When a team like the Philadelphia Flyers is on a remarkable nine-game winning streak, it's a no-brainer that it will move up in the rankings. The same can be said for the Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames, who are enjoying winning streaks of four and six games, respectively. Still, it takes more than that to dethrone the top two teams. Once again, the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens switch places atop our rankings, with the Flyers shooting up to third.
1. (Last week 2) New York Rangers, 20-9-1
Coach Alain Vigneault has gone with the hot hand in net, and now the Rangers have a goalie controversy brewing.? Antti Raanta?went 3-0, forcing? Henrik Lundqvist?to the sidelines as a healthy backup for three games for the first time in three years.
2. (1) Montreal Canadiens, 19-6-3
With forwards Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais both sidelined with knee injuries, many thought the Canadiens would struggle offensively. Instead, Montreal scored 10 goals against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, led by captain Max Pacioretty (four goals and one assist) and? Tomas Plekanec?(a career-high four assists in the win).
3. (10) Philadelphia Flyers, 18-10-3The Flyers extended their winning streak to nine games by getting lots of goals from their scorers, good defense from the blueliners and strong goaltending. And all of this without defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who is?day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
4. (4) Pittsburgh Penguins, 18-7-3The Penguins are on a winning streak (five games) of their own. Captain Sidney Crosby has six goals and six assists for 12 points in his past seven games and leads the league with 20 goals. He and the Pens have four games this week, against the Coyotes, Bruins, Kings and Maple Leafs.
5. (6) Columbus Blue Jackets, 17-5-4Columbus' confidence is high, as the Blue Jackets have gone 7-0-1 in their past eight games. It also helps that goalie Sergei Bobrovsky is 6-0-1 in his past seven games, including five consecutive wins and a 1.56 goals-against average during that stretch.
6. (3) Chicago Blackhawks, 18-8-4Captain? Jonathan Toews?skated on Sunday for the first time in a week, but the Blackhawks aren't rushing his return from an upper-body injury. Backup goalie? Scott Darling's shutout streak was snapped at 125:39, but he has been outstanding in relief of Corey Crawford (out since his appendectomy).?
7. (7) Washington Capitals, 17-7-3Coach Barry Trotz has criticized? Alex Ovechkin?for being penalized too often this season, and No. 8 has heeded his advice. After a seven-game goal drought, the Caps' captain scored his 13th goal of the season -- and 200th career power-play tally, making him the 18th player in history to reach the milestone -- on Sunday.?
8.? (11) St. Louis Blues, 16-9-4No rest for the weary. Goalie Jake Allen started his third game in four nights and his fourth game in six nights on Sunday against the Wild. At least he's getting help on the other end from forward Vladimir Tarasenko,?who has points in 14 of his past 18 games (10 goals and 13 assists).
9. (8) San Jose Sharks, 16-11-1Forward Logan Couture is heating up and has seven goals in his past 10 games. Overall, he has 11 goals and eight assists for 19 points in 28 games.
10.?(14) Minnesota Wild, 15-8-4The Wild have won four in a row and enter Monday's action in third place in the Central Division, thanks in large part to goalie Devan Dubnyk, who?leads the league with a 1.66 goals-against average, a .946 shooting percentage and four shutouts. Head coach Bruce Boudreau has done a terrific job in Minnesota, and his addition of former NHL defenseman Scott Stevens to run the defense has paid big dividends.
11. (5) Ottawa Senators, 16-11-2The Senators need to fix their penalty-killing unit -- soon. Ottawa allowed three power-play goals for the third time this season, and the second time in as many games, during Sunday's 5-1 loss to the Ducks. The Senators will miss defenseman Mark Borowiecki, who was suspended two games for his boarding penalty against Kings forward Tyler Toffoli on Saturday.
12.? (12) Edmonton Oilers, 15-11-5I have no issue with captain Connor McDavid calling Flyers' Brandon Manning "classless" after a game last week. Whether he's correct that Manning hurt him on purpose last season, it's good to see McDavid ?-- who leads the league in points -- showing emotion.?
13.? (15) Boston Bruins, 15-12-2David Pastrnak has been a dynamic player and the team's best forward. He has 18 goals in 24 games and is trying to become the first Bruin to score 20 goals in fewer than 25 games since Cam Neely netted his 20th goal in his 19th game during the 1993-94 season.
14.? (17) Calgary Flames, 16-13-2Defenseman Dougie Hamilton had his third multigoal game, and second of the season, to help Calgary to a 6-2 win over the Jets on Saturday. The Flames have won six consecutive games, and Hamilton has played well since Brian Burke, Calgary's president of hockey operations, debunked trade rumors. On the offensive end, forward Sean Monahan has four goals and five assists for nine points during the team's winning streak.
15.? (19) Anaheim Ducks, 15-9-5The Ducks have won three games behind the performances of Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler, both of whom extended their respective points streaks to five games. Perry has two goals and five assists for seven points, while Kesler has four goals and three for seven points during the streak.
16.?(13) Los Angeles Kings, 14-11-2Forward Anze Kopitar has five assists in his past four games but hasn't scored since Oct. 25, a span of 16 games. Overall, he only has 14 points in 22 games this season. Meanwhile, Jeff Carter leads the Kings with 21 points. And Carter?scored the winning goal in four games during the team's recent five-game winning streak.
17.?(9) Tampa Bay Lightning, 14-13-2Forward Nikita Kucherov has not gone more than two consecutive games this season without recording a point. He had an assist during Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Penguins. He now has 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points in 29 games.
18. (16) Winnipeg Jets, 13-16-3Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has one goal and six assists for seven points in his past eight games. Teammate Mark Scheifele has 14 goals and 14 assists for 28 points in 29 games.
19.?(18) Nashville Predators, 12-11-4Forward Mike Ribeiro is producing consistently of late, posting two goals and nine assists for 11 points in his past 12 games.
20.? (20) New Jersey Devils, 12-10-6The Devils have dropped three straight, but you can't put all the blame on goalie Cory Schneider. He has allowed three or more goals in his past six losses, but it's a result of the play in front of him. That's why New Jersey is scrambling.
21.?(21) Florida Panthers, 13-12-4Goalie Roberto Luongo made 37 saves as the Panthers snapped a four-game losing skid with a 4-2 win over the Canucks on Saturday. Florida is 1-2-2 in its past five. Luongo has 446 career wins and is one shy of tying Terry Sawchuk for fifth all-time. Meanwhile, the ageless? Jaromir Jagr is four points shy of tying Mark Messier for second place all-time with 1,887 points.
22. (26) Detroit Red Wings, 13-12-4It can be difficult to defend Dylan Larkin when he's using his ridiculous speed, and that's exactly what he has been doing lately, dashing by defenders to score four goals in his past nine games. Veteran forward Frans Nielsen is clearly enjoying his first season in Detroit. He has three goals and five assists for eight points in his past nine games.
23. (23) Carolina Hurricanes, 11-11-6Defenseman Noah Hanifin has recorded an even-or-better plus/minus in 16 consecutive games. As a rookie last season, he had 14 consecutive games with a similar stretch.
24.?(22) Dallas Stars, 11-13-6Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak was suspended for two games for an illegal check to the head of the Flyers' Chris VandeVelde on Saturday, which will slow an already-struggling D.
25.? (24) Toronto Maple Leafs, 11-11-5Goalie Antoine Bibeau made his NHL debut and finished with 26 saves in Sunday's 3-1 loss to the Avalanche. Leafs rookie Auston Matthews has six goals in his past eight games.
26.?(25) Buffalo Sabres, 10-11-6The Sabres have lost three of their past four games. Since Jack Eichel returned, Buffalo is 3-2-1. But inconsistency continues to plague the Sabres, and their special teams need to improve.?
27.? (30) New York Islanders, 11-11-5Captain John Tavares has three goals and two assists for five points to extend his point streak to five games. The Islanders are 5-1-1 in their past seven games and will face the Capitals and Blackhawks next.
28.?(27) Vancouver Canucks, 12-15-2Forward Bo Horvat is second on the team with eight goals and he's third in points, with 16. He has also been solid at the faceoff dot.
29.?(28) Arizona Coyotes, 9-13-5Brendan Perlini scored his first career NHL goal in only his fourth game to help the Coyotes snap a six-game losing skid by beating the Predators 4-1 on Saturday. The Coyotes' Alex Goligoski is one of six NHL defensemen to have at least 10 assists, 50 blocked shots and 30 hits, joining the Blue Jackets' Erik Johnson, the Canadiens' Shea Weber, the Ducks' Sami Vatanen, the Jets'? Dustin Byfuglien?and the Flyers' Ivan Provorov.