Chicago is rolling and starting to create some separation in the West's Central Division, and in the Pacific the Ducks are starting to pull away from the Sharks. Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference is still not very good (two of the worst teams in the league, the Sabres and Islanders, are in the East), but the Penguins and Bruins have emerged as the elite teams in the conference.
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 Blackhawks (24-7-5, Last Week: 1)
Despite a few stumbles, the Blackhawks are playing like they want back-to-back Stanley Cups. They have the best record in the West, and are six points ahead of the Blues in the Central Division. But one stat is a bit troubling: Chicago is only 7-6-1 against divisional opponents. The Hawks need to beat Colorado, St. Louis, and Minnesota on a consistent basis, or their hold on the top spot could be in danger.
2. Anaheim Ducks (23-7-5, Last Week: 2)
In the West's other division, meanwhile, Anaheim is taking care of business. With a 7-0-2 record against other teams in the Pacific, the Ducks have a slim three-point lead over the Kings. But with a power play clicking at a terrible rate of 16.7 percent, this team has work to do to remain the Pacific's top team.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (23-10-1, Last Week: 4)
The Pens have been down players all season — Evegeni Malkin was hurt in Saturday's game against Detroit, Kris Letang is out again, and on and on — but this team is finding ways to win. It helps that Pittsburgh has the second-best penalty kill (87.4 percent) and the best power play (a ridiculous 26.5 percent) in the league. The East is still a bit in shambles, but the Pens are starting to run away in the Metropolitan Division.
4. Boston Bruins (22-9-2, Last Week: 3)
Meanwhile, the Bruins have a three-point edge on the Canadiens in the East's Atlantic Division. Boston is playing great hockey, especially in net — Tuukka Rask is top-five in GAA and save percentage — and the B's might be the most complete team in the East right now. But with Montreal getting hot and Steven Stamkos getting closer to returning to the Lightning, the Atlantic race could quickly became a three-team battle.
5. St. Louis Blues (22-6-3, Last Week 5)
St. Louis is six points behind Chicago in the Central, but Blues fans have to be excited. The team is near the top of the league in both power play (23.7 percent) and penalty kill (84.1 percent). Winger Alexander Steen is second in the league in goals scored (22). And the Blues have played four fewer games than Chicago, so the division lead is within reach. Best of all? St. Louis' division record: 10-0-1 in the Central. Watch out, Chicago.
6. Los Angeles Kings (22-8-4, Last Week: 8)
It feels like we've been saying this a lot, but Kings backup goalie Ben Scrivens has been huge for Los Angeles. With franchise goalie Jonathan Quick injured, Scrivens has kept his team in the Pacific race. The Kings are only three points behind the Ducks, but their 4-3-1 divisional record is concerning — especially since two of those losses have come lowly Calgary.
7. Vancouver Canucks (20-10-5, Last Week: 12)
Vancouver has won seven in a row, and is looking like a Cup-caliber team. But we've been down this road with the Canucks already this season. The team rips off a win streak, then starts slumping. This time might be different, though. The Canucks are struggling on the power play (16.1 percent), but their penalty kill is clicking at a sick 90.2 percent clip. They're also getting stingy goaltending, and the bounces are going their way.
8. Colorado Avalanche (21-9-1, Last Week: 6)
After dominating the Central at the start of the season, the Avalanche have slipped to 10 points behind Chicago and are in third place in the division. They're middle of the pack in a lot of statistical categories, but Colorado is scoring inconsistently and its goaltending has become average after a hot start. This is still a solid team, and there's still a lot of hockey to play. But the Avs have a lot that needs addressed.
9. San Jose Sharks (20-7-6, Last Week: 7)
The Sharks followed a six-game win streak by going 1-4-1. That won't cut it in the Pacific, where the Ducks and Kings could pull away at any moment and the Canucks are starting to get hot. What might be most troubling is who San Jose is losing to: the Islanders in a shootout, the Hurricanes, the Predators. These are teams the Sharks should feast on. Instead, they're playing down to their competition — something they can't do.
10. Montreal Canadiens (20-12-3, Last Week: 10)
Montreal is only three points behind the Bruins in the Atlantic, and this is a team that has shown flashes of great things. The Habs have one of the best power plays in the league (86.7 percent) and a solid penalty kill, but they're only 3-3-1 in the division. In the East, the teams that make it to the postseason will be the ones who can get it done in their division. And right now, Montreal is having trouble in that regard.
11. Tampa Bay Lightning (19-11-3, Last Week: 11)
News of Stamkos skating with the Canadian national team is great news for Lightning fans.
12. Minnesota Wild (19-11-5, Last Week: 9)
The Wild have been playing solid hockey, but they have been unable to keep pace with the Hawks and Blues.
13. Washington Capitals (18-12-3, Last Week: 14)
Ovechkin is making another run at the Hart Trophy as league MVP. But the Caps need more production across the board to challenge the Pens in the Metro Division.
14. Phoenix Coyotes (18-9-5, Last Week: 13)
Phoenix has played the fewest games of any team in the Pacific Division. If they get hot, they could make a run at the Ducks (or at least the Sharks).
15. Nashville Predators (16-14-3, Last Week: 17)
The Preds have won three in a row after going winless in their last five. But they're still way off the Central Division pace.
16. Toronto Maple Leafs (17-14-3, Last Week: 15)
The Leafs are getting left behind in the Atlantic. At least fans have the Winter Classic to look forward to.
17. Dallas Stars (15-11-5, Last Week: 19)
In a crowded Central, the Stars aren't going to compete for a division title. But they're quietly putting together a respectable season.
18. New York Rangers (16-17-1, Last Week: 18)
The Rangers can't sustain any momentum. Until they find it, they're out of any postseason conversation.
19. Detroit Red Wings (15-11-9, Last Week: 16)
Detroit is winless in its last five — not a stat commonly attached to the Red Wings.
20. Carolina Hurricanes(14-13-7, Last Week: 23)
The Hurricanes are in third place in the Metro Division. But they're 12 points out of first, which might be insurmountable.
21. Columbus Blue Jackets (14-15-4, Last Week: 24)
Columbus has gone 4-1-1 in its last five, including quality wins against the Lightning and Wild and an OT loss to the Blues.
22. Philadelphia Flyers (14-15-4, Last Week: 21)
After seemingly getting back on track, the Flyers have gone 1-2-2 in their last five.
23. Winnipeg Jets (14-15-5, Last Week: 20)
Stuck in the West's super-competitive Central Division, the Jets have to wondering if it's too late to go back east.
24. New Jersey Devils(13-15-6, Last Week: 22)
New Jersey's win against Tampa Bay on Saturday was the Devils' first regulation win in nine games.
25. Calgary Flames (13-15-5, Last Week: 26)
The Flames needed a shootout to beat Buffalo after scoring only one goal in regulation.
26. Ottawa Senators (13-15-6, Last Week: 25)
A .500 season would be a big win for Ottawa.
27. Florida Panthers (12-17-5, Last Week: 28)
Going 6-4 in their last 10 is not too bad for a not-very-good Panthers team.
28. Edmonton Oilers(11-21-3, Last Week: 27)
The West's first 20-game losers play in Edmonton.
29. New York Islanders (9-19-6, Last Week: 29)
The Isles finally broke their winless streak. But any shot at the postseason is still a very distant hope.
30. Buffalo Sabres (7-23-3, Last Week: 30)
Buffalo is on pace to be historically bad: So far, their wins-in-regulation percentage is on pace to be the worst in the 96-year history of the NHL.
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