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NHL Power Rankings: Penguins, Lightning, Islanders, Blues in top 5

Blake Comeau and the Penguins sit atop this week's power rankings.Getty Images
  1. 1. Pittsburgh Penguins (16-5-2) –The top six teams in the NHL all have 36 points. So how do we sort them out? The fairest method has to be looking at goal-differential and Pittsburgh has the best mark (plus-26) in the league. It earns the No. 1 nod this week.
  2. 2. Tampa Bay Lightning (16-6-2) – Tampa Bay’s goal-differential is the second-best in the league (plus-21) and it leads the NHL with 85 goals scored. The Lightning have won their last three games and that streak could very well extend this week as they travel to the Rangers and then have a home-and-home with Buffalo. A healthy Ben Bishop (14-3-2, .917 save percentage and 2.27 goals against average) makes Tampa Bay a true Stanley Cup contender.
  3. 3. Nashville Predators (16-5-2) – If you’ve been paying attention early on this season, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise to see Nashville here. The Predators are tied with the Blues for the most points in the deeper Western Conference and they have played one less game but still have a better goal-differential (plus-18). Pekka Rinne is back in a major way as he leads the NHL in wins (16) and has the second-best goals-against-average (1.82) and save percentage (.932).
  4. 4. New York Islanders (17-7-0) – The Islanders are making sure that their last season on Long Island is a memorable one. They are 9-2-0 at Nassau Coliseum and 8-2-0 in their last 10 games. They have a home-and-home series with Ottawa this week before hosting St. Louis in what should be a great game.
  5. 5. St. Louis Blues (16-6-2) – Speaking of the Blues, they are also playing solid hockey with a goal-differential of plus-15. They own a 7-2-1 record in their last 10 games. In his third NHL season, Vladimir Tarasenko (14 goals, 12 assists, plus-17) is becoming the superstar that many had predicted. Brian Elliott (8-4-1, .931 save percentage, 1.82 goals against average) is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury so the Blues signed future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur to a tryout.
  6. 6. Chicago Blackhawks (15-8-1) – Aside from maybe the Islanders and Predators, no other NHL team is hotter right now than Chicago. The Blackhawks have won their last three games and they are also 8-2-0 in the past 10 games. Chicago is tied with Pittsburgh for the best goal-differential and the Blackhawks have allowed the second fewest amount of goals (48) in the NHL.
  7. 7. Calgary Flames (15-8-2) – There isn’t a bigger surprise in the league this season than the success of the Flames. We keep waiting for them to fall back but they just keep on winning. They begin a three-game homestand on Tuesday by hosting the second part of a home-and-home with Arizona (who they shut out 3-0 on Saturday).
  8. 8. Vancouver Canucks (16-7-1) – We keep expecting to place the Canucks deeper on this list but for the most part, they are playing really well. The Canucks just began a grueling seven-game road trip that is highlighted by games in Pittsburgh and Montreal. Vancouver is 9-4-0 on the road so far this season.
  9. 9. Anaheim Ducks (14-6-5) – Like the other California teams in the NHL, Anaheim had a rough month. The Ducks are 4-3-3 in their last 10 games and are coming off a 6-4 loss to San Jose on Saturday and a 4-1 loss to the Blackhawks last Friday.
  10. 10. Montreal Canadiens (16-7-2) – For a franchise that fashions itself as one of the top clubs in the league, the Canadiens appear to be bipolar. They pick up great wins but then turn around and lose to terrible teams (sorry, Sabres). Montreal hit the road for a four-game road trip that began Monday in Colorado.
  11. 11. Detroit Red Wings (14-5-5) – It has been rather sneaky but the Red Wings are on a roll, having won their last four games, including a 5-3 victory over Vancouver on Sunday. Detroit is 9-2-2 this season at Joe Louis Arena with three more home games beckoning this week: Panthers, Stars and Rangers. Detroit is only one point behind Tampa Bay and Montreal with a goal-differential of plus-13.
  12. 12. Los Angeles Kings (12-7-5) – The Kings almost never suffer one-sided defeats like the one inflicted on them by the Blackhawks on Saturday (4-1). Tuesday’s showdown at Staples Center vs. Boston looms before three very winnable games against Arizona, Philadelphia and Buffalo. LA is 10-3-1 at home this season.
  13. 13. Boston Bruins (14-9-1) – When you look at the Bruins’ ravaged roster (from injuries), it is hard to believe that they have done this well. There is nowhere to hide this week though as they travel to California to face the Ducks, Kings and Sharks in four nights. Their next home game isn’t until Dec.11 but a report said that they hope to have captain Zdeno Chara back for that contest against Chicago.
  14. 14. Toronto Maple Leafs (12-8-3) – If Montreal is bipolar, then Toronto is definitely schizophrenic. Aside from Buffalo, no other team has been dealt so many humiliating moments during this campaign. Still, the Leafs are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games with a goal-differential of plus-7.
  15. 15. Minnesota Wild (13-9-1) – The Wild signed promising young defenseman Marco Scandella (five goals, three assists, plus-7, three game-winning goals) to a five-year extension which further solidifies their intriguing core. Minnesota has a goal-differential of plus-10 but its road record (6-7-0) is not going to get it done. The Wild’s excellent home mark (7-2-1) will be put to the test this week vs. the Canadiens, Ducks and Islanders.
  16. 16. New York Rangers (11-8-4) – The Rangers have slowly started to come alive after a poor start but give props to Rick Nash (16 goals, nine assists), who has been excellent from the first game. New York is under .500 (3-4-1) away from Madison Square Garden and it is 1-4 in overtimes and shootouts this season.
  17. 17. Winnipeg Jets (12-9-4) – The Jets are tough to figure out since they have the biggest disparity in terms of home record (4-5-1) vs. road record (8-4-3). Their three home games this week get increasingly more difficult: Oilers, Avalanche and Ducks. The good news is that they seem to have finally found a solid goaltender in Michael Hutchinson (4-1-2, .947 save percentage, 1.56 goals against average).
  18. 18. Washington Capitals (10-9-4) – The Capitals continue to float on the periphery of the Eastern Conference playoff picture as signified by their goal-differential of zero. Getting blown out (6-2) in Toronto on Saturday couldn’t have helped as they return home to face the Canucks before heading out on a three-game road trip. Washington is 5-4-1 in its last 10 games.
  19. 19. San Jose Sharks (11-10-4) – Does any other team in the NHL accept mediocrity better than the Sharks? They are in fifth place in the Pacific Division, only five points ahead of rebuilding Arizona. Maybe Saturday’s 6-4 win over Anaheim will be the spark that they need to get going.
  20. 20. Florida Panthers (9-6-6) – On the other end of the spectrum as the Sharks is the Panthers. Yes, they have some former top draft picks but it is remarkable that this average-at-best roster has done this well. It’s bound to fall apart at some point but at least they seem to be making progress unlike the Sabres and Oilers.

 
 
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