NHL Power Rankings: Red-Hot Hurricanes Right Behind Bruins for Top Spot

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured Columnist IIIDecember 22, 2022

NHL Power Rankings: Red-Hot Hurricanes Right Behind Bruins for Top Spot

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    BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 25: Matt Grzelcyk #48 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period at the TD Garden on November 25, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins won 3-2 in overtime and set a new NHL record for most consecutive wins at home to start a season with 12. (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)
    Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

    The king is secure. But his court is in some disarray.

    The Boston Bruins have continued on their dominantly merry way through the first two-thirds of December, improving to 25-4-2 through 31 games and maintaining league leads in points, points percentage, goal differential and home-ice record.

    Thus, it's no surprise that they're atop B/R's Power Rankings for a sixth straight week on the power of four out of five first-place votes from the writing panel.

    But the look of the top five as a whole is changing.

    Jumping four spots from sixth thanks to a dissenting first-place ballot and four seconds are the Carolina Hurricanes, who ended the rankings week atop the Metropolitan Division. They're one rankings spot ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who took second last week but backed up a spot this week while earning third-place nods from all five voters.

    Meantime, replacing the Vegas Golden Knights and Pittsburgh Penguins at four and five are the Winnipeg Jets (up four from No. 8) and the New Jersey Devils (down two from No. 3).

    Our panel awarded 32 points for first place and one point for 32nd in coming up with the weekly list. A team's ranking from last week and its subsequent move are listed alongside each updated placement. Scroll through to see where your favorites landed and drop a thought or two of your own in the comments.

Nos. 32-26: Ducks, Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Sharks, Flyers, Coyotes, Canucks

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    SAN JOSE, CA - DECEMBER 18: San Jose Sharks Center Tomas Hertl (48) falls on top of Calgary Flames Right Wing Blake Coleman (20) during the second period of a regular season NHL hockey game between the Calgary Flames and the San Jose Sharks on December 18, 2022, at SAP Center, in San Jose, CA. (Photo by Tony Ding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Tony Ding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    32. Anaheim Ducks (Last Week: 32 / Move: 0)

    The Ducks ended last week on a particularly ugly note with a 7-0 loss to Toronto but bounced back with consecutive wins at Montreal and Edmonton before ending the trip with a loss at Los Angeles.

    31. Chicago Blackhawks (Last Week: 31 / Move: 0)

    We're barely more than a week from the new year and the Blackhawks (ouch!) have won a grand total of three times since the start of November, losing seven straight since December 3.

    30. Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Week: 30 / Move: 0)

    If not for the Blackhawks, it'd be the Blue Jackets taking the "honors" as the league's coldest team with a five-game skid. Columbus has seven goals in the streak and is 28th in the league in scoring average.

    29. San Jose Sharks (Last Week: 29 / Move: 0)

    Prolific forward Tomáš Hertl will miss one more game after he was sidelined for two games, unpaid, after getting a high-sticking penalty during Sunday's 5-2 loss. He has 11 goals and 21 assists in 33 games.

    28. Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 27 / Move: -1)

    The Flyers had a moderately positive week with two wins in three games—including a 5-3 defeat of visiting Columbus—after an inglorious 2-11-5 stretch. Still, Philadelphia is 29th in the league in scoring.

    27. Arizona Coyotes (Last Week: 28 / Move: +1)

    The Coyotes opened a three-game homestand with a 5-4 defeat of the New York Islanders before dropping consecutive games to visiting Buffalo and Montreal (in overtime).

    26. Vancouver Canucks (Last Week: 24 / Move: -2)

    Presuming the Canucks don't become a significant factor in the playoff chase, TSN insider Darren Dreger expects trade chatter to increase surrounding Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and Tyler Myers.

Nos. 25-21: Senators, Predators, Canadiens, Blues, Panthers

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    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 20:Pavel Buchnevich #89 of the St. Louis Blues celebrates his goal with the bench during the third period of a game against the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena on December 20, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images

    25. Ottawa Senators (Last Week: 26 / Move: +1)

    The Senators had recorded four straight wins before dropping consecutive decisions to Minnesota and Winnipeg. Off the ice, they extended defenseman Artem Zub for four years and $18.4 million.

    24. Nashville Predators (Last Week: 22 / Move: -2)

    The Predators had gone 0-4-2 in six games—including a 6-3 loss to Edmonton—before defeating the Oilers in OT on Monday night. They've not won two straight in regulation since November 15 and 17.

    23. Montréal Canadiens (Last Week: 19 / Move: -4)

    Center Anthony Richard made his Montréal debut Monday against Arizona and logged two shots in nearly 11 minutes of ice time. He was drafted by Nashville in 2015 and signed as a free agent in July.

    22. St. Louis Blues (Last Week: 25 / Move: +3)

    The up-and-down Blues won four straight to get back above .500 before skidding back to 16-16-1 with a 5-2 loss to Seattle on Tuesday. A goal in that game got Pavel Buchnevich to 100 points with St. Louis.

    21. Florida Panthers (Last Week: 21 / Move: 0)

    The Panthers shed a defenseman (Michael Del Zotto) and picked up a winger (Givani Smith) in a three-team trade with Anaheim and Detroit. Smith, 24, was a second-round pick of the Red Wings in 2016.

Nos. 20-16: Red Wings, Sabres, Flames, Oilers, Islanders

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    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 19: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen #1 of the Buffalo Sabres is seen during the third period against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on December 19, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images

    20. Detroit Red Wings (Last Week: 17 / Move: -3)

    The Red Wings welcomed ex-coach Jeff Blashill back to town Wednesday for the first time since he was fired after winning 204 games in seven seasons. He's now an assistant with Tampa Bay.

    19. Buffalo Sabres (Last Week 23 / Move: +4)

    The Sabres have reeled off four straight victories, including three on the road at Colorado, Arizona and Vegas. Goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 80 of 84 shots against the Avalanche and Golden Knights.

    18. Calgary Flames (Last Week: 20 / Move: +2)

    The Flames scored twice in the first 30 seconds of a blitzing of San Jose on Tuesday. Two straight wins after five straight losses have included two goals and three points from 34-year-old winger Milan Lucic.

    17. Edmonton Oilers (Last Week: 16 / Move: -1)

    GM Ken Holland has taken heat for the Oilers' struggles, which included a three-game skid heading into Wednesday at Dallas. "I think that's the beautiful part about playing in Canada," he told Sportsnet.

    16. New York Islanders (Last Week: 12 / Move: -4)

    The last loss came in OT, but it's still four in five games for New York, which is 3-5-1 in December after going 10-5 in November. Nevertheless, GM Lou Lamoriello is "very pleased" with where things stand.

Nos. 15-11: Capitals, Kings, Avalanche, Rangers, Wild

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    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 20:  Pheonix Copley #29 of the Los Angeles Kings  in goal against the Anaheim Ducks in the first period at Crypto.com Arena on December 20, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    15. Washington Capitals (Last Week: 15 / Move: 0)

    The watch for goal No. 801 for Alex Ovechkin moves to Ottawa on Thursday night after he was held scoreless in an OT win over Detroit on Monday. Washington is back home Friday against Winnipeg.

    14. Los Angeles Kings (Last Week: 18 / Move: +4)

    Journeyman goalie Pheonix Copley has won three straight starts and five of six for the Kings since veteran Cal Petersen was waived and sent to the AHL with a 3.75 goals-against average in 10 games.

    13. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 11 / Move: -2)

    Nathan MacKinnon was back at practice, albeit in a non-contact role, on Tuesday as his time on the shelf since a Dec. 5 injury passed two weeks. He had 34 points in 23 games before the injury.

    12. New York Rangers (Last Week: 13 / Move: +1)

    The Rangers' run of seven straight wins finally came to an end Tuesday night when they dropped a 3-2 decision in Pittsburgh. New York allowed just 14 goals in the wins while scoring 33.

    11. Minnesota Wild (Last Week: 14 / Move: +3)

    The Wild went 4-0 on a homestand to stretch a win streak to five before beginning a three-game trip that included a Wednesday stop in Anaheim and will also yield visits to San Jose and Winnipeg.

Nos. 10-6: Kraken, Lightning, Penguins, Golden Knights, Stars

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    BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 05: Vegas Golden Knights center Michael Amadio (22) shoots in warm up before a game between the Boston Bruins and the Vegas Golden Knights on December 5, 2022, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    10. Seattle Kraken (Last Week: 10 / Move: 0)

    The Kraken gave most of the gains during a seven-game win streak back in a subsequent 1-5 skid, but they've righted the ship with consecutive home defeats of Winnipeg and St. Louis.

    9. Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Week: 7 / Move: -2)

    A five-game win streak was snuffed out in Toronto by a 4-1 loss that no one on the team enjoyed. "That was a complete game, I'll tell you that," coach Jon Cooper said. "A complete bag of you know what."

    8. Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Week: 5 / Move: -3)

    The month of December continues to be a good one for the Penguins, who remained red-hot with a 3-2 defeat of the New York Rangers and improved to 8-1 since the calendar reached 2022's final month.

    7. Vegas Golden Knights (Last Week: 4 / Move: -3)

    The continued absence of Jack Eichel has created first-line opportunity for Michael Amadio, who had an assist in 19 shifts of ice time in Monday's loss to Buffalo. Eichel hasn't played since December 9.

    6. Dallas Stars (Last Week: 9 / Move: +3)

    Forward Denis Gurianov will be unavailable for the time being after getting a leave of absence for family reasons. He had 11 goals and 31 points in 2021-22 but has just five points in 25 games this season.

Nos. 5-1: Devils, Jets, Maple Leafs, Hurricanes, Bruins

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    WINNIPEG, CANADA - DECEMBER 20: Kyle Connor #81 of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates his second period goal against the Ottawa Senators with teammates at the bench at the Canada Life Centre on December 20, 2022 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images

    5. New Jersey Devils (Last Week: 3 / Move: -2)

    The season's first prolonged adversity finally arrived for the Devils, who lost five times in 28 games before losing four straight, getting outscored 14-5 in the process, and falling out of first place.

    4. Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 8 / Move: +4)

    Kyle Connor and Josh Morrissey have point streaks of double-digit games after each scored Tuesday night against Ottawa. The pair has eight goals and 22 assists in the combined 10-game run.

    3. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 2 / Move: -1)

    A 4-1 defeat of Tampa Bay lifted the Maple Leafs to 5-2-1 in December heading into a Thursday afternoon date with Philadelphia that precedes a trip to St. Louis, Arizona and Colorado.

    2. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 6 / Move: +4)

    The crown as the league's hottest team goes to the Hurricanes, whose win streak stretched to six with a 4-1 defeat of New Jersey that also pushed them into first place in the Metropolitan Division.

    1. Boston Bruins (Last Week: 1 / Move: 0)

    Maybe it'll just stay this easy for the Bruins, who are 4-0-1 in their last five games, haven't lost in regulation since December 9 and have just six non-wins in 31 games. "They are great leaders, and they know how to win," coach Jim Montgomery said. "All the different ways we've won, it shows, so I've developed the ability to let them control a lot of what's going on."

    Statistics accurate through Tuesday, December 20.