The Washington Capitals are making a move to rejoin the NHL Power Rankings top 10, and they are doing it with a familiar source. Alex Ovechkin is no stranger to scoring in bunches, and he did just that in a light weekend. He scored four times, including a hat trick in Toronto, and the Caps are showing signs of life as they look for their third consecutive Presidents Trophy.
That will not be an easy task. Besides Tampa Bay and St. Louis, which continue to run the NHL points lead, the Winnipeg Jets are making a big playoff push of their own. There was also a big trade that might help a Pacific Division team spark another regular season comeback.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning: 36 points
Previously 1 (34 points)
The offense got knocked around this week, and that resulted in a poor road trip. In a trip featuring two back-to-backs and some marquee opponents, they only scored seven times and only beat the lowly Sabres. They still own the points lead in the NHL despite a bad week. Andrei Vasilevskiy had another solid week for Tampa Bay, and he shut the Sabres out on 34 shots for his second goose egg of the season.
2. St. Louis Blues: 35 points
Previously 2 (33 points)
Jake Allen and Carter Hutton have tamed offenses, but the historically inconsistent offense has been just that recently. With just a six-goal outburst as the only points of the week, St. Louis missed an opportunity to take the lead for most NHL points. Kyle Brodziak had a big week for the Blues, picking up a breakaway shorthanded goal on Saturday and scoring both St. Louis goals in Wednesday’s loss to Anaheim.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs: 33 points
Previously 3 (29 points)
They are having trouble at home, but the hyped Western Canada road trip has certainly brought good fortunes back to the biggest hockey market. The road fans watched on as the Leafs won handily in Calgary, and tickets are well into triple digits for Thursday’s matchup in Edmonton. Nikita Zaitsev scored in consecutive games for the second time this season, with the second being clinched in the Saddledome.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets: 33 points
Previously 7 (29 points)
Surprise! Still no luck on the power play, but the winning is still present. The key continues to be bend-don’t-break defense and finding offensive answers from any line. Cam Atkinson ended an eight-game pointless drought with two goals to help the Jackets rally over Ottawa on Friday.
5. New Jersey Devils: 32 points
Previously 5 (28 points)
They took a tough loss to Florida on Monday, but that would be the only setback for a Devils team that still sits near the top of the Metropolitan Division. They go to the southwest to start December before a critical home-and-home with the Blue Jackets. Taylor Hall led the Devils to victory against Vancouver on Friday after contributing on all three goals in the second period. He leads the team in points by a very wide margin.
6. Winnipeg Jets: 34 points
Previously 8 (29 points)
Seeing Winnipeg on the schedule is not supposed to be too flashy, but that could very well be the case now. They got five out of a possible eight points, and winning against Vegas on Friday could tie them with Tampa Bay for the most points in the NHL. They have a Canadian battle with Ottawa and a huge game at the Lightning on the horizon. Seven different Jets scored in a unanswered rout of the Wild, and Blake Wheeler contributed to three of them. He is fifth in the NHL with 22 assists through November 30.
7. Vegas Golden Knights: 31 points
Previously 9 (27 points)
Before Ben Bishop and Radek Faksa ruined Vegas’s five-game winning streak, the Knights continued to win with “borderline” NHL players. Then they got a reinforcement when Malcolm Subban returned from injury. Unfortunately, David Perron ended up on the IR. Jonathan Marchessault continues to pile drive defenses. Before Tuesday’s shutout loss, Marchessault had three consecutive games with one goal and two assists, including the overtime winner against San Jose on Friday.
8. Los Angeles Kings: 31 points
Previously 6 (26 points)
The Kings stopped their skid and might be looking at better fortunes. They got points in all three games this week, including a dominant 4-1 victory over Detroit to begin a midwest swing. Anze Kopitar had his best game of the season, scoring twice and extending his comfortable points lead for Los Angeles.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins: 29 points
Previously 7 (25 points)
The horrible Penguins defense took another hit on Monday. Matt Murray had to be removed from the first Keystone battle of the season after sustaining a lower body injury from a charging Jakub Voracek. He is considered week-to-week, so Tristan Jarry has a chance to audition for a starting role for what could be the rest of the calendar year. Despite a continued disappointment on defense, the offense took care of business in huge home wins against Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel each had big weeks, but neither could top Sidney Crosby, who had eight points in Pittsburgh’s last three games and tipped in the overtime winner against the Flyers.
10. New York Islanders: 32 points
Previously 11 (26 points)
Tampa Bay slacked a little bit on offense this week, so the Islanders now have the top offense in the NHL. With the lone exception being their 2-1 win at Ottawa, the offense has obliterated goalies in winning seven of the last eight games. They are just one point behind the Blue Jackets for the Metropolitan Division lead. Jordan Eberle has scored in three straight games, and he is the third Islander to reach double-digit goals this season.
11. Nashville Predators: 33 points
Previously 10 (28 points)
Smashville cannot celebrate yet. Even with a shutout win over the Blues, the Predators still have work to do to pass their hated division rival in the standings. The Ducks await looking for revenge following Nashville’s series victory in the Western Conference Finals. Pekka Rinne shut out the St. Louis on 34 shots on Friday for his second donut of the season and 45th of his career.
12. Washington Capitals: 29 points
Previously 14 (25 points)
Perhaps I sound like a broken record when talking about the Capitals, but sometimes it feels like the Alex Ovechkin does put the entire team on his back. This week was a primary example. In two games against the Eastern Conference elite (Tampa Bay and Toronto), the Great 8 scored four of the team’s seven goals, including a hat trick to stop the Leafs’ comeback bid on Saturday. At 576 career goals, he is just two away from passing Mark Recchi for 20th on the all-time goals list.
13. Chicago Blackhawks: 27 points
Previously 13 (20 points)
As we saw in their season opener, the Blackhawks know a thing or two about offensive explosions. They had another field day at the United Center, and this time they put up seven goals against the Ducks. The hero of the night is another Calder Trophy candidate. Alex DeBrincat recorded a hat trick and added an assist in that rout, and he is just the second Blackhawk to reach double figures in goals this season (Artem Anisimov is the other one).
14. San Jose Sharks: 28 points
Previously 15 (23 points)
After an off night in Vegas, the goalie tandem of Aaron Dell and Martin Jones continued their dominance over any team. Jones shut out the Winnipeg Jets on 38 shots in what is San Jose’s lone home game in seven. Dell started the eastern swing with a lighter load, allowing just one goal to the fading Flyers on 23 shots. Tampa Bay and Washington should pose as big threats this week.
15. Calgary Flames: 27 points
Previously 12 (25 points)
Calgary got out of a six-game road trip winning half of their games, and losing to Toronto was not ideal. They do, however, have three easier games for the rest of their home stand. David Rittich made his NHL debut on Saturday and held the Avalanche, which have done very well at home, to two goals on 26 shots for the win. Apologies for not mentioning Sean Monahan‘s hat trick in Philadelphia last week.
16. New York Rangers: 28 points
Previously 22 (24 points)
The Rangers ripped off another winning streak of at least four games, but the good news ends there. After narrowly losing to Florida on Tuesday, it was revealed that Mika Zibanejad was out with a concussion, and only time will tell when the top offensive weapon for New York will come back. Chris Kreider picked up the scoring load this week, and he has scored five goals in his last four games after nearly helping the Rangers pull off a comeback against the Panthers.
17. Dallas Stars: 27 points
Previously 18 (23 points)
Dallas remains a mystery. They could be better considering their huge offseason, but their last two games were pretty close to perfection. After smoking the Flames with six goals on Friday, Dallas got a big night from two of their non-All Stars on Tuesday. Ben Bishop became the first player ever to shut out the Golden Knights with 34 saves, while Radek Faksa provided all the offense with a natural hat trick in just under seven minutes during the second period.
18. Anaheim Ducks: 26 points
Previously 17 (23 points)
The Ducks made a big splash. They traded Sami Vatanen and a conditional pick for New Jersey center Adam Henrique, Joseph Blandisi, and a third-round pick. A team that has had an underwhelming performance from their top forwards will get a much-needed addition. Although he could not stop the Ducks from losing four straight games before Wednesday, Chris Wagner had a big night in a blowout loss to Chicago, picking up two goals and assisting on the other Anaheim goal. His 13 points this season are nearly double his previous career high.
19. Vancouver Canucks: 26 points
Previously 20 (25 points)
After an outstanding start to the road trip, Vancouver hit a dry spell in the New York Metro area. Their only salvaged point came in a seven-round shootout loss in which they allowed Jimmy Vesey to take over. They have one more game in Nashville before returning home for a highly anticipated matchup against the Maple Leafs. Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in 2014, scored for the first time in 12 games in Madison Square Garden on Sunday. Unfortunately, Derek Dorsett may have to retire because of neck complications following cervical fusion surgery.
20. Minnesota Wild: 25 points
Previously 21 (23 points)
That shutout streak seems like an epoch ago. In their last two games, the Wild have dubiously allowed 13 goals to division opponents. They have to play one of those teams, the Blues, again on Saturday. With two goals and an assist this week, Jason Zucker now has points in 10 of his last 12 games.
21. Colorado Avalanche: 26 points
Previously 19 (23 points)
If the success of a trade is based on how many wins a teams obtains afterward, then the Avalanche are the biggest winners. Since losing twice in a row in Sweden, the Avs have won four of their next seven, and the Denver crowd sounds like it has returned to its 90s ways. Gabriel Landeskog was suspended four games following a dangerous cross check against the Flames, but he was not needed on Wednesday. Alexander Kerfoot continued his suddenly magical rookie season, while Nikita Zadorov tied his career high for goals in a season by scoring in consecutive games for the first time in his career. Of course, Nathan MacKinnon put the Jets to bed after the original OT winner was called off because of offsides.
22. Carolina Hurricanes: 25 points
Previously 22 (22 points)
Carolina is in a tough stretch. They lost a slug fest to the hot Maple Leafs and split shootouts with Nashville and Columbus. After a trip to MSG, the schedule lightens up a bit before the dreaded California trip. Justin Williams returned to Raleigh to give the rebuilding Canes some veteran leadership, and he is now third on the team in points following two second assists in Carolina’s near comeback against Toronto and an overtime-forcing goal against the Preds.
23. Boston Bruins: 26 points
Previously 24 (22 points)
Anton Khudobin has yet to lose in regulation, but he was not needed on Wednesday. Tuukka Rask returned to the cage and kept the Lightning in check on national television. Brad Marchand also returned to the lineup from an injury and assisted on two of Boston’s three goals. David Pastrnak continued to show his handles in goals during the Thanksgiving Showcase and Sunday’s loss to Edmonton.
24. Ottawa Senators: 22 points
Previously 16 (22 points)
Ottawa has struggled since returning from Sweden. In fact, they have lost seven straight games and only one of those came in extra time. Perhaps they are adjusting to life with Matt Duchene, but something needs to improve before the number of trade possibilities in February spike. Duchene scored his first Ottawa goal late in the third period in Saturday’s loss to the Islanders.
25. Detroit Red Wings: 25 points
Previously 25 (23 points)
The Red Wings that we expected to see are beginning to show up. They have lost five straight, three of them in OT, and they are now tied for fourth in the Atlantic Division with Montreal, the same team they play on Thursday. David Booth, a former Panthers second-round pick in 2004, returned to the NHL after a two-year absence and scored twice in a thrilling OT loss to New Jersey on Saturday.
26. Montreal Canadiens: 25 points
Previously 28 (19 points)
Guess who showed up to the party? Carey Price returned from a lower body injury and brought back the vintage version of himself. He shut out the Sabres (I know, that’s not much of an accomplishment these days) in his return, and he only let one goal in against Columbus and Ottawa. He really needed to have at least a 0.96 save percentage in all three of those games because the offense still looks like a jar of molasses when trying to score.
27. Philadelphia Flyers: 23 points
Previously 26 (21 points)
Someone is outdoing the Senators…and that is Philly. The Flyers now possess the most extra time losses with seven, and five of those mishaps in OT have come in an active nine-game winless streak. Even with the respectable number of points collected, that is still enough to be at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division. Jakub Voracek continues to produce despite the losses. He has points in six of the last seven games, including two first helpers in 19 seconds on Friday, and is the first Flyer to reach 30 points.
28. Edmonton Oilers: 22 points
Previously 27 (18 points)
The Oilers are starting to show signs of life again. They have won three of their last four games and are now within realistic striking range to catch up with most of their division rivals. Games against Toronto and Calgary will be crucial for them to prove their worth. Edmonton won with plenty of balance, as Zack Kassian and Milan Lucic were the only players to score in more than one game this week. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, however, scored his one breakaway point at a perfect time: in overtime against Arizona on Tuesday.
29. Florida Panthers: 22 points
Previously 29 (18 points)
Evgeni Dadonov is likely out for the rest of 2017, so that opens up opportunities for forwards who made some impact last season. One of those players was Denis Malgin. He was a fourth-round pick in 2015 and had six goals in 47 games last season. His first goal of this season came on Tuesday, when he scored the game-winning goal in New York with just over a minute remaining.
30. Buffalo Sabres: 16 points
Previously 30 (14 points)
To the pit of misery, Dilly Dilly! Buffalo salvaged one win against Edmonton, but losing nine of 10 has put the Sabres in a tie with Arizona for the fewest points. They have not scored since Friday’s win. Evander Kane continue to lead whatever offense still exists in Buffalo, assisting twice in the victory.
31. Arizona Coyotes: 16 points
Previously 31 (13 points)
That October is looking mighty costly. After just one win in the first month, Arizona has five in November and is actually tied for the fewest points in the NHL. Do not expect much to happen soon with the clear game disadvantage. Christian Fischer scored twice this week, including a tip goal to knock off Los Angeles in overtime on Friday.
Matt Murray shuts out the Bruins in the Thanksgiving Showcase. It did not take long for this prediction to die.
Montreal converts on at least 50% of their power play chances on Wednesday. Goose egg.
Nathan MacKinnon tallies a hat trick.
Buffalo scores at least five goals on Pittsburgh and wins.