NHL Power Rankings: Rick Nash ignites Rangers’ top line

Coach Alain Vigneault found a way to get Rick Nash going as the Rangers remained atop SI.com's NHL Power Rankings.
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Well, that was an eventful week for the San Jose. Former captain Patrick Marleau recorded his 1,000th career point. Coach Pete DeBoer skipped a game to deal with a personal matter. And Martin Jones went 3-0-0 with a 1.63 goals-against average and .951 save percentage to lead the Sharks to the first sweep of a road trip of six or more games since the 2010-11 Boston Bruins turned the trick. San Jose’s spot atop the Pacific Division aside, I’m not yet convinced that this team is the real deal. But with the imminent return of Logan Couture, and the additions of Melker Karlsson (IR) and Dainius Zubrus (free agency), the Sharks look well situated to build on their 8-3 November and prove me wrong.

Biggest jump: San Jose Sharks (18 to 6)

Biggest drop: Buffalo Sabres (13 to 23)

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1. New York Rangers


RECORD: 16-3-2

Apparently coach Alain Vigneault knew what he was doing when he reunited Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard. The trio has combined for 14 goals and 20 assists in the past 10 games. Nash himself has four goals in his last two games after scoring just twice in his first 17. Last week: 2-1-0

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2. Dallas Stars


RECORD: 17-4-0

Make it five straight wins for the Stars, and 11 of their past 13, after shutting out the Sabres on Saturday. A pair of third period goals from captain Jamie Benn salted the victory and extended a stretch of dominant play in the final stanza. Dallas has outscored its opposition 11-4 after 40 minutes during this streak and is a league-best +16 for the season. Last week: 3-0-0

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3. Montreal Canadiens


RECORD: 16-4-2

Full marks to backup goalie Mike Condon who went 5-2-2 with a .904 save percentage and 2.39 goals-against average during Carey Price's convalescence, but with his numbers dipping over his past four starts (.857 save pct., 3.47 GAA), the Habs have to be thrilled to have their No. 1 back between the pipes. Last week: 2-1-0

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4. Washington Capitals


RECORD: 14-5-1

So, apparently Alex Ovechkin set some sort of record last week, which is nice. Nicer still, the Caps continue to find ways to win games against lesser opponents, correcting a problem that dogged them last season. Last week: 3-1-0

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5. Los Angeles Kings


RECORD: 13-8-0

Best not to read too much into one play, but seeing Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik combine for a beauty on Monday night against the Panthers makes you wonder what this team could be if that old chemistry re-ignites on the first line. Last week: 2-2-0

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6. San Jose Sharks


RECORD: 13-8-0

It would have been easy for the Sharks to fold up their tent after falling behind 3–1 early in the third period against the Blue Jackets on Sunday and settle for 10 out of 12 points on a tough road trip. Instead, they put four straight on the board to win the game and sweep the six-game roadie, a first in franchise history. Last week: 2-1-0

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7. St. Louis Blues


RECORD: 14-6-2

Goalie Jake Allen is money on the road. After backstopping the Blues to their come-from-behind 2–1 win over the Sabres on Monday night, Allen is 4-1 in his last five road starts with a .961 save pct. Since the start of last season, he is 19-7-3 and boasts the second-best high-danger save pct. (88.03) in the league (according to war-on-ice.com). Last week: 2-1-1

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8. Chicago Blackhawks


RECORD: 11-8-2

Where would this team be if not for Patrick Kane's hot start? The Hawks have scored just 57 goals this season and No. 88 has been in on 32 of them, a league high 56%. He could use a little help lighting them lamp with Chicago’s annual Circus Trip off to a sluggish start. Last week: 1-2-0

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9. New Jersey Devils


RECORD: 11-8-1

The Devils continue to exceed expectations thanks to strong goaltending and elite special teams. The power play has connected in five consecutive games and the penalty kill is above 90% over the past dozen games. Last week: 1-2-0

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10. Detroit Red Wings


RECORD: 11-8-2

Critical stretch coming up for the Red Wings, who’ll play their next six games, and 11 of 13, at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit has been hit-and-miss at home this season, going 5-5-1, and that’s a trend the Wings can't afford to maintain. The new-look second line, featuring Pavel Datsyuk between Brad Richards and Teemu Pulkkinen, has to be a factor. Last week: 2-0-1

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11. Minnesota Wild


RECORD: 11-5-3

Every team likes to play with the lead, but for the Wild that first goal is crucial. After getting on the board early in a 4–0 win against the Predators, Minnesota is 9-1 when scoring first and just 2-4-3 when it doesn't. Last week: 1-2-0

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12. Pittsburgh Penguins


RECORD: 12-8-0

The Pens are treading water in November, going 5-4. Probably not a bad result, though, considering they’ve scored just 20 goals this month and have a –6 differential. Last week: 2-1-0

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13. Nashville Predators


RECORD: 11-6-3

Three straight losses and, for the first time in franchise history, three consecutive shutouts. The Preds haven't lit the lamp in 213:47, the longest scoreless stretch in team history. And with Mike Ribeiro picking up game misconducts in each of the last two, it might be time for GM David Poile to start working the phones in search of center help. Last week: 1-3-0

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14. Boston Bruins


RECORD: 11-8-1

Sure, the B’s have picked up three wins in a row, but when two come at the expense of the Maple Leafs it’s probably better to keep the parade plans on ice. I like the waiver pickup of Landon Ferraro, though. His speed and smarts could be an asset for the league’s 30th ranked penalty kill. Last week: 3-1-0

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15. Ottawa Senators


RECORD: 10-5-5

Kudos to the Senators for posting back-to-back shutouts ... although earning them at the expense of the Blue Jackets and Flyers takes a little bloom off Ottawa's rose. Last week: 2-0-0

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16. arizona Coyotes


RECORD: 10-9-1

A tip o’ the cap to Martin Hanzal, who is quietly putting together a career season out in the desert. The 28-year-old center has complemented his usual sturdy defense game with 18 points in his first 18 games. That’s tops on the team and it has him on pace to shatter his personal best of 40, set in 2013-14. Last week: 1-1-0

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17. Tampa Bay Lightning


RECORD: 10-9-3

The Bolts have allowed just two goals in their past three games and now stand second in the league with a 2.18 team GAA. If they could light the pilot on an offense that’s been held to one goal or fewer four times in the past nine games, they might really have something. Last week: 2-0-0

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18. New York Islanders


RECORD: 10-8-3

You know it’s been a bad week when dropping both ends of a home-and-home to the Canadiens was only the second-worst thing that happened in Brooklyn. The Travis Hamonic trade request was a gut punch that, barring a miracle from GM Garth Snow, is going to leave the Isles with a gaping hole on the blueline unless the team makes Hamonic bite the bullet until the end of the season. Not a nice situation at all. Last week: 0-2-0

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19. Columbus Blue Jackets


RECORD: 8-14-0

Maybe I was too hard on the Jackets earlier. They’re 6-4 this month, a vast improvement over the 2-10 they put up in October. Need to address those third-period collapses, though. After blowing a 3–1 lead by allowing four goals to the Sharks, they’ve conceded 32 tallies in the final stanza, the most in the league. Last week: 2-2-0

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20. Winnipeg Jets


RECORD: 10-10-2

Sure, taking penalties sounds kinda funny when Denis Lemieux talks about it, but lack of discipline is going to kill this team. The Jets lead the league in both penalty minutes and, after coughing up the equalizer in Monday’s 4–1 loss to the Avs, power play goals allowed as well (18). Time to smarten up, boys. Last week: 2-1-0

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21. Toronto Maple Leafs


RECORD: 7-10-5

What a year James Reimer is having—seventh in GAA (2.07) and fourth in save percentage (.934), giving the Maple Leafs the kind of steady play that allows them to work through the kinks of adapting to coach Mike Babcock’s possession system. Last week: 2-2-0

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22. Calgary Flames


RECORD: 8-12-1

After being unceremoniously waived by the Flames last month, Karri Ramo has quietly re-established himself as a legitimate starter. He’s won three of his past four, posting a .930 save percentage in the process. He’s also backstopped four straight victories at the Saddledome. Last week: 2-0-0

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23. Buffalo Sabres


RECORD: 8-11-2

Who let the air out of the balloon? The Sabres have dropped five straight (0-3-2) and scored just five goals in the process. Tyler Ennis, who put up 20 goals in each of the past two seasons, has just three and hasn’t lit the lamp in 10. Might be a good time for him to step up. Last week: 0-2-1

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24. Anaheim Ducks


RECORD: 7-10-4

After starting the month with four straight wins the Ducks have dropped five of their past seven, including a dispiriting 5–0 loss to the Bolts on Saturday. They gave up three second-period goals in that one, continuing a disturbing trend that’s seen them outscored 28-8 in the middle frame. Last week: 1-2-0

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25. Colorado Avalanche


RECORD: 8-12-1

A 4–1 win over the Jets ended a miserable three-game losing streak that saw the Avs outscored 16-7. Still, this is a sloppy team that struggles with the basics, especially when the puck is in its zone. With so little help available on the market, I can’t see this changing much over the course of the season. Last week: 1-3-0

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26. Florida Panthers


RECORD: 8-9-4

Defense continues to let the Panthers down. No team has allowed more even-strength goals this month than Florida’s 23. Of course, the offense isn’t doing much to help: the Panthers’ –10 goal differential is also a league worst. Last week: 0-2-1

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27. Vancouver Canucks


RECORD: 8-8-6

The Canucks have dropped five of six and allowed three goals or more in their past 10. Henrik Sedin says they’re playing a “slow game.” Seems more like there’s an overall lack of commitment. Last week: 1-2-0

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28. Carolina Hurricanes


RECORD: 7-10-4

A bit of history last week as the ’Canes dressed six American-born defenseman for the first time in franchise history. One of them, Justin Faulk, chipped two more power play goals to help Carolina snap a five-game losing skid on Sunday. He now has eight PP goals on the season, tops in the league. Last week: 1-0-2

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29. Edmonton Oilers


RECORD: 7-13-1

Looks like the Cam Talbot experiment has hit a snag, with the team’s apparent No. 1 stopper allowing three-or-more goals in six straight starts. That could mean an opportunity for Anders Nilsson, who has allowed just one in each of his past two outings. Last week: 1-1-1

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30. Philadelphia Flyers


RECORD: 7-9-5

Philly’s offense has generated a league-worst eight goals at even strength this month (11 games) and just 17 in all situations. The Flyers scored as many as three in regulation just once in their past 13 games. If there’s something nice to say about this team, I can’t think of it. Last week: 1-1-2