is impressive for Burns and Ferraro, and also an indictment of the rest of the Sharks' blueline corps.

26. Vancouver Canucks: That Zack MacEwen beatdown of Derek Forbort may end up being one of Vancouver's best highlights this year and yes I know how sad that sounds.

27. Ottawa Senators: Victories over Toronto and Montreal? It doesn't get any sweeter for the Sens. No seriously, it's not going to get any sweeter this year: enjoy the moment.

28. Anaheim Ducks: Let the Trevor Zegras era begin! The Ducks are rebuilding the fun way and if the rest of the season is just one big tryout, I say go for it.

29. Buffalo Sabres: Beef on Weck is a fantastic sandwich if you knock the excess salt off the top of the bun. If Jack Eichel is the beef...no, maybe he's the salt? Heck, I just miss the food in Buffalo.

30. Detroit Red Wings: Not Dead-Last should be the mantra for the Red Wings right now and to that end, they're doing OK. Givani Smith has four points in eight games while playing fourth-line minutes, so that's something.

31. Nashville Predators: The Predators have fewer points than the Red Wings in their past 10 games. At the least, the Nashville music scene can write some pretty good wallowing-in-ma-beer songs about this season.

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