NHL Power Rankings - Week 9: Blackhawks jump to top spot, Kings drop to No. 5

Juan Ocampo / National Hockey League / Getty

1. Chicago Blackhawks

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
15-8-1 +26 2

Now that they have a serious second line it's official: the Blackhawks are the best team in hockey, and it isn't all that close. 

Don't believe us? Ask Darryl Sutter:

"All those stat things." *crying*

2. Tampa Bay Lightning

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
16-6-2 +21 4

During the five-and-a-half weeks Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman spent recovering from a broken hand, Tampa Bay outscored their opponents by 11 goals. Only the Rangers, Blackhawks, and Penguins fared better. 

And now he's back. Terrifying, much?

3. St. Louis Blues

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
16-6-2 +15 3

More like Vladimir Tarasenkooooooh my goodness:

(Courtesy: @myregularface)

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
16-5-2 +26 5

Christian Ehrhoff scored his first goal as a Penguin this weekend. Man he's been a massive disappointment, well, aside from the whole soaking up huge minutes while the Penguins outscore opponents way better than two-to-one when he's on the ice thing. 

5. Los Angeles Kings

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
12-7-5 +8 1

Jarrett Stoll and Mike Richards don't seem able to drive play in depth roles anymore, which, when combined with the Kings' lack of a second defensive pair, has brought the first Corsi juggernaut of the Behind the Net era back to the pack.

At least Stoll can leave you crashing in a blazing fall though:

JayGold85's post on Vine

Yeah you...

Wait for it... 

Bit longer... 

Wreh-eh-eck me!

(Courtesy: Giphy)

6. New York Islanders

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
17-7-0 +12 9

Upgrading from Kevin Poulin, Anders Nilsson and Evgeni Nabokov to Chad Johnson and Jaroslav Halak is as big a step up as moving from Long Island to Brooklyn.

7. Nashville Predators

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
16-5-2 +18 10

Mike Ribeiro is one of the NHL's 20 most efficient even-strength point-producers so far this season. The Arizona Coyotes could definitely use another player like that.

8. Minnesota Wild

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
13-9-1 +10 6

Josh Harding stopped 50 shots in his return to professional hockey with the AHL's Iowa Wild this weekend. That's really cool, but it didn't stop those Wild fans who've always said Harding isn't in Niklas Backstrom's league from claiming victory. 

9. Anaheim Ducks

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
14-6-5 +2 7

Noted former antagonists Ryan Kesler and Corey Perry have become fast friends now that they're teammates in Anaheim:

That Perry has been living in California since the fall of 2005 and has never, for even a single day, sported a tan is even more impressive than his goal-scoring ability.

Also...

10. Montreal Canadiens

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
16-7-2 +2 8

More stellar work from Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on the Brendan Gallagher extension, but is that Gallagher's height or his cap number?

11. Boston Bruins

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
14-9-1 +3 11

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is reportedly targeting Dec. 11 for his return to the lineup, so next Thursday everyone might want to steer well clear of any stanchions. 

12. Detroit Red Wings

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
14-5- 5 +13 12

When the lights went out at Joe Louis arena and delayed the start of Sunday's game between the Red Wings and Canucks, Detroit fans turned to their smartphone flashlight apps to try and help out:

Turns out smartphone flashlight apps provide even less illumination than tortured lamppost analogies provide advanced hockey statistics.

13. Vancouver Canucks

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
16-7-1 +9 15

Drew won the Miller Bowl on Sunday, but Ryan won the genetic lottery so let's call it a draw:

14. San Jose Sharks

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
11-10-4 -2 14

The Pacific Division is looking weaker than expected this season, so it's a good thing the Sharks spent a productive offseason upgrading their roster. Oh wait, they actually just extended Mike Brown, signed John Scott, re-signed Scott Hannan and failed to upgrade in goal.

This will eventually deserve its own chapter in the book "How to ice an elite team for a decade and never make the Stanley Cup Final: a San Jose Sharks story."

15. Washington Capitals

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
10-9-4 Even 13

The Capitals haven't received the goaltending and are doing some silly things with their forward lines, but they're controlling play well and Alex Ovechkin's Movember tribute to Larry Robinson is on point, which has to count for something:

(Courtesy: Russian Machine Never Breaks)

16. New York Rangers

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
11-8-4 +4 18

The Rangers managed to stay afloat through key early-season injuries but need to capitalize now that they've returned to full health. If this team is going to make any noise, the balance of the Rangers' season shouldn't look anything like their first two months.

Speaking of which...

17. Toronto Maple Leafs

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
12-8-3 +7 19

The Leafs suffered 9-2 and 6-2 losses in November. The team's goal differential for the month? Plus-5, if you exclude shootout tallies.

18. New Jersey Devils

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
9-11-4 -13 16

The Devils are fading in a major way and Marty is set to pull the Joe Montana - which mostly involves looking really strange and sad in the wrong Missouri-based team's jersey for a swan song season. 

So, yeah, it's been a tough week for Devils fans.

19. Dallas Stars

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
9-10-5 -14 17

Dallas hockey fans have seemed tranquil in their acceptance that the team they root for isn't any good. This makes them about as defensive as the Stars.

20. Calgary Flames

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
15-8-2 +14 22

The Flames are one of the most exciting teams in hockey, and a fanbase that hasn't had much to smile about for the past five years is loving it.

As they should be. But Calgary isn't moving too far up our rankings with that ghastly 43.5 percent Corsi For percentage. Why does this matter? Well, since 2007-08 no team that's controlled five-on-five shot attempts at a rate below 45 percent has ever qualified for the postseason.

(Courtesy: @hwyatt11)

21. Winnipeg Jets

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
12-9-4 -4 24

Just as we were beginning to think the Winnipeg Jets might be legitimately good, first-line center Bryan Little goes out with an apparent knee injury. The Jets-est thing ever? 

22. Florida Panthers

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
9-6-6 -8 23

Probable future Hall of Famer Roberto Luongo has managed a .927 save percentage through 17 starts as a 35-year-old. The key to Luongo's impressive longevity hasn't been his long legs, work ethic or technical brilliance though. It's that he knows how to use his head:

23. Arizona Coyotes

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
9-12-3 -17 20

It was a typical week for the Coyotes as center Martin Hanzal managed to injure more opponents than Arizona managed to win games.

24. Ottawa Senators

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
10-9-4 -2 25

Here's Panthers forward Vincent Trochek summing up the Senators' issues following his club's 3-2 victory over Ottawa this week:

"We noticed their D coughed up pucks whenever we came in hard, so we kept doing it."

Nailed it. 

25. Philadelphia Flyers

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
8-12-3 -13 21

In case you wanted proof that Paul Holmgren is no longer the club's general manager, the Flyers are reportedly being very "careful" about any potential trade.

26. Colorado Avalanche 

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
9-10-5 -11 26

Finally the Avalanche looked like a contender again this weekend (when facing a tired Stars team and shooting on Anders Lindback)!

27. Carolina Hurricanes 

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
7-13-3 -14 28

With their solid performance over the past several weeks, the Hurricanes have been exposed as a pretender in the Jack Eichel/Connor McDavid sweeps.

28. Columbus Blue Jackets 

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
6-15-2 -31 27

So we'd guess the Blue Jackets aren't going to trade for David Perron anymore...

29. Edmonton Oilers

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
6-14-4 -28 29

#HereComeTheOilers:

Connor's post on Vine

30. Buffalo Sabres

Record Goal Differential Previous Rank
8-14-2 -33 30

A freak winning streak combined with this Tyler Ennis goal made for the rare happy hockey week in Buffalo:

So should Sabres management be concerned that their club might fall out of contention in the #DeflatedforMcDavid sweepstakes?

Nope! Don't worry, Tim Murray!

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NHL Power Rankings - Week 9: Blackhawks jump to top spot, Kings drop to No. 5
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