Skip to main content

Power Rankings: Capitals pile up the wins in a variety of ways

The Washington Capitals head into the Christmas break in a heated battle with the Dallas Stars for first place overall in the NHL. With six straight wins and an 8-1-1 mark in their past 10, they're also the hottest team in the NHL.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The Washington Capitals can win it any way you’d like. Get down a couple of goals? Not a problem, they’ll just pour it on and come back. Need to get down and gritty? They’ve got that covered too, winning their sixth straight game on the weekend with two goals from their bottom-six forwards and using their backup goalie Philipp Grubauer.

That’s why the Capitals have become a fixture at or near the top of’s Power Rankings this season. The Capitals have teased us before with great regular seasons, but this one just seems to have a different feel to it. These guys look like they’re for real.

And they go into the Christmas break as the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference standings and in our Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.)


1. Washington Capitals (1)

2. Dallas Stars (2)

3. Florida Panthers (15)

4. St. Louis Blues (14)

5. Chicago Blackhawks (19)

6. Nashville Predators (20)

7. New York Islanders (8)

8. Minnesota Wild (4)

9. Detroit Red Wings (9)

10. Los Angeles Kings (5)

The Capitals are 17-0-1 when they score the first goal of the game…With back-to-back statement wins over Minnesota and Chicago, the Stars are now 5-2-0 against teams in the Central Division…With five wins in a row and victories in 11 of their past 14, the Panthers are just one point out of first place in the Atlantic Division…Vladimir Tarasenko for the Rocket Richard Trophy? Could happen, since he goes into the Christmas break tied with Jamie Benn for the league lead with 22 goals…If the Blackhawks were better on the road, they’d be flirting with first place. A 4-0 loss in Dallas Tuesday night left them 6-8-3 away from the United Center…With five points in a 5-1 win over Montreal Sunday, Nashville’s first defense pair of Shea Weber and Roman Josi have 27 points between them in the month of December… Kyle Okposo missed the two Islander games leading up to the Christmas break with a nagging lower-body injury and there’s no guarantee he’ll be ready to play when they host Toronto on Dec. 27…With 24 saves in a 2-1 win over Montreal Tuesday night, Darcy Kuemper is 4-2-0 with a 1.26 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage in his past six starts…The Red Wings blew a golden opportunity to take over first place in the Atlantic Division with a 4-3 loss to New Jersey Tuesday night in which they fell behind 3-0 in the first period…Is this the year Drew Doughty wins the Norris Trophy?


11. Boston Bruins (18)

12. New York Rangers (6)

13. Montreal Canadiens (10)

14. Philadelphia Flyers (16)

15. Colorado Avalanche (12)

16. New Jersey Devils (17)

17. Calgary Flames (3)

18. Ottawa Senators (13)

19. Arizona Coyotes (23)

20. San Jose Sharks (21)

The Bruins probably can’t wait to get on the road again. They’re 11-2-2 away from the TD Garden… Four wins in 15 games going into the break has the Rangers out of the top 10 for the first time this season…Say what you want about the state of the Canadiens goaltending without Carey Price, but the fact is they’ve scored five goals in the past five games, all losses…When Mark Streit returns, the Flyers will have to clear up cap space to keep Shayne Gostisbehere in the lineup. It would be a shame if they don’t do just that. The kid is a candidate for rookie of the year…The Devils are 14-1-1 when they score three or more goals. Only problem is they don’t do that near enough…Johnny Gaudreau is seriously putting together an MVP-type season. He has 20 points on goals that have put the Flames ahead in games, leading the league in that category…The Senators had no business picking up a point in their 2-1 shootout loss to Florida Tuesday after being outshot 40-16…After the break, the Coyotes play four games in six nights, with a back-to-back at home and in Colorado…The Sharks improved their league-best road record to 13-6-2 with a come-from behind 4-3 win over Los Angeles Tuesday night.


21. Edmonton Oilers (7)

22. Tampa Bay Lightning (11)

23. Pittsburgh Penguins (25)

24. Toronto Maple Leafs (26)

25. Vancouver Canucks (29)

26. Carolina Hurricanes (22)

27. Buffalo Sabres (28)

28. Winnipeg Jets (27)

29. Columbus Blue Jackets (30)

30. Anaheim Ducks (24)

Connor McDavid isn’t expected to be back until after the all-star break, which would give him 45 games played this season. Probably not enough for him to win the Calder unless he goes berserk… Playing its sixth road game in nine days, the Lightning looked listless in a 2-1 loss to Vancouver Tuesday night…With the Penguins playing Boxing Day, Sidney Crosby will have had a full week off with a lower-body injury if he plays against Minnesota that night…Leo Komarov. Who knew?...After starting their six-game road trip with three regulation losses, the Canucks picked up five of a possible six points in the next three…There was not much of a chance Noah Hanifin would be playing in the World Junior Championship this year, but the Hurricanes made it official when they announced he would not be joining Team USA…Tyler Ennis returned to the Sabres lineup for their 3-2 shootout loss to Chicago Sunday after missing 12 games with a lower-body injury…The Jets are 3-10-0 in their own division, which happens to be the best one in hockey…Blue Jackets prospect Zach Werenski, the eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft, was named captain of Team USA for the World Junior Championship…The Ducks have been hands-down the most disappointing team in the NHL this season. It’s not even close.


Logan Stankoven and Kent Johnson

Canada Advances to World Junior Final With Win Over Czechia

Canada is off to the final of the World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton after beating Czechia 5-2 in the semifinal.

Phil Kessel

NHL Free Agency: Top Three Landing Spots for Phil Kessel

Phil Kessel is now the top forward available on the NHL's free agent market. Here's a look at three potential landing spots for the winger.


NHL Hot Seat Radar: Minnesota Wild

Perhaps the Wild catch lightning in a bottle and can go on a deep playoff run, but GM Bill Guerin and Co. will have their work cut out for them this year.