NHL Power Rankings: Hurricanes stay on top; Islanders, Canucks improving

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In this week’s NHL Power Rankings the Carolina Hurricanes maintain the top spot thanks to a four-game winning streak, the league’s best points percentage, and the league’s best goal differential. They have no real weakness — at least not an obvious one — with a deep, talented group of forwards, a strong defense, and excellent goaltending. They are no strangers to that spot as they have consistently been one of the best teams from the start, as was expected.

Elsewhere, the New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks are trying to shake off miserable starts and play their way back into playoff contention. They both still have a long way to go in their respective races, but they had to start somewhere and have both seen dramatic improvements in the records over the past month. The Islanders are collecting points at the pace they need to play their way back into it, while the Canucks have gained a point in all nine games under Bruce Boudreau.

Too little, too late? Or the start of an improbable turnaround? We take a look at all of that and more in this week’s NHL Power Rankings.

Where does your team sit?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 1). So much talent, so much depth, and the goaltending changes have worked. An outstanding team from top to bottom.

2. Florida Panthers (LW: 4). A lot of teams missed out on Anthony Duclair while they had him on their own roster. The Panthers are benefitting from that.

[Related: Duclair has found a home with Panthers]

3. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 3). When they are healthy they still have the best roster in the league. They are starting to get healthy and have been unstoppable since the middle of November.

4. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 2). Andrei Vasilevskiy should probably win the Hart Trophy every year as long as he keeps playing at the level he has the past few years. When he is not the goalie of record the Lightning is a .500 team since the start of 2019-20. When he is the goalie of record they play at a 125-point pace over 82 games.

5. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 7). They are one of the highest scoring teams in the league despite the fact they have been crushed by injuries for much of the year and have yet to get a minute of playing time from Jack Eichel. Still a dangerous team.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 6). This is still a really good hockey team. They key will still be the goaltending.

[Related: Penguins’ Rodrigues making most of his increased role]

7. Washington Capitals (LW: 5). The good news for them is playoff overtime is not 3-on-3 hockey.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 9). There is a lot to like about this team. The big money players are performing, the depth is solid, and Jack Campbell has been great in net.

9. Nashville Predators (LW: 8). Everything that they needed to happen for them to be good (Juuse Saros performing, big money players rebounding from down years) has happened. Things do not always work out that well for teams.

10. New York Rangers (LW: 11). It was only a matter of time until Mika Zibanejad started to score goals again, and now they have Igor Shesterkin back.

11. St. Louis Blues (LW: 13). A sneaky good offensive team here. They are fifth in the NHL in goals per game and have the third best power play.

12. Boston Bruins (LW: 14). They have started to get a little more offense from some forwards outside of their top line in recent games. Their ability to maintain that will determine what this team is capable of this season.

13. Calgary Flames (LW: 17). Still fascinated to see how the Johnny Gaudreau situation plays out. He is having a monster year offensively.

14. Minnesota Wild (LW: 10). The injuries to Joel Eriksson Ek and Jared Spurgeon are significant. They need them back.

[Related: Evason extension makes sense for Wild but biggest test awaits]

15. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 16). Kyle Connor became a regular in the lineup at the start of the 2017-18 season. Here is the list of players that have scored more goals than him since then: Alex Ovechkin, Auston Matthews, Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, David Pastrnak. That is it. That is the complete list.

16. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 12). Since their eight-game winning streak ended they have won just seven out of the following 18 games, with only five of those wins coming in regulation. Something to be concerned about?

[Related: Ducks making strong push for playoffs]

17. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 18). Completely different looking team under Bruce Boudreau. Still worry that it is too little, too late for this season.

18. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 15). They should not be this bad with two players that great at the top of the lineup. But you already know that by now.

[Related: Stunning numbers with McDavid, Ovechkin, and more]

19. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 21). They are very quietly hanging around in the playoff race.

20. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 20). If you ever think you have a firm grasp on how good or bad they are you are probably wrong.

21. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 19). The good news is they are only one behind Boston for a Wild Card spot. The bad news is Boston has five games in hand and just beat the Red Wings 5-1 on Sunday.

22. New York Islanders (LW: 25). Since the start of December they are 5-2-4, which is a decent start in making up all of that ground in the playoff race. Still a long way to go with a lot of teams still ahead of them.

23. Dallas Stars (LW: 22). We have not seen them play a game in two weeks.

24. San Jose Sharks (LW: 23). This is just a completely average team. Not all that great, not all that bad.

25. New Jersey Devils (LW: 30). Jack Hughes looks great, so that is good news.

26. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 24). They only have one regulation win over the past 12 games (with an overtime and shootout win added in with that).

27. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 27). The biggest failing here on the ice remains the fact the front office really tried to be good this season. This is what they thought a good team would look like.

28. Ottawa Senators (LW: 26). There is some good young individual talent here but the organization as a whole is not making any progress in its rebuild.

29. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 28). Remember that 5-1-1 start? They are 5-17-5 since then.

30. Seattle Kraken (LW: 29). Not sure anybody expected the goaltending to be as bad as it has been.

31. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 31). You know Phil Kessel is going to be traded. Shayne Gostisbehere probably could be traded. Would they really go full scale rebuild and part ways with Clayton Keller and Jakob Chychrun?

32. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 32). Right now they just simply do not have any players.

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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.