NHL Power Rankings: Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals surging to start December, Montreal Canadiens struggling

It seems like the NHL season just started yesterday, but we’re already a quarter of the way through the 2019-20 campaign. While some of the top contenders so far this season are no surprise — i.e. the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals — other unexpected teams have been taking the league by storm — enter the Edmonton Oilers and Arizona Coyotes.

With winter coming, teams are bracing themselves as the division races get tighter. Multiple teams remain neck-and-neck in the standings and nothing is set in stone yet.

Here are the latest NHL power rankings.

TRADE RUMORS: Potential destinations for Taylor Hall

1. Boston Bruins, 43 points (19-3-5)

Boston is currently riding a seven-game winning streak and boasts an 8-0-2 record in its last 10 games. David Pastrnak leads the way for the Bruins with 25 goals in 27 games, and at this point the Hart Trophy is the Czech star’s to lose. His firepower, combined with top linemates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, should help the B’s continue to surge moving forward. Not to mention goaltender Tuukka Rask, who is making all the difference between the pipes, while the defense is putting on a show, helping them rank first in special teams.

2. Washington Capitals, 43 points (19-4-5)

The Caps have seen some injury trouble that has sidelined the likes of Nicklas Backstrom and Carl Hagelin, but that hasn’t slowed them down as they sit atop the league standings. Alex Ovechkin’s currently on a tear, registering five goals over his last three games — including a hat trick against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. Jakub Vrana (four-game point streak), Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie are also stepping up to the plate on the top-six, while the team is also getting help from the bottom two lines when it comes to secondary scoring.

3. St. Louis Blues, 40 points (17-5-6)

Last year’s Stanley Cup champions are far from where they were last year. They’re the first team in the West to reach the 40-point mark, reaching that feat in just 28 games. David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly are currently dominating in St. Louis, with Perron riding a seven-game point streak and O’Reilly registering a point in four straight to boot. Brayden Schenn is also impressing in his third year with the Blues, posting a team-leading 13 goals so far. They did lose third-leading goal-scorer Oscar Sundqvist to the IR, but with their arsenal, they should be just fine.

4. New York Islanders, 36 points (17-5-2)

Barry Trotz’s club is having an under-the-radar yet spectacular season. The Islanders most recently set a franchise record with a 17-game point streak and have only suffered three regulation losses since Oct. 11. Matthew Barzal and Brock Nelson are leading the way for New York. Their true stars lie in their goaltending: Thomas Greiss is one of the best in the NHL with a 2.10 GAA and .931 save percentage, while Semyon Varlamov provides more stability with a .918 save percentage. While they’re likely to keep surging, they’ll need their best skaters to be more consistent and avoid lopsided performances.

5. Colorado Avalanche, 34 points (16-8-2)

Colorado has come a long way since the start of the season and moved up to second in the Central Division with a 7-3-0 record in its last 10 games. The Avs have also gotten outstanding performances from several players, but no one has stood out more than Nathan MacKinnon, who leads the team with 42 points, including 25 in 14 games in the month of November. Calder frontrunner Cale Makar is also making an outstanding impression on the backend with 26 points in 26 games. Mikko Rantanen’s return from injury should continue to provide a boost, but the team still has several players on the sidelines — including Gabe Landeskog, Colin Wilson and more.

6. Philadelphia Flyers, 35 points (15-7-5)

It’s impossible to do power rankings and not put the Flyers in the top-10. They’ve won four straight and have lost just once in regulation at Wells Fargo Center and have climbed to third in the Metropolitan Division. Of late, Sean Couturier has been outstanding for the Flyers with six points in his last five games and points in five of his last eight. Philly has also benefitted from strong blueline performances from Ivan Proverov and Matt Niskanen but has also seen Shayne Gostisbehere become a healthy scratch. if they want to stay in the race, though, they’ll need stronger goaltending and more consistency, from the forward lines to the blue line.

7. San Jose Sharks, 31 points (15-12-1)

The start of the season was less than ideal for the San Jose Sharks, but since the return of Patrick Marleau, things have been looking up in Southern California. San Jose is 8-2-0 in its last 10 games and has won three straight. Captain Logan Couture has points in four of his last five but they still need more from key players, including lead goal-scorer Evander Kane (12), who hasn’t scored in eight games. On the bright side, they’ve been starting to improve on defense, with their 91 percent penalty kill ranking first in the league.

8. Edmonton Oilers, 37 points (17-9-3)

The Oilers have been great this season, but before Sunday’s victory over the Vancouver Canucks, they dropped two straight and lost a comfortable Pacific Division lead. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have been … well, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, as they became the first ones to hit the 50-point mark this year. Additionally, the team’s been getting more help on offense from the likes of Jujhar Khaira and company. Edmonton is also thriving on special teams, with its power play (30.8 percent) and penalty kill (86.8 percent) ranking second in the league. Mikko Koskinen’s also making the case to be the starter as Mike Smith is day-to-day.

9. Arizona Coyotes, 34 points (15-9-4)

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises this season, the Yotes have seen a complete turnaround this season after missing the playoffs for the last five seasons — and it’s not all due to Phil Kessel. In fact, paving the way for Arizona is Nick Schmaltz (20 points in 28 games), Christian Dvorak (three-game point streak) and defenseman Alex Goligoski (four points in last four games). Darcy Kuemper’s also been excellent in net and is a huge reason for the team’s success, ranking first in save percentage (.935) through 18 games. Arizona also allows just 2.32 goals per game, the second-lowest in the league, and the team now sits second in the Pacific Division.

RELATED: Michael Grabner on overcoming doubt, injury and more

10. Dallas Stars, 33 points (15-10-3)

A top contender in the Western Conference, the Stars have tied the Winnipeg Jets for third in the Central Division and have gone 7-2-1 in their last 10. Without a doubt, the defense has been Dallas’ biggest strength this season, as the team allows just 2.36 goals per game (third in the NHL) thanks to strong performances from defenseman Miro Heiskanen, goaltender Ben Bishop and more. Offensively, though, the team has to do better; they rank in the bottom-10 in goals for per game and need more consistency from stars Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Joe Pavelski, but players like Roope Hintz — who leads Dallas with 11 goals — have been able to step up.

11. Carolina Hurricanes, 33 points (16-10-1)

Carolina has had a solid stretch of late, going 7-3-0 in its last 10 while winning five of its last six games on the road. For the Canes, the kids are quite alright; Andrei Svechnikov’s been dominant with points in four of his last five and 29 total over 27 games, putting him on pace for 88 points after registering just 37 points last season. Special teams have also been decent (21.2 percent on the power play, 84.8 percent on the penalty kill), while the defense has been contributing points to boot. Additionally, the tandem of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer has been solid as the team looks to remain in playoff position.

12. Winnipeg Jets, 33 points (16-10-1)

Despite losing key pieces of the blue line in Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers and Dustin Byfuglien this season, the Jets are making do. They sit third in the Central, tied with the Stars, and have been able to have one of the league’s top-10 defenses thanks to Neal Pionk and company. Patrik Laine has a team-leading 25 points in 25 games but is still showing inconsistency in the goal-scoring category with just seven tallies so far this season. Of course, the team’s big-name stars like Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor continue to impress, but special teams — especially the power play — must improve if Winnipeg wants to stay in the playoff race.

13. Tampa Bay Lightning, 27 points (12-9-3)

Last season’s President’s Trophy winners lost just seven games in regulation last season; they’ve lost nine at the 24-game mark already. However, of late, they’re starting to climb the standings after a slow start, now sitting just five points out of a wild-card spot. The return of Steven Stamkos should help boost the already-impressive offense, which produces an average of 3.63 goals per game. However, the defense could stand to better hold its ground, and Andrei Vasilevskiy’s not putting up the greatest performance for the Bolts. One surprise has been Kevin Shattenkirk, who’s the team’s leading defensive scorer and top-pairing blueliner.

14. Florida Panthers, 31 points (13-8-5)

It wasn’t a strong start to 2019-20 for the Panthers, who had high expectations after a number of key acquisitions over the offseason. But head coach Joel Quenneville as well as the likes of Brett Connolly, Sergei Bobrovsky and Aleksander Barkov have led the team to second in the Atlantic Division and to fifth in goals for per game (3.51). Their power play and penalty kill both rank in the top-10, as well. The only problem is the defense; they allow the fourth-most goals per game on average, and with Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes, they need to improve in this category if they want to be a playoff contender.

15. Pittsburgh Penguins, 32 points (14-9-4)

Considering Pittsburgh is playing without their best player in Sidney Crosby, the Penguins have been able to stay in playoff position even with injuries piling up. They’re 4-3-3 in their last 10 games and have lost their last two, and to make matters worse, their blue line — already missing Justin Schultz —took an even bigger hit hit when Brian Dumoulin was injured on Saturday and will now be out for eight weeks after getting surgery to repair torn tendons in his ankle. Patric Hornqvist also fell prey to injury after falling at practice on Monday, and Bryan Rust is day-to-day. Still, they’re getting by and will have to keep making do to stay in the race.

16. Vancouver Canucks, 30 points (13-10-4)

Hanging onto the second place wild-card spot, there are positives working in favor of the Canucks season so far. One of the biggest storylines has been the success of Quinn Hughes, who has added a lot of strength and depth on the backend, ranking second among rookies in scoring (two goals, 20 assists) and average TOI (20:21). Vancouver has also seen a lot from their stars in Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, as their 26.1 percent success on the man advantage ranks fourth in the NHL. They’ve also lost just twice in regulation at home and ranks 3-1 in the shootout; still, they could stand to be stronger offensively at even strength.

17. Minnesota Wild, 26 points (12-11-4)

Bruce Boudreau’s club had a less than impressive start to the season, which placed the long-time coach on the hot seat. However, the team is really starting to turn the tide and now sits just four points out of a wild-card spot — and has successfully pulled itself out of the league’s basement. They’re 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and have seen standout performances from captain Mikko Koivu, who played his 1,000th game for the franchise and hit the 700-point mark on Sunday. There’s still a long way to go — especially when it comes to defense and the penalty kill — but Minnesota is definitely on the right track.

18. New York Rangers, 29 points (13-9-3)

Given New York’s star-studded offseason in which Artemi Panarin, Trouba and more joined the hockey club, their season hasn’t reflected that success. The Rangers started off slow, but like the Wild, they continue to climb the standings and now sit three points out of playoff position with a 6-3-1 record over their last 10 games. Kaapo Kakko has seemed to finally find his tempo, leading the 2019 draft class with six goals and 11 points, as the offense gets better all around, from Panarin to Tony DeAngelo. However, they allow the seventh-most goals in the league on average (3.28) and need to clean up on the penalty kill.

19. Vegas Golden Knights, 30 points (13-11-4)

Without the services of Marc-Andre Fleury for some time moving forward, Malcolm Subban has been doing what he can for the Golden Knights. They’ve won their last two games and have been thriving when it comes to special teams. Their top players in Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone and William Karlsson are meeting expectations when it comes to offense, and Nate Schmidt and company are leading the charge on the backend. Still, they’ll have to make do without their starter, and if they can, they’ll be in a good position going forward when he returns.

20. Toronto Maple Leafs, 30 points (13-11-4)

After winning just two times in regulation over the course of 16 games under Mike Babcock, the Leafs moved on and named Sheldon Keefe head coach. Since then, he’s turned around the team, seeing them go 4-1-0 in five games thus far. John Tavares seems to be heating up with points in three straight, while William Nylander is finally meeting expectations with points in four of his last five. However, they need to do a better job of maintaining leads (as seen in the 6-4 loss to Buffalo Sabres on Friday), play a full-60 and get a better performance in net from Frederik Andersen.

RELATED: What to know about Sheldon Keefe

21. Calgary Flames, 30 points (13-12-4)

The Flames couldn’t find their footing over the course of November, but now finally seem to be regaining the rhythm that was seen last season when they finished atop the Western Conference. Calgary now sees Geoff Ward take over behind the bench following Bill Peters’ resignation after allegations of physical abuse and racial slurs, and he will look to help the team continue to find its tempo. Young netminder David Rittich is currently carrying the team with a .915 save percentage over a league-leading 23 games. However, to win, they’ll need more from the offense, which has the second-worst production output in the league (2.41 goals per game).

22. Buffalo Sabres, 29 points (12-10-5)

Jack Eichel is the main story for Buffalo right now. After posting just eight goals through Nov. 14, Eichel broke out with a four-goal outburst on Nov. 16 and has since ridden a nine-game point streak with eight goals and 16 points over that span. He cannot stop scoring and now has 16 goals and 35 points through 27 games. Rookie Victor Olofsson has also been helping the Sabres offense with 27 points, which ranks second among all first-year players. Still, they’ll need to tighten up, especially with the injury list — which now includes Rasmus Dahlin — piling up if they want to stay in the race. That means a better PK and helping out Carter Hutton.

23. Chicago Blackhawks, 25 points (10-11-5)

Things haven’t been looking up for Chicago this season. The team has won just three games on the road this season while dropping four of its last five matchups. Despite a star-studded lineup featuring the likes of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, the Hawks have the sixth-worst power play in the league (13.8 percent) and can’t seem to muster up a lot of offense. One positive? Third-overall pick Kirby Dach is silencing his critics and has impressed after making the team out of camp. While they aren’t out of the race yet, things seem to be headed in that direction unless they have a complete turnaround moving forward.

24. Nashville Predators, 28 points (12-10-4)

The Preds have won just three of their last 10 games, and while Roman Josi and Matt Duchene lead the charge as Nashville averages 3.31 goals per game, they struggle in multiple different categories. Both their power play and penalty kill rank in the bottom-10, while they also surrender an average of 3.19 goals per game. The combination of Pekka Rinne (.898 save percentage) and Juuse Saros (.891) isn’t performing up to par in net. Overall, things aren’t going well for a team that has been a strong contender over the last few seasons.

25. Columbus Blue Jackets, 26 points (11-11-4)

Considering they lost key pieces in Panarin and Bobrovsky over the offseason, the Blue Jackets lineup was going to take a hit. However, the team has not been able to bode well without them; the offense averages just 2.54 goals per game, the third-lowest in the league, and is so-so when it comes to special teams. John Tortorella’s group needs to tighten up and also get better goaltending from tandem Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins.

26. Anaheim Ducks, 26 points (11-12-4)

Things haven’t been great for Anaheim this season. They’ve been able to show some fight but have dropped eight of their last 10 games, five of those coming in regulation time. Under Dallas Eakins, though, the team is still rebuilding and arguably, making the postseason isn’t the top priority for this group as they look to bounce back and continue to work on improving in key areas. Their power-play is the second-worst in the league, scoring on one of every 10 opportunities, and the offense — led by Ryan Getzlaf (20 points) — isn’t clicking. They also need to do more to help John Gibson, whose .910 save percentage is decent through 21 games.

27. Montreal Canadiens, 28 points (11-10-6)

The Habs are struggling with eight straight losses, and there’s a number of reasons why. Carey Price isn’t looking like Carey Price, but regardless, the defense altogether isn’t clicking — which explains why Montreal allows on average the second-most goals per game in the league. On Monday, the Canadiens placed backup Keith Kinkaid on waivers to give him some AHL playing time and help him regain his confidence in net, but in the end, the responsibility does not fall on the goaltenders. Victor Mete will also be out for two weeks with injury, which will be a blow to the team’s scoring depth.

28. Los Angeles Kings, 11-14-2 (24 points)

Sitting in the basement of the Western Conference, things haven’t been great for the Kings. However, of late, things are looking up; they’re 6-3-1 in their last 10 and seem to be taking a step in the right direction. Anze Kopitar is again on pace for an 80-plus point campaign, but the rest of the offense hasn’t been able to put up much, while the defense has also been struggling. Like Price, Jonathan Quick also does not look like himself between the pipes, going 7-10-1 through 18 games with a 3.36 GAA and .882 save percentage.

29. Ottawa Senators, 11-15-1 (23 points)

The Senators looked as if they were going to have a turnaround in mid-November as they started to build momentum and win hockey games thanks to standout performances from the likes of Jean-Gabriel Pageau and company. However, D.J. Smith’s hockey club took a bit of a hit, losing four straight and going 5-5-0 in its last 10. Ottawa’s main problem is the offense, which is lacking beyond Pageau; defenseman Thomas Chabot is the next leading scorer with 16 points, and the power play operates at just 9.3 percent. Not only that, the team averages a fourth-worst 2.5 goals per game. While Smith has led the team to improve, there’s still a lot of work to be done on the forecheck.

30. New Jersey Devils, 9-12-4 (22 points)

New Jersey currently sits last in the Metropolitan Division, and just cannot find its footing. Despite Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, Kyle Palmieri, Jack Hughes and P.K. Subban in the mix, the team can’t seem to figure out how to get things going — at even strength and on the power play — and have the fifth-lowest production in the league (2.56 goals for per game). The Devils won just four games on home ice and don’t appear to have much chemistry, especially on defense. MacKenzie Blackwood is also doing everything he can, but there needs to be all-around improvement. And with Jack Hughes day-to-day, the team needs to fill that void on offense.

31. Detroit Red Wings, 7-19-3 (17 points)

It’s not too late, but it looks like things are slipping away from Detroit. The team has won just once in its last 10 games and is riding a seven-game losing streak, while also winning just three times away from Little Caesars Arena. Jimmy Howard isn’t able to carry the team as the defense struggles, seeing the team allow nearly four goals a game (the most in the NHL). Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi are doing their parts with 23 points apiece, but they’re not getting much offense from many others. On the bright side, one of their two forward trade acquisitions — Robby Fabbri — is surging with his new club. He has scored 10 points in 12 games with the Wings.

Source: Read Full Article