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  • The Lightning are the latest to ride a trendy winning streak and they've done it without their starting goalie. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks find themselves plummeting amidst a dangerous losing streak.
By Jeremy Fuchs
December 11, 2018

Tampa Bay dominated Colorado on Saturday by holding the Avalanche’s mighty offense to just one goal. Louis Domingue in net was great with 29 saves, but, most importantly the Bolts exposed a substandard Avs defense. So yes, Tampa is firmly atop the rankings for this week. They've been perhaps the hottest team in the league on a seven-game winning streak, and they've done it without their Vezina–caliber goalie. It's easy to say, but it remains true: When Andrei Vasilevskiy gets back, watch out.

31. St. Louis Blues | Record: 10–14–4 | Previous Ranking: 31

Despite the overall performance, the Blues have some good parts to sell. What could you get for Vladimir Tarasenko? For Brayden Schenn? Probably a boatload.

30. Los Angeles Kings | Record: 11–19–1 | Previous Ranking: 30

Good to see Jonathan Quick back and playing better, if nothing else.

29. Chicago Blackhawks | Record: 9–17–5 | Previous Ranking: 25

It's been a rough introduction to the NHL for Jeremy Colliton as the Blackhawks have lost seven straight games and nine of their last 10.

28. New Jersey Devils | Record: 10–13–6 | Previous Ranking: 27

Taylor Hall can't do it alone for this team. And while he's been very good, he hasn't been as dominant as last year. Sunday’s bizarre game in Anaheim—which included three own-goals—was a rough loss for goalie Cory Schneider, who has yet to get a win this season.

27. Vancouver Canucks | Record: 13–16–3 | Previous Ranking: 22

The Canucks have finally strung together two straight wins, but it was a rough few weeks leading up to those wins, when they lost 12 of 13 games. We'll always have October to look back on.

26. Philadelphia Flyers | Record: 12–13–3 | Previous Ranking: 29

Is Anthony Stolarz the solution in net? He hasn't been terrible, but he also hasn't been great, posting a 3.39 GAA and a .898 save percentage.

25. Ottawa Senators | Record: 13–14–4 | Previous Ranking: 24

Defenseman Thomas Chabot has been a revelation for the Sentaors, with 33 points this season. And credit has to go to Matt Duchene, who's been outstanding all year.

24. Florida Panthers | Record: 11–11–6 | Previous Ranking: 28

It’s good to see Roberto Luongo back and Jonathan Huberdeau has been ridiculous of late, notching 10 points in his last five games.

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23. Arizona Coyotes | Record: 13–13–2 | Previous Ranking: 26

Losing goalie Antti Raanta is such a huge blow for the Coyotes and it will set them back. Arizona ended a four-game winning streak with back-to-back losses to the Capitals and Sharks last week.

22. Detroit Red Wings | Record: 14–13–4 | Previous Ranking: 21

Credit to the Red Wings for hanging with Tampa Bay and then beating the Maple Leafs in overtime two days later. Detroit hasn't been blown out in quite some time.

21. Pittsburgh Penguins | Record: 13–10–6 | Previous Ranking: 20

Is there a big trade ahead in Pittsburgh? It seems like the only way to shake the Pens out of the doldrums to find more consistent and convincing wins.

20. Carolina Hurricanes | Record: 13–11–4 | Previous Ranking: 17

The Hurricanes had a tough road trip to start a new goaltending regime. Petr Mrazek is capable of stealing more games, but Curtis McElhinney is arguably steadier.

19. New York Rangers | Record: 14–13–3 | Previous Ranking: 15

The Rangers have fallen off after their initial hot streak. Still, Henrik Lundqvist has been great for this team, he just needs some help.

18. New York Islanders | Record: 14–11–4 | Previous Ranking: 19

The most encouraging thing for the Isles is that Josh Bailey is still putting up points without John Tavares, posting 24 so far.

17. Edmonton Oilers | Record: 16–12–2 | Previous Ranking: 23

It's early, but it looks like new coach Ken Hitchock is favoring Mikko Koskinen in net. The Oilers have won six of their last seven, a sign that the coaching change was a good decision.

16. Montreal Canadiens | Record: 15–10–5 | Previous Ranking: 16

Max Domi has quietly rediscovered his game in Montreal. He's been the team's most consistent player with 31 points so far this season.

15. Vegas Golden Knights | Record: 17–14–1 | Previous Ranking: 18

Vegas’s bad start was always a mirage, as the Golden Knights have turned things on of late. This is probably where they should've been all along.

14. Boston Bruins | Record: 16–10–4 | Previous Ranking: 10

The Bruins are scuffling of late and a few injuries are hurting them. But taking one out of two against Tamp Bay and Toronto is a good sign.

13. Columbus Blue Jackets | Record: 16–11–2 | Previous Ranking: 8

Not sure if Sergei Bobrovsky needs a change of scenery or what, but it's getting close to decision time on the 30-year-old netminder.

12. Dallas Stars | Record: 16–11–3 | Previous Ranking: 14

The defense has been lights out of late, and now goalie Ben Bishop will be worked back into the fold. A four-game winning streak was snapped on Sunday in a 4–2 loss to Vegas, but overall things seem to be turning around in Dallas.

11. Minnesota Wild | Record: 15–12–2 | Previous Ranking: 7

Goaltender Devan Dubnyk hasn't been great this year—but then again, neither has Alex Stalock. A 7–2 loss to the Oilers on Friday was Minnesota’s fifth loss in its last six games.

10. San Jose Sharks | Record: 16–11–5 | Previous Ranking: 11

San Jose was able to break out of a funk a bit, snapping a four-game losing streak. But the Sharks' offense needs to pick it up a bit more to get this team back into contention.

9. Washington Capitals | Record: 17–9–3 | Previous Ranking: 6

The Capitals had a couple of tough losses to Anaheim and Vegas, but not too terrible when considering the seven-game winning streak before it.

8. Anaheim Ducks | Record: 16–11–5 | Previous Ranking: 13

The Ducks are quietly streaking with wins in six of their last seven, and they've done it with strong play from both John Gibson and Ryan Miller.

7. Calgary Flames | Record: 19–10–1 | Previous Ranking: 9

Mike Smith has kind of found his footing, though it helps when your team scores nine goals. Beating Nashville cements the Flames as one of the team's to watch in the next month.

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6. Winnipeg Jets | Record: 18–9–2 | Previous Ranking: 12

Another squad that’s heating up, and the Jets don't play a really good team for a week when Tampa Bay comes to town.

5. Buffalo Sabres | Record: 17–9–1 | Previous Ranking: 4

Played Nashville close, but the worry has become: are the Sabres simply just a notch below the best of the best?

4. Colorado Avalanche | Record: 17–8–5 | Previous Ranking: 5

Colorado is heating up, with just a ridiculous offense. But the loss against Tampa Bay exposed a defensive problem where upgrades are needed.

3. Nashville Predators | Record: 19–10–1 | Previous Ranking: 1

Beating Buffalo in a close 2–1 game last week was a nice touch. The poor losses to Calgary and Vancouver in the Predators’ West Coast swing weren’t as nice, but not sure those should be terribly worrying.

2. Toronto Maple Leafs | Record: 20–9–1 | Previous Ranking: 2

It sure is nice having Auston Matthews back, racking up 10 points in his last five games. And now that William Nylander is back, you're going to see the Maple Leafs take off.

1. Tampa Lightning | Record: 24–7–1 | Previous Ranking: 3

Yeah, that was impressive, beating one of the best offensive teams in Colorado is a statement. A seven-game winning streak puts this team back on top.

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