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Depleted Canucks cling to top

NOTE: All stats, records and standings through games of Monday, Feb. 14.

NHL Power Rankings
1Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 1
They've scored 55 power-play goals and no other team has hit 50. Still, a tricky problem could be the growing lack of power on the blueline with Dan Hamhuis (concussion), Keith Ballard (knee) and Alex Edler (back) out of the lineup. At least Sami Salo is finally back after his offseason floor hockey injury. "I trust the guys in front of me," insists goalie Roberto Luongo, whose trust may be tested in the coming weeks. Last week: 1-2-0
 
2Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 2
They certainly improved their 2011 Cup prospects by acquiring forward Kris Versteeg from the Maple Leafs in return for first- and third-round picks. Versteeg didn't excel in Toronto, but he was a fine supporting player in Chicago, where he won a championship while surrounded by good players. The expectation that he could be a front-line player for a young Leafs team that didn't have enough to talent to complement him made him a poor fit. Last week: 1-1-0
 
3Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 6
They got a huge boost last week with the return of center Pavel Datsyuk, out 19 games with a broken hand, who had a goal and assist in his return game against the Rangers and was usually skating between Jiri Hudler and Dan Cleary. "He's a shot in the arm for sure," said coach Mike Babcock, who team has been hit hard by injuries. "We're a lot stronger up the middle than we were a few days ago." Last week: 2-1-0
 
4Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 4
Here's one the NHL's most remarkable stats of the season: Tampa Bay is 17 games above .500, but has been outscored by a goal. That's because the Bolts are an astounding 19-3 in one-goal games and 7-2 in two-goal games. "We feel like we can always win the close ones," says Martin St. Louis. "If we're close, we have a good shot." Last week: 1-1-0
 
5Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 3
Even after losing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Pens still aren't done being pummeled by with the injury jinx. Eric Tangradi suffered a concussion after being jumped and thumped by Islander Trevor Gillies. Then the Pens' bus was rear-ended en route to an outdoor practice in New York City, leaving the players to find alternate transportation. Amazingly, their cab rides were the safest part of their week. Last week: 1-3-0
 
6Nashville Predators
Last Week: 11
During an encouraging, unbeaten week, they acquired some veteran savvy in Mike Fisher from Ottawa for a first-round pick. He's played in 75 playoff games, more than any other Nashville player and that speaks to this team's hopes for the spring. "Mike Fisher is a player we have always liked," said GM David Poile. "What I really like is this is not a rental. Mike is signed for the next two years. This is a deal that will hopefully help us down the stretch this year and for more years to come." Last week: 2-0-0
 
7Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 13
Phoenix Coyotes (30-19-9)
Their fifth straight win (over the Caps), left them atop the Pacific at the latest point in a season that they've been division leaders since their move to Arizona in 1996. "Just wait a day, we'll be back in fourth, that's how tight this thing is right now," said the ever-realistic Ray Whitney, who has seven points in his last four games. "It's the tightest I've ever seen it. You have to win five in a row just to hold your head above water." Last week: 3-0-0
 
8Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 12
Anaheim Ducks (32-21-4)
Age is just a number for Teemu Selanne, whose 40-year-old legs helped carry the Ducks to a perfect week. He now has two goals and six assists in his last four games. "That's the reason I'm still playing. I don't feel 40," said Selanne, who has 53 points this season. "Of course, there's some days I don't feel that good, but I had those days when I was 20. I'm still enjoying the game and I can skate." And help the Ducks win. Last week: 3-0-0
 
9Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 15
Minnesota Wild (30-20-5)
Winning six of seven is a nice roll as they try to scratch out a playoff berth. They've won four by one goal and two others by two, all against conference foes. Clayton Stoner capped an stretch by skating off the ice with arms raised, following his game-ending punch out of David Backes in a 3-1 win over St. Louis. "We responded in every possible way," said Cal Clutterbuck, who scored three goals in two games last week. Last week: 3-0-0
 
10Boston Bruins
Last Week: 7
Boston Bruins (31-18-7)
With Marc Savard gone for the season, if not longer, they addressed some of their need for depth up front by acquiring Chris Kelly from Ottawa for a second-round pick. Granted Kelly is no front-liner, but he does give the B's some of the speed they've been noticeably lacking, especially in home-and-home losses to Detroit. Coach Claude Julien described his team a "step slow" in those games and he was right. Last week: 1-2-0
 
11Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 8
The rest of the Habs could take a lesson in how to compete from David Desharnais, the energetic forward listed at 5'7," but who is only that tall when he stands on top of the goal net. He has six points in his last three games. "It's not about his offensive ability;" says teammate Ryan White. "He out-competes guys that are 6-foot-4 every night. He battles in front of the net, he goes into the corners. When you have a guy like that, how don't you come out to play when you see him play as hard as he does?" Indeed. Last week: 1-1-1
 
12San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 9
San Jose Sharks (30-21-6)
They upped their hot streak to 9-0-1 before hitting a few bumps with losses to New Jersey and Florida. The defeats were a reminder of the Sharks' still-uncertain position in the skin-tight West. "I think we dug ourselves a huge hole with that (earlier six-game) losing streak," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "That's a big hole that we're still just now kind of coming out of a little bit. As good as things are, I don't think you see too many guys getting too excited. We've got a lot of work ahead of us." Last week: 2-2-0
 
13Dallas Stars
Last Week: 10
Dallas Stars (31-19-6)
The struggling Stars had something they hadn't seen since November: company atop the Pacific. After a 2-6-1 skid, they allowed Phoenix, Anaheim and San Jose to share parts of the division lead in what is suddenly a wide-open race. Even more worrisome, the Stars play eight of their next 10 games on the road, a swing that will include a match in the buildings of every divisional foe. Last week: 1-2-1
 
14Washington Capitals
Last Week: 5
They fired duds all week, managing only three goals in three games against nonconference foes San Jose, L.A. and Phoenix. In their last 21 games, the Caps have scored more than three goals only twice. "Sometimes we know what we're doing," sighed coach Bruce Boudreau. "Other times, we're running around." Last week: 0-3-0
 
15Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 14
After a funk in late December and most of January, they've gone on a 6-0-2 run and are finally seeing some life from Anze Kopitar, who must play like the All-Star he is if L.A. is to have a chance to extend its season. "My shoulder's gotten a little rusty because I haven't had my arms in the air for a while," he said after scoring only his second goal in 21 games. "I'm ready to get the rust off it and celebrate a little more." Someone pass the man an oil can. Last week: 2-1-0
 
16Calgary Flames
Last Week: 17
Calgary Flames (29-22-8)
Since mid-January, the surging, crackling Flames have used a 9-1-2 run to move from 14th place in the West to eighth while administering a 9-1 roasting of Colorado last week. Still, playoff-bound or not, when up against a high cap and no-movement clauses, the streak may ironically dissuade the front office from retooling for the long haul, which may be its best course of action. Last week: 2-2-0
 
17Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 19
With a playoff push absolutely necessary, they impressively held three teams ? Penguins, Avs and Sharks -- to one goal apiece. What's more, the Jackets stitched together a five-game win streak on the road and a good amount of optimism to go with it. "It's our compete level," says coach Scott Arniel. "We're a real team. If we're not going with everybody, we don't have success. Our wins have come when everybody shows up for 60 minutes." Last week: 3-1-1
 
18New York Rangers
Last Week: 16
It took the depleted Pens to spark the Blueshirts, who used a five-goal outburst to stop an 0-5-1 skid and correct some recent flaws. "We were in the middle of a thing where we couldn't score more than two goals a game and it was being said in here (the dressing room) that we need to go hard to the net, get deflections and get rebounds," Vaclav Prospal said. "At that crucial time in the first period we got two dirty goals. That's what makes the difference. All of a sudden the power play starts clicking." Of course, this sort of thing has to last down the stretch. Last week: 1-1-0
 
19Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 18
After blowing a 3-0 lead in Dallas and falling 4-3 in a shootout, they rallied from 2-0 down only to lose in Phoenix and sink to 2-4-2 in their last eight. Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa missed the net entirely during the shootout in Phoenix. "(The rally) shows a lot of character, but we have a lot of character in this room," said goalie Corey Crawford. "What we need is points." Last week: 1-0-2
 
20Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 23
Buffalo Sabres (26-22-6)
Though the offense was hot (22 goals in four games), it may be time to let meal ticket netminder Ryan Miller cool his heels a bit more. He looked weary and overworked in his 31st straight start, a 7-6 loss to the Islanders. "Give me a break, they scored goals," groused the cranky Miller, who gave up five ion just 18 shots. "I'm just frustrated." Though the Sabres are mounting a playoff push, coach Lindy Ruff may have to cross his fingers and place more trust in backups Patrick Lalime or Jhonas Enroth. Last week: 2-1-0
 
21St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 22
St. Louis Blues (25-21-9)
The return of a healthy Andy McDonald has energized linemates Brad Boyes and David Backes, but after the Blues blew four one-goal leads, including one in the final minutes against Minnesota, Backes observed, "We need every point we can get. We can't keep giving points away like this." Two nights later, a generous gaffe by Vancouver's Roberto Luongo gifted them two, but you don't make the playoffs by winning three times in 10 games, especially when you're six points out of eighth place. Last week: 2-1-1
 
22Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 20
They twice scored goals late in third periods to earn points and hang around the final playoff spot in the East. Grit aside, they needed stellar work by goalie Cam Ward to snap their three-game skid, particularly when they were outshot 43-17 in a recent win in Atlanta. "We can't keep asking him to bail us out," said Erik Cole. "We need a 60-minute commitment from everyone." Last week: 1-2-0
 
23Atlanta Thrashers
Last Week: 24
They raised some eyebrows by inking colorful blueliner Dustin Byfuglien to a five-year, $26 million contract, which may well be a move based on marketing potential rather than on-ice consistency. Still, this is an organization that has lost Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa, Marc Savard and Dany Heatley in recent years and the move assures fans that at least one favorite will stay. However, a playoff berth would be even more helpful in planting fannies in the seats. Last week: 1-1-0
 
24Florida Panthers
Last Week: 25
They lead the NHL in one-goal losses (12), a true sign of the immaturity that has plagued them this season, so their recent 3-2 win against the hot Sharks was satisfying. "It was a good win for us," coach Pete DeBoer declared. "Hopefully, it builds some confidence. We're a young team and we're a little fragile at points." Last week: 1-2-0
 
25Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 21
Alas, nagging foot ailments kept Peter Forsberg from making a successful comeback. "One thing's for sure," he said. "I won't be able to second-guess myself. I really tried." It was a blow to the struggling, injury-riddled Avs, who would have benefitted greatly from the steadying presence, even at age 37, of a Stanley Cup- and Hart Trophy-winner. Last week: 0-4-0
 
26New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 27
Here's a big reason why the new and improved Devs look a lot like their old selves: they're playing Jersey-style defense. With Jacques Lemaire sneaking the trap back into the equation, the Devils lead the NHL in fewest shots allowed per game (27.3). "We want to make it hard for teams," says the wily coach. "Make the other guys work for their chances. That's how we've won in the past." Last week: 3-0-0
 
27New York Islanders
Last Week: 28
Each time they try to show some moxie, it comes at a price. Their attempt to avenge Rick DiPietro's injury at the hands of Pittsburgh's Brent Johnson resulted in a $100,000 fine and two suspensions. But it didn't phase this suddenly scrappy bunch too much. After outslugging the Pens 9-3, they outgunned the Sabres 7-6 on Michael Grabner's hat trick. Their goaltending situation is anyone's guess, though. Grab your pads. They can use you. Last week: 3-0-0
 
28Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 26
Things are bad when your own goalie calls you out for poor effort, as J.S. Giguere did following a 3-0 loss to Montreal. "You have to make sure you compete in every aspect of the game, and I don't think we were willing to do that for the whole 60 minutes," said Jiggy, channeling the spirit of Gump Worsley, who famously replied "the Rangers" when asked which team gave him the most trouble. Gump, of course, was playing for them at the time. Last week: 1-2-0
 
29Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 29
Ottawa Senators (18-30-8)
As the housecleaning began with the departure of Mike Fisher to Nashville, they at least snapped their 11-game winless streak against that old powerhouse the Oilers as Brian Elliott's personal skid ended at 13 games, even though he made only 15 saves. Midway through their previous game, they'd led the Flames only to be burned by four unanswered goals. "The way we are mentally and emotionally," noted coach Cory Clouston, his suit and tie still smoking, "we're very fragile". Last week: 1-1-0
 
30Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 30
Edmonton Oilers (16-32-8)
For a team that's been setting pancake-like standards, it took apathy to a new low in a 4-0 loss to Anaheim, coughing up a goal in the game's first 34 ticks, managing just 12 shots and extending its powerless-play to three goals in 82 tries over 23 games. "Up until about three games ago, we had been playing very well and just not getting results," said Taylor Hall. "Now, we're kind of getting what we deserve." Last week: 0-3-0
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