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Power Rankings: Predators chase down No. 1 spot

Filip Forsberg has put himself in the running for rookie-of-the-year honors and is on pace to become only the second players in Nashville Predators history to be a point-per-game player. The first and only one was Paul Kariya.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Prior to this season, the Nashville Predators had employed only one GM, one coach and one point-per-game player in their franchise history. We know the coaching ranks have swelled to two, and so could the point-per-game club with rookie Filip Forsberg.

The young Swede, whose rights were acquire from Washington for Martin Erat, has 23 points in 23 games and is a major reason why the Predators are the No. 1 team in this week’s thn.com Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.)

1. NASHVILLE (5): Forsberg was rookie of the month for November and Pekka Rinne was the third star of the month and the goals keep coming in Nashville. Coming up: Quick trip to Carolina before two key intra-division games against St. Louis and Chicago.

2. TAMPA BAY (6): Well, we know these guys can beat the Rangers. Their 6-3 win Monday night completed the season sweep in which they outscored Gotham 15-7. Coming up: Home-and-home against Buffalo, then Columbus. Watch for complacency.

3. DETROIT (14): Yes, we picked the Red Wings to miss the playoffs this season and, yes, it looks as though we’re going to be wrong. Coming up: Florida, Dallas and Rangers at home, where they’re 9-2-2 this season.

4. PITTSBURGH (7): Defenseman Kris Letang missed the Penguins game on the weekend and is out indefinitely with an undisclosed injury. Coming up: The Devils tonight at home, then Vancouver and Ottawa later in the week.

5. N.Y. ISLANDERS (1): Denis Potvin compared the current Islanders to the team in 1975, one that was five years away from becoming a dynasty. Coming up: Home-and-home against Ottawa and a home game against St. Louis.

6. ST. LOUIS (2): The Blues have gone to extra time in three straight games, winning and losing one in a shootout and winning another in overtime. Coming up: Three very difficult road games against Chicago, Nashville and the Islanders.

7. CHICAGO (7): The Blackhawks have won three straight for only the second time this season. Brandon Saad is back on the top line and finding his game. Coming up: Home games against St. Louis and Montreal, then back on the road for another four games.

8. MONTREAL (4): The Habs signed Brendan Gallagher to a six-year extension at an average salary of just $3.75 million. Brilliant. Coming up: Three more on the road against Minnesota, Chicago and Dallas.

9. ANAHIEM (3):Clayton Stoner is the third Ducks player to go down in The Great Mumps Epidemic of 2014. With all the injuries/illnesses on the blueline, they acquired veteran Eric Brewer. Coming up: Philadelphia at home and Minnesota and Winnipeg on the road.

10. CALGARY (9): The Flames have 20 goals from their defense corps, which is the highest total in the NHL. What’s interesting is only three players have scored them. Coming up: Home dates with Arizona, Colorado and San Jose.

11. VANCOUVER (8): The Canucks are in the midst of their longest road trip of the year and have an impressive 9-4-0 mark away from home already. Coming up: The next five on the road, all against Eastern Conference opponents.

12. TORONTO (10): The Leafs completely dismantled Washington Saturday night, but may have lost one of their most effective players in Leo Komarov. Coming up: Four straight at home, kicked off by a visit from Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza.

13. LOS ANGELES (11): Defenseman Drew Doughty said the Kings aren’t living up to their potential. And he’s right. Coming up: Boston and Philadelphia at home, with a quick trip to Arizona in between.

14. BOSTON (12): The Bruins have won only one of their past four and haven’t scored more than two goals in any of those games. Coming up: The last three games of a tough western trip with visits to Los Angeles, San Jose and Arizona.

15. WINNIPEG (20): The Jets have been remarkably healthy and look to have dodged a bullet with Bryan Little, who missed the third period of a 2-1 overtime loss to Boston Sunday, but is not expected to miss any time. Coming up: Edmonton, Calgary and Anaheim at home.

16. MINNESOTA (16): With the 29th ranked power play in the NHL this season, the Wild is losing close games because of its inability to score with the extra man. Coming up: Three at home, with two of them against Eastern Conference opponents.

17. SAN JOSE (19): The Sharks finally won a game on Sunday after losing four in a row, but they almost blew a big lead to Anaheim before winning 6-4. Coming up: Two eastern opponents at home, but the Sharks have won only four of 13 against Eastern Conference foes.

18. N.Y. RANGERS (15): The Rangers will be happy to see Tampa Bay in their rear view mirror. They last all three games to the Lightning, including two in less than a week. Coming up: On the road in Detroit and home to Pittsburgh, then a four-game road trip.

19. FLORIDA (22): First overall pick Aaron Ekblad, obviously ruled out for the World Juniors, is proving to be worthy of the hype, leading all rookie defensemen in scoring. Coming up: Road game in Detroit before coming home to play against fewer than 10,000 against Columbus and Buffalo.

20. WASHINGTON (24): The Capitals suffered their worst loss of the season when they fell 6-2 in Toronto on Saturday and have won three straight only once this season. Coming up: Vancouver at home, then a three-game road trip.

21: BUFFALO (21): The Sabres are in very, very real danger of taking themselves out of the Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel derby the way they’ve played of late. Coming up: Home-and-home against Tampa Bay and a visit to Florida.

22. OTTAWA (17):Daniel Alfredsson is expected to be in the warm-up Thursday night for the Senators, then hang up his skates for good. That’s so cool. Coming up: Home-and-home with the Islanders and on the road in Pittsburgh.

23. ARIZONA (27): They move up on the basis of beating Edmonton, which is a slightly more lofty accomplishment than winning a intrasquad game. Coming up: At Calgary, then five straight at home.

24. DALLAS (18): Just when the Stars look as though they’re going to put things together, they take two steps backward. Coming up: In Toronto and Detroit before hosting Montreal Saturday night.

25. COLORADO (25): The analytics guys were bang-on in their assessment of this team. Their play with (and mostly) without the puck is dreadful. Coming up: Road games in Calgary and Winnipeg.

26. NEW JERSEY (23): We want to see the compromising photos Scott Gomez has of Devils GM Lou Lamoriello. Then again, maybe not. Coming up: No easy games. Pittsburgh and Toronto on the road and Washington at home.

27. COLUMBUS (28): No team was happier to see November end than the Blue Jackets, who are now without Mark Letestu for six weeks. Coming up: Two in Florida and home to Philadelphia.

28. CAROLINA (29): An unexpected win in Pittsburgh was a rare bright light in a stretch in which the Hurricanes have lost seven of nine. Coming up: They face former coach Peter Laviolette and Nashville at home, then Washington and Detroit.

29. PHILADELPHIA (26): Given the Flyers historical penchant for firing coaches, Craig Berube would be well-advised to start polishing his resume. Coming up: Three straight on the road in California.

30. EDMONTON (30): Losers of 10 in a row, the Oilers have spun completely out of control. Dallas Eakins, see Craig Berube. Coming up: The Oilers will make it a full month without a win if they fall to Winnipeg on the road and in a home-and-home against San Jose.

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