Minnesota has stayed with Chicago for fifth place in the Central Division, but both teams’ success in overtime got its share of attention. For Minnesota, one player got his share of overtime prowess more than anyone else. Mathew Dumba followed up an overtime winner against the Blues last week with another one in Anaheim on Friday after just one goal heading into last week. Add on another extra time win on Tuesday, and the Wild made a big jump in the NHL Power Rankings.
Philadelphia also made a jump with their recent slew of victories, while the Senators continue to sink.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning: 46 points
Previously 1 (40 points)
Five straight wins? Check. Best offense? Check. Best power play? Check. Shutting out the Blues in their own building? Check. Anyone who thinks the Lightning are not the top team in the NHL right now has not been watching hockey. Andrei Vasilevskiy blanked the Blues on 32 shots on Tuesday for his third shutout of the season. He leads the league in wins and is only behind Aaron Dell in save percentage and GAA for qualified goalies.
2. Los Angeles Kings: 43 points
Previously 2 (39 points)
The Kings, meanwhile, own the defensive and penalty kill leads in the NHL. Before Tuesday’s poor loss to New Jersey, the Kings had won eight straight games to maintain their slim lead over Vegas. Drew Doughty is looking like an early favorite for the Norris Trophy, and he knocked out Ottawa on the other end with a breakaway overtime goal on Thursday.
3. St. Louis Blues: 44 points
Previously 5 (38 points)
To be the best, you have to beat the best. The Blues definitely did not do that on Tuesday, as Tampa Bay shut them out in St. Louis to end what was a four-game winning streak. They take on Anaheim and Winnipeg at home before going to Western Canada. Jake Allen was fantastic this week, picking up his first shutout of the season on 29 Dallas shots before allowing just one goal on the same number of shots in a blowout win over Detroit the very next day.
4. Nashville Predators: 42 points
Previously 6 (39 points)
It was a light week for Nashville, so the Preds needed to convert in the first game of their Western Canada swing to get within striking distance of St. Louis. They did just that in a sledgehammer of a game, but actually. P.K. Subban scored twice in that win, including a laser from center ice that got by Anders Nilsson early in the second period.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs: 41 points
Previously 7 (37 points)
He still has a long way to go before he gets the sophomore slump label, but Auston Matthews has missed consecutive games for the second time this season. Fortunately, his absence only cost the slumping offense once this week. Curtis McElhinney saved the day on Sunday, shutting out Edmonton on 41 shots and several clangs off the posts. It was his first shutout of the season and second with the Leafs.
6. Columbus Blue Jackets: 39 points
Previously 8 (35 points)
John Tortorella had nothing to say following Columbus’s beatdown loss to Edmonton, but it would be the only blemish for a Jackets team that has walked the tightrope all season. Following two straight divisional losses last week, they redeemed themselves by splitting the home-and-home series with New Jersey and needing just one goal to knock out Arizona. Artemi Panarin had a career night on Friday, tallying an NHL season high five assists at the Prudential Center. He leads a balanced offense in points by eight, with Oliver Bjorkstrand and Josh Anderson at a distant 18 points through 31 games.
7. Winnipeg Jets: 41 points
Previously 4 (38 points)
An ugly three-game road trip gave Winnipeg a much-needed return to Bell MTS Centre, and the Jets made quick work of the Vancouver Canucks. Bad losses to Detroit and Florida caused the Jets to lose ground on St. Louis in the Central Division. Mathieu Perreault has has been on fire since his return from a lower-body injury on Nov. 16, especially with new line mate Matt Hendricks. He is tied with Blake Wheeler for the most points for Winnipeg since his return to the lineup.
8. Vegas Golden Knights: 40 points
Previously 10 (35 points)
He may not have looked impressive on paper, but Maxime Lagace hung in there to keep the expansion team in solid position. The return of Marc-Andre Fleury, however, means that he will return to the AHL for the foreseeable future. Vegas has seen extra time in four of their last five games, with Carolina needing a shootout to halt their four-game winning streak. David Perron returned to the ice on Friday and had points in all three games this week. He has failed to tally a point in consecutive games just once this season.
9. New Jersey Devils: 38 points
Previously 3 (36 points)
It was a disappointing week for New Jersey, as they took losses on back-to-back nights against division rivals. They somewhat redeemed themselves with an easy win to snap LA’s eight-game winning streak. Brian Boyle continued his inspirational season with two more goals on home ice, but the Devils may be without Taylor Hall for a short period of time following a knee bruise on Tuesday. It is a shame because Hall carried the offense in the win over the Kings.
10. Washington Capitals: 39 points
Previously 12 (35 points)
Washington has returned to the top of the Metropolitan Division, and they got there with unconscious offense at home. They have won five straight in Capital One Arena, and they scored at least four times in all of them. Their latest onslaught was Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Colorado, and Evgeny Kuznetsov returned to his old ways with three assists in that game.
11. Pittsburgh Penguins: 35 points
Previously 9 (33 points)
Is it too early to panic in Pittsburgh? Probably, but the offense has not given Tristan Jarry much room for error. That issue was especially prevalent on Monday, when the only goals were in the third period. The Pens could only get by Jonathan Bernier with 12 seconds remaining in regulation, which is certainly not enough to survive in the crowded Metropolitan Division. Phil Kessel now has a five-game point streak and points in nine of his last games. He now has nine career goals against Colorado, which is more than he has against the Flyers, a team that Kessel has faced more than three times as much.
12. New York Islanders: 37 points
Previously 11 (35 points)
The Metropolitan Division is getting very, very crowded, and that has a lot to do with New York losing four of five. Their one bright spot was a 3-1 victory over the scorching Capitals. Jaroslav Halak made 31 saves in that win, while John Tavares carried the offense in their recent string of game with a goal on Monday and two helpers to Anders Lee on Wednesday.
13. San Jose Sharks: 35 points
Previously 14 (30 points)
Their three-game home stand was a success. San Jose took three points in two overtime games against Carolina and Minnesota, and they also demolished the Senators on Saturday. They will make themselves very familiar with their divisional Canadian rivals, as five of their next six games are against Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton. Brent Burns looks to be emerging from his early season slump. He had points in all three games this week, including two goals on Sunday and two assists during Aaron Dell‘s second shutout of the season. Dell has just two goals allowed in is last three starts, all of which are against what would be Eastern Conference playoff outsiders.
14. Dallas Stars: 37 points
Previously 13 (33 points)
There always seems to be questions regarding the defense, isn’t there? This time, Kari Lehtonen may be benefitting from those questions. He was given the green light in Dallas’s last two games in New York, and he smothered both the Rangers and Islanders to reach the 300-win plateau. Following a 32-save night in a blowout win over the Isles, will the Finn get another start in New Jersey? Tyler Pitlick scored twice on Wednesday, his second multi-goal game of the season.
15. New York Rangers: 35 points
Previously 15 (32 points)
A win against New Jersey was the only moment of celebration for the Blueshirts. A big loss to Washington and a tight loss in Ottawa is surely going to knock their confidence down a bit, especially with a back-to-back with LA and Boston coming up. Mats Zuccarello scored twice on Saturday to inch closer to the 100-goal mark, while Henrik Lundqvist picked up his 20,000th career save on Wednesday.
16. Minnesota Wild: 35 points
Previously 20 (29 points)
Minnesota is looking like a solid playoff contender again, and their last four wins have come in extra time. Matt Dumba scored the first two game-winners before Eric Staal and Nino Niederreiter stole the show on Saturday. The offense died on Tuesday, but they still picked up the win following Mikael Granlund‘s fifth-round shootout winner.
If someone can help me with spelling some of the Minnesota players’ names, that would be ideal. Some of these names I needed a few tries to spell correctly, such as Niederreiter).
17. Chicago Blackhawks: 35 points
Previously 17 (29 points)
They struggled, but the Blackhawks managed to get by three of the weaker teams in the NHL on home ice. The fact that they needed overtime against Buffalo and Florida, however, shows that Chicago may be losing a step. Gustav Forsling might be looking like a massive steal for the Blackhawks through his first full season. He had points in all three goals on Thursday, including the overtime winner on a 60-foot wrist shot with under five seconds remaining. He was traded from Vancouver in early 2015 for Adam Clendening.
18. Boston Bruins: 34 points
Previously 22 (28 points)
In a division where only two teams have made noise in the playoff picture, there had to be another team that could look somewhat competitive. Boston may have shown that this week. Following two easy victories over the Coyotes and Islanders, the Bruins used their usual suspects to pull off an NBC comeback. Brad Marchand fed David Pastrnak to tie the game in Detroit up with Tuukka Rask out of his net, and Marchand completed the win with a breakaway that Torey Krug created in overtime. Rask has been outstanding for Boston, as Wednesday’s overtime win was the first time in five games that he allowed more than one goal.
19. Calgary Flames: 35 points
Previously 19 (30 points)
The Flames continue to meddle around the middle of the Western Conference race, but things are looking bleaker off the ice. Even with Seattle being offered an expansion franchise, Gary Bettman is still making it sound like Houston may have a chance at grabbing a team that is in need of a new arena (aka Calgary). To make matters worse, adding Seattle would likely require moving a Pacific Division team to the Central Division, and Arizona may have to push one too many buttons to knock the target off of the Flames. Matthew Tkachuk scored twice to seal a big win over the rival Canucks, and Calgary has big games against San Jose, Nashville, and St. Louis that could change the complexion of the conference picture heading into 2018.
20. Anaheim Ducks: 33 points
Previously 18 (30 points)
One of the most disappointing offenses in the league may have taken another hit. Corey Perry, who amazingly leads the team with just 22 points, was taken to a local hospital following a lower-body injury sustained in Monday’s win over the Hurricanes. With no consistent offensive threat in Anaheim at the moment, it would be a tough blow to lose Perry for an extended period of time. John Gibson had another great night on Monday, making some critical, highlight-reel saves on Carolina and saving 28 of 30 shots for a close win.
21. Vancouver Canucks: 32 points
Previously 16 (32 points)
It may not have been Habs-Wings or Hawks-Pens, but Vancouver may have the dubious mark of the third-worst blowout loss of the season. When Anders Nilsson smacks his goalie stick in half and throws one part into the crowd, you know you had a bad day. That is exactly what happened against the Predators on Wednesday. That was only part of a winless four-game stretch that threatens to bring reality back to the rebuilding Nucks.
22. Montreal Canadiens: 30 points
Previously 21 (29 points)
Five steps forward, three steps back. Montreal has now lost three straight games at the Bell Centre, including both visits from the Alberta teams, following a big five-game winning streak. The Habs will be playing outside this week, and a win in the Centennial Classic should certainly boost morale even if it is against a sinking Senators squad. The offense was pedestrian while the defense got rocked by every Oiler not named Connor McDavid, but Phillip Danault scored in both games this week. This included a tip-in to give Montreal a temporary lead over the Flames.
23. Carolina Hurricanes: 31 points
Previously 23 (27 points)
Despite losing four straight games, Carolina has come out of their western swing in decent shape. They lost two of their three California games in overtime and pulled off the upset against Vegas on Tuesday. They finish off their road trip in Buffalo with a golden opportunity to get right back into the divisional mix. Trevor van Riemsdyk had four points this week, more than he had all season, and picked up his first Carolina goal early in the second period on Tuesday.
24. Philadelphia Flyers: 31 points
Previously 27 (27 points)
Philadelphia is on the same script as Carolina, but they have won four straight in their effort to get back in the Metropolitan Division race. They went undefeated on their Western Canada road trip following 10 straight losses, and they get a visit from Buffalo to continue their five-game home stand. Claude Giroux has two points in three straight games, and the final point on Tuesday set up Sean Couturier‘s game-winner against Toronto.
25. Colorado Avalanche: 30 points
Previously 24 (26 points)
Colorado was fading fast, but they redeemed themselves with a high-scoring victory in Florida and a defensive showdown in Pittsburgh. It is the first time the Avalanche have won consecutive road games in Pittsburgh since accomplishing that feat in February 2003 (the other win was in October 2001). Seven different players scored in Sunrise on Saturday, including Erik Johnson, who had points in three straight games following an empty net assist on Monday.
26. Detroit Red Wings: 29 points
Previously 26 (27 points)
Three crippling losses just might be a microcosm of what the Red Wings are likely to face in the next couple years. They started off with a blowout loss to the playoff-ready Blues before two crushing overtime losses to Florida and Boston. At least their rivalry with many of the Eastern Conference teams will give them more NBC coverage, right? Dylan Larkin ended a three-game pointless streak with a shorthanded breakaway goal on Wednesday. While Detroit is in the Top-10 with four shorthanded goals, Larkin’s was their first since Oct. 26.
27. Edmonton Oilers: 28 points
Previously 28 (24 points)
While they have not made much ground in the Pacific Division, the offense has looked much better. The Oilers have jumped all the way up to 12th on offense, with much of that coming in the six-goal outburst in Montreal and seven more in Columbus. Jujhar Khaira scored twice on Saturday, while Connor McDavid tallied a goal and three assists to lead the recently balanced offense on Tuesday.
28. Ottawa Senators: 27 points
Previously 25 (24 points)
Ottawa had lost 12 of 13 and had been shut out in three of their last five, so a 3-2 win over the Rangers was badly needed. With just Buffalo behind them, however, the Sens may need some luck to get back into the playoff picture. Erik Karlsson had two assists this week, marking his first points since the Sweden series.
29. Florida Panthers: 29 points
Previously 29 (24 points)
Despite a surprising win over Winnipeg, Florida remains a lock for a lottery pick in the early going. Roberto Luongo is out indefinitely, and James Reimer has had plenty of issues this season, although he looked great in saving 34 shots in Florida’s win over the Red Wings. Vincent Trocheck is on a six-game point streak that includes three assists against the Isles last week and two goals in the high-scoring affair with the Jets.
30. Buffalo Sabres: 22 points
Previously 31 (18 points)
Just when it looked like the Sabres were in a free fall, they pick themselves up. They picked up points in all three games this week, which included a point each in a tough road swing in the midwest. They even impressed the fans in their own building, with notable trade target Evander Kane picking up his 14th goal and second power-play goal in a big third period against the Senators.
31. Arizona Coyotes: 19 points
Previously 30 (19 points)
As you will see, some bold predictions are bolder than others. Arizona has offered no hope for the fan base with their recent play, but can they put things together against their polar opposite on Thursday? Considering how poor the Coyotes have been in the Gila River Arena, it has to be encouraging that Gary Bettman has given the desert market a vote of encouragement while a superior hockey market in the same division could be in trouble. Christian Dvorak ended an eight-game goalless drought with the lone goal in a 6-1 loss in Boston.
Artem Anisimov scores at least twice on Sunday against Arizona. He only got one, but it would be the game-winner.
Braden Holtby/Philipp Grubauer holds the Islanders, the top offense in the NHL, to two goals or less on Monday. Holtby had a rough night, as he was pulled early in the second period. That alone ruined the prediction, but Grubauer was excellent in a replacement role.
Vegas blitzes Carolina with six goals on Tuesday. Nope. They lost at home, which is a rarity so far.
Arizona upsets Tampa Bay with at least four goals at home.
Alex Galchenyuk has at least three assists in the Centennial Classic.
Mikael Backlund scores twice against the Blues on Wednesday.