NHL Power Rankings: Bruins, Capitals, Blues form Big 3 at the top

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NHL Power Rankings: Bruins, Capitals, Blues form Big 3 at the top

Who is the best team in the NHL?

Right now it’s difficult to go with anybody else besides the Boston Bruins, who are riding an eight-game winning streak with a 14-point lead in the Atlantic Division.

They're getting competition from a Washington Capitals team that is back on their game this season and actually beat the Bruins head-to-head in their only meeting of the season.

There’s also the defending Stanley Cup champs out in St. Louis just a couple of points behind both of them while impressively doing it without star scorer Vladimir Tarasenko. 

But it’s a good thing for all three teams that they have competition for the top spot in the NHL, and it’s definitely a good thing that both the Bruins and Capitals are neck-and-neck for the No. 1 seed in the East. It looks like it will be more of a grind for both Boston and Washington to be tops in the East, and that should be enough to keep them both sharp ahead of the respective stretch runs that are still way, way in the future.

Click here for Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings.>>>>>

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NHL Power Rankings headed into all-important U.S. Thanksgiving

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NHL Power Rankings headed into all-important U.S. Thanksgiving

As always, it’s about U.S. Thanksgiving as a mile marker for the NHL regular season. In the past couple of decades, teams in a playoff spot by the end-of-November Turkey Day holiday have roughly a 78 percent chance of making the playoffs that season. There are surprises every year and the odds vary much more wildly for teams right around the bubble of the eighth spot, but the numbers bear that out just about every season. It will be interesting to see that calculus put to the test this season with both the Maple Leafs and Lightning out of the playoffs if the season ended today.

Coaching changes can radically change the trajectory of NHL teams and fly in the face of the “U.S. Thanksgiving theory”, so things may look much brighter for the Maple Leafs if they can string together some winning streaks under their new coach. And the Lightning are actually in a decent spot, having games in hand on just about everybody else in the league while sitting a point away from a playoff spot.

Does anybody believe that the Canadiens and Panthers are going to hold on to playoff spots over the Maple Leafs and Lightning when it’s all said and done? This could be one of those years where the Thanksgiving picture for the Atlantic Division doesn’t really look all that much like it will at the end of the regular season when it really matters.

Click here for the NHL Power Rankings.>>>>>

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NHL Power Rankings: Supposed Atlantic Division powers struggling early

NHL Power Rankings: Supposed Atlantic Division powers struggling early

A season ago, the Atlantic Division featured three of the best teams in hockey, at least during the regular season: the Lightning, Bruins, and Maple Leafs.

But while the Bruins have shaken off a potential Stanley Cup Final hangover to pace the division this season, Tampa and Toronto have struggled out of the gate.

Neither team is above .500, and both find themselves out of the playoff picture through a quarter of the season.

While it's way too soon to tell if their struggles will continue, it's opened the door for some unexpected teams to make some waves in the standings.

Click here for Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings.>>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.