NHL Power Rankings: Blackhawks rise, but Lightning, Predators still reign supreme
Washington, Nashville and Tampa Bay are still rolling with winning streaks atop the NHL
Change can be good in the NHL.
That's what the trade deadline is all about, in fact, and there are quite a few teams who could benefit from an in-season upgrade as the road to the 2017-18 NHL playoffs narrows.
Change, however, isn't always good, and some of the league's top contenders should be preaching that this week.
The Washington Capitals, Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning are all riding win streaks of at least three games, and they've been on the rise since before even these latest runs. The Lightning are on a different level altogether with their all-world goal differential and seven straight W's to their name, but it's hard to find anyone outside of maybe the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings who rival them, the Caps and the Preds as the NHL's best as of December.
Farther down in the standings, the Philadelphia Flyers aren't to be overlooked, especially since they were all but ruled dead after a 2-5-6 November that had Dave Hakstol on the hot seat. But others, like the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Calgary Flames, aren't quite as heralded in our latest edition of NHL Power Rankings thanks to some recent slip-ups.
|1||Lightning||There's no reason to call their tear unsustainable until it looks, you know, unsustainable.||--||14-6|
|2||Predators||Pekka Rinne seriously must've found a time machine after the Stanley Cup Final.||2||15-5|
|3||Blues||It's not often you'll see Jake Allen save 42 shots and the Blues still lose. They're good and getting healthier.||--||7-9|
|4||Kings||Anze Kopitar is right: The Kings need to start acting like they're winners.||2||7-12|
|5||Capitals||Like L.A., they've been a pleasant surprise. Ovi is cooking.||4||10-7|
|6||Golden Knights||How much better does it get than Marc-Andre Fleury outdoing the Penguins?||2||9-12|
|7||Jets||Giving St. Louis a taste of its own medicine: Another sign these Jets are no fluke.||1||12-5|
|8||Maple Leafs||They could probably stand to drop even farther. Out-shot and off the mark, they should be fine down the road.||3||15-6|
|9||Blue Jackets||Talk out of Columbus says this team's X-factor is rebounds.||2||12-7|
|10||Devils||They're doing OK withstanding a banged-up stretch.||1||8-9|
|11||Blackhawks||The Kane-Saad-Toews trio is finally surging. And topping the Wild was huge.||5||8-8|
|12||Rangers||'Streaky' is their name this season. It's good to see some juice after a bit of deflation.||--||11-8|
|13||Islanders||Their third line is one to watch in the coming weeks.||3||10-7|
|14||Sharks||All eyes are on Logan Couture.||1||11-7|
|15||Stars||The inconsistencies are more apparent here than maybe anywhere else as of December.||3||11-8|
|16||Wild||There will be a Midwestern sigh of relief when Zach Parise is back.||3||12-7|
|17||Penguins||Needing all three periods against Arizona to get back on track is peak 2017 Pens.||3||7-8|
|18||Flyers||They would be higher here if they didn't trample over mostly so-so teams. Dave Hakstol has to be thrilled, though.||3||9-9|
|19||Flames||Things finally broke their way Sunday, and it was about time. Their 2-0 loss to Nashville actually had plenty of promise.||4||12-8|
|20||Bruins||Imagine if Erik Karlsson ended up here.||3||11-6|
|21||Ducks||What a week for John Gibson.||3||8-9|
|22||Hurricanes||So maybe there is life here. Hat tip to Scott Darling.||3||9-8|
|23||Canucks||At what point do the Canucks regret their offseason emphasis on short-term vet additions?||3||10-11|
|24||Avalanche||Matt Duchene is long gone, but they have some building blocks.||2||10-6|
|25||Oilers||They really need Monday's showdown with the Sharks.||1||10-10|
|26||Canadiens||The cold weather isn't an excuse for falling 3-0 to the Senators.||3||11-6|
|27||Red Wings||How much longer will we see the Henrik Zetterberg era?||1||9-9|
|28||Senators||Now we have Don Cherry saying they'll peace out of Ottawa if the fans don't show up. That describes 2017.||1||9-9|
|29||Panthers||They're still fighting. Will the fans fight with them?||2||8-7|
|30||Sabres||The clock is on for Jack Eichel's ascension to captaincy.||--||13-6|
|31||Coyotes||They might not reach double-digit victories until well after the new year.||--||9-9|
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