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NHL Power Rankings This Week - Avalanche Continue To Surprise

Through the first week of December, we saw some struggling NHL teams regain much-needed momentum. On the flip side, a number of clubs have struggled following some big-time winning streaks.

There's a new No. 1 this week, and we saw some changes in the top 10. Enjoy this week's power rankings as we prepare for the second week of December.

31. Los Angeles Kings (11-18-1)

They move back down to the 31st spot. A coaching change hasn't been done wonders, which clearly underlines that the roster just isn't good enough. Might GM Rob Blake start making some changes before the season ends?

30. Chicago Blackhawks (9-16-5)

The Blackhawks have now lost six straight games and are experiencing their worst season in the Jonathan Toews era. And the front office thought that legendary head coach Joel Quenneville as the problem?

29. St. Louis Blues (10-13-4)

Well, it's time for some changes folks. The Blues can't score nor defend to save themselves. Expect a fire sale to take place soon. On the bright side, they'll be prime contenders for the Jack Hughes sweepstakes.

28. Vancouver Canucks (12-16-3)

After a promising start, the Canucks have lost 12 of their last 14 and look destined for another top draft choice. At least Elias Pettersson (25 points), and Bo Horvat (27 points), give this team a bright-looking future.

27. Philadelphia Flyers (12-12-3)

Okay, so Chuck Fletcher is the new general manager. When do they make a necessary coaching change? And when will Fletcher find a new goalie? Unless he addresses these problems, Philly will remain mired in mediocrity.

26. New Jersey Devils (10-12-5)

Two more games on the dreaded California road trip, before contests against the surging Vegas Golden Knights, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. Another lengthy losing streak could sink their season.

25. Ottawa Senators (13-14-3)

Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Well, at least they're entertaining and scoring in bunches. But even Matt Duchene, Mark Stone and Thomas Chabot aren't enough to mask this team's defensive and goaltending woes.

24. Florida Panthers (11-11-6)

Five different Panthers have at least 25 points, led by Jonathan Huberdeau's 34. You feel like Florida is bound to turn it around and get hot soon, similar to what happened last season.

23. Arizona Coyotes (13-13-2)

Well, they're not among the NHL's very worst teams for once. They give up on top prospect Dylan Strome and youngster Brendan Perlini, trading both to Chicago. We'll see if that changes their fortunes.

22. Carolina Hurricanes (13-11-4)

With the exception of Sebastian Aho (27 points), there aren't a lot of players producing on Carolina right now. Newcomer Dougie Hamilton has just 10 points this season.

21. New York Rangers (14-12-3)

The Rangers aren't scoring much, but rookie head coach David Quinn has implemented an excellent and effective defensive system for the rebuilding Blueshirts. They're surprisingly in the playoff race, too.

20. New York Islanders (14-11-3)

Josh Bailey leads the team in scoring with 23. Not much star power here, but head coach Barry Trotz is squeezing out everything he can with a mediocre roster. It has them in the playoff hunt right now.

19. Montreal Canadiens (14-10-5)

They'll happily take a home-and-home sweep of the Ottawa Senators. But it's hard to tell if the Habs are to be taken seriously as a contender or not. Take the latter if Carey Price doesn't find his Vezina-like form soon.

18. Pittsburgh Penguins (12-10-6)

The Penguins have been mired in mediocrity all year long. They've won their last two games, but can Sidney Crosby and the offense make up for lackluster goaltending and no secondary scoring? He's facing his biggest challenge in years.

17. San Jose Sharks (15-11-5)

The Sharks have lost five of their last eight games. But still, this is not a great team. Erik Karlsson was supposed to have them emerge as a Cup contender, but they're a fairly average team instead.

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16. Detroit Red Wings (13-13-4)

Dylan Larkin is growing into a franchise superstar, and the Red Wings have jumped back into the playoff race after a miserable October.

15. Boston Bruins (15-10-4)

The Bruins had lost three in a row and before a big home win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. David Pastrnak is having an excellent season, but the rest of the Bruins must step up if this team is to catch up in a loaded Atlantic Division.

14. Minnesota Wild (15-12-2)

The Wild have been sliding a bit, with losses in seven of their last 10. But with a four-game home stretch coming up, Minnesota should be able to get back on track soon. Don't read too much into their minor slump. They'll be fine.

13. Edmonton Oilers (15-12-2)

Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers are now 6-2-1 under new head coach Ken Hitchcock. Connor McDavid is playing even better at both ends of the ice, and Edmonton is finally playing responsible defensively. No reason to believe they can't keep this recent surge going.

12. Columbus Blue Jackets (16-11-2)

They're not exactly the most exciting team to watch right now, but John Tortorella's system has the Jackets squeezing out tough wins. It bodes well for Columbus that Pittsburgh and both New York teams are struggling right now.

11. Vegas Golden Knights (16-14-1)

It's as if the Golden Knights got through the Stanley Cup hangover. For now, at least. The Golden Knights have won seven of their last eight nine games. Max Pacioretty has erased a terrible start and is up to 10 goals and 17 points on the season.

10. Dallas Stars (16-10-3)

Three straight wins for the Stars, who aren't so reliant on their top line this season. They're a sleeper team, and head coach Jim Montgomery deserves early consideration for the Jack Adams Award.

9. Buffalo Sabres (17-9-4)

Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Their 10-game winning streak ended last week, and now the Sabres have lost fie in a row. They'll be fine, but other teams got hotter while Buffalo got colder. That's why they drop big time here.

8. Anaheim Ducks (15-11-5)

Their five-game winning streak ended at the hands of Carolina on Friday. Can we take this ageing and flawed team seriously? The next couple of weeks will give us an indicator if they're legitimate again.

7. Washington Capitals (17-9-3)

Their seven-game winning streak ended last Sunday, but the Capitals are still the top team in the Metropolitan Division right now. The Caps look just as dangerous as the club that won it all last season.

6. Calgary Flames (19-9-2)

Goalie Mike Smith has won his last five starts after a brutal start to the season. Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan all have over 30 points. This is a legitimate championship contender, folks.

5. Winnipeg Jets (17-9-2)

The Jets have slowly regained their elite form after a slow start to the season. Patrik Laine is in contention to win the 'Rocket' Richard Trophy. Blake Wheeler is having another excellent season with 36 points in 27 games.

4. Colorado Avalanche (17-8-5)

The Avalanche just keep on surging to the top of the league standings. It's pretty good when two Avs (Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon), are the league's top two scorers so far, right?

3. Nashville Predators (19-10-1)

The Preds have been sliding just a tad, which takes them out of the first and second spots this week. They'll finish up a road trip in Calgary on Saturday before returning to the Music City for a three-game homestand.

2. Toronto Maple Leafs (20-9-1)

The Leafs have won five of their last six games now. They picked up road wins in Minnesota and Buffalo on Saturday and Tuesday, respectively. The scary part? They'll only get better with William Nylander finally back.

1.Tampa Bay Lightning (23-7-1)

Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Lightning have won five straight games now, and they snapped the Buffalo Sabres' 10-game win streak last Thursday. There's little doubting who the top team is in the Eastern Conference. Consider them the team to beat until further notice.

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