Although there is no denying the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks – the league’s top two teams right now – if there is one club you don’t want to play tonight, it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners of 10 of their last 10.
This despite losing 2012′s MVP, Evgeni Malkin, up front and the irreplaceable Kris Letang in back. Remarkably, this is the third consecutive season in which the Pens have ripped off a 10-game winning streak.
Sidney Crosby has a ridiculous 10-point lead in the scoring race. More impressive: he’s turned Chris Kunitz into the league’s second-highest scorer. If you crawled out from under a rock and only looked at stats, you might believe Kunitz was as dangerous as Steven Stamkos.
Here are this week’s Sportsnet.ca Power Rankings:
How powerful are the Penguins of Pittsburgh? Well, they can lose the game’s defending Hart Trophy winner and the league’s highest-scoring defenceman and keep filling that left column. With a victory over Ovie’s Caps, Sid’s squad has now extended its winning streak to double digits.
I was asked not to write bad things about the Ducks anymore and that’s actually easy to do. They’re closer to Chicago than they are to Detroit. Impressive
The Presidents’ Trophy front-runners recovered from those two pesky regulation losses and entered Wednesday’s showdown with the Ducks on a three-game winning streak. Though Marian Hossa is day-to-day (again), Patrick Kane (37 points) ranks fourth in the scoring race, and looks like he’s having a blast doing it.
Two of Montreal’s point men, Andrei Markov (16) and P.K. Subban (15, despite the sit-out) rank in the top-six among NHL power-play point producers. The Habs have lost just five times in regulation, an Eastern Conference low, and only once in their last 18.
Note to NHL trophy engravers: It’s spelled MacLean, not McLean. Coach Paul has the injury-ravaged Sens – best home record in the NHL – playing fearless, impassioned hockey. Three wins in a row for the team guided by our Jack Adams favourite.
The champs are here. Although catching the cross-town Ducks is improbable at best, L.A. is surging for that No. 4 seed, going 7-3 in their last 10 while playing Jonathan Bernier ample minutes. Good omen: Drew Doughty finally scored a goal.
Winners of six of their last seven, the Wild ripped the Northeast lead from the Canucks’ sweaty palms by beating them twice in eight days. New acquisition Ryan Suter (leading his club in points) is finding his game, and those who actually watch Wild contests regularly are talking Norris.
Although the Bruins should eventually seize the Northeast, Boston has only been playing .500 ball over its last 10. Expect the Bruins to add at the deadline.
The previously slumping Blues have won three of their last four – a trend that should continue as Vladimir Tarasenko, Andy MacDonald and Alex Steen all returned from the IR within the last week.
Winners of six of their last eight, the travel-strained Jets have a good a shot as anybody to seize the final Southleast crown – and No. 3 seed in the East – before realignment pushes them westward. (“Never woulda happened if Grabovski was in the shootout,” mumbles a bitter Leafs fan.)
Gotta love this story. Led by the solid play of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, the Jackets have earned a point in 11 straight contests. Columbus Blue Jackets, 2013 playoff team: How crazy/great does that sound? They’re only two points out of a spot.
The Blueshirts have won back-to-back games and are back in the playoff picture, barely. Over the course of the last month, anytime they score twice, they win.
Unfazed by Vancouver’s white-pantsed Millionaires throwback uniforms, the Red Wings took two of three on their road swing through Western Canada, and Apple’s Siri now recognizes Pavel Datsyuk as “the magic man.”
The Sedin twins are playing well, but they need help. Offensive depth is proving costly, and the goalie-juggling routine is starting to raise eyebrows. Vancouver has lost eight of its last 14. Not a complete collapse, but not typical of their Presidential ways.
The Sharks dropped two games in greater Los Angeles and are clinging to a playoff spot with Dan Boyle’s fingernails. Could be the most active team on the trade market in the next couple weeks.
Despite their winning road record, the Hurricanes have dropped four straight and lost ground to Winnipeg. That said, the Staals & Co. could catch the Jets soon as they have a game in hand.
Losers of a league-high five games heading into Wednesday’s important game against the Lightning, Toronto has juggled its defensive pairs to no end. A healthy Joffrey Lupul and a “freed” Jake Gardiner represent promise to Leafs Nation, but a suspension to Lupul will sting.
The Lightning have won three of five and insist on hanging around the playoff hunt. Vincent Lecavalier’s broken foot and Ryan Malone’s second trip to the IR won’t help, though.
After getting shutout 6-0 by the Predators (sound familiar, Habs fans?), the Oilers have earned points in five straight.
The team relies way too heavily on its offence. The Isles needed to score at least four goals to secure their last eight victories.
Like the rest of the conference, the Stars are hanging around but have failed to make a serious run or retreat. Will be interesting to see what GM Joe Nieuwendyk does with Brendan Morrow and Jaromir Jagr at the deadline…
The Capitals are starting to defeat the teams they should (Buffalo, Carolina), but recent losses to the Penguins and Bruins underline their status as a non-playoff team.
The long-awaited return of Martin Brodeur, who gets the start Thursday, is crucial. Without their rock between the posts, the Devils have slipped all the way to ninth place in the East.
You know things are going south when the Islanders surpass you and leave you dead last in the Atlantic Division.
One of three Western clubs on a four-game skid, the Coyotes had the bad fortune of drawing the Kings (twice), Jackets and Blues while those teams were at peak confidence.
Brutal road trip for the Predators, a defence-first team that gave up 20 goals in its last four games – all losses, and not all the fault of Sergei Kostitsyn.
Six teams stand between the Flames and a playoff berth. So, Mr. Iginla, what’ll it be?
Questions about the future of Buffalo’s leadership and its best players abound. They are deadline sellers, despite linking together consecutive wins for the first time in a month and a half.
A career-best four-game goal streak for captain Gabriel Landeskog hasn’t done much to brighten the mood in Denver. Before scraping by Dallas Wednesday, the Avs had lost four straight.
The NHL’s cellar dwellers are ravaged by injuries and their league-worst minus-36 goal differential is double worse than next-worst Colorado’s minus-18.
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