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NHL Power Rankings: Golden Knights climbing; Rangers slide

The NHL is temporarily pausing its season due to a rising number of positive COVID-19 cases around the league.

In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we start to see some of the expected contenders separating themselves from the rest of the pack in the league.

The Carolina Hurricanes are back in the top spot, the Tampa Bay Lightning inch closer to the top spot, and the Vegas Golden Knights make a return to the top-10.

Meanwhile, the Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, and New York Rangers all hit their first slumps of the season and see a little bit of a slide.

It has been a wild couple of weeks in the NHL as more than 30 games have been postponed and some teams have their seasons put on hold until after the Christmas break.

We will be taking a look at all of those teams and more.

Where does your team sit this week?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 2). Frederik Andersen’s resurgence has been one of the bigger surprises in the NHL this season, and it is making the Hurricanes a clear Stanley Cup favorite.

2. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 5). Nikita Kucherov has played only three games and Brayden Point has played in only 16 games. They are two of the top players in the league. Even without them the Lightning still have the league’s second best points percentage and are 17-3-3 in their past 23 games since start the season 2-3-1. An insanely deep organization. Keep in mind that along with the absences of Kucherov and Point they also had to replace their entire third line this offseason.

3. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 3). Before their season was paused they were one of the best teams in the league. They still are.

4. Florida Panthers (LW: 1). The Panthers have lost four out of their past five games including an ugly 8-2 loss to the Senators this past week.

5. Washington Capitals (LW: 6). Alex Ovechkin is going to add another record to his collection soon (power play goals) and perhaps another MVP award.

[Related: Ovechkin ties Andreychuk for all-time power play goals record]

6. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 9). They are on a roll right now (12-2-1 past 15 games; seven game-winning streak) thanks to some great offseason additions that slid under the radar and some underrated and overlooked depth. They also seem to be getting closer to an Evgeni Malkin return.

7. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 11). Sometimes easy to forget this team still has a Jack Eichel return/debut looming in the second half of the season.

8. Nashville Predators (LW: 10). Not only did they need Juuse Saros to repeat his 2020-21 performance they needed some big bounce back seasons from their big money players. All of that is happening.

9. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 8). One of the many teams put on pause. Their dropping one spot is more of a reflection of the teams ahead of them simply getting a chance to play and keep winning.

10. Minnesota Wild (LW: 4). This is a steep drop from the top-five, but it is the confluence of a three-game losing streak for the Wild meeting at a bunch of winning streaks for a lot of other teams. The Wild are not going away, though.

11. New York Rangers (LW: 7). They are simply a different team with Igor Shesterkin in the lineup.

12. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 13). Still the biggest surprise in the NHL this season for a lot of reasons. But man are they fun to watch thanks to Trevor Zegras.

13. St. Louis Blues (LW: 14). Vladimir Tarasenko’s rebound has been signifiant, but so has been the addition of Pavel Buchnevich. What a steal.

14. Boston Bruins (LW: 12). They still have some big questions to answer with this roster when their season resumes after Christmas.

15. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 18). When Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl help set up three or four goals per game, they win. When those two do not do that, they lose. It is that simple.

16. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 15). Paul Maurice basically firing himself was not something we expected this season.

[Related: Maurice resigns: ‘They needed a new voice’]

17. Calgary Flames (LW: 17). The overall record is strong but they were trending in the wrong direction before they started having games postponed.

18. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 23). The playoffs still seem like a real long shot but Bruce Boudreau might make this interesting.

19. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 19). Whether they make the playoffs this season or not is not really important. What is important is they have a real core of young stars to build around for the next decade and beyond.

20. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 24). Losing 10 in a row followed by a five-game point streak (4-0-1) is exactly what you should expect from the Flyers. It is their identity every single season.

21. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 21). They are hanging in the playoff race and have not yet seen their impressive prospect core get a chance to make a major impact yet. Future is bright here.

22. Dallas Stars (LW: 16). Every time it looks like their season is going to go in some direction, either positive or negative, they completely reverse course. No idea what they are.

23. San Jose Sharks (LW: 20). James Reimer’s performance and Erik Karlsson’s bounce back are keeping them in it more than anybody expected.

[Related: Erik Karlsson is back]

24. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 22). They have just two wins, and only one regulation win, over the past month.

25. New York Islanders (LW: 26). Assume it takes 95 points to make the Eastern Conference playoffs. That means the Islanders need 73 points in their remaining 56 games. That would be a .651 points percentage. The Islanders’ cumulative points percentage between the 2018-19 and 2020-21 seasons (when they made the playoffs all three years, won seven playoff series, and reached the past two Conference Finals/Semifinal rounds) was .617. So in other words, for the remainder of the season they have be better than they were over the past three full seasons just to have a shot at the playoffs.

26. Ottawa Senators (LW: 27). They have been really competitive lately against some of the best teams in the league.

27. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 24). They are better defensively since the coaching change but the offense is lousy and non-existent every single night.

28. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 30). Malcolm Subban made the save of the year so far, so they have that going for them this week.

29. Seattle Kraken (LW: 29). They never should have been expected to duplicate what the Golden Knights did but this season still seems like a bit of a disappointment.

30. New Jersey Devils (LW: 28). Disappointing lack of progress here this season.

31. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 31). The best development here is that maybe some players have lifted their trade value this season.

32. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 32). Difficult to find many positives here this season.