The Anaheim Ducks are on pace to become just the eighth team in NHL history to earn 120 points in a season. They’ll want to avoid the fate of the last two teams to do it, however, since the 2009-10 Washington Capitals and ’05-06 Detroit Red Wings were ousted in the first round.
Only two teams in the past 10 seasons have finished with 120 points or more, but the Anaheim Ducks are on pace to join the 2009-10 Washington Capitals and the ’05-06 Detroit Red Wings.
Now the bad news. Both those teams lost in the first round of the playoffs. There might be some concern the Ducks are peaking too early, but it’s tough to lose when the only playoff team you face during a seven-game winning streak is the Winnipeg Jets. Their torrid pace has put the Ducks at the top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)
1. ANAHEIM (2): The Ducks have won seven in a row…again. This is the fifth time they’ve done that since the start of last season. Coming up: Five-game road trip continues with games in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
2. TORONTO (11): Since losing 9-2 to Nashville on home ice in mid-November, the Leafs have reeled off a 9-1-1 mark and have won five straight: Coming up: Two of the league’s hottest teams face off when the Leafs host Anaheim Tuesday. Then they’re on the road for 13 of their next 16 games.
3. ST. LOUIS (8): Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is tied for the league lead in power-play points with 16 and is the only defenseman in the top 10 in that category. Coming up: A home-and-home against the struggling Kings, then two more on the road.
4. CHICAGO (1): The Blackhawks have three NHL-caliber goalies in Corey Crawford, Antti Raanta and Scott Darling and only one net. That’s a good problem to have. Coming up: Three of the next four at home, where the Hawks are 10-3-1.
5. SAN JOSE (12): The Sharks are 7-1-0 in their past eight, which coincides with their hilarious Holiday Sweater video coming out. Coincidence? We think not. Coming up: At home to Edmonton and St. Louis, then two on the road against the California rivals.
6. PITTSBURGH (4): Sidney Crosby won’t play tonight against Tampa Bay, but at least he won’t be able to infect anyone else anymore. Coming up: Home games against Tampa, Colorado and Florida.
7. NASHVILLE (9): Pekka Rinne leads the league in wins (19), save percentage (.937) and goals-against average (1.75) and is the early favorite for the Vezina. Coming up: Home to Boston Tuesday, then three straight on the road.
8. TAMPA BAY (6): The Lightning is in the midst of a mini-slide with just one win in its past four and two in its past six. That has put it back into the pack. Coming up: The second of a five-game road trip goes tonight in Pittsburgh.
9. MONTREAL (15): With the injury to Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk has been moved to center on the top line with Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher. Coming up: Three at home, where the Canadiens are 11-3-1.
10. N.Y. ISLANDERS (5): The Islanders put the brakes on a very, very ugly three-game losing streak (17 goals against) with an impressive 3-2 win over Chicago Saturday. Coming up: Three of the next four before Christmas at home.
11. DETROIT (3): Just when it looked as though the injury-plagued Stephen Weiss was turning the corner, he injured his shoulder last Friday. Coming up: No shootouts, they hope. The Red Wings are 1-5 in the skills contest, one of the worst teams in the NHL.
12. COLUMBUS (22): After a horrendous stretch of losing 15 of 17, the Blue Jackets have not lost in December and sit just six points out of a playoff spot. Coming up: In Detroit tonight, then home for their next five straight.
13. N.Y. RANGERS (21): Derick Brassard became the 14th player to be diagnosed during the Great Mumps Epidemic of 2014. Rick Nash is on a 10-game point streak. Coming up: Winnable road games in Calgary and Carolina to finish the trip.
14. WINNIPEG (14): The Jets are eighth in the league in the penalty kill this season. It must be because they get so much practice. They lead the league in times shorthanded at 121. Coming up: Home games against non-playoff teams Boston (!?), Buffalo and Philadelphia.
15. LOS ANGELES (13): Anze Kopitar looks hurt and Jeff Carter has one goal in his past 12 games. And the Kings have lost four of their past five. Coming up: Five-game road trip ends Tuesday in St. Louis, then it’s home for four straight.
16. MINNESOTA (20): The Wild has been on a win-one, lose-one pattern since mid-November, a span of the past 11 games. The bad news is it won its last game. Coming up: In Chicago Tuesday night, then home for four straight.
17. WASHINGTON (16): With points in each of his team’s five past games, Capitals coach Barry Trotz hopes his team has finally turned the corner. Coming up: Three straight on the road against Florida, Columbus and New Jersey.
18. VANCOUVER (7): A four-game losing streak moved the Canucks from tied for first in the Western Conference to nine points back. Coming up: The next three at home against Dallas, Calgary and Arizona.
19. PHILADELPHIA (26): With three goals and eight points in his past six games, Sean Couturier is hot. With points in each of their past five, so are the Flyers. Coming up: Home to Tampa Bay and Florida, followed by an eight-game road trip.
20. FLORIDA (18): The Panthers are leaving a good number of points on the table this season, going just 3-8 in games that have gone to overtime or a shootout. Coming up: Home to Washington Tuesday, then on the road for their next two.
21. BOSTON (17): The trade rumors are flying, but that’s about the only thing that is in Boston these days. The Bruins have just one win in December, and that was against Arizona. Coming up: Road games in Minnesota, Nashville and Winnipeg.
22. CALGARY (10): The plucky Flames were the league’s biggest surprise in the first quarter, but with five straight losses, is this the beginning of the end? Coming up: Home to the Rangers and Dallas, then two on the road.
23. OTTAWA (19): Dave Cameron made his first difficult decision as coach of the Senators when he made veteran defenseman Chris Phillips a healthy scratch Saturday. Coming up: Three of four on the road going into the Christmas break.
24. BUFFALO (29): With each passing game, the Sabres look like they’ll get neither Connor McDavid nor Jack Eichel. But they have Tyler Ennis, who was the NHL’s first star of the week. Coming up: Light week with only two games, one at home and one on the road.
25. DALLAS (22): Tyler Seguin leads the league in goals and has 15 more than the next highest-scoring teammate, Jamie Benn. Coming up: Road swing through western Canada that begins Wednesday night in Vancouver.
26. COLORADO (25): With just one win in December, the Avs are on pace for 74 points, which is 38 fewer than last season. Coming up: On the road in Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Detroit.
27. ARIZONA (30): The Coyotes were expecting much more from Sam Gagner than the three goals and 10 points he’s scored this season. That’s why he was a healthy scratch on the weekend. Coming up: At home to Edmonton Tuesday, then three on the road.
28. NEW JERSEY (24): Travis Zajac will make his return from the mumps tonight, but Michael Cammalleri is out against the Islanders with an undisclosed injury. Coming up: Tonight in Long Island, then four straight at home before Christmas.
29. CAROLINA (28): The Hurricanes were at least keeping things close, that is until they were clobbered 5-1 by Philadelphia on Saturday. Coming up: In Montreal, home to Toronto, then home-and-home against the Rangers.
30. EDMONTON (27): Firing the coach has worked so brilliantly for the Oilers in the past, so they went to that unique option again. Coming up: Two on the road and two at home before Christmas.