CBS Sports

Thanksgiving is now less than two weeks away, and that is a critical point in the NHL season. By then, we will have a pretty good idea of which teams are going to stick around for a while and which ones will fall by the wayside before the playoffs.

Right now, it looks like there is a group of elite teams that will be competing atop the NHL all season long. That group includes the Carolina Hurricanes, who have reclaimed the top spot in these rankings. Those are fun teams to watch, but I'm more curious about whether some of the early-season surprises will stick around through the end of the calendar year.

For instance, the Anaheim Ducks are the hottest team in the league, and it's not just because John Gibson is stealing games left and right. Beyond that, the Red Wings, Devils, Predators and Kings all find themselves in decent position within their respective divisions. How long all that lasts, I don't know, but we'll find out a lot more about those teams in the coming weeks.

With the holidays quickly approaching, here at the latest NHL Power Rankings:

Biggest Movers
6 Predators
7 Blue Jackets
1 Hurricanes I just talked about Freddie Andersen a couple of weeks ago, and I don't want to get repetitive in these rankings, but here we go again. Everyone knows that Carolina is a phenomenal possession team and that their underlying numbers are terrific in that respect, but Andersen has given them a steady presence in net. His 94.5% save percentage at even strength is seventh in the NHL among goalies who have played in at least four games. 1 14-11-1
2 Wild Minnesota is back to their winning ways. They are 5-1-0 in November and are getting contributions from every player in the lineup. Most recently, rookie Rem Pitlick potted a natural hat trick against the Kraken for the first three goals of his NHL career. 2 9-12-4
3 Oilers The Oilers are the most exciting team in the NHL, and there isn't really a close second. With Mike Smith on the shelf due to injury and Mikko Koskinen coming back to Earth after a solid start, Edmonton is forced to win shootouts on a regular basis. Combine that with the amount of firepower the Oilers have up front, and it is a recipe for some track meets on ice. -- 11-12-1
4 Maple Leafs That 2-4-1 start seems like a long time ago. Toronto is 8-1-0 since then, and part of that is due to the team's best players living up to that billing. However, goaltender Jack Campbell has done more than his fair share of the heavy lifting as well. He is fourth in the NHL in goals saved above expected at five-on-five (5.40), and he has provided some stability in net for the Maple Leafs. 1 13-6-4
5 Lightning The Lightning are getting back on track, and they have Steven Stamkos to thank for that. The 31-year-old has stepped up in Nikita Kucherov's absence, and he is currently pacing the team with 15 points. Stamkos is also tied with Alex Killorn for the team lead in goals with seven. 2 12-11-5
6 Panthers Our former No. 1 team had a rough week. The Panthers went 0-2-2 and experienced some bad luck. Spencer Knight was dreadful in back-to-back starts against the Rangers and Devils, and Florida suffered shootout and overtime defeats at the hands of the Penguins and Lightning, respectively. The Panthers will be just fine, especially with Sergei Bobrovsky back from injury. 5 16-8-2
7 Bruins The Bruins went 3-1 last week, and they remain one of the most dominant teams in the league in terms of five-on-five expected goals share. They're third in the league in that category, but Linus Ullmark has not panned out in net at all. The good news for the Bruins is that Jeremy Swayman is playing well, and he has earned a bigger share of the workload between the pipes. 2 17-5-3
8 Golden Knights Vegas needed someone to step up in the absence of their best offensive players, and Chandler Stephenson has been that guy. He has 15 points on the season, including 11 points in the team's last 10 games. The Golden Knights are 8-2 in that stretch. 2 17-5-5
9 Capitals With a goal against the Blue Jackets (No. 742), Alex Ovechkin moved into sole possession of fourth place on the NHL's all-time goals list. He's now just 24 away from the great Jaromir Jagr. Given the pace that Ovechkin is on this year, he'll get there around the time everyone is opening Christmas presents. By the way, his Capitals have now won four in a row. 4 12-8-3
10 Blues The Blues only notched one win in four tries last week, but it's not all bad news. Pavel Buchnevich is getting more comfortable in St. Louis and looks like a player the Rangers will regret giving in order to add some unquantifiable amount of toughness to the roster. 4 13-12-1
11 Rangers Speaking of the Rangers, I am very suspicious of Buchnevich's former team. They are 31st in the NHL in expected goals share at five-on-five (42.92%). I can buy that the Rangers have enough talent to outperform middling underlying numbers, but this is far worse than middling. I kind of doubt they can keep playing this way and remain near the top of the division. 1 18-5-1
12 Jets The Jets look like a very different team this season. Instead of simply relying on Connor Hellebuyck to bail them out every other game, they are actually asserting themselves as a quality possession team. That could be due to an improved defensive corps in Winnipeg with the addition of Nate Schmidt and a strong start from Josh Morrissey. 5 15-8-2
13 Avalanche I think the Avalanche took out some frustration last week, and the Canucks and Sharks were on the receiving end. Colorado outscored those teams by a combined 13-3 in a pair of drubbings. That might continue this week when the Avs pay Vancouver a visit on Wednesday. 2 16-8-2
14 Flames Calgary has really taken it on the chin since I sang their praises about a fortnight ago. The Flames are 2-2-3 in their last seven games and have had trouble finding the back of the net consistently in that stretch. Elias Lindholm cooled off a bit after his torrid start, but Andrew Mangiapane has picked up some of that slack. 6 11-12-3
15 Ducks Anaheim has won not one, not two, not three ... but seven games in a row. Maybe the most surprising thing about this streak is that it hasn't come solely on the back of John Gibson. The Ducks have been playing great hockey, and they've gotten rewarded for it. Troy Terry's point streak is now at 14 games, and Ryan Getzlaf has been revitalized by playing on these young stars. He has a team high 16 assists in 16 games played. 4 10-16-0
16 Red Wings The Red Wings' strong start is being fueled by some unexpected contributions. One of those pleasant surprises has been Vlad Namestnikov, who is second on the team in goals with seven. I doubt he'll keep scoring on almost 30% of his shots, but he's well ahead of the pace necessary to set a new career high in goals. 2 14-7-4
17 Flyers The Flyers play in a tough Metropolitan Division, and they've had a hard time finding any consistency in the early going. That said, getting Kevin Hayes and Ryan Ellis back into the lineup should help a team that should compete for a playoff spot when fully healthy. 6 14-10-2
18 Kings Just when everyone thought the Kings were going to pass the baton from Jonathan Quick to Cal Peterson in net, the 35-year-old has had a resurgent year. Quick is second in the league in goals saved above average at five-on-five with 7.08. The Kings' key veterans have found the fountain of youth in the offseason, and they are rolling right now. 2 16-4-3
19 Predators The Predators are officially surging. They are 8-1-1 in the last 10 games, and Matt Duchene is red hot. He has taken some fair criticism since signing a big contract with Nashville, but Duchene has stepped up to the plate so far this season. He has eight goals in the last nine games, including a pair of overtime winners. 6 14-12-0
20 Devils Pavel Zacha is having the best start of his career, and it might have to do with the fact that he's making the most of his opportunity right now. He's taking 2.5 shots per game, which is the highest rate of his career, and he has been rewarded with seven goals in 14 games. 1 13-10-1
21 Blue Jackets So far, Columbus has split starts relatively evenly between Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo. The Blue Jackets may just want to ride Merzlikins for a while, considering he's one of the hottest goaltenders in the league these days and Korpisalo is one of the coldest. 7 9-15-5
22 Islanders The Islanders are having a hard time putting the puck in the net this season. They are 31st in the NHL in goals scored, ahead of only the Arizona Coyotes, and it's tough to win when you don't score as many goals as the other team. The Isles haven't been able to generate dangerous chances on a regular basis, and Ilya Sorokin can only do so much in the crease. 6 11-7-7
23 Stars Last season's Calder Trophy runner-up, Jason Robertson, has only scored one goal in seven games played. Like many other players on the Stars, Robertson has yet to start converting on his scoring chances with regularity, but he's too good to be held in check for very long. 1 15-7-3
24 Sabres The Sabres snapped a five-game losing streak with a win against the Oilers. Go figure. Hockey is weird. Regardless, Buffalo is starting to slide down toward the bottom of the Atlantic Division, which is where everyone expected them to be before the puck dropped on opening night. 1 11-14-2
25 Penguins Sidney Crosby played in his second game of the season against the Capitals on Sunday, and it did not go well. The Penguins got routed, 6-1, and Crosby clearly wasn't pleased. He slung Martin Fehervary into the boards on a dangerous play but didn't get whistled for a penalty. 3 11-12-3
26 Sharks San Jose did get an impressive win over the Flames, but their recent stretch of misfortune continued with losses to the Jets and the Avalanche. The Sharks will likely have to give James Reimer more starts in net because Adin Hill has struggled up to this point. -- 8-17-2
27 Blackhawks Since Jeremy Colliton was fired and Derek King was promoted to the role of interim head coach, the Blackhawks are 3-0. It'll be interesting to see whether that's just a coincidence or King is actually doing something that has elevated Chicago's performance. 2 8-16-1
28 Kraken It would've been hard to find anyone who decried the Kraken's signing of Philipp Grubauer in the offseason, but that has not worked out at all so far. Grubauer has been far and away the worst goaltender in the NHL in terms of goals saved above expected (-10.33). The Kraken have some other issues, but even getting average goaltending out of Grubauer would be a big help. -- 8-13-6
29 Canucks Vancouver gave up seven goals in back-to-back games this week, and that should come as no surprise considering they are 28th in the NHL in expected goals against at five-on-five with 30.47. The defense is letting the team down, but the goaltending tandem of Thatcher Demko and Jaroslav Halak hasn't been much help either. 2 17-9-1
30 Canadiens Montreal is sixth in the league in expected goals for at five-on-five with 29.88, but they have only scored 23 goals in those situations. That's a big disparity, and it could just be due to poor luck. However, it could also speak to a lack of finishing ability among the Canadiens' underwhelming forward group. 1 11-12-3
31 Senators The Senators are officially heading toward an exciting draft lottery night (again). Their goaltending has been downright porous, and they get routinely outplayed by their opponents. The fans in Ottawa are in for another long winter. 1 10-11-0
32 Coyotes The Coyotes turned all the momentum from their first win of the season into a three-game losing streak. It's pretty impressive, and Arizona is heading toward NHL history. The Coyotes have only picked up 10.0% of a possible 30 points through 15 games. The 1974-75 Washington Capitals, who won just eight games, captured 13.1% of their possible points. This will be a battle to watch all season long. -- 13-10-2