1. Montreal Canadiens (13-2-1, last week No. 1) – Carey Price is out for another week with his lower-body injury but so far it hasn’t slowed down Montreal. Mike Condon (6-0-1, .941 save percentage, 1.57 goals against average) was the third star of the week in the NHL and he has yet to lose in regulation. The Canadiens are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and they lead the league with an absurd goal-differential of +30.
2. New York Rangers (11-2-2, last week No. 2) – There is no question as to who is the hottest team in the NHL. The Rangers have won their last six games and they are 8-0-2 in their last 10. Coming off a 3-0 shutout of Carolina on Tuesday (thanks to 33 saves by Henrik Lundqvist), New York has allowed a league-low 25 goals.
3. St. Louis Blues (11-3-1, last week No. 6) – The Blues are also on a roll: they’ve won their last three games and they are 7-2-1 in their last 10. They picked up a 2-0 win at New Jersey on Tuesday as Jake Allen (7-3-0, .950 save percentage, 1.53 goals against average) notched his league-leading third shutout of the season. Their game on Thursday vs. Rangers at Madison Square Garden should be a great matchup.
4. Dallas Stars (12-4-0, last week No. 3) – The Stars are still playing really well but for whatever reason, they can’t beat the Maple Leafs. Toronto won 3-2 in Dallas on Tuesday, the second time this season that they’ve upset one of the top teams in the NHL. Center Tyler Seguin (9 goals, 14 assists) is tied for the league lead in points and was the second star of the week in the NHL.
5. Washington Capitals (10-4-0, last week No. 5) – The Capitals fell, 1-0, on Tuesday in Detroit but they are still 7-3-0 in their last 10 games. The Metropolitan Division is very tight as Washington trails the Rangers by four points, leads the Islanders by one point, the Penguins by two points and the Devils by three points. The Caps have a back-to-back-in Philadelphia on Thursday and they host Calgary on Friday-before they are off until Wednesday.
6. Nashville Predators (9-3-2, last week No. 7) – Nashville’s crazy 7-5 win over Ottawa on Tuesday was a throwback to the more wide-open NHL of the 80s and early 90s. For many reasons, don’t expect to see many other games like that for the rest of the season throughout the league. The Predators are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games yet they are only tied for third in their own division (Central).
7. Minnesota Wild (9-3-2, last week No. 8) – You could make a good argument that left wing Zach Parise (7 goals, 2 assists) is one of the most valuable players in the league. That’s why his prolonged absence (with a knee injury suffered last week) is a major concern for the Wild. He’s expected out for at least two more weeks with Minnesota heading out on a four-game road trip (Carolina, Dallas, Pittsburgh and Boston).
8. Los Angeles Kings (9-6-0, last week No. 4) – The Kings have cooled down a little bit from their torrid stretch but they are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games. Their 3-2 loss to Arizona on Tuesday coupled with Vancouver’s 5-3 win over Columbus knocked them out of first-place in the Pacific Division. LA hosts the Islanders on Thursday and Oilers on Saturday at Staples Center where they’ll try to get over .500 this season (5-5-0).
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9. Vancouver Canucks (7-4-5, last week No. 10) – The Pacific Division is off to a bizarre start and Vancouver so far has thrived in the chaos. The Canucks are 5-1-2 on the road but only 2-3-3 at Rogers Arena. Right wing Jannik Hansen set a career-high with four points (1 goal, 3 assists) in that victory at Columbus.
10. Chicago Blackhawks (8-6-1, last week No. 11) – Their overall record at this point isn’t something to write home about but who doesn’t have faith in the Blackhawks? Right wing Patrick Kane (10 goals, 13 assists) is tied for the league lead in points and was the No. 1 star of the week in the NHL. There is no way that Chicago’s home/away records don’t improve: they are 7-1-1 at the United Center and 1-5-0 on the road this season.
11. Pittsburgh Penguins (9-5-0, last week No. 12) – Last time out, the Penguins got rocked 5-2 in Calgary last Saturday. However, Pittsburgh is 8-2-0 in their last 10 games. They are back in action on Wednesday, hosting the Canadiens in what promises to be an entertaining contest.
12. New York Islanders (8-5-3, last week No. 9) – The Islanders are scuffling (4-4-2 in last 10 games) but they opened their California road trip with a 4-2 win at San Jose on Tuesday. An always difficult back-to-back in LA on Thursday and at Anaheim on Friday awaits them. Star center John Tavares (7 goals, 6 assists) missed three games with an illness so his two goals against the Sharks were his first points since a goal on Oct. 24 at St. Louis.
13. Winnipeg Jets (8-6-2, last week No. 13) – The Jets are slipping (4-4-2 in last 10 games) and they are down to fifth-place in the Central Division. Any day now, you can basically guarantee that Chicago will pass them since they are one point behind Winnipeg with a game in hand. The key for the Jets is not to get too down on themselves since I think that once again, the Central should get five of its teams into the postseason this spring.
14. Boston Bruins (7-6-1, last week No. 14) – The Bruins predictably faltered last week against three of the NHL’s top teams (Dallas, Washington and Montreal) but re-grouped to win for the second time in Brooklyn this season against the Islanders. With a season-high five-game homestand about to begin on Thursday vs. Colorado, Boston has a great opportunity to climb the standings in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. They only have to leave Massachusetts twice for the rest of November.
15. Detroit Red Wings (8-6-1, last week No. 17) – I think that the Red Wings are rather average so I guess that this ranking is fitting for them. Detroit’s win over Washington was definitely its best of the season. For the moment, they are tied with Ottawa for second-place in the Atlantic Division,
16. Ottawa Senators (7-5-3, last week No. 15) – The Senators are only 2-3-2 at Canadian Tire Centre but they are about to embark on a season-high five-game homestand. It starts out hard (vs. Canucks and Rangers) but eases up at the back end with games against the Blue Jackets and Flyers to close it out. Oddly enough, the Senators have already played in five shootouts this season (3-2) while 14 other teams have yet to appear in a single one.
17. Arizona Coyotes (8-6-1, last week No. 21) – The Coyotes have bounced back from their tailspin (no pun intended) with two straight wins. They are a stellar 6-2-1 on the road this season. Arizona hosts Edmonton on Thursday before leaving on a four-game road trip (Blue Jackets, Islanders, Canadiens and Jets).
18. New Jersey Devils (8-6-1, last week No. 18) – Despite Tuesday’s shutout loss to St. Louis, New Jersey is 7-3-0 in its last 10 games. Their goal-differential is -1 which is never a good sign when you possess a negative number there. Four of their next five games are on the road which can’t be too daunting since they are 4-2-0 on the road this season.
19. Florida Panthers (6-6-3, last week No. 19) – The Panthers are treading water (3-4-3 in last 10 games) which is why Tuesday’s 4-3 win vs. Calgary was more important than you’d normally think. Coming into that one, they had lost five games in a row. They are in sixth-place in the Atlantic Division but can move up shortly since they host the Sabres on Thursday and then have a home-and-home with reeling Tampa Bay on Saturday and Monday.
20. Tampa Bay Lightning (7-8-2, last week No. 16) – They have been overshadowed by bigger dumpster fires like the Blue Jackets, Flames and Ducks but let’s be real here: the Lightning are similarly a mess. Tampa Bay is 3-6-1 in its last 10 games and they lost 4-1 to Buffalo at Amalie Arena on Tuesday which is a rough result even though the Sabres have clearly improved. This team is way too good to be down here for much longer, right?
21. Buffalo Sabres (7-8-0, last week No. 22) – In head coach Dan Bylsma’s first season in charge, the Sabres appear to finally be making strides (are you paying attention Oilers?). It helps when you have a special talent like rookie center Jack Eichel (6 goals, 3 assists) who has five points (2 goals, 3 assists) in his last three games. A playoff spot is unlikely for Buffalo in 2015-16 but then again, it is the Eastern Conference so you never know.
22. San Jose Sharks (7-8-0, last week No. 20) – San Jose is falling apart (3-7-0 in last 10 games) and rumors surfaced on Tuesday that left wing Patrick Marleau (4 goals, 5 assists) would accept a trade to the Rangers, Kings or Ducks. It’s hard to picture the Sharks trading one of their top players to their rivals in LA or Anaheim. Still, they have to do something big like that in order to speed up the inevitable rebuilding process.
23. Anaheim Ducks (5-7-3, last week No. 28) – It’s not like Anaheim has completely turned things around after that horrific start but they have far more potential than any of the other clubs stuck down here. It’s hard to fathom that they’ll remain behind Arizona and San Jose for much longer in the Pacific Division. They host Edmonton on Wednesday and the Islanders on Friday at Honda Center where they are 4-2-2 so far this season.
24. Philadelphia Flyers (5-7-3, last week No. 26) – The Flyers limped home from a terrible road trip (1-3-1) and proceeded to get blasted 4-0 by the Avalanche on Tuesday. They have only scored 28 goals which is the second worst in the NHL behind Anaheim (25). Does right wing Jakub Voracek (0 goals, 5 assists, -6) still play for Philadelphia?
25. Carolina Hurricanes (6-9-0, last week No. 25) – The Hurricanes are likely playing for nothing but a lottery pick this season so it’ll be a miracle if they finish over .500. Carolina is about to start a season-high five-game homestand at PNC Arena (Wild, Flyers, Ducks, Maple Leafs and Kings). They are just 2-4-0 at home this season.
26. Colorado Avalanche (5-9-1, last week No. 27) – I don’t think the Avalanche are good by any means but it would be interesting to see how they would do in any other division than the Central where they have absolutely no hope. Colorado started off their killer seven-game road trip with that win in Philadelphia. Safe to say that head coach Patrick Roy won’t be inviting commissioner Gary Bettman over for Thanksgiving after his team returns home following two weeks on the road.
27. Calgary Flames (5-10-1, last week No. 30) – No surprise I guess but the teams at the bottom are truly awful. The Flames are ahead of the Oilers in the basement of the Pacific Division which certainly isn’t something to celebrate. Starting on Thursday, Calgary has three road games in four nights (Tampa Bay, Washington and Chicago).
28. Toronto Maple Leafs (3-8-4, last week No. 29) – How can you possibly explain how Toronto is 2-0 against Dallas but 1-8-4 vs. everyone else in the NHL this season? The race for the No. 1 pick next summer looks like a three-way race between the Leafs, Oilers and Blue Jackets. Toronto’s goal-differential is -15 which is hard to accomplish in 15 games.
29. Edmonton Oilers (5-10-0, last week No. 23) – Stop me if you’ve heard this before but Edmonton is the worst team in the Western Conference. They have lost their last two games and with three road games in four nights (Ducks, Coyotes and Kings) followed by a home game against Chicago, that streak could stretch much further. It has to have been impossible to root for this team over the past decade.
30. Columbus Blue Jackets (4-12-0, last week No. 25) – After climbing out of the sewer for a few weeks, the Blue Jackets are back where they started this miserable campaign. We are over a month into the 2015-16 regular season and Columbus still hasn’t won a home game (0-6-0) after losing 5-3 to Vancouver on Tuesday. Oh and their goal-differential is -21, is that bad?