NHL Power Rankings: Capitals back on top …

We’ve got our first coach firing – Scott Gordon, we hardly knew ya. We’ve got more suspensions. And we’ve got a new All-Star Game format that won’t do anything to breathe life into an event that lost its luster 20 years ago.

We’ve also got a list that features the Washington Capitals finding their way back on top for the third time in four rankings this season. And the New Jersey Devils finally have found their way out of the basement.

Washington 1. Washington Capitals (13-4-1, Previous: 2) – The Caps are 9-0-0 when Alexander Semin(notes) scores. Yeah, but he still doesn’t belong on the all-star ballot, huh?

Detroit 2. Detroit Red Wings (11-3-1, Previous: 4) – Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) riding an 11-game point streak and not resembling a 40-year-old skater in the least.

Vancouver 3. Vancouver Canucks (10-4-2, Previous: 9) – Contract talks with Christian Ehrhoff(notes) are on hold because the German-born puck-moving defenseman won’t buy into the hometown discount to keep as much talent on a Stanley Cup-caliber lineup as possible.

Los Angeles 4. Los Angeles Kings (12-4-0, Previous: 1) – A franchise-record 8-0-0 start at home. A good start is nice, but you never want to be playing your best hockey in November.

Philadelphia 5. Philadelphia Flyers (12-4-1, Previous: 5) – Jeff Carter(notes) signs an 11-year, $58 million extension. Now that’s a hometown discount. See Vancouver and Christian Ehrhoff.

St. Louis 6. St. Louis Blues (9-4-3, Previous: 3) – Interesting timing. With one goal in 13 games coming off a sub-par season in which he netted 17 goals, David Backes(notes) bags a five-year, $22.5 million contract extension.

San Jose 7. San Jose Sharks (9-5-2, Previous: 12) – Antti Niemi(notes) killed the Sharks in the playoffs as a Blackhawk last spring and he was killing them again this season (as a Shark) again until Saturday night.

Montreal 8. Montreal Canadiens (11-5-1, Previous: 11) – Andrei Markov(notes) suffers another potentially serious knee injury. He could miss up to three months this time. Ouch.

Pittsburgh 9. Pittsburgh Penguins (9-8-2, Previous: 10) – The Evgeni Malkin(notes)-moving-to-right-wing experience is over. He’s back at center and has four goals and seven points over four games.

Chicago 10. Chicago Blackhawks (9-9-2, Previous: 6) – The circus comes to town and the ‘Hawks are kicked out on the road for six games. Could be the best thing for a team finding there is such a thing as a Stanley Cup hangover.

Anaheim 11. Anaheim Ducks (10-7-2, Previous: 29) – Randy Carlyle says the team’s new identity is a hard forecheck followed by dogged determination on the puck. And here we thought the Ducks’ resurgence could be chalked up to Teemu Selanne(notes) skating like a 22-year-old.

Boston 12. Boston Bruins (9-5-1, Previous: 8) – So a female fan wearing a Milan Lucic(notes) jersey kicks a hole in a bathroom at the TD Garden, and the team responds by putting a video on the team’s website reminding fans how they should act. And these are the Big, Bad Bruins?

Colorado 13. Colorado Avalanche (9-7-1, Previous: 16) – Can anyone keep track of the number of concussions on this team? No one wants to use injuries as an excuse, but this is pretty crazy.

Tampa Bay 14. Tampa Bay Lightning (8-7-2, Previous: 7) – Vincent Lecavalier(notes) breaks a knuckle on his hand just in time for the Lightning to play nine of their next 13 on the road. Can you say adversity?

New York Rangers 15. New York Rangers (10-7-1, Previous: 15) – Wasn’t Sean Avery(notes) waaaaaaay overdue to do something stupid?

Nashville 16. Nashville Predators (7-5-3, Previous: 13) – How much does Ryan Suter(notes) mean to the success of this hockey team? They experienced a five-game losing streak in his absence. And won during his return on Saturday.

Buffalo 17. Buffalo Sabres (7-9-3, Previous: 27) – Their only hope is the return of Ryan Miller(notes) will spark the team to more positive results. Then again, that’s a lot to ask for one player who sure could use some help.

Minnesota 18. Minnesota Wild (8-6-2, Previous: 22) – Don’t even think of whining about injuries. This is the slowest team in the league, and without rookie call-ups such as Casey Wellman(notes), Robbie Earl(notes) and Cody Almond(notes) Minnesota might just get stuck in the mud.

Columbus 19. Columbus Blue Jackets (9-6-0, Previous: 20) – The Jackets aren’t going anywhere until these numbers for goalie Steve Mason(notes) improve – 3.23 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.

Phoenix 20. Phoenix Coyotes (7-5-5, Previous: 24) – In the “we-shouldn’t-be-surprised” department: The Coyotes drew an announced crowd of 9,412 in their seventh home game. Five of the crowds have been announced at less than 10,000. In other words, after opening night they’ve crested five figures in fannies only once.

Ottawa 21. Ottawa Senators (9-8-1, Previous: 25) – No snide comments here. The Sens are dealing with the untimely death of assistant coach Luke Richardson’s(notes) teenage daughter. Another reminder that hockey is just a game and there are much bigger things going on.

Dallas 22. Dallas Stars (8-7-0, Previous: 18) – Just the Thrashers’ luck, Kari Lehtonen(notes) becomes a solid No. 1 goalie on the Stars. Then again, there’s something to be said for a supporting cast.

Calgary 23. Calgary Flames (7-9-0, Previous: 17) – So it was a cab driver that Brett Sutter(notes) slugged in Scottsdale late last week. And guess who comes visiting on Friday? Why it’s Patrick Kane(notes) and the Blackhawks. Calgary cabbies beware!

Atlanta 24. Atlanta Thrashers (7-8-3, Previous: 19) – Pivotal time for the Thrashers, who play their next six games on home ice starting Wednesday night. Atlanta has to take advantage of home cookin’ even if the building is poorly attended. They’ve won just three of eight at home thus far.

Carolina 25. Carolina Hurricanes (8-9-0, Previous: 21) – Much ado about nothing – anticipated changes during three days off after a lopsided loss. The bottom line is when they decided to run this with a tight budget over the summer it was a signal they’d get what they pay for – not much.

Florida 26. Florida Panthers (7-8-0, Previous: 26) – Steve Bernier(notes) is out for at least 3-4 weeks after orbital surgery as a result of Brent Burns(notes) careless butt-end, not intentional, but damaging nonetheless. Burns gets a two-game suspension. It just doesn’t seem fair, does it?

New Jersey 27. New Jersey Devils (5-11-2, Previous: 30) – So Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) scores his first goal in eight games on his only shot of the game on Friday against the worst team in the league and everyone is ready to exhale. Wow, how expectations have lowered in Jersey.

Toronto 28. Toronto Maple Leafs (5-8-3, Previous: 14) – When you know it’s just gotten out of control: The Leafs had to deny locker-room access following Saturday’s morning skate to minimize the anticipated onslaught of questions from the media in anticipation of Nazem Kadri’s(notes) debut.

Edmonton 29. Edmonton Oilers (4-9-3, Previous: 28) – The only thing good about a road trip in which the team was outscored 26-10 was that sucker punch from Rangers idiot Sean Avery to the chin of Oilers defenseman Ladislav Smid(notes). Maybe the play will somehow galvanize the team and make them tougher in the long run. … Well, it was worth a try.

New York Islanders 30. New York Islanders (4-10-3, Previous: 23) – Winless in 10 games? And just when we were all starting to believe this year might be different on Long Island. Another coaching change, another do-over.

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Updated Tuesday, Nov 16, 2010