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NHL Power Rankings: Lightning, Stars Waking Up as Surprise Teams Level Out


The Sabres have lost six of their last seven games, the Canucks have lost four of five, the Ducks have come down to Earth and, slowly, the magic has seeped away from October’s surprise teams. At the same time, the Lightning are waking up, the Stars have climbed out of a massive hole and the Sharks are (maybe) finding its way on offense. While the playoff hopefuls sort themselves out, here’s how we see teams stacking up right now:

31. Los Angeles Kings | Record: 6-11-1 | Previous Ranking: 29

The good: 21-year-old rookie Blake Lizotte scored his first NHL goal and Anze Kopitar hasn’t slowed down in his 14th season. The bad: Everything else.

30. Ottawa Senators | Record: 6-10-1 | Previous Ranking: 31

With a team-high eight goals, upcoming unrestricted free agent Jean-Gabriel Pageau is going to make a contender very happy at the trade deadline. Otherwise, the Anders Nilsson–Craig Anderson tandem (.902 combined save percentage) is playing just well enough to keep the Senators out of dead last.

29. Detroit Red Wings | Record: 7-12-1 | Previous Ranking: 30

When the Red Wings looked primed to usurp the Senators’ status as the worst team in hockey, Detroit won back-to-back games against Boston and Vegas. Still, the Red Wings are being outscored by a league-worst 2.3 goals per game and have a concerningly bad penalty kill (69.3%).

28. Blue Jackets | Record: 6-8-4 | Previous Ranking: 23

Columbus has lost seven of its last eight games, and the team’s lack of talent is catching up.

27. New Jersey Devils | Record: 5-7-4 | Previous Ranking: 26

Jack Hughes scored an endorsement deal with Gatorade while Taylor Hall can’t buy a goal. The Devils have stabilized after collecting three wins during a five-game road trip but they still sit dead last in the Metro Division.

26. Minnesota Wild | Record: 6-11-1 | Previous Ranking: 27

Thanks to the NHL’s scheduling quirks, the Wild have had to play 13 of their first 18 games on the road. That doesn’t explain away the sluggish start, but the team has managed a 3-1-1 record at Xcel Energy Center.

25. New York Rangers | Record: 8-6-2 | Previous Ranking: 28

Henrik Lundqvist stonewalled the Hurricanes, turning back the clock and stopping 45 of 47 shots on the second night of a back-to-back. The Rangers have been all over the place this season, but it’s encouraging to see Kaapo Kakko adjust after a slow start.

24. Anaheim Ducks | Record: 9-8-2 | Previous Ranking: 18

It turns out John Gibson can’t single-handedly will this team to success, as the Ducks found out during Sunday’s 6–2 loss to the Oilers.

23. Chicago Blackhawks | Record: 6-7-4 | Previous Ranking: 26

Since the beginning of November, Patrick Kane has tallied 11 points in six games while playing next to new linemates Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome. The Blackhawks are 3-1-2 in those games and shouldn’t fall too far down into the cellar as long as Robin Lehner continues to turn in Vezina-quality performances.

22. San Jose Sharks | Record: 8-10-1 | Previous Ranking: 25

The Sharks bludgeoned the Wild with four first period goals, and then almost lost. Such is life with Martin Jones in net. On a positive note, Jones bounced back in a 24-save shootout victory against the Predators and San Jose’s offense is showing signs of life.

21. Dallas Stars | Record: 8-8-2 | Previous Ranking: 22

The Stars finally started climbing out of the hole and then injuries wiped out Roope Hintz, the team’s leading goal scorer, and John Klingberg, Dallas’s top defenseman, for at least two weeks. Ben Bishop, though, hasn’t allowed more than two goals since Oct. 16 and Dallas has settled in as one of the league’s better defensive teams.

20. Buffalo Sabres | Record: 9-6-2 | Previous Ranking: 11

So long, hot start: The Sabres have been outscored 18–8 through their current five-game losing streak.

19. Winnipeg Jets | Record: 10-8-1 | Previous Ranking: 20

How bad does this blue line have to get before the Jets give Sami Niku a shot? Connor Hellebuyck has looked none the worse for a patchy defensive unit and Winnipeg has shown some fight, never losing a game in regulation when trailing after the first period.

18. Vegas Golden Knights | Record: 9-7-3 | Previous Ranking: 9

Last week, Vegas’s first line went missing. At even strength, opponents held the Reilly Smith–William Karlsson–Jonathan Marchessault line without a goal and outshot them by a 3:1 margin. Max Pacioretty has come alive with four goals in his last five games, but the Golden Knights are struggling to find production outside its top six.

17. Calgary Flames | Record: 10-7-3 | Previous Ranking: 19

Even after a win against the Coyotes, coach Bill Peters came out and said, “We have to start playing for each other, playing the right way. I don’t think we’re doing that right now. I don’t see that. If we are, I’m missing it.” The Flames haven’t been bad, but they also haven’t notched consecutive regulation wins more than one time this season and need to find consistency.

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16. Toronto Maple Leafs | Record: 9-6-4 | Previous Ranking: 15

Almost as soon as John Tavares returned from a broken finger, the Leafs announced Mitch Marner would be out at least four weeks with an ankle injury. Goalie Frederik Andersen has been lights out in November, giving the Leafs time to work through injuries and early struggles.

15. Florida Panthers | Record: 9-4-5 | Previous Ranking: 13

The Panthers are similar to last year—high-scoring and dangerous on the power play—but they’re still giving up as many goals as they’re scoring.

14. Vancouver Canucks | Record: 10-6-3 | Previous Ranking: 8

Since November, the Canucks’ puck luck has run dry, scoring the second fewest goals per 60 minutes despite leading the league in expected goals per 60 minutes. Vancouver isn’t in a bad spot, but the Canucks won’t have the benefit of a soft schedule going forward.

13. Montreal Canadiens | Record: 10-5-3 | Previous Ranking: 17

Shea Weber is back and healthy, Jonathan Drouin is playing up to expectations, Carey Price is providing his usual staunch goaltending and … the Canadiens are good, but not dominant. The Habs don’t have a glaring weakness but are just outside the league’s top tier of teams.

12. Arizona Coyotes | Record: 11-6-2 | Previous Ranking: 12

The Coyotes squandered a multi-goal lead for the second consecutive game, but then salvaged a shootout victory against the red-hot Capitals. Losses to the Blue Jackets and Wild are concerning but Arizona’s goal scoring has been consistent in the first quarter of the season.

11. Carolina Hurricanes | Record: 10-7-1 | Previous Ranking: 7

After losing to the Senators, seven different skaters scored in Hurricanes’ 8–2 bounce-back victory against Ottawa, ending the team’s four-game losing streak.

10. Philadelphia Flyers | Record: 10-5-2 | Previous Ranking: 21

Carter Hart has rounded into form (.941 save percentage, 1.61 goals against average and three wins in his last three starts) and the Flyers bested the Leafs and Bruins in back-to-back road victories. Travis Konecny and Oskar Lindblom are in the middle of breakout seasons, rookies Joel Farabee and Philippe Myers have performed well and Philly hasn’t needed much from Shayne Gostsisbehere.

9. Tampa Bay Lightning | Record: 8-5-2 | Previous Ranking: 16

Home sweet home: Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman and the Lightning sweeped the Sabres in Stockholm, climbing over .500 for the first time this season. Nine of Tampa Bay’s next 13 games are at home, which should be a good opportunity to sustain overseas success.

8. Pittsburgh Penguins | Record: 10-6-2 | Previous Ranking: 14

The Penguins have taken a trip on the injury carousel, first losing Nick Bjugstad, then returning Evgeni Malkin, then losing Patric Hornqvist and Kris Letang, and now Sidney Crosby is sidelined for at least another game. Pittsburgh hasn’t fallen apart but could use a run of good health.

7. Nashville Predators | Record: 9-6-3 | Previous Ranking: 6

The Predators surrendered the most goals in a single game in franchise history in a 9–4 defeat to the Avs, but netminder Juuse Saros turned in his best performance this season in a shootout loss to the Sharks. Nashville could use more of that to give Pekka Rinne more rest this year.

6. Colorado Avalanche | Record: 11-5-2 | Previous Ranking: 10

The Avs halted a five-game losing skid in that barrage against the Predators, courtesy of a Joonas Donskoi hat trick and Nathan MacKinnon’s fourth career four-point night. Adding depth in the offseason has softened the temporary losses of Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog.

5. Edmonton Oilers | Record: 12-6-2 | Previous Ranking: 3

When two superstars are playing as well as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are, a team doesn’t need much else. McDavid became the second active player to reach 400 points in 306 games or fewer, while Draisaitl took over as the league’s point leader. Underpinning the Oilers’ success is Mikko Koskinen, who ranks in the top 10 in save percentage, goals against average and high danger save percentage.

4. St. Louis Blues | Record: 12-3-4 | Previous Ranking: 7

Adversity? What’s that? The Blues reeled off a seven-game winning streak (that ended in a shootout Tuesday night), including five overtime wins, despite being outshot in all but one of those games and losing the team’s most dangerous scoring threat. The power play has been humming, too, converting 26.2% of its chances during that stretch.

3. New York Islanders | Record: 12-3-1 | Previous Ranking: 4

The Islanders haven’t lost in regulation in over a month. Since then, the Giants and Jets have lost seven games combined. Don’t ask about the Knicks.

2. Boston Bruins | Record: 11-3-4 | Previous Ranking: 1

The Bruins lost to the … Red Wings? Boston was outscored 7–2 in the first period in consecutive losses to Montreal, Detroit and Philadelphia, and then gave up a four-goal lead in a shootout loss to the Panthers. The Bruins suddenly look mortal after a dominant October.

1. Washington Capitals | Record: 13-2-4 | Previous Ranking: 2

The hot streak had to end at some point. Even after fighting back from a 3–0 deficit, the Capitals lost 4–3 in a shootout to the Coyotes, ending a 10-0-1 stretch where Washington outscored its opponents 52–32.