Another week has come and gone in the NHL, and it was an excellent week which may strengthened the case of the big guns and their respective quests for Stanley Cup glory.
Throughout the past week, the league's top teams - the Vegas Golden Knights, Carolina Hurricanes, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, and New York Rangers - have shown their strength by continuing to win.
To begin, the league-leading Golden Knights took six of eight possible points with a 2-0-2 record this week. Jack Eichel was one of the best players in the league this week, with two game-winning goals and seven points. The Golden Knights have the Western Conference's best record of 16-5-4 and lead the NHL with 36 points.
Also out West, the Colorado Avalanche went 1-0-2 for four points, good enough to stay on top of the Central Division. However, a team of this calibre will not be happy with one win from three games, especially when those defeats after regulation came against the much-weaker Arizona Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks.
The Carolina Hurricanes had an almost perfect week, with a 3-0-1 record. This was led by a six point week from Sebastian Aho, and it was a major step in battling through a tough Metropolitan Division. They now have a 6-2-1 record in their last nine games and sit in second in the division.
Their division rivals, the New York Rangers, also had a great week, with two wins in three games which is helping them sustain their division lead. The Boston Bruins also continued their hot start with a 2-1-0 record to match the 35-point tally of the Rangers, who have a game in hand.
Watch out for Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. The season is now two months old and it was a challenging start for star-studded Edmonton, but their four-game winning streak indicates they may return to their best.
This winning momentum began on November 24th, and it is one they would like to hold onto for a long time. In these last four games, they have outscored opponents by a margin of 21-7.
Even with this recent success, they still hold a weak record of 9-12-1, which has them seventh out of eight Pacific Division teams but just five points off of fourth place.
Leading the way in this stretch has been McDavid, who still has the shortest odds for the Hart Trophy at +350. The captain seems to be back to his old self, and he gathered two goals and 11 assists, averaging over 3 points per game during this time.
Alongside McDavid is Leon Draisaitl, who has been strong as well with four goals and six points, and he will also surely be a major part in this attempted season revival.
Goaltender Stuart Skinner will also be vital, and in these four games he has shown he can be leaned heavily on after recording four wins and one shutout.
There has not been much to cheer for in terms in Canada unless you're a Vancouver Canucks fan, but this was a good week collectively for teams north of the border. Combined, the seven Canadian teams earned a 12-8-2 record in the past week.
Starting off with the Montreal Canadiens, they came out of this week with a 1-1-1 record, which is on par with how they are expected to play as a rebuilding team that's missing its star centre in Kirby Dach.
Their rival Toronto Maple Leafs earned a positive 2-0-1 record, although their struggles to secure regulation wins remains a concern.
In the Eastern Conference, Ottawa Senators did not fare so well as they suffered a 1-2-0 record.
Over in the Western Conference, the aforementioned Oilers went 3-0-0 to fly the flag for Canada, which could be huge for them going forward as they look to make a playoff push. But they are still behind their Pacific Division rivals in the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames, who each posted strong 2-1-0 records this week.
Closing it out was the Winnipeg Jets, who suffered a cool down after what had been an impressive start. They went 1-3-0 despite the rest of Canada taking a much-needed step forward this week.