It's safe to say the 2013-14 NHL season is in full swing. The hits are getting harder, the scoring getting wilder, and the rivalries are getting nastier. If you need proof, just look at Saturday's Boston-Pittsburgh game, their last regular-season matchup this season: Two concussions, two suspensions, and a tightly played 3-2 Boston win. Meanwhile, in the West, the Ducks and Blackhawks are looking for the inside track on the conference lead. Anaheim beat Chicago in their first meeting, but there's still a lot of hockey to play.
Check out this week's NHL Power Rankings and tell us in the comments section where you think your team should be ranked!
1. Chicago Blackhawkss (21-6-5, Last Week: 1)
Chicago followed a six-game win streak with three straight losses. But no matter. The Blackhawks are still playing the best, most balanced hockey in the NHL. Their +27 goals differential and 23.1 power play percentage are among the best in the league, while goalie Corey Crawford is tied for the league lead with 17 wins and Patrick Kane is in a top-five point scorer. But Chicago can't afford another long slide.
2. Anaheim Ducks (21-7-5, Last Week: 4)
After a rough patch last month, the Ducks are back on track, with two quality wins against the Blues and Blackhawks. That last one is especially huge since like the top seed in the West will be likely be the Ducks or the Hawks. The Ducks are up 1-0 on Chicago with two games to go. And with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry among the top five points leaders in the NHL, Anaheim looks poised to take control of the West.
3. Boston Bruins (20-8-2, Last Week: 2)
The Bruins have been one of the best teams in the East all season.But all anyone can talk about is Boston's game against the Penguins on Saturday night. It was ugly. Really ugly. The B's got the win, but Loui Eriksson went out with a concussion (his second in five weeks) and Brad Marchand was kneed in the head (he's OK, Boston says), while Scott Thortnon is likely to be suspended for slew-footing and concussing the Pens' Brooks Orpik.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins (20-10-1, Last Week: 6)
Pittsburgh and Boston are going to be locked in a battle for the East's top seed all season. But, again, their game Saturday was bad. James Neal kneed Boston's Brad Marchand in the head, setting off the series of events that led to Brooks Orpik's concussion and earning Neal a six-game suspension. Earlier in the game, Orpik concussed Loui Erikkson with a high (but clean) hit. This is going to be a great rivalry, but Saturday's game was awful.
5. St. Louis Blues (19-6-3, Last Week 5)
There's an old saying: To be the best, you have to beat the best. And right now, the Blues are having a tough time doing that. St. Louis has fallen off the pace in the Central, but worse the Blues are losing to the best teams in the West: The Ducks, Sharks, and Kings. Make no mistake, this is a playoff-caliber team. How far the Blues get, though, depends on their ability to win consistently against the class of the conference.
6. Colorado Avalanche (20-8-0, Last Week: 3)
It wasn't so long ago that the Avalanche were dominating the Central. Now they're in fourth place, behind the Blackhawks, Blues, and Wild. They won't stay there long — Colorado is a better team than Minnesota, at least — but they're starting to look more like a young team with a huge amount of potential that still has a lot to learn. This much is certain, at least: The Avs are going to keep the Central interesting.
7. San Jose Sharks (19-6-5, Last Week: 7)
The Sharks followed an 0-1-4 stretch with a six game win streak. But now they've lost three in a row by a combined score of 13-5. Will the real San Jose stand up? The team is still second in the Pacific, only a few points behind the Ducks. But the Sharks can't keep following strings of wins with a bunch of losses (even if they're in OT and shootouts) and hope to be the division champ.
8. Los Angeles Kings (19-7-4, Last Week: 8)
With backup goalie Ben Scrivens filling in for the injured Jonathan Quick, the Kings are 6-1-3 and have one of the best penally kills in the NHL. But they've only scored 79 goals, which is second worst in the Pacific. Los Angeles is a playoff-caliber club, but the team needs to start finding the net more often to make a serious run at the Ducks and Sharks — they're outscoring the Kings by a wide margin.
9. Minnesota Wild (18-9-5, Last Week: 11)
Minnesota is in the Central Division hunt, but its win a bunch-lose a bunch play will bite them eventually. The Wild are only at a +7 goals differential, which is not good enough to keep pace with Chicago and St. Louis. But if they can string some consistent play together, they could give the top of the division a serious challenge.
10. Montreal Canadiens (19-9-3, Last Week: 13)
The Habs are 9-0-1 in their last 10 games, which has allowed them to get back into the Atlantic Division race. And they're winning with one of the best power plays and penalty kills in the NHL. Boston and Pittsburgh get all the attention, but keep an eye on Montreal. If it can sustain this pace, the Canadiens will be a team no one wants to face.
11. Tampa Bay Lightning (17-10-2, Last Week: 9)
Tampa Bay is going to bounce in and out of the top 10 until Stamkos comes back. When he does, all bets are off in the Atlantic Division.
12. Vancouver Canucks (17-10-5, Last Week: 12)
The Canucks are on a four-game win streak. Have they finally found their groove?
13. Phoenix Coyotes (16-8-5, Last Week: 10)
Phoenix has hit a rough patch, going 3-4-3 in its last 10 games.
14. Washington Capitals (16-12-2, Last Week: 14)
As Ovechkin goes, so do the Caps. And right now Ovechkin is pulling ahead in the goal-scoring race.
15. Toronto Maple Leafs (16-12-3, Last Week: 16)
Going 3-5-2 in 10 games has cost Toronto a spot at the top of the Atlantic.
16. Detroit Red Wings (15-9-7, Last Week: 15)
Detroit has scratched its way back into the Atlantic race. Now they have to stop dropping games to the likes of the Flyers and Panthers.
17. New York Rangers (15-15-1, Last Week: 17)
Henrik Lundqvist is keeping this team competitve while it finds its rhythm.
18. Nashville Predators (13-14-3, Last Week: 18)
The Preds are in the basement of the Central, but they're too talented to stay there long.
19. Dallas Stars (14-9-5, Last Week: 19)
Tyler Seguin is making the Stars worth watching.
20. Winnipeg Jets(14-13-4, Last Week: 20)
After a strong start, the Jets have cooled.
21. Philadelphia Flyers (13-14-2, Last Week: 21)
The Flyers are settling in as a .500 team — a huge lift from where they were at the start of the season.
22. New Jersey Devils (12-13-6, Last Week: 22)
New Jersey has a top-five penalty kill. That's something to build on.
23. Carolina Hurricanes (13-12-5, Last Week: 23)
The Hurricanes are in the middle of the Metro pack. But their 12.8 power play percentage is way too low to make a run at the division.
24. Columbus Blue Jackets(12-14-3, Last Week: 25)
Columbus has sunk like a stone in the Metro Division.
25. Ottawa Senators (11-14-5, Last Week: 24)
Ottawa doesn't have the power to get back into the Atlantic race.
26. Calgary Flames (11-14-4, Last Week: 26)
Calgary is a team in desperate need of an identity.
27. Edmonton Oilers (10-18-3, Last Week: 27)
The Edmonton rebuild continues — slowly.
28. Florida Panthers(9-17-5, Last Week: 29)
The Panthers have a -34 goal differential. The only team worse is Buffalo.
29. New York Islanders (8-17-15, Last Week: 28)
They haven't all come in regulation, but nine straight losses is still pretty awful.
30. Buffalo Sabres (6-22-2, Last Week: 30)
Buffalo better watch out: The Islanders are making a play for the worst team in the NHL.
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