NHL Power Rankings: Lightning, Stars trending in opposite directions

In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings the two Stanley Cup Final teams from last season find themselves trending in two very different directions in recent weeks.

While the defending champion Lightning climb to the top of the NHL Power Rankings with the best record in the league entering Monday, the Stars have cooled off considerably from their fast start by losing seven of their past eight games. That has resulted in a slide down the rankings for the second in a row.

Elsewhere, the Golden Knights make a jump behind the play of Marc-Andre Fleury, while the Maple Leafs start to take control of the North Division.

We take a look at all of that and more in this week’s rankings.

Where does your team sit?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Tampa Bay Lightning. The defending champions have the league’s best record (by points percentage) going into Monday even though they have not had Nikita Kucherov all season. No weakness here.

2. Boston Bruins. Right there with Tampa even though the the Bruins have spent most of the season on the road and played half of their games without David Pastrnak. The defense has been a pleasant surprise.

3. Vegas Golden Knights. The Vegas net seems to belong to Marc-Andre Fleury again.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs. They look like the best team in the North. If they do not make an extended playoff run this season you really have to start to wonder if it will ever happen for this group.

5. Carolina Hurricanes. They are 9-3-0 — which is great! — even though it seems like some of their best players have not yet started to play their best. They are getting next to nothing offensively from Teuvo Teravainen and Jaccob Slavin. That will not continue.

6. Colorado Avalanche. Injuries and going nearly two weeks without playing a game are the biggest thing holding them back right now. But they will be there when it counts.

7. Florida Panthers. You have to be happy with where they are right now, but that 5-1 record for Sergei Bobrovsky to go with his .884 save percentage make it seem like they are dancing through some rain drops here.

8. Philadelphia Flyers. We haven’t seen them for a while, but maybe that has helped them? While some other top teams have slumped, the Flyers record remains strong and they were winning a lot before their season had to be delayed a bit.

[2020-21 NHL on NBC TV SCHEDULE]

9. St. Louis Blues. They have to be tired of seeing the Coyotes. Monday’s game will be their seventh in a row against them. The Blues have been solid overall, but there is another level here for them to reach.

10. Montreal Canadiens. They have hit a little bit of a wall recently after their fast start. Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli are still making huge impacts and making Marc Bergevin look like the big winner of the offseason.

11. Edmonton Oilers. Do not look now but they enter this week having won six out of seven games. They are beating who they should beat. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will still need some help offensively for all of this winning to continue.

12. New York Islanders. Mathew Barzal is starting to get on a roll and is carrying an eight-game point streak into the week. He looks unstoppable right now.

13. Winnipeg Jets. Pierre-Luc Dubois never missed a game for Columbus, shows up in Winnipeg, plays two games, and then gets sidelined due to an injury.

14. Pittsburgh Penguins. They went 12 games without having a two-goal lead until they finally managed to build one on Sunday. That is staggering. They have still barely held a lead of any kind all season.

[Related: Ron Hextall could bring shift in how Penguins are built]

15. Washington Capitals. Goal prevention is a big problem this season, and even though they have played just one game in seven days they are still on a four-game losing streak.

16. Columbus Blue Jackets. Patrik Laine has been non-stop excitement since arriving in Columbus. A bunch of goals, a benching, and his first ever NHL fight.

17. Dallas Stars. Since starting the season with a four-game winning streak the Stars are 1-3-4 in the eight games that have followed.

18. Chicago Blackhawks. Patrick Kane can still produce offense, Alex DeBrincat is scoring goals again, and Kevin Lankinen is a pleasant surprise in goal right now.

19. Calgary Flames. Still trying to find consistency as a team, but on the plus side Jacob Markstrom has been great this season.

20. Arizona Coyotes. Conor Garland has turned out to be an amazing find for them.

21. Minnesota Wild. It has been two weeks since we have seen them play. What can you say about them at this point?

22. New Jersey Devils. Same story as the Wild. Nothing new to say about them right now.

23. Buffalo Sabres. They finally return to game after this week for the first time since the end of January.

24. Anaheim Ducks. John Gibson has a .924 save percentage in 12 starts and only has five wins to show for it. That is the sign of a bad team with a great goalie.

25. New York Rangers. The lack of offense has been the biggest disappointment this season. That was supposed to be a strength.

26. Los Angeles Kings. Jonathan Quick looks like he could be in for another tough season.

27. San Jose Sharks. An aging team with shaky goaltending and a lot a of bad contracts. Not a great combination for the long-term outlook.

28. Vancouver Canucks. Coach Travis Green and GM Jim Benning get the public vote of confidence from the owner. Now we see how much that is worth.

[Related: Canucks owner gives coach, GM vote of confidence]

29. Nashville Predators. They struggled in back-to-back games against Detroit. Those are the games you have to win to gain ground. The fact Nashville only split them (and did not look great in the process of that split) is a concern.

30. Detroit Red Wings. They play hard. They are just lacking the talent throughout the lineup.

31. Ottawa Senators. They really need to figure out a way to get Matt Murray back to the level of play he showed early in his career. A lot of their rebuild will depend on that.

NBC Sports presents the NHL Outdoor Games at Lake Tahoe this weekend on NBC, beginning with Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche facing Mark Stone and the Vegas Golden Knights Saturday at 3 p.m. ET, and Kevin Hayes and the Philadelphia Flyers against David Pastrnak and the Boston Bruins in a clash between East Division leaders Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. Both games will take place on the 18th fairway of the Edgewood Tahoe Resort Golf Course.

NBC Sports will premiere Doc Emrick – The Voice of Hockey, Presented by Discover – detailing the illustrious career of U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member and eight-time Sports Emmy Award winner Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick – on Sunday, February 21 at 5 p.m. ET on NBC.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

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    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.

    Toronto’s Morgan Rielly placed on long-term injured reserve

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    TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury.

    Rielly was hurt in a collision with with New York forward Kyle Palmieri early in the third period of Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders at home.

    Rielly has no goals and 16 assists in 20 games this season and is averaging 23 minutes of ice time.

    Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice that the 28-year-old Rielly doesn’t need surgery, adding there’s no firm timeline for his return beyond the minimum 24 days and 10 games required for going on long-term injured reserve.

    Toronto’s defense is also missing Jake Muzzin with a neck injury and T.J. Brodie with an injured oblique.