NHL Power Rankings: Hurricanes Join Bruins at No. 1

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured Columnist IIIDecember 29, 2022

NHL Power Rankings: Hurricanes Join Bruins at No. 1

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    BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 25: Jeremy Swayman #1 of the Boston Bruins tends goal against the Carolina Hurricanes during overtime 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

    Sometimes, things stay the same. And sometimes, they change.

    The Boston Bruins remain amid a historically good start that's seen them play 20 home games without a regulation loss and establish comfortable league leads in wins, goals and goal differential.

    But they're not the only team playing on an elite level.

    The Carolina Hurricanes have won nine straight games and earned at least a point in 15 straight while joining the Bruins as both divisional leaders in the Eastern Conference and penthouse-dwelling teams in this week's edition of B/R's Power Rankings.

    It's the seventh straight week atop the list for Boston, which leads second-place Toronto by seven points in the Atlantic Division. It's the first in the driver's seat for Carolina, which had a six-point lead on New Jersey in the Metropolitan Division entering Wednesday's play.

    The Hurricanes jumped from second in last week's polling after earning two of four first-place votes this time around. Meanwhile, the rest of the top five consists of the aforementioned Maple Leafs, who stayed in third place; the Dallas Stars, who climbed two spots from sixth; and the also aforementioned Devils, who remained stable in fifth place.

    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: Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Ducks, Sharks, Flyers, Coyotes, Canadiens

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    TEMPE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 17: Matias Maccelli #63 of the Arizona Coyotes gets ready during a face off against the Buffalo Sabres at Mullett Arena on December 17, 2022 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

    32. Chicago Blackhawks (Last Week: 31 / Move: -1)

    A return from the holiday break didn't help the punch-less Blackhawks, who were shut out by Carolina, are 1-9 in their last 10 games, and, at 2.27 goals per game, have the league's most anemic offense.

    31. Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Week: 30 / Move: -1)

    The Blue Jackets hope the break did some good, given a six-game skid that leaves them as the league's coldest team. Forward Patrik Laine's status is questionable now that he's in COVID-19 protocol.

    30. Anaheim Ducks (Last Week: 32 / Move: +2)

    The Ducks were a little beyond dreadful in the season's first half but climbed out of the league's cellar and reached the break with a two-point lead over Chicago. They'll return with eight straight at home.

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

    A 6-2 loss in Vancouver was a rough post-holiday return for the Sharks, who'll play once at home on Thursday before heading out for three games in Dallas, Chicago, and Anaheim.

    28. Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 28 / Move: 0)

    The Flyers allowed 10 goals while dropping their last two pre-holiday games and will restart with three straight games on the West Coast. Their 3.67 goals-against average in December is 25th in the league.

    27. Arizona Coyotes (Last Week: 27 / Move: 0)

    The Coyotes have a break-interrupted two-game win streak but will play without young forward Matias Maccelli for about six weeks with a lower-body injury. His 22 points are second among rookies.

    26. Montréal Canadiens (Last Week: 23 / Move: -3)

    The Canadiens were 3-5-2 in their last 10 before the break to slip below .500, and they face the league's second-hardest schedule in the second half—prompting some Connor Bedard fantasies, perhaps?

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

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    OTTAWA, ON - DECEMBER 27: Ottawa Senators Goalie Cam Talbot (33) prepares to make a save during first period National Hockey League action between the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators on December 27, 2022, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    25. Ottawa Senators (Last Week: 25 / Move: 0)

    The Senators became the first team to beat Boston twice this season following their 3-2 shootout win on Tuesday. Cam Talbot made 49 saves in the victory and is now 6-2-1 in December with a .912 save percentage.

    24. Florida Panthers (Last Week: 21 / Move: -3)

    The reigning Presidents' Trophy winners have dropped three straight and seven of 10 to plunge to a tie for 22nd overall but (gasp!) won't have a first-round pick in 2023 after trading it to Montréal for Ben Chiarot at the trade deadline last season.

    23. Nashville Predators (Last Week: 24 / Move: +1)

    The Predators were 52 seconds from OT before allowing the decisive goal in Tuesday's loss to Dallas. Their goal differential in the third period, minus-11, is nearly three times worse than any other period.

    22. St. Louis Blues (Last Week: 22 / Move: 0)

    The Blues are 0-1-2 in their last three games and will host Chicago on Thursday without defenseman Torey Krug, who'll miss at least six weeks with a lower-body injury suffered on December 23.

    21. Vancouver Canucks (Last Week: 26 / Move: +5)

    Don't look now, but the early-stumbling Canucks are over .500 after a Tuesday win over San Jose and only five points off the current Western Conference playoff pace after a 7-3 run in their last 10 games.

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

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    CALGARY, CANADA - DECEMBER 27: Stuart Skinner #74 of the Edmonton Oilers blocks a shot on net from Milan Lucic #17 of the Calgary Flames in the third period at the Scotiabank Saddledome on December 27, 2022, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Leah Hennel/Getty Images)
    Leah Hennel/Getty Images

    20. Detroit Red Wings (Last Week: 20 / Move: 0)

    The bloom has started to come off the rose for the quick-starting Red Wings, who won just three of their last 10 before the break and whose 3.03 goals per game clip is 22nd in the league.

    19. Calgary Flames (Last Week: 18 / Move: -1)

    A third-period power-play goal was the difference in a 2-1 loss to Edmonton in the season's final Battle of Alberta. "Five-on-five, I think we outplayed them. We just didn't score," coach Darryl Sutter said.

    18. Buffalo Sabres (Last Week 19 / Move: +1)

    Only weather has foiled the recently streaking Sabres, who had a post-holiday return trip to Columbus postponed by a blizzard. Their per-game average of 3.94 goals was tops in the league prior to the break.

    17. New York Islanders (Last Week: 16 / Move: -1)

    The high-flying Islanders matched a 5-1 pre-break win over Florida with another 5-1 decision against Pittsburgh on Tuesday. New York has scored four or more goals six times in December, going 4-2 in those games.

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

    Stuart Skinner has won two of three since signing a three-year, $7.8 million extension. He made 46 saves in a Tuesday win over Calgary and leads big-ticket signee Jack Campbell in all relevant stat categories.

Nos. 15-11: Kings, Rangers, Kraken, Capitals, Jets

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    WINNIPEG, CANADA - DECEMBER 20: Cole Perfetti #91 of the Winnipeg Jets looks on from the bench prior to puck drop against the Ottawa Senators at the Canada Life Centre on December 20, 2022 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

    15. Los Angeles Kings (Last Week: 14 / Move: -1)

    A 4-2 defeat of Vegas on Tuesday moved the Kings within three points of the Golden Knights atop the Pacific Division. Los Angeles is 5-0-1 in its last six games, and goalie Pheonix Copley is 7-1 in eight starts.

    14. New York Rangers (Last Week: 12 / Move: -2)

    The Rangers won eight of nine heading into the break, but coach Gerard Gallant didn't go lightly on them after a 4-0 loss to Washington in Tuesday's return. "We were garbage," he said.

    13. Seattle Kraken (Last Week: 10 / Move: -3)

    The Kraken return with three straight at home. They spent Tuesday's practice "touching on a couple of things that we wanted to make sure we were sharp on coming out of the break," coach Dave Hakstol said.

    12. Washington Capitals (Last Week: 15 / Move: +3)

    Washington blanked the New York Rangers on Tuesday, but they'll be without John Carlson for a while after he took a slapshot to the head on December 23. He leads the team in average ice time (23:24).

    11. Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 4 / Move: -7)

    Rookie forward Cole Perfetti missed a second straight game with an upper-body injury in the Jets' 4-1 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday. Winnipeg has lost three straight for the first time this season.

Nos. 10-6: Avalanche, Wild, Penguins, Golden Knights, Lightning

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 05: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) skates with the puck during the game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Philadelphia Flyers on December 5, 2022 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    10. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 13 / Move: +3)

    Go figure. A 6-3 loss at Arizona left the defending champs winless in their last three against the lowly Coyotes. The good news: Nathan MacKinnon should return soon for his first game since December 5.

    9. Minnesota Wild (Last Week: 11 / Move: +2)

    The Wild stayed hot with a 4-1 win in Winnipeg that got them to 7-1 in their last eight. Minnesota allowed three or more goals five times to start the month but only once in the eight-game run.

    8. Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Week: 8 / Move: 0)

    The break was apparently an issue for the Penguins, who lost 5-1 to the Islanders Tuesday. "We wanted to simplify the game and play straight ahead," coach Mike Sullivan said. "We did none of the above."

    7. Vegas Golden Knights (Last Week: 7 / Move: 0)

    A loss in Los Angeles was rare for Vegas, which boasts an NHL-best 14-3-1 road record. Weird stat alert: Vegas has 72 road goals on 571 shots (12.6 percent) compared to 49 on 631 (7.8 percent) at home.

    6. Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Week: 9 / Move: +3)

    The Lightning lost their final two games, both on the road, heading into the break, but they'll restart with three home games in four nights and haven't lost three straight all season.

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

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    RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 27: Antti Raanta #32 of the Carolina Hurricanes handles the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period of their game at PNC Arena on December 27, 2022 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    5. New Jersey Devils (Last Week: 5 / Move: 0)

    The Devils suffered six of their 10 overall losses in the 10 games before the break, and they'll return to action without injured defensemen Ryan Graves (lower body) and John Marino (upper body).

    4. Dallas Stars (Last Week: 6 / Move: +2)

    The Stars are fourth in the league with 3.56 goals per game, and they'll take that production to face the suddenly stingy Wild on Thursday in a duel between the Central Division's first- and third-place teams.

    3. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 3 / Move: 0)

    An OT win in St. Louis made it three straight for the Maple Leafs, who ended Tuesday seven points behind first-place Boston in the Atlantic Division but nine up on third-place Tampa Bay.

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

    The 3-2 shootout loss at Ottawa on Tuesday was the third of the season for the Bruins, who are 2-3 in shootouts and 26-4 in regulation/OT. Four of Boston's seven overall losses have occurred in December after it reached the month with just three defeats in 22 games.

    1 (tie). Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 2 / Move: +1)

    There's no team hotter than the Hurricanes, who've won nine in a row and earned points in 15 straight. The point streak matches the league's longest in 2022-23, and the win streak equals a franchise record. "It doesn't really matter much right now," coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "It will probably mean more at the end of the year when we look back and [say], 'That was a good stretch and got us to hopefully where we want to be.'"

    Statistics accurate through Tuesday, December 27.