Love parity? This season is turning into your dream season! The Tampa Bay Lightning are the only team in the NHL that seems to be untouchable, but there are some teams looking to get on their level in the NHL Power Rankings. One of them is the same team that defeated Tampa Bay in dramatic fashion late Tuesday night, while another team, the Nashville Predators, has two goalies that are performing at top-notch levels. Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros each had shutouts in consecutive Alberta games, and the Predators are tied with St. Louis for first in the Central Division.
The Washington Capitals made a huge jump as they found first place in the Metropolitan Division, while one team may have found a new home in 2019.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning: 50 points
Previously 1 (46 points)
Despite losing their seven-game winning streak in heartbreaking fashion in Sin City, Tampa Bay continues to run through the rest of the NHL like tissue paper. Expect that to continue with a four-game home stand against manageable opponents. Nikita Kucherov continued his potential run for All-Star Game captain and even the Hart Trophy on the long road trip. He has a five-game point streak and points in nine of his last 10, including two first period assists in the loss to the Golden Knights.
2. Nashville Predators: 46 points
Previously 4 (42 points)
The Jets found a way past Pekka Rinne on Tuesday, but the Preds did their goalie damage on the road. Rinne and Juuse Saros allowed just one goal while the revamped offense found the net a staggering 17 times in Western Canada. Before coming home, Kyle Turris had a seven-game point streak (10 points) in December to further enhance Nashville’s position in the Matt Duchene trade, with two of those points coming in a convincing shutout in Edmonton. Saros dazzled in that game, stopping 46 shots for one of the best goalie performances of the season.
3. Vegas Golden Knights: 46 points
Previously 8 (40 points)
Is this for real? The Knights have won seven of eight and knocked off the Penguins and Lightning in stunning fashion. The fact that they are turning into playoffs locks is crazy enough, but the thought of Vegas being a Stanley Cup contender in just one year would be historic. Shea Theodore had a night to remember on Tuesday, grabbing points in every goal. This included scoring the game-winning power play goal with two seconds remaining.
4. Los Angeles Kings: 46 points
Previously 4 (43 points)
Monday’s win in Philly ended a three-game losing streak that let the Golden Knights back into a tie for the Pacific Division lead. They return to the west following an unsuccessful east coast swing, and meetings with San Jose and Vegas to cap off the end of 2017 are sure to be must-see match-ups. With two more goals this week, including his 100th goal and 200th point on Monday, Tyler Toffoli has matched his season goal total from last season, when he had 16 goals in just 63 games played.
5. St. Louis Blues: 46 points
Previously 3 (44 points)
Is Jaden Schwartz a viable Hart Trophy candidate? St. Louis’s recent play has certainly helped his case. The offense has been caught in a slump, scoring just four goals in their last five games and just one win. Carter Hutton took full advantage of his playing time in the win, shutting out the high-flying Jets on a season-high 48 shots for his ninth career goose egg.
6. Washington Capitals: 45 points
Previously 10 (39 points)
Washington just might be the hottest team in the NHL. With wins in eight of their last nine games and 11 in their last 13, the Caps have climbed their way back to the familiar top of the Metropolitan Division. Recent additions like Jakub Vrana to compliment the usual scorers has helped overcome a slow start, but this week was much more climactic. Alex Ovechkin had yet another overtime winner when he single-handedly blew by the Ducks defense on Saturday, and Dmitri Orlov gave Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s goal in Edmonton a run for its money as the top goal of the season with his move on John Klingberg.
7. Winnipeg Jets: 45 points
Previously 7 (41 points)
After another offensive meltdown on the road, the Jets seemed to have found new life after two big nights against division rivals. Winnipeg’s big night on Tuesday may be the fuel that helps the Jets recover from their road woes. Tyler Myers seemed to be sinking in Winnipeg, but he is on pace to fall just short of his career high in points following three more assists on Tuesday.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs: 43 points
Previously 5 (41 points)
Two back-to-backs did not help the offensive consistency. Their one big game came on a big day. In an unusual Tuesday afternoon contest, Toronto celebrated 100 years of the NHL (and as a franchise) by scoring eight goals on Scott Darling and the Hurricanes. The savior in the Centenary Slaying was Mitch Marner, who had a goal and three assists to silence the unforgiving Toronto market about his lack of scoring. James van Riemsdyk also scored the 20,000th goal in Maple Leafs history in that historic game.
9. Columbus Blue Jackets: 43 points
Previously 6 (39 points)
It is hard to get a grip on the Blue Jackets. Josh Anderson is leading the somewhat dormant offense in scoring, and Sergei Bobrovsky is no longer looking like a candidate to win back-to-back Vezina’s. Both sides suffered another poor game this week before a somewhat surprising win over Toronto. Joonas Korpisalo had a huge night to end the slide, stopping 39 of 41 shots on a Maple Leaf squad that seemingly put their offensive troubles to rest the day before.
10. New Jersey Devils: 43 points
Previously 9 (38 points)
The Devils have Adam Henrique‘s return behind them, and they have seemed to recover from an early December rough patch with some great play against the Western Conference. The road to Christmas break, however, may be tougher with visits from the Rangers, who won 5-2 against New Jersey earlier in the month, and the streaking Blackhawks. Brian Boyle had three assists in the third period on Monday following two goals (and plenty of beef with John Klingberg) on Saturday, with the last two helpers being to Stefan Noesen to knock off the Ducks. Noesen has now doubled his career points total this season.
11. New York Rangers: 41 points
Previously 15 (35 points)
New York’s season appeared to be over in October because the team was caught in molasses at home, but the team has done what has made themselves successful throughout this decade: stringing wins together. Saturday’s overtime thriller in Boston was a microcosm of how difficult it can be to finish a team in the clutches of late regulation and overtime. In a game in which Paul Carey picked up his first career multi-goal game, Henrik Lundqvist saved at least 30 shots for the third straight game in a 4-1 victory over Anaheim. Tuesday was his most impressive outing, stopping 39 of 40 shots for his 17th victory.
12. New York Islanders: 39 points
Previously 12 (37 points)
BIG NEWS! The New York Islanders have been approved to build their new home in Elmont, NY. The arena and nearby hotel should be completed after next season, and that should ultimately silent any rumors of the Islanders looking to move elsewhere. On the ice, the BLT line (John Tavares, Anders Lee, and Josh Bailey) have continued to dominate the NHL, with Bailey picking up the hat trick on Thursday. The goaltending, however, continues to haunt the team at a horrible time.
13. San Jose Sharks: 38 points
Previously 13 (35 points)
Following a late winner from Joonas Donskoi on Thursday, San Jose’s fortunes sunk in two cities in which they had recent success. On Saturday, the Sharks lost in Vancouver after winning 11 straight games there, and their recent slump gives the Flames, Ducks, and even the Oilers an opportunity to pounce in the standings. It has to be encouraging to see Brent Burns being an offensive force again, as he showed in scoring twice in Vancouver to force overtime.
14. Pittsburgh Penguins: 37 points
Previously 11 (35 points)
It took an Olli Maatta game-winner in Arizona with 14 seconds remaining in regulation to avoid what could have been a five-game losing streak. With Carolina and Philadelphia each getting hot, the Penguins are on the verge of being last in the Metropolitan Division. Even with the heavy parity in the division, the Pens, who recently traded for defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, are looking like one of the bigger disappointments outside of Edmonton. While their fortunes did not exactly get better this week, the return of Matt Murray in goal should eventually help the team out moving forward after Tristan Jarry held the fort down for six starts.
15. Chicago Blackhawks: 39 points
Previously 17 (35 points)
Their weak home stand last week helped, but the Blackhawks showed plenty of improvement this week to extend their winning streak to five. They had two blowout victories against two tough divisional opponents to inch closer to the top three teams in the Central Division, and a big five-game road trip awaits them for the rest of December. Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz poisoned the Jets and Wild defenses this week, and Kane has four goals in his last three games, including two on Sunday. He is now fifth on Chicago’s all time goals list and can reach the 300-goal plateau with another score.
16. Dallas Stars: 39 points
Previously 14 (37 points)
The Stars lost their second straight game in an overtime loss to Philadelphia, a team that is all too familiar with overtime losses. After losing to the Capitals in overtime on Tuesday, are the Stars in for a Philly-like slide? Alexander Radulov has goals in three of his last four games and is just one point behind Jamie Benn for the points lead.
17. Minnesota Wild: 39 points
Previously 16 (35 points)
Minnesota kept pace with Chicago despite getting tagged twice over the weekend, including once in the Windy City. It appears the temporary loss of Devan Dubnyk might not be as crushing as once perceived. Alex Stalock had 42 saves in the loss to the Blackhawks, but he also stopped all of Toronto’s 28 shots on Thursday for his first shutout of the season.
18. Boston Bruins: 39 points
Previously 18 (34 points)
The Bruins failed miserably in the Tyler Seguin trade, as Vegas’s Reilly Smith was the only pickup that has panned out (not for Boston, though). With that deal, however, comes the emergence of a 2016-2017 Toronto-esque rookie class. After all, the Bruins needed a few bad seasons following the Seguin deal to pick up breakouts like Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk, and Danton Heinen. They might not fall under the same category as Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner, but they might accomplish the same mission of reaching the playoffs in their first seasons. All three of them stepped up big time this week, with DeBrusk leading the charge with three points in a blowout victory over Columbus and the only goal off Robin Lehner on Tuesday.
19. Calgary Flames: 39 points
Previously 19 (35 points)
The Flames are starting to fall back into the clutches of obscurity again, with Brock Boeser and Brayden Schenn stealing some of the spotlight in their two wins this week. Will this have any effect on making the playoffs and whether they can do anything in April and May? Speaking of coming out of the shadows, Sam Bennett may be doing just that. He ran circles around the Canucks with a goal and three assists on Sunday, and he now has nine of his 15 points in December.
20. Anaheim Ducks: 36 points
Previously 20 (33 points)
It has to be encouraging that the Ducks are remotely close to a playoff spot considering their recent slew of injuries, including Patrick Eaves and Corey Perry, but how much longer can they last with Los Angeles and Vegas not breaking down? Lincoln Stars “star” (sorry) Kevin Roy has made a great audition with the injury problems, and he picked up goals five and six in a game-sealing third period in Thursday’s win over St. Louis.
21. Philadelphia Flyers: 37 points
Previously 24 (31 points)
They lost the chance to win 10 straight after losing 10 straight, but the Flyers remain a sudden threat in the Metropolitan Division. This time, it took some incredible goaltending from Brian Elliott. He held both Buffalo and Dallas to a goal each on 48 combined shots and now has 13 wins on the season. Claude Giroux had three of his five assists this week in an NBC showdown against Detroit, the last of which was the game-winner to Sean Couturier.
22. Carolina Hurricanes: 35 points
Previously 23 (31 points)
The road weariness is starting to get the best of the Canes. After nearly blowing a third-period lead to Buffalo and winning their lone home game in a nine-game stretch, the wheels really fell off in Toronto. Nothing like a visit to Smashville to push the pain even further for a team that made plenty of late pushes in an attempt to get out of the Met cellar. Justin Williams continues to contribute in return to Raleigh, jettisoning the offense early in their two wins with two second assists and a rebound goal.
23. Vancouver Canucks: 34 points
Previously 21 (32 points)
Vancouver got a big scare after Brock Boeser struggled to get off the ice with a foot injury, but he would return on Tuesday. Nevertheless, the Canucks are beginning to look uncompetitive in recent games, and the defense has allowed 20 goals in their last three losses. Despite losing to Montreal on Thursday, Vancouver plenty of production from Thomas Vanek, who record a hat trick and an assist in an offensive slugfest.
24. Montreal Canadiens: 34 points
Previously 22 (30 points)
Getting beaned in the NHL 100 game was not a good look, but it was the only loss for the Habs this week. They finished the night with seven goals in the first game of the Western Canada trip, and they will ring in Christmas after their lone trip to Alberta. Quebec native Nicolas Deslauriers has been a light producer for Montreal since mid-November, but he led the Montreal offense with two goals in Rogers Arena. Three of his other four points came in the 10-goal outburst earlier in the month, so he knows how to produce when the offense gets hot.
25. Colorado Avalanche: 34 points
Previously 25 (30 points)
Despite an improved team from last season, the Avalanche are still alone at the bottom of the Central Division because of excellent play from their division rivals. After sweeping the season series with Pittsburgh and nearly pulling a shocking comeback against the Lightning, a home-and-home sweep of the reeling Coyotes could make things interesting again. Gabriel Landeskog had one of the best offensive performances of the NHL season on Saturday, picking up the hat trick and adding two assists in a high-scoring third period to turn a 5-1 shellacking into a barnburner.
26. Detroit Red Wings: 33 points
Previously 26 (29 points)
The weak Atlantic Division has given the Red Wings some hope for a surprise playoff visit, and so did their two wins against potential playoff contenders. They should be glad they do not have to play in another NBC game until late January after two such losses by one goal. Henrik Zetterberg‘s five-game point streak includes seven assists, including three helpers in an offensive outburst in Brooklyn.
27. Edmonton Oilers: 32 points
Previously 27 (28 points)
They did not exactly knock the socks out of anyone this week, unlike earlier in the month, but the Oilers did string together their first winning streak in seven games to inch ever closer to the third place spot. While Milan Lucic came up big in Minnesota and Ryan Strome led the charge on Monday (which included him scoring the 10,000th goal in Oilers franchise history), it was Cam Talbot that stole the headlines in Orange City. He returned to the crease following an IR stint this week and won his first two starts, including 29 saves over the Wild in his official return.
28. Ottawa Senators: 29 points
Previously 28 (27 points)
For one day, the Senators could celebrate. They took it to the Canadiens in the NHL100 Classic on Saturday with a 3-0 blanking for the team’s first winning streak since the Sweden series. After losing a high-scoring affair with Minnesota and having to visit Tampa Bay and Boston this week, things might not be getting better anytime soon. Craig Anderson picked up his second shutout of the season in the Canadian cold, and it was his first since Ottawa’s 6-0 blowout victory at the Saddledome in October.
29. Florida Panthers: 31 points
Previously 29 (29 points)
Another Eastern Conference team that struggled out west. Florida lost three straight in the Central/Southwest before getting a win with two third-period goals in Arizona. Michael Matheson scored in consecutive games this week, including the game-winner in Glendale.
30. Buffalo Sabres: 23 points
Previously 30 (22 points)
Are they historically bad? Not yet, but things are starting to be more than just bleak in Buffalo. How does this team expect to get any sort of popularity in the Winter Classic in less than two weeks when the game is both seven hours away and is against a team that is excruciatingly closer to Citi Field? Buffalo got their lone point from a comeback that Jack Eichel aided with the first hat trick in First Niagara Center in six years, but the Hurricanes salvaged their two points in the extra period.
31. Arizona Coyotes: 19 points
Previously 31 (19 points)
Are the Yotes historically bad? Potentially. With just seven wins in 36 games, Arizona is on pace for just 45 points, which is less than what Colorado had last year. The last team with such a small number of points (lockout seasons not included) is no longer a team (ATL), and the Yotes are certainly not a financial haven themselves. Nick Cousins scored with just one glove in the second period of Saturday’s game, but the Penguins won the game in the closing seconds.
Arizona upsets Tampa Bay with at least four goals at home. Sometimes the NHL is not as unpredictable as it seems.
Alex Galchenyuk has at least three assists in the Centennial Classic. SHUT. OUT. Ottawa needed that win, though.
Mikael Backlund scores twice against the Blues on Wednesday. Nope. Calgary’s offense continues to struggle, but two goals was enough to win.
Florida doubles up Minnesota on at least four goals (ie 4-2, 6-3, etc. Scores like 4-1 or 6-1 WILL NOT COUNT on this one).
Six Atlantic Division teams win on Saturday.
Blake Comeau scores another shorthanded goal on Wednesday against Arizona.