Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

A eight-game win streak kept the Capitals firmly at No. 1 while the surprising Panthers made a rapid climb to No. 2 in SI.com’s Week 12 NHL Power Rankings.

By Allan Muir
December 29, 2015

It had all the makings of another one of those seasons for the Florida Panthers. The perennial patsies got off to a sluggish 8-9-4 start that buried them in sixth place in the Atlantic Division, 16 points behind the surging Montreal Canadiens, and left them to mark time until the draft.

And then everything changed. An innocuous 3–2 shootout win over the Islanders on Nov. 27 kicked off a surprising 12-3-0 stretch that has the Panthers poised to assume first place with a win on Tuesday night in Montreal.

Florida was supposed to be better this season, but no one expected this. Led by Alexander Barkov, who has emerged as the Panthers} answer to Jonathan Toews, and some stellar goaltending from Roberto Luongo, they’ve overcome a string of injuries and some underwhelming special teams to emerge as a legitimate threat heading into the second half of the season. 

Biggest jump: Calgary Flames (14 to 7)

Biggest drop: Edmonton Oilers (13 to 21)

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Eagle (-2)
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