Not a lot of movement in the rankings this week — the good teams have stayed good, while the not so good teams, well, are still not so good. But there is a new occupant of the top spot. The Ducks are the hottest team in the league right now, which has earned them a jump over the Blackhawks. In the East, the Penguins have been just as hot. They're winning despite big-time roster losses, and they're giving themselves some distance between the Bruins.
Check out this week's NHL Power Rankings and tell us in the comments section where you think your team should be ranked!
1. Anaheim Ducks (26-7-5, Last Week: 2)
Anaheim is the hottest team in the NHL right now. The Ducks have won eight in a row, taking advantage of a soft spot in their schedule with games against the Islanders, OIlers, and Devils. But the streak began with a big win against Chicago. Behind Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks are scoring a ton of goals — Anaheim has 124 so far this season, third most in the league.
2. Chicago Blackhawks (25-7-6, Last Week: 1)
The Blackhawks take a dip a bit this week thanks to how good the Ducks are playing right now. But make no mistake: Chicago is still the team to beat for any club that wants the Cup. The Hawks have scored more goals (140) than any other team in the NHL and the fourth-best power play (22.9 percent) in the league. But Chicago is pretty mediocre in the Central (8-6-1), which could haunt the team as the season goes on.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (27-10-1, Last Week: 3)
The only team as hot as the Ducks is Pittsburgh. The Pens have won seven in a row, 10 straight at home, and 12 of their last 13. That's an impressive streak by any measure, but Pittsburgh has done it while dealing with big-time injuries (Malkin, Letang, Orpik). Of course it helps that the Pens have the best power play (26.2 percent) and second best penalty kill (87.8 percent) in the league.
4. Los Angeles Kings (25-8-4, Last Week: 6)
The Kings are 9-1 in their last 10 games, and all of a sudden LA is breathing down Anaheim's neck. The only loss was against the Blackhawks, but what's important is the Kings are taking care of business in the division: LA has an 8-3-1 record in the Pacific.
5. St. Louis Blues (24-7-4, Last Week: 5)
St. Louis is near the top of the league in both power play (21.9 percent) and penalty kill (85.5 percent), but here's a stat that's really worth noting: The Blues are an incredible 10-0-1 in the Central. They have a top goalscorer in Alexander Steen, and goalie Brian Elliott is shutting down opponents. But if they can keep up their division pace, the Blues could end the season as Central champs.
6. Boston Bruins (24-10-2, Last Week: 4)
Thanks to goalie Tuuka Rask (top five in GAA, save percentage, and wins), the Bruins have an edge over every team in the league. But the difference between Boston and a team like Pittsburgh is goalscoring. The Bruins have only scored 100 goals this season. (Lowly Ottawa has 106.) With Tampa Bay finding its groove again, the B's won't be able to rely solely on Rask to keep them at the top of the Atlantic.
7. Vancouver Canucks (22-11-6, Last Week: 7)
The Canucks had a seven-game win streak snapped by Minnesota last Tuesday, but Vancouver picked up a big win against the Blackhawks on Friday. Still, the Canucks are nine points behind the Ducks in the Pacific. Vancouver is only going to go as far as goalie Roberto Luongo takes them. So that makes the groin injury he suffered against the Jets on Sunday worrisome.
8. Colorado Avalanche (23-10-2, Last Week: 8)
It's pretty amazing that the Avalanche — one of the worst teams in the NHL last season — would be considered disappointing when they play .500 hockey. But with hot starts come high expectations. And right now, Colorado isn't meeting them. The team is 4-4-2 in its last 10 games, and it's looking more and more like they'll challenge for a low postseason berth.
9. San Jose Sharks (22-8-6, Last Week: 9)
The old saying is that sharks can't stop swimming — or else. Right now, the Sharks in San Jose are starting to see how dangerous it is to stop moving forward. The team has lost six of its last 10 games, and have been fallen to third place in the super-competitive Pacfic. If they don't pick up their game, the Sharks could find themselves sinking further.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning (22-11-3, Last Week: 11)
No Steven Stamkos? No problem. Tampa Bay has won four straight and have climbed back into the Atlantic race. The games haven't been pretty — five of their last 10 have gone to OT or shootouts — but the Lightning are finding ways to win. If they can keep up the pace, they'll be within striking distance of the top spot in the division when Stamkos returns, which might be after the Olympic break in February.
11. Montreal Canadiens (22-13-3, Last Week: 10)
The Habs have had a hard time finding any consistency. And with the Lightning finding a groove without Stamkos, that could spell trouble.
12. Minnesota Wild (20-13-5, Last Week: 12)
Minnesota is playing uneven hockey of late, but the Wild are 8-4-1 in the Central. Not too bad considering how tough the competition is.
13. Washington Capitals (19-13-4, Last Week: 13)
Alex Ovechkin notched his 30th goal of the season on Saturday. Meanwhile, his team gave away a point by not finishing off the Devils.
14. Phoenix Coyotes (19-10-6, Last Week: 14)
How good is the Pacific? The Coyotes are next to last in the division with a record that would have them near the top of the Metro Division.
15. Dallas Stars (17-12-6, Last Week: 17)
It will be hard for the Stars to keep pace in the Central with one of the league's worst power plays. It's sputtering at a powerless 11.8 percent.
16. Nashville Predators (16-16-4, Last Week: 15)
The Predators are 3-6-2 over the last ten, which has them at the bottom of the Central. But there's too much talent on this team for them to stay there long.
17. Detroit Red Wings (17-12-9, Last Week: 19)
Detroit has won two in a row after losing the previous six. But the Wings have needed OT and a shootout to get those two wins.
18. Toronto Maple Leafs (18-16-4, Last Week: 16)
At 23.1 percent, Toronto has one of the best power plays in the league. But it's not translating into enough wins.
19. Philadelphia Flyers (16-16-4, Last Week: 22)
The Flyers have stabilized after a horrible start. But this team is still a long ways off from challenging for the division lead.
20. New York Rangers(17-18-2, Last Week: 18)
The loss to the Islanders on Friday stung — not just because the Isles are bad, but because it exposed how far the Rangers still have to go to get back into this season.
21. Carolina Hurricanes (14-14-8, Last Week: 20)
Carolina isn't bad. But they're not very good either. The Canes December record of 4-3-3 is almost the very definition of mediocre.
22.Winnipeg Jets (16-17-5, Last Week: 23)
The Jets are out of the Central basement. But with a 4-5-1 record over their last 10 games, they're not likely to go any higher.
23. New Jersey Devils (15-15-7, Last Week: 24)
After a big OT win against Washington on Saturday, the Devils face Chicago on Monday. That'll be a huge test for what this team is made of.
24. Columbus Blue Jackets(15-17-4, Last Week: 21)
A win against the Flyers snapped a four-game winless streak. The Jackets' chances of scratching back into the Metro race are slim.
25. Florida Panthers (14-18-5, Last Week: 27)
The Panthers had a five-game winning streak snapped by the Jets on Saturday. Florida is now 7-3 in its last 10 — not bad.
26. Ottawa Senators (14-7-7, Last Week: 25)
Ottawa is winless in its last three, 3-4-3 in its last 10, and very much on the wrong track.
27. Calgary Flames (13-17-6, Last Week: 25)
Not much heat coming from the Flames these days. Calgary has lost its last four and has one of the worse goal-scoring differential at -24.
28. New York Islanders (10-20-7, Last Week: 29)
The Isles are the best in at least one way this season: Finding ways to lose.
29. Edmonton Oilers (11-24-3, Last Week: 28)
Edmonton has dropped six straight and only scored six goals in those games. Ouch.
30. Buffalo Sabres (9-24-3, Last Week: 30)
Splitting a home-and-home with Boston might be something to build on.
Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images