1 – New York Rangers (18-5-1)
The Rangers have been rolling all season, so it should be no surprise to see them at the top of our latest NHL Power Rankings. With a record of 18-5-1 as of December 7, only the Vegas Golden Knights have more points than New York, but they’ve played three more games. Artemi Panarin has been the team’s best player so far this season, but the rest of the core is doing their part once again as well. They’ve also been getting some great production from a few guys further down the depth chart such as Alexis Lafreniere, Erik Gustafsson, and Johnathan Quick. Quick has statistically been better than Igor Shesterkin in the nine games he’s played, and if both goalies can stay healthy, the Rangers will have two very good options in net come playoff time.
2 – Los Angeles Kings (15-4-3)
Somehow, it feels like people are still sleeping on the Kings a little. The team may not have the flashiest players or the most exciting style, but they win games at the highest rate of any team in the West. Los Angeles is also an incredible 10-0-0 away from home this season, and with one more win, they’ll have the NHL record for longest road winning streak to start a season. Adrian Kempe currently leads the team with 23 points in 22 games, but with this squad, everyone pitches in. With their depth at forward, the Kings should absolutely be considered a Cup contender this season.
3 – Boston Bruins (17-4-3)
Many people thought that the Bruins would take a step back given all the talent they lost in the offseason. I guess, technically, they still have from last year’s record-breaking pace, but it’s been a very small one. There is still no team that plays better at home and no team with a better tandem of goalies than Boston. There’s also still no team that can stop David Pastrnak, it seems. Even without Bergeron or Krejci at centre, Pasta leads the team with 36 points in 24 games, sitting tied for fourth in the league. Players like Pavel Zacha, Charlie Coyle and rookie Matthew Poitras have certainly stepped up, and defensively, this team is as good as ever. Don’t expect the wins to slow down for the Bs.
4 – Vegas Golden Knights (17-5-5)
Like the teams above them, Vegas remains one of the best in the league thanks to their incredible depth. As of December 7, the team is in first place in the West and sits five points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche. Jack Eichel is the only player on the team to reach 30 points so far, but like in Los Angeles, Vegas has three very strong forward lines that chip in offensively. The defending champs are great at home or on the road, and are truly built to go on another run at the end of the season. They’ll have a lot of strong opponents in their way come playoff time, but it’s going to take a lot to bring this team down in a seven-game series.
5 – Colorado Avalanche (16-7-2)
With a record of 6-2-2 in their last ten games and the best defenceman in the world, the Colorado Avalanche are next up in our Rankings. It seems that Cale Makar took a little offence to all the hype Quinn Hughes was getting earlier this season, because in his last ten games, he’s been on a tear. He’s missed the team’s last two contests, but is set to return tonight, December 7, against Winnipeg. Besides Makar, Nathan Mackinnon and Mikko Rantanen are both over 30 points on the season as well. The Avs’ scoring may be top-heavy, but with three players this dominant, they can still win a lot of games. It would be nice to see more players chip in, but for now, the job is getting done.
6 – Dallas Stars (14-7-3)
They’ve slid a bit in their last seven games, but the Stars are still an elite team in the Central division. Matt Duchene has been a great addition to the club and sits fourth on the team in points with 19 in 23 games played, while the usual suspects Pavelski, Robertson and Hintz lead the way in front of him.
Despite the record, I still don’t think we’ve seen the best of the Stars this year for more than a few games. Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz should end up with more points than they’re on pace for right now, and Jake Oettinger could easily get hot and improve his current statistics. As of December 7, Oettinger has been solid, but not the outstanding goalie we know he can be. The Stars will be fine, and if they get hot at the right time, they’ve got a team that could make a deep run in the postseason.
7 – Detroit Red Wings (14-7-3)
It’s been a bit of a roller coaster start for the Red Wings, but with a record of 6-1-0 in their last seven games, they’re back in our Power Rankings. The addition of Patrick Kane is certainly an exciting one, but even if he can’t get back to what he once was, this Detroit team is legit offensively. They’ve got eight forwards and three defenceman over ten points by December 7 and have scored more goals than any team in the East so far this season. Interestingly enough, Ville Husso has been the worst of their three goalies this season, and if he heats up, this team should find themselves fighting for playoff seeding in a very competitive Atlantic division all season long.
8 -Vancouver Canucks (16-9-1)
Like the Stars, the Canucks have been slowing down a little lately, but I wouldn’t be too worried yet. The only real area of concern is probably the relationship between Andrei Kuzmenko and head coach Rick Tocchet, but for now, it doesn’t outweigh all the positives we’ve seen with this roster. Thatcher Demko has been great in net, and no team has scored more goals than Vancouver. With that combination, the team should still be winning more games than they’re losing in the long run. It’s hard to say how much of a contender they’ll be come playoff time in a tough Pacific division, but even making it to the dance will be a step in the right direction for the Canucks.
9 – Winnipeg Jets (14-8-2)
Winnipeg sits just a point behind Dallas for second in the Central division, and it’s time to start taking them seriously. After surviving an offseason of rumors regarding both Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele, the team signed both players to long contracts and turned a lot of people’s outlooks around. As of December 7, they’re 7-3-0 in their last ten games and Scheifele is leading the team with 27 points in 24 games. With Minnesota getting off to a very slow start, there’s a third spot in the division up for grabs, and right now, Winnipeg looks like they’re going to take it.
10 – Toronto Maple Leafs (12-6-4)
Finally, we’ve got the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs currently hold the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference but have games to make up on every team in front of them. Surprisingly, none of their three superstars have reached 30 points on the season yet, but Marner Matthews and Nylander are all still averaging more than a point per game. One area of concern for this team right now has to be their number of regulation wins, which sits at the very bottom of the league despite their success. Winning more games in overtime and shootouts than regulation can make for a fun watch at this time of the year, but they’ll want to make sure they improve on closing teams out in regulation before long.
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