1. Anaheim Ducks (27-7-5, Last week: 2)
Last week's rankings
Last week's rankings
Nine straight wins for the Ducks puts them at the top, and although their possession game is pretty good, it's only pretty good. This hot streak is mostly a PDO run, and it'll come crashing down eventually. The Ducks are a legitimately good team, but probably not a great one.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (26-7-6, Last week: 1)
A light week for the Blackhawks featured a narrow shootout loss to Vancouver and a big win over New Jersey before the holidays began. Nothing to get too excited about, but also nothing to knock the champs down too far.
Featured article: Just in time for Christmas, an ugly sweater party.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (27-11-1, Last week: 4)
How can anyone not be impressed with Pittsburgh? Through all these injuries they've managed to stay not only competitive, but going 8-2-0 in their last 10. A large part of that is some obscenely good luck, and it came crashing to a halt with a 5-0 loss against Ottawa, but that was some impressive hockey.
Featured article: Taking a moment to look back at a great Mario Lemieux moment.
4. St. Louis Blues (24-7-5, Last week: 7)
When the goaltenders don't take the carpet out from under their feet, the Blues are extremely dangerous. Heck, even with how bad Jaroslav Halak has been, the Blues are near the top of the league, and they allow so few shots that it almost doesn't matter.
Featured article: Where do the Blues shoot and score from?
5. Los Angeles Kings (25-9-4, Last week: 3)
How scary good is the top group of teams in the NHL when the Kings are down at fifth? All these teams look like major cup contenders, and every week it's just a shuffling of the deck at the top. With the goaltending L.A. has received from Martin Jones and Ben Scrivens, you have to wonder if they go back to Jonathan Quick right away when he's healthy.
Featured article: What do the Kings want for Christmas?
6. Vancouver Canucks (20-10-6, Last week: 6)
Constantly on the rise it seems, the Canucks are now 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, with huge wins over their most bitter rivals in back-to-back weeks in Boston and Chicago. That's a confidence builder if ever there was one. A lone loss against Dallas isn't enough to deter their progress.
Featured article: As it turns out, Tortorella and the Sedin twins get along just fine.
7. Boston Bruins (25-10-2, Last week: 8)
The Bruins are the poster boys for how strong the top 8 teams in the league are, going 7-3-0 in their last 10 and still ranked way down in 7th. The incredible thing about Boston is that after getting some great luck earlier in the season, that's all but evaporated, and they're still winning.
Featured article: Check out how the Bruins' prospects are doing.
8. San Jose Sharks (23-8-6, Last week: 5)
San Jose's hot start seems to be so long ago, and although they're still playing incredibly well, they're not consistently blowing teams up anymore. It's not like they're not still dominating possession, in fact over their losing streak they were clocking in an around 57% Fenwick close, but their PDO has crashed completely, down to 95.6% in their last 10. That will regress and the Sharks will be dominant again.
Featured article: Logan Couture is snakebitten.
9. Tampa Bay Lightning (23-11-3, Last week: 12)
Three straight wins and and a 7-1-2 record has seen Tampa go from a Stamkos-less afterthought to a borderline contender. They've outplayed their opponents with the score close in nine straight games, and are clocking in at 58.3% Fenwick close in their last ten. Who needs Steven Stamkos anyway?
Featured article: Who are the Olympic hopefuls for the Lightning?
10. Montreal Canadiens (22-13-3, Last week: 9)
The Canadiens are falling down the rankings, more slowly than they should be simply because the middle group of the league is so... middling. The Canadiens can't seem to figure out how to be the great team that they were last year, but somehow they continue to squeak out wins.
Featured article: T'was the night before Christmas.
11. Colorado Avalanche (23-10-3, Last week: 11)
The Avalanche aren't winning at the same rate as they were earlier in the season, but they're finding ways to get points even when they aren't playing well. Going 4-3-3 isn't lighting the world on fire, but it's keeping them in the playoffs race out west.
Featured article: The anatomy of a goal, featuring wunderkind Nathan MacKinnon.
12. Dallas Stars (18-12-6, Last week: 14)
The Stars keep getting better, and a 2-0-1 week has inched them closer and closer to a playoff spot in the tough West. Going into the holidays with a statement win over an elite team like the Kings shows that Dallas is for real.
Featured article: Nichushkin is making a case for the Calder Trophy.
13. New York Rangers (18-18-2, Last week: 23)
The Rangers haven't exactly been inspiring, but it seems like everyone below a certain ranking is losing all or most of their games. So the Rangers winning their way back to .500 vaults them ten spots up the rankings.
Featured article: Rangers prospects to watch at the World Juniors.
14. Washington Capitals (19-14-4, Last week: 13)
A ridiculously effective powerplay has kept Washington in the race while they've slipped to fourth last in the league in Fenwick while the score is close. That's a really bad sign going forward, even though the weakness of the Metropolitan division will probably still see them nab a playoff spot, even if they face extreme regression.
15. Minnesota Wild (20-14-5, Last week: 10)
The Wild are in the same position as Montreal, only they're losing more often, so they're dropping faster. Three straight losses, losses in five of their last seven, with the only wins coming in the shootout, is an ugly record for a team that started out so, so well.
Featured article: What's wrong with Nicklas Backstrom?
16. Ottawa Senators (15-17-7, Last week: 17)
A 1-1-1 record last week isn't all that impressive, but Ottawa ended Pittsburgh's fantastic run with a blowout, and they've been above 52% Fenwick while the score is close for the previous 15 games. Eventually that means they're going to start winning more often.
Featured article: The Ottawa Senators players are a bunch of jokes.
17. Detroit Red Wings (15-12-9, Last week: 21)
Detroit is starting to win again, but it hasn't come easy. They needed extra time to defeat two weak teams in Toronto and Calgary, then got shut out by a third weakling in Long Island at home. The break couldn't have come at a better time for the Wings, who desperately need Henrik Zetterberg back in the lineup.
Featured article: All the news you need for the upcoming Winter Classic.
18. Philadelphia Flyers (17-16-4, Last week: 20)
The Flyers are still very much an up and down team, and look fragile more often than not, but three wins in their last four is very good, especially with two of those wins coming in divisional matchups. Shockingly, the Flyers are in a playoff spot right now.
Featured article: The Flyers may be part of the next Winter Classic.
19. Phoenix Coyotes (19-10-7, Last week: 16)
Losses against struggling teams like Montreal, Toronto, and Buffalo are ugly, ugly signs for a Phoenix team that has been overachieving for most of the year. An overtime win against Ottawa saved a little face, however following it up with that loss to Buffalo, as fluky as the game winner was, looks awful.
Featured article: What's on the Coyotes' wishlist?
20. Florida Panthers (14-19-5, Last week: 18)
After a stretch of dominant play, the Panthers have been outplayed while the score is close for four straight games, and against a few weak teams to boot. Consequently, they're back to losing two of three.
Featured article: The Cats are on a big homestand, and they need to make the most of it.
21. New Jersey Devils (14-15-7, Last week: 22)
Not a great week from New Jersey, but taking Anaheim and Washington to overtime and winning one was okay progress, and a loss to Chicago is something that seemingly every team just has to deal with and move on.
Featured article: Jagr has been amazing in Jersey, looking at his best assists so far.
22. Columbus Blue Jackets (14-16-4, Last week: 24)
Two wins in three games against divisional opponents moves Columbus up to 24th in the league, and two points out of a playoff spot in the godawful Metropolitan division. Can we relegate that division yet?
Featured article: Shooting percentage doesn't predict future success.
23. Nashville Predators (16-17-4, Last week: 19)
Nashville did their best to force a point in their second last game before the holidays with a comeback from down 3-0 against Montreal before losing in overtime, but the hockey gods are often unjust, and the Preds went winless on the week.
Featured article: Filip Forsberg will lead Sweden at the World Juniors.
24. Carolina Hurricanes (14-15-8, Last week: 15)
Carolina had an identical week to Nashville, only their two regulation losses were against teams in their own division, taking them out of a playoff spot and causing them to be leap frogged by Philly, New York, New Jersey, and Columbus.
Featured article: A trip around the Metropolitan division.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs (17-16-3, Last week: 26)
Toronto is still playing awful, but they're finding ways to take every game to a shootout, which is getting them a few points while still getting outshot and outplayed in nearly every imaginable situation.
Featured article: Why exactly isn't David Clarkson scoring?
26. Winnipeg Jets (16-18-5, Last week: 25)
Winnipeg remains in free fall, losing to basement dwellers like Buffalo and Edmonton last week in games that were winnable going into the third period, only to see complete collapses in both. Something's gotta give.
Featured article: The twelve days of Christmas and Jets presents.
27. Buffalo Sabres (10-24-3, Last week: 29)
The Buffalo Sabres have won three of four, the Sabres! The only loss they've suffered in their last four was against the Bruins, who happen to be the class of their division. Ted Nolan is getting things accomplished over there, even if there's almost no real point this season.
Featured article: What could the Sabres get for Christmas that would help them?
28. New York Islanders (11-20-7, Last week: 28)
A big win over their chief rival in the Rangers and a 3-0 shutout win over the Red Wings capped off a very strong week for the struggling Islanders.
Featured article: Which Islanders are making the most of the neutral zone?
29. Calgary Flames (14-17-6, Last week: 27)
A 1-1-1 week is an above average one for Calgary, especially considering the teams they faced were Detroit, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis, but the teams below them won more often, so they get bumped down anyway. Sorry, Flames.
Featured article: Flames prospects to watch at the World Juniors.
30. Edmonton Oilers (12-24-3, Last week: 30)
A blowout win over Winnipeg isn't enough to hide the fact that the Oilers have been absolutely horrid in December. They had a nice little run at the beginning of the month, but are now back to what everyone expects every year.