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Power Rankings: Hot Capitals facing a road test in December

Ken Campbell
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Braden Holtby (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Power Rankings: Hot Capitals facing a road test in December

Ken Campbell
By:

Winners of their past five games, the Washington Capitals have been equally as impressive on the road as they've been at home this season, getting outstanding goaltending and timely scoring.

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.)

THE CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Washington Capitals (5)
2. Montreal Canadiens (3)
3. Boston Bruins (8)
4. Dallas Stars (4)
5. Los Angeles Kings (10)
6. Pittsburgh Penguins (15)
7. New York Islanders (16)
8. New York Rangers (2)
9. San Jose Sharks (1)
10. St. Louis Blues (6)

Workhorse Braden Holtby was named second star for the week and second star for the month of November…Without Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher, the Canadiens have an incredible 10-1-4 record…Bruins are starting to win the close ones. Of last five wins, three were by one goal, two were by two (with one of those including an empty-netter)…The Stars came back from a three-goal deficit to win in OT in Minnesota, the blew a three-goal lead to lose in a shootout in Calgary…Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik have started to heat up, were instrumental in successive OT wins over Chicago and Vancouver…Since calling out his teammates, Evgeni Malkin has 8-5-13 totals in seven games and the Penguins have a 4-1-2 record…Despite picking up points in four straight games, Islanders coach Jack Capuano said, “I don’t think we’ve really hit our stride, the way that we can play.”…2010 first-rounder and bruiser Dylan McIlrath will get a chance to prove he can be an everyday player with Kevin Klein out…The biggest obstacle to the Sharks being a real contender is they can’t beat Western Conference teams and they’re terrible at home…The Blues play 11 home games in December, but got off to a bad start with a 3-1 loss to Florida on a couple days of rest.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Florida Panthers (25)
12. Philadelphia Flyers (20)
13. Detroit Red Wings (9)
14. Nashville Predators (18)
15. Chicago Blackhawks (14)
16. Minnesota Wild (11)
17. New Jersey Devils (13)
18. Tampa Bay Lightning (12)
19. Vancouver Canucks (23)
20. Ottawa Senators (7)

The Panthers could have defenseman Dmitry Kulikov against Nashville Thursday, but lost one of their top forwards when Nick Bjugstad was injured in practice on Monday…At the age of 33 years and 92 days, Evgeny Medvedev scored his first NHL goal Tuesday night against Ottawa…The Red Wings have gone to extra time in a mind-boggling seven of their past eight games. They’ve won five of those games and only one of them has gone to a shootout…After scoring just two goals in his first 21 games, Filip Forsberg has three in his past three games…The Blackhawks went 3-1-2 on their annual circus trip before falling 2-1 to Minnesota in their first game back Tuesday night…The streaky Wild hopes an impressive 2-1 road win over Chicago Tuesday night was the start of a run in the right direction…If the Devils can find a way to be better at the Prudential Center, they’ll be just fine this season. At home, they have a rather pedestrian 5-6-2 record…After allowing five power-play goals in an 18-game span, the Lightning allowed five in just two games, both losses...The new 3-on-3 overtime format has been brutal to the Canucks this season. They’re 0-7 in OT and 1-1 in games they’ve extended to shootouts. That’s a ton of points they’re leaving on the table…Milan Michalek broke his hand blocking a shot in Ottawa’s 4-2 loss to Philadelphia Tuesday night. Mika Zibanejad left the game after blocking Radko Gudas’ forearm with his face.

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. Arizona Coyotes (24)
22. Winnipeg Jets (22)
23. Anaheim Ducks (17)
24. Toronto Maple Leafs (26)
25. Calgary Flames (21)
26. Columbus Blue Jackets (28)
27. Colorado Avalanche (19)
28. Buffalo Sabres (30)
29. Edmonton Oilers (29)
30. Carolina Hurricanes (27)

After winning three straight at home, the Ducks started a five-game road trip with a 5-2 loss to Nashville Tuesday night…If the Jets could actually get Travis Hamonic and his cap-friendly, long-term deal for Dustin Byfuglien’s expiring contract, that would not be a terrible deal for them. Jacob Trouba or Tyler Myers? Not so sure…The hockey world is still waiting to see Ryan Getzlaf score a goal on an NHL goaltender this season. His only marker in 21 games this season was an empty-netter. He does have nine assists in his past six games, though…Garret Sparks became the first goalie in Maple Leafs history to pitch a shutout in his NHL debut. And his emotional reaction after the game was beautiful to watch…The Flames third-period, three-goal comeback against Dallas Tuesday night was the kind of thing we saw on a regular basis last year and not enough times this season…Scott Hartnell knew something bad was going to happen when he took a penalty with 2:34 remaining in a 1-1 tie with Montreal Tuesday night, and it did. The Canadiens scored and won the game. “Sometimes, when you’re sitting in the box, you know they’re going to score,” Hartnell told reporters after the game…The Sabres best player game-in, game-out this season? Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen…After a really bad effort in a 3-0 loss to Toronto Monday night, Oilers coach Todd McLellan called out his top players, saying, “When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some real key, key people really underperform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the scoresheet.”…Defenseman Ryan Murphy, back from a concussion and a conditioning stint in the minors, should help the Hurricanes defense corps.

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Power Rankings: Hot Capitals facing a road test in December