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NHL Power Rankings: Hurricanes stay on top; Islanders, Canucks improving

aho hurricanes

RALEIGH, NC - DECEMBER 30: Sebastian Aho #20 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates a goal during an NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens on December 30, 2021 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

In this week’s NHL Power Rankings the Carolina Hurricanes maintain the top spot thanks to a four-game winning streak, the league’s best points percentage, and the league’s best goal differential. They have no real weakness -- at least not an obvious one -- with a deep, talented group of forwards, a strong defense, and excellent goaltending. They are no strangers to that spot as they have consistently been one of the best teams from the start, as was expected.

Elsewhere, the New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks are trying to shake off miserable starts and play their way back into playoff contention. They both still have a long way to go in their respective races, but they had to start somewhere and have both seen dramatic improvements in the records over the past month. The Islanders are collecting points at the pace they need to play their way back into it, while the Canucks have gained a point in all nine games under Bruce Boudreau.

Too little, too late? Or the start of an improbable turnaround? We take a look at all of that and more in this week’s NHL Power Rankings.

Where does your team sit?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 1). So much talent, so much depth, and the goaltending changes have worked. An outstanding team from top to bottom.

2. Florida Panthers (LW: 4). A lot of teams missed out on Anthony Duclair while they had him on their own roster. The Panthers are benefitting from that.

[Related: Duclair has found a home with Panthers]

3. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 3). When they are healthy they still have the best roster in the league. They are starting to get healthy and have been unstoppable since the middle of November.

4. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 2). Andrei Vasilevskiy should probably win the Hart Trophy every year as long as he keeps playing at the level he has the past few years. When he is not the goalie of record the Lightning is a .500 team since the start of 2019-20. When he is the goalie of record they play at a 125-point pace over 82 games.

5. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 7). They are one of the highest scoring teams in the league despite the fact they have been crushed by injuries for much of the year and have yet to get a minute of playing time from Jack Eichel. Still a dangerous team.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 6). This is still a really good hockey team. They key will still be the goaltending.

[Related: Penguins’ Rodrigues making most of his increased role]

7. Washington Capitals (LW: 5). The good news for them is playoff overtime is not 3-on-3 hockey.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 9). There is a lot to like about this team. The big money players are performing, the depth is solid, and Jack Campbell has been great in net.

9. Nashville Predators (LW: 8). Everything that they needed to happen for them to be good (Juuse Saros performing, big money players rebounding from down years) has happened. Things do not always work out that well for teams.

10. New York Rangers (LW: 11). It was only a matter of time until Mika Zibanejad started to score goals again, and now they have Igor Shesterkin back.

11. St. Louis Blues (LW: 13). A sneaky good offensive team here. They are fifth in the NHL in goals per game and have the third best power play.

12. Boston Bruins (LW: 14). They have started to get a little more offense from some forwards outside of their top line in recent games. Their ability to maintain that will determine what this team is capable of this season.

13. Calgary Flames (LW: 17). Still fascinated to see how the Johnny Gaudreau situation plays out. He is having a monster year offensively.

14. Minnesota Wild (LW: 10). The injuries to Joel Eriksson Ek and Jared Spurgeon are significant. They need them back.

[Related: Evason extension makes sense for Wild but biggest test awaits]

15. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 16). Kyle Connor became a regular in the lineup at the start of the 2017-18 season. Here is the list of players that have scored more goals than him since then: Alex Ovechkin, Auston Matthews, Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, David Pastrnak. That is it. That is the complete list.

16. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 12). Since their eight-game winning streak ended they have won just seven out of the following 18 games, with only five of those wins coming in regulation. Something to be concerned about?

[Related: Ducks making strong push for playoffs]

17. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 18). Completely different looking team under Bruce Boudreau. Still worry that it is too little, too late for this season.

18. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 15). They should not be this bad with two players that great at the top of the lineup. But you already know that by now.

[Related: Stunning numbers with McDavid, Ovechkin, and more]

19. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 21). They are very quietly hanging around in the playoff race.

20. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 20). If you ever think you have a firm grasp on how good or bad they are you are probably wrong.

21. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 19). The good news is they are only one behind Boston for a Wild Card spot. The bad news is Boston has five games in hand and just beat the Red Wings 5-1 on Sunday.

22. New York Islanders (LW: 25). Since the start of December they are 5-2-4, which is a decent start in making up all of that ground in the playoff race. Still a long way to go with a lot of teams still ahead of them.

23. Dallas Stars (LW: 22). We have not seen them play a game in two weeks.

24. San Jose Sharks (LW: 23). This is just a completely average team. Not all that great, not all that bad.

25. New Jersey Devils (LW: 30). Jack Hughes looks great, so that is good news.

26. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 24). They only have one regulation win over the past 12 games (with an overtime and shootout win added in with that).

27. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 27). The biggest failing here on the ice remains the fact the front office really tried to be good this season. This is what they thought a good team would look like.

28. Ottawa Senators (LW: 26). There is some good young individual talent here but the organization as a whole is not making any progress in its rebuild.

29. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 28). Remember that 5-1-1 start? They are 5-17-5 since then.

30. Seattle Kraken (LW: 29). Not sure anybody expected the goaltending to be as bad as it has been.

31. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 31). You know Phil Kessel is going to be traded. Shayne Gostisbehere probably could be traded. Would they really go full scale rebuild and part ways with Clayton Keller and Jakob Chychrun?

32. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 32). Right now they just simply do not have any players.