November is almost over, and the NHL playoff picture is really starting to take shape now that Thanksgiving is behind us. At the top of that picture are the Los Angeles Kings, the best team in the league right now and the No. 1 team in the updated power rankings.
The Kings have been especially dominant in the month of November, going 8-1-1 and excelling in nearly every aspect of the game. Los Angeles has controlled 59.5% of the expected goals at five-on-five, converted on 25% of its power plays, and killed off 94.1% of its opponents' power plays. It's tough to find a flaw in the Kings' game these days.
Offensively, the Kings are getting contributions from all four lines. Eleven different players have at least four goals, and nine different players have at least 10 points. Defensively, players like Matt Roy and Vladislav Gavrikov have been excellent while Drew Doughty and Mikey Anderson have struggled to get their footing. Perhaps the biggest key to Los Angeles' success is the revitalization of Cam Talbot, who has been brilliant in goal.
With the Kings reigning supreme, here are the updated NHL Power Rankings.
All expected goals and goals saved above average data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.
|The Kings are absolutely cooking right now, and Cam Talbot is a huge reason why. I wasn't sure that a 36-year-old free agent was the solution to the goaltending problem in Los Angeles, but so far, he has been. Talbot currently ranks second in the NHL with 11.14 goals saved above average, and his .884 high-danger save percentage is among the best in the league too. If Talbot keeps this up, there is no reason why the Kings can't win the Stanley Cup.
|Speaking of veteran goaltenders and the Kings, Jonathan Quick has been completely rejuvenated in New York. The Kings legend has thrived as a backup to Igor Shesterkin, posting 5.93 goals saved above average in just eight appearances. The Rangers now have a reliable netminder behind Shesterkin, which should allow him to be more fresh for the 2024 postseason.
|If this turns into a weekly admiration of Cale Makar, then so be it. The best defenseman in the league is operating at the top of his game right now. Makar leads the Avalanche in scoring with 32 points, and he is on pace for 23 goals. Makar's five-on-five impacts are also impeccable. Colorado has outscored opponents 23-12 and controlled 57.87% of the expected goals in those situations.
|Matt Duchene is playing on a $3.5 million contract this season, and the Stars are going to owe him overtime at this rate. Duchene leads the team with 4.1 expected goals at five-on-five, and the production has been there to match. Duchene has scored six goals and tallied 17 points in 19 games, and he has really given Dallas some extra pop in its forward group. There aren't many better bargains in the league this year than Duchene.
|The Canes have yet to really hit their stride, despite sitting in the top 10 of the power rankings for much of the season. That's probably because of a very common Carolina problem: quantity over quantity. The Hurricanes rank first in shot attempts per 60 minutes (72.6) and fifth in xGF/60 (2.88) at five-on-five. However, the team ranks 22nd in HDCF/60 at five-on-five (10.9). The Canes get a lot of shots toward the net, but not many of them are of the high-danger variety. Carolina has a deep roster, but I think the offensive system puts a ceiling on what it can do.
|Connor Hellebuyck got off to a slow-ish start, but he is really rounding into form now. Over the last few weeks, Hellebuyck has posted a save percentage of .933 and saved 5.49 goals above average. Between Hellebuyck playing like one of the best goalies on this spinning rock and the Jets playing very well in front of him, it's no surprise that the Jets have been one of the NHL's best teams in November.
|Patrice Bergeron left a vacuum in the race for a Selke Trophy race, and Aleksander Barkov is quickly filling it. Barkov did win the award in 2020, but he would probably have a couple more on his shelf if not for Bergeron. The way things are going in 2023-24, Barkov will get his second Selke Trophy because the Panthers have a plus-13 goal differential with him on the ice at five-on-five. Oh, and he's also averaging over a point per game.
|Two seasons ago, in 2021-22, J.T. Miller put up 99 points and some wondered whether that was just an outlier for an otherwise solid top-six winger. As it turns out, he might even be able to top himself. Miller has 35 points through 23 games this season, which puts him on pace for 124 points. Even if Miller does cool off at some point, he is in good shape to hit triple-digits in 2023-24. It seems like everyone in Vancouver is headed for a career year.
|Despite what you might be led to believe, the Maple Leafs' defense was a real strength of the team in 2022-23. They allowed just 2.53 xGA/60 at five-on-five. That number ranked 10th in the league. Toronto is currently 24th in that same category this season. The Leafs' blue line, by and large, has been somewhat underwhelming in 2023-24. With no cap space to worth with, the Leafs have to find a solution internally.
|For the first time in the last two regular seasons, the Bruins have hit a bit of a skid. Boston is 0-3-0 in its last three games, and it has been outscored 17-8 in that span, including a 5-2 loss to the lowly Blue Jackets. Even Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark have looked human of late. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say the Bruins will be just fine, but for now, they have to slide while other teams around them start to find a groove.
|Not many wingers can impact the game the way Nikita Kucherov does each and every night. Even in his 30-year-old season, Kucherov is putting up some truly preposterous numbers. His 15 goals and 22 assists put him on an 82-game pace for 58 and 114, respectively. Tampa is controlling 54.89% of the five-on-five expected goals with Kucherov in the game. He's making a real case for another Hart Trophy right now.
|After powering the Golden Knights to a Stanley Cup last summer, Ivan Barbashev signed a five-year contract worth $25 million. Through the first quarter of this season, Barbashev hasn't quite produced at that level. Barbashev has just four goals and two assists through 23 games. For comparison, he had six goals and 10 assists in 23 regular season games with Vegas last season. The Golden Knights have to get him going in order to get out of this rut.
|The big news on Tuesday was that Patrick Kane will be signing with the Red Wings, and he should add some offensive skill to a team looking to end its seven-year playoff drought. The big question is how much Kane, 35, has left in the tank after hip surgery. Kane was somewhat underwhelming in his brief time with the Rangers last season, but how much of that was the injury and how much was his age? We'll find out soon enough.
|The only team that ranks below the Capitals in five-on-five scoring is the Sharks, and that is not a where anyone wants to reside. Some of that has to do with the fact that Alex Ovechkin isn't on pace for his usual 40-50 goals. In fact, Ovechkin is pacing for just 22 goals, which would be the lowest of his career by 10. If the Caps want to remain in the playoff race, Ovechkin has to light the lamp more frequently.
|Goaltender Devon Levi has been sent down to the AHL, which isn't surprising given his tough start, but Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has picked up the slack. Luukkonen has been excellent in November, and he's a big reason why Buffalo has stayed afloat with Tage Thompson on the shelf. Over the last 29 days, Luukkonen has saved 4.29 goals above average, and his high-danger save percentage is a sparkling .893.
|Sean Walker's name has already been floated in trade rumors, and it's not hard to see why. The 29-year-old is a pending free agent, and he is having a superb season in 2023-24. From a scoring standpoint, Walker is on pace to set new career highs in goals, assists, and points. More importantly, Walker has been a great shutdown man for Philly. At five-on-five, the Flyers have controlled 57.05% of the expected goals and have a plus-4 goal differential with Walker in the game.
|The Devils still sit outside the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, even after a dramatic comeback win over the Islanders on Tuesday. It has been ugly for New Jersey at times, but the process has still been solid. The Devils' underlying numbers have been among the best in the NHL, but their five-on-five PDO of .967 ranks above only the Sharks. Not to sound crazy or anything, but I'm pretty sure New Jersey is much better than San Jose. The wins should start to come sooner rather than later.
|Nashville has now won six straight games, and Filip Forsberg is keeping the goal horn operator busy. He has 10 goals and five assists in his last nine games, and he's now on pace for 105 points this season, which would shatter his previous career high of 84. Forsberg has taken to Andrew Brunette's system quite nicely, and he is driving the Preds as they ride this hot streak back into playoff contention.
|The Penguins have been stuck in neutral this year, and at least some of those issues are the result of a shockingly ineffective power play. Even with all the talent on the ice, Pittsburgh has only managed to convert on 12.1% of his power plays this season. The silver lining is that the Pens rank second in xGF/60 on the power play with 9.71. The Penguins will eventually start clicking with the man advantage, and that should help them climb the standings.
|Rasmus Andersson is having a rough go of it in 2023-24. While his offensive production has stayed on par with his usual totals, Andersson's five-on-five impacts have dipped sharply. Calgary has controlled just 46.75% of the five-on-five expected goals with Andersson in the game, and that is a big problem considering no one plays more in those situations than him. The Flames have made a living off strong defense in recent seasons, but that has taken a step back in Ryan Huska's first season behind the bench.
|Karel Vejmelka has struggled between the pipes this season, but Connor Ingram has stepped up. In his 12 appearances this season, Ingram has posted 7.20 goals saved above average and a .924 save percentage. That would explain why the Yotes are 8-3-0 when Ingram starts and 2-6-2 when Vejmelka starts. Ingram should probably be getting more run.
|Edmonton has won three straight games, and Connor McDavid is back to being his dominant self. McDavid has two goals and 10 assists over the life of this Oilers' winning streak, but there is still work to be done. Edmonton is still four games below .500 and five points out of a playoff spot, but if McDavid keeps this up, the team will be back in a playoff spot before long.
|The Islanders are one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL, allowing 2.95 xGA/60 at five-on-five, and now Adam Pelech is on LTIR. That's a recipe for some defensive breakdowns, which were on full display in Tuesday's loss to the Devils in which the team blew a 4-2 lead in the third period. Ilya Sorokin has his work cut out for him over the next few weeks.
|The Blues are still clinging to a wild card spot in the Western Conference, but I'm not sure how much longer that will last because they are one of the worst five-on-five teams in the league. St. Louis has owned just 45.2% of the expected goals and 46.67% of the actual goals in those situations. Things are not pretty under the hood, and I'd expect the Blues to slide before long.
|After a good start in Ottawa, Vladimir Tarasenko has one completely cold. He hasn't scored since Oct. 24 and is riding an 11-game goal drought. Even worse, the Senators have been getting hammered with Tarasenko on the ice at five-on-five. Ottawa was counting on Tarasenko to replace some of Alex DeBrincat's production, and that just hasn't happened.
|The Kraken are underperforming some decent five-on-five numbers, and it may shock you to learn that is especially the case in the area of expected goals against. Poor goaltending is once again holding Seattle back from competing for a playoff spot. Philipp Grubauer and Joey Daccord have combined to allow 10.29 goals above average. That's enough to sink any team, but especially one without high-end scoring talent.
|Just a couple of weeks ago, the Ducks were riding high on a six-game winning streak. Anaheim was one of the most fun teams in the NHL, and things have turned on a dime. The Ducks are now riding a seven-game losing streak, and they have a minus-21 goal differential over that span. They have looked a lot more like the 2022-23 Ducks of late, and that is not a good thing.
|Columbus has won three of its last four games, and Boone Jenner is shouldering a lot of the offensive burden for this team. Jenner has 11 goals in 23 games this season, which puts him on pace for 39 goals. Jenner has never scored more than 30 in a single season, and that was back in 2015-16. Jenner needs more help from Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine if the Jackets are going to take any kind of step forward this season.
|The Wild became the second team to fire their coach this season when they relieved Dean Evason of his duties and hired John Hynes to replace him. No matter who the coach is, Minnesota won't do any more winning unless Filip Gustavsson and Marc-Andre Fleury start making some saves. The Hynes era did get off to a good start with a 3-1 win over the Blues, though.
|Nick Suzuki has just four assists in his last seven games, and the Canadiens have plateaued a bit after a decent start to the season. Montreal is still very much in rebuilding mode, but thus far, it doesn't seem like there has been much improvement over last season. That includes the development of young players like Suzuki and Cole Caufield, who have been asked to carry a highly flawed roster.
|San Jose has one player, Tomas Hertl, who has hit double digits in points this season. The second worst team in the NHL, the Blackhawks, have four players with at least 10 points. The Sharks are tanking as intended this season, but it might even be tough for them to sell off any pending free agents ahead of the trade deadline at this point.
|Things in Chicago have taken a somewhat dark turn with Corey Perry getting released due to "unacceptable" conduct. That's not exactly what the organization needs as it's trying to build a new culture around its rookie sensation.