Power Rankings: Caps and Stars NHL’s models of consistency

Ken Campbell
Washington Capitals (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

There’s no secret to why the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars occupy the top two spots in the NHL standings and in thn.com’s Power Rankings this week. It’s because they’ve both been models of consistency this season.

In fact, they’re the only two teams in the NHL that have not lost successive games so far this season. The Capitals, in fact, are the hottest team in the league with an 8-1-1 record in their past 10 and a stretch in which they’ve picked up at least one point in 13 of their past 15 games. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.)

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Power Rankings: Kings finding their mojo after slow start to season

Ken Campbell
Christian Ehrhoff (left), Anze Kopitar and Jamie McBain (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

If you throw away the first three games of the season, there have not been many teams that have been as good as the Los Angles Kings. After dropping their first three, the Kings have gone on an 18-5-1 tear that includes a seven-game winning streak, a three-game and a five-game streak they carry into Pittsburgh Friday night.

With points in each of their past seven games, the Kings find themselves at the top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings, but there isn’t much separating the top five teams at the moment. Last week’s rankings are in parentheses.

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Power Rankings: Hot Capitals facing a road test in December

Ken Campbell
Braden Holtby (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals play nine of their 14 games in December on the road. But that shouldn’t be a huge concern since they’re 7-2-0 away from the Verizon Center at the moment. If they can match that record in their nine road games this month, the Capitals will be in fine shape going into the New Year.

Of course, playing anywhere has been pretty good to the Capitals lately, which is why they find themselves at the top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings heading into their game in Montreal Thursday night. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)

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Power Rankings: Sharknado devastates the NHL’s east coast

Ken Campbell
Joel Ward (left), Patrick Marleau and Matt Tennyson  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The San Jose Sharks have proved they can handle their Eastern Conference opponents, but if they truly fashion themselves a legitimate contender, they’ll have to do the same against their geographical rivals.

The Sharks capped off a perfect 6-0-0 road trip, the first in franchise history, over the weekend, with all six wins coming against Eastern Conference teams. That puts their record against the Eastern Conference this season to 10-4-0, compared to an ordinary 3-4-0 against western teams. They’ll have a chance to improve upon that when they take on the Chicago Blackhawks tonight and Calgary Flames on the weekend.

On the strength of that trip, the Sharks hold down the No. 1 spot in thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. Last weeks rankings are in parentheses.

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Power Rankings: Rangers looking to hang 10 (and 11) in Florida trip

Ken Campbell
New York Rangers  (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

The first time the New York Rangers won 10 games in a row, it was 1939-40 and they went on to win the Stanley Cup. The second time they accomplished the feat, it was 1972-73 and they lost in five games in the semifinal to the Chicago Black Hawks.

The Rangers will try for the third 10-game winning streak in franchise history Thursday night when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning. In fact, when the Rangers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 Sunday night, it marked a full month since the last time they’ve been defeated in regulation time.

The Rangers have been dominant at times, at other times just good enough to win games. But the bottom line is they’re winning them and find themselves earning top spot in thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. Last week’s rankings are in parentheses.

THE CREAM OF THE CROP
1. New York Rangers (2)
2. Dallas Stars (3)
3. New Jersey Devils (7)
4. Montreal Canadiens (1)
5. Chicago Blackhawks (13)
6. Los Angeles Kings (10)
7. Nashville Predators (9)
8. Minnesota Wild (8)
9. Washington Capitals (4)
10. St. Louis Blues (5)

Are there flaws in John Klingberg’s game? Of course there are. Does he legitimately deserve to be among the early favorites for the Norris Trophy? You bet he does…At the GM meetings last week, Devils GM Ray Shero acknowledged his greatest fear going into the season. “Your fear is that you’re going to be terrible,” he said. “And who wants to be terrible? Nobody.” Turns out those fears were unfounded, at least early in the season. You might have questioned the Devils credentials over the weekend, then they went out and beat Chicago on the road and Pittsburgh at home…Carey Price went out and took some shots before Montreal’s morning skate Monday, but there’s still no firm timetable on a return that has now hit the two-week mark…The Kings start a five game road trip through the Eastern Conference in Philadelphia Tuesday night that will take them to American Thanksgiving…Braden Holtby will have had five days between starts, which Mike Vogel of washingtoncaps.com points out is not a great thing, saying Holtby’s numbers are far superior when he’s more busy…Speaking of the GM meetings, David Poile said there he’d be in favor of seeing more scoring. Then his team went out and scored seven goals in two of three games.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Colorado Avalanche (30)
12. New York Islanders (21)
13. San Jose Sharks (19)
14. Ottawa Senators (15)
15. Boston Bruins (14)
16. Florida Panthers (26)
17. Toronto Maple Leafs (27)
18. Columbus Blue Jackets (28)
19. Tampa Bay Lightning (17)
20. Arizona Coyotes (25)

A backup goalie and a player allegedly on the trade block are the two players fuelling Colorado’s recent hot streak. Reto Berra has the best save percentage and goals-against average in the NHL and Matt Duchene was named first star of the week after scoring four goals and eight points to lead the Avs to three straight road victories…There’s no reason to think Patrick Marleau will be moved anytime soon, or at least until he loosens up the number of teams to which he’d accept a trade, and as long as he continues being one of their better forwards and scores overtime winners the way he did in Buffalo on the weekend, the Sharks will see value in keeping him around…Kyle Turris, who has been the Senators best forward by a country mile this season, was knocked out Ottawa’s loss to the Rangers Saturday, did not practice Sunday and is questionable for tonight’s game. The Senators also lost backup goalie Andrew Hammond to a head injury in Sunday’s practice…Go ahead, NHL, just rub the salt into Jonathan Bernier’s wound by naming James Reimer the third star of the week…After missing 10 games with a broken bone in his hand, Aleksander Barkov is scheduled to return to the Panthers lineup tonight against Tampa Bay…Even though his team has won two straight, John Tortorella doesn’t want his Blue Jackets players looking at the standings. “It’s not pretty right now,” Tortorella told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, “and it’s not the way for us to think.”

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. Pitsburgh Penguins (11)
22. Buffalo Sabres (24)
23. Vancouver Canucks (16)
24. Anaheim Ducks (6)
25. Detroit Red Wings (18)
26. Philadelphia Flyers (22)
27. Carolina Hurricanes (23)
28. Edmonton Oilers (18)
29. Calgary Flames (20)
30. Winnipeg Jets (12)

It has sure taken the Lightning a while to get going this season. They have just nine first-period goals this season…Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian, who has yet to play this season after a mysterious injury in training camp, is getting closer to returning to the lineup. The next step is for him to take part in a morning skate, which the Sabres will have Tuesday before facing the Dallas Stars at home…The Canucks were 4-0-1 on the road before embarking on their current road trip, on which they’ve gone 1-3-1 going into tonight’s game in Montreal…Hey, here’s one possible reason the Ducks have struggles do mightily this season. It might have something to do with the fact that Ryan Getzlaf has zero goals in 13 games this season and Jakob Silfverberg has the same number in 17 games…After scoring a career-high 15 goals last season for the Red Wings, Darren Helm has no goals in 13 games this season…We can only hope and pray that this injury isn’t as painful as it sounds: Over the weekend, the Flyers announced that Mark Streit, their all-round best defenseman, would miss six weeks to recover from surgery on a pubic plate detachment…One bright spot for the Oilers has been the play of Leon Draisaitl, who must really, really hate Oklahoma City. Since his call-up, he’s scored five goals and 13 points and is on pace to score 117 points in 72 games this season. He won’t, but it’s fun to dream…In a statement that ranks right up there with “Water is wet,” Jets coach had this to say after practice Sunday, hours after his team was skunked 7-0 by Nashville for it’s fourth straight loss: “We’re not a confident group right now.”

Power Rankings: Price-less Canadiens keep rolling with Mike Condon

Ken Campbell
Mike Condon (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Montreal Canadiens announced Monday that goalie Carey Price, who has been out a week with a lower-body injury, went out of the country to seek treatment. It’s all very secretive, but this can’t be terribly good news for the Canadiens or Price.

Luckily for the Canadiens, Mike Condon has stepped in and not missed a beat, helping the Canadiens take seven of eight points and posting a .940 save percentage. Should Price be out for any significant amount of time, the Canadiens will not have to worry about their goaltending tandem of Condon and Dustin Tokarski. Oh yeah, and in case you haven’t noticed, they have a pretty good team playing in front of those guys.

And for that reason, they’re once again on top of thn.com’s Power Rankings. Last week’s rankings are in parentheses.

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Power Rankings: After the circus, dominant Kings back on top

Ken Campbell
Tyler Toffoli goal celebration (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

After the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 overtime win over the Nashville Predators Saturday afternoon to give them a 2-0 record in the extra session, defenseman Drew Doughty said, “We don’t know what to do yet.” Kings coach Darryl Sutter then said, “We’re geniuses at it because we’re 2-0. We know everything about it. We’ve got it figured out.”

It’s not the first time Sutter’s players have not seen eye-to-eye with their coach. But there is clearly no discord in Los Angeles these days for a change and it’s showing on the ice. With the carnage of the Slava Voynov and Mike Richards sagas behind them, the Kings have begun to pick up the pieces.

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Power Rankings: Have Habs already punched their playoff ticket?

Ken Campbell
P.K. Subban and Jeff Petry (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

It would be just a little presumptuous of the NHL to put an asterisk beside the Montreal Canadiens in the standings, but the fact remains that the Canadiens have all but clinched a playoff spot just over two weeks into the season.

Over the past five seasons, it has taken an average of 93 points to earn a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference (although last season it took 98). With a perfect 9-0-0 record going into Tuesday night’s game in Vancouver, the Canadiens already have 18 points. In order to hit the 93-point mark, they Canadiens barely need to play .500 hockey the rest of the way, requiring 75 points in their final 73 games.

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