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NHL Power Rankings: Capitals and Flames Climb, Oilers Fall

Well, that was quite a week of hockey.

We saw some big-time changes in this week's power rankings. No. 1 won't surprise you, but there was quite a dramatic shift in the top 10. Here is where every team stands as we head into the new year.

31. Los Angeles Kings (15-21-3)

Their four-game winning streak ended on Saturday. The Kings are still the worst team in the NHL, and unless they leapfrog somebody else in the standings, they'll retain the last spot here.

30. Ottawa Senators (15-20-4)

This is the Senators team we all expected to see at the start of the season. Four straight losses. No defence. Awful goaltending. No system in place. Awful ownership. Bad attendance. Yup, it's going to be a long second half for a team that's now lost four straight.

29. St. Louis Blues (15-17-4)

The Blues have played a bit better in recent weeks, but that 6-1 home loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday was downright atrocious. And just like that, they remind the world that this is going to be a very rough season. No second half surge.

28. Philadelphia Flyers (15-17-5)

The Flyers better hire Joel Quenneville if they want to save their season. What other solutions are there? They have too much talent to be this mediocre. It's about finding a bench boss that can get the most out of his team.

27. Chicago Blackhawks (15-20-6)

They're not going to make a run at the playoffs, but the Blackhawks have turned a bit of a corner, going 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. It's enough to at least keep them out of the Western Conference basement.

26.New Jersey Devils (14-16-7)

Two straight wins for the Devils, highlighted by an impressive road blowout victory over the Boston Bruins on Saturday. The Metropolitan Division is weak, so a win streak would put New Jersey right back in the playoff race.

25. Carolina Hurricanes (15-17-5)

Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It gets just worse and worse for the Hurricanes. They were embarrassed by New Jersey on Saturday and continue to sink more in the standings. Those drastic offseason changes have yielded no results at all.

24. Edmonon Oilers (18-17-13)

Nevermind. After a strong start under Ken Hitchcock, Edmonton has now lost five in a row. Looks like they're about to waste another prime year of Connor McDavid. What a shame.

23. Arizona Coyotes (17-19-2)

That was some big comeback effort in Anaheim on Saturday night. But boy, do the Coyotes ever need some scoring. Clayton Keller leads the team by a wide margin, and he only has 26 points in 37 games.

22. Florida Panthers (16-15-6)

Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau are having monster seasons, but the Panthers just can't find any consistency. Might this be a repeat of last year, where a second half surge comes too little, too late? They have to start stringing together some winning streaks soon.

21. Detroit Red Wings (15-19-6)

Four straight losses for the Red Wings, and now they're falling completely out of the playoff race. Their schedule is brutally tough to open up January, so a prolonged slump would destroy any final playoff hopes they might have.

20. Minnesota Wild (18-16-3)

The Wild snapped a five-game losing streak with a strong road win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. They're still in the playoff race, but it's going to be hard without top blueliner Matt Dumba likely done for the season.

19. New York Rangers (16-14-7)

The Rangers have played much better than most of us expected in what was to be a massive rebuilding year. Nobody is exactly lighting up the scoreboard, but they keep finding ways to win. Credit to rookie head coach David Quinn for getting the most out of this team.

18. Anaheim Ducks (19-15-16)

As expected, the Ducks have been cooling off significantly with five straight losses, all but erasing that impressive 9-0-1 run. They oughta get back on track in order to keep pace with the top teams in the Pacific.

17. Vancouver Canucks (19-18-4)

Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat have morphed into the new dominant "big three" of the NHL. The Canucks have gone 7-2-1 in their last 10 and sit just one point out of the final playoff spot in the West. If the young guns are going to keep scoring, who's to say they can't make a surprise run to the postseason?

16. Montreal Canadiens (20-14-15)

They can't play defence, only three guys are scoring and Carey Price is on the injured reserve. It really feels like a matter of time until the Habs fall apart and miss the postseason.

15. Dallas Stars (20-16-13)

Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

So will ownership be a little nicer to their star players now? There's no reason to publicly name-call your two players who have kept you in the playoff race. Sounds like the higher-ups in Dallas won't be happy unless this team wins a Stanley Cup. Good luck with that.

14. New York Islanders (20-13-4)

That was quite the blowout road win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. But again, can the Islanders gain any consistency? They're a playoff bubble team at best if the offense is going to do all the work again.

13. Colorado Avalanche (19-13-7)

That's four straight losses for the Avs now, but they're still among the top teams in the West. Only Nikita Kucherov of Tampa Bay has more points than Mikko Rantanen (60), and Nathan MacKinnon (57).

12. Nashville Predators (22-15-2)

My goodness. Six straight losses. Completely inexcusable for a team that was comfortably atop the Western Conference just last month. Injuries are no excuse here. The Predators have to be better.

RELATED: NHL TEAMS THAT ARE STANLEY CUP CONTENDERS HEADING INTO 2019

11. Buffalo Sabres (21-12-6)

The Sabres have been awful against top Atlantic rivals in the Bruins, Lightning and Maple Leafs. Even though their record is excellent, you can't really consider them a true title contender until they show their ability to beat the top squads.

10. Boston Bruins (21-14-4)

Because the Atlantic is loaded, the Bruins have been overlooked this season. They keep grinding out wins despite little production outside of the top line. Kudos to head coach Bruce Cassidy. This is a well-structured team that just keeps on winning.

9. Pittsburgh Penguins (20-12-6)

Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when people were worried about this team? Me neither. Five straight W's for the Penguins, who went from out of the playoff picture to suddenly challenging for the Metropolitan Division.

8. Columbus Blue Jackets (22-13-3)

Artemi Panarin is setting himself up nicely for big payday in free agency, with 41 points in 36 games. Cam Atkinson has been no slouch, with 23 goals and 39 points this season. Who'da thought a John Tortorella-coached team would survive solely from its scoring?

7. Vegas Golden Knights (22-15-4)

So much for regression. The Golden Knights are 6-3-1 over their last 10 games, as William Karlsson and Jon Marchessault continue to produce like the stars that got them to the Finals last year. Now, if they could just catch the red hot Calgary Flames for the Pacific Division...

6. San Jose Sharks (21-12-7)

Erik Karlsson is producing like a Norris Trophy winner again, and the Sharks are surging once again. They've won seven of their last 10, highlighted by a 7-4 pummeling of the Oilers on Saturday. Finally, this team looks like a Cup contender again.

5. Winnipeg Jets (24-12-2)

That was a very awful effort against Minnesota on Saturday, but the Jets are still atop the Central Division. Could you imagine how much greater they'd be if goalie Connor Hellebuyck wasn't struggling with consistency?

4. Calgary Flames (23-12-4)

They're tied with Winnipeg for most points in the Pacific Division, and it's thanks to the emergence of goalie David Rittich. Elias Lindholm, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan might be the best line in hockey.

3. Toronto Maple Leafs (26-11-2)

Sure, they have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. But man, this team needs like three reliable top-four blueliners. On a more positive side, John Tavares is having a career year.

2. Washington Capitals (24-10-3)

Four straight wins for the Capitals, who have only lost once in their last 10 games. They're probably the only legitimate threat to the top team in the Eastern Conference. That team is also number one on our power rankings. See below.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning (30-7-2)

Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Lightning take the top spot again. In other news, grass is green, water is wet and the sky is blue. Not sure they're going to be moved out of this spot again this season.

NEXT: BIGGEST RUMORS IN THE NHL THIS WEEK - DECEMBER 29, 2018

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