Wednesday January 12th, 2011

NOTE: All stats and records are through games of Monday, January 10.

NHL Power Rankings
1Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 1
Historic week as their run of 13-0-3 became their longest streak without a regulation loss since they entered the NHL in 1970. Against Calgary, Daniel Sedin recorded the franchise's 10,000th goal, but, sadly, Roberto Luongo rued losing the shutout with 10.8 seconds left. "I don't like shutouts ? that's why I just let goals in the last five seconds because I think shutouts are overrated," the netminder groused before reassuring the public. "I'm going to punish myself for letting a goal in. I'm a competitor and obviously I want to stop them all and I was a little disappointed that went in there at the end." Last week: 2-0-1
 
2Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 4
Quick, grab your skates. The Red Wings need you. "We need a contribution from everybody right now. We're short-staffed," coach Mike Babcock noted. Lo and behold, Todd Bertuzzi responded with two goals, his first in 15 games, in a win over Edmonton that was career victory No. 401 for Chris Osgood. But that was before Osgood's groin flared up, shelving him for surgery and an unspecified spell, and Brad Stuart suffered a broken jaw against Calgary. Last week: 3-0-1
 
3Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 3
Any one of their well-balanced lines can beat you. In the first of home-and-home wins against New Jersey, Daniel Briere, Ville Leino and Scott Hartnell combined for seven points. "It's good to be able to move things around with the capable people we have," said coach Peter Laviolette. "We can look in different directions each night." And things are, you might say, looking up with a 9-3 mark during the past month. Last week: 2-0-0
 
4Dallas Stars
Last Week: 8
Dallas Stars (25-13-5)
Maybe these winners of seven straight on the road, who are just 0-3-2 at home, should don their away jerseys every night. "Sometimes you play a game that's a little simpler on the road, and I definitely believe that was the case tonight," coach Marc Crawford said after his team's 4-0 win in Minnesota. "You don't worry about trying to please the crowd; you just avoid mistakes." The Wings and Canucks had best be wary of these guys in the spring. Last week: 2-0-1
 
5Washington Capitals
Last Week: 5
After losing to the Rangers by a touchdown in New York, they went 6-0-2 and started looking more like the Stanley-Cup contender that people expect them to be. However, the offense, which got shut out by Tampa Bay, is still not clicking. "We forget what we did last year," said Alex Ovechkin. "[Going the]extra mile won us a lot of games last year. We need it." Last week: 1-0-1
 
6Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 2
After his hat trick in an 8-1 win over Tampa Bay, Chris Kunitz spoke words of irony about his team's superstar, who was noticeably quiet after getting whacked on the head a few nights earlier: "It's nice that we don't have to rely on Sidney Crosby every night." Of course, with Crosby out with a concussion, and Evgeni Malkin struggling (assist, -5) in his absence, the Pens managed to pluck one point out of six and scored just three goals in three games. Last week: 1-2-1
 
7New York Rangers
Last Week: 11
The resilient Blueshirts lost Alex Frolov for the season with an MCL tear in his right knee during an otherwise perfect week. Norwegian Mats Zuccarello, who is just 5'7" and 174 pounds, scored the winner vs. Carolina with 1:51 left in OT and notched the only goal of the shootout two nights later in Dallas, where they recorded their league-high 14th road win of the season. Last week: 3-0-0
 
8Nashville Predators
Last Week: 16
Pick your Pred. Do you want the team that had its second run of five straight wins in the past month or the one that lost five straight in between those two streaks? "It's frustrating when you play like that," said Pekka Rinne, who had a pair of 40-save games during Nashville's splendid week. "If we want to be one of the top teams, we have to be more consistent." Indeed. Last week: 3-0-0
 
9Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 6
After coughing up six goals to the Capitals twice this season, the Bolts slowed the proceedings and beat them, 1-0 in OT. "We came in here and didn't try to run and gun it," said coach Guy Boucher. "The last two times, we were trying to have more skill than their skill guys and play their game." Of course, skill usually finds a way. The Bolts got hammered, 8-1, by the Penguins a day later. Last week: 2-2-0
 
10Boston Bruins
Last Week: 7
Boston Bruins (22-12-7)
Claude Julien ordered Marc Savard's posterior to grab some pine for most of the third period after his giveaway led to a Wild goal in a 3-1 loss. "When you make a mistake like that, a person has to be held accountable," sayeth the coach. Then the B's lost a killer in Montreal after leading 2-0 in the final 2:30. Maybe the notion that such generosity can be fatal finally sunk in. The B's trailed 2-0 in Pittsburgh before scoring four times in the last 3:23 to win. Last week: 1-1-1
 
11Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 19
Should they pull off another deep playoff run, they'll look back to a challenge game that propelled them forward: With Josh Gorges lost to a knee injury for the season and Roman Hamrlik also out, the Habs trailed archrival Boston, 2-0, in the waning minutes at the Bell Centre. Then Scott Gomez scored with 2:22 left, Brian Gionta evened matters with 48 seconds left and Max Pacioretty won it at 3:43 of OT. Last week: 2-0-0
 
12Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 10
Anaheim Ducks (23-18-4)
After sleepwalking through a 4-1 loss to the Preds and learning that Ryan Getzlaf would miss another three to five weeks because of broken bones in his face, they ripped the Jackets, 6-0, for their most lopsided home win in 14 years. "Tonight revealed a lot of character about the team in the way we bounced back," noted Bobby Ryan. "You got a 20-man effort all the way through. It was nice to see guys stick together." And wake up. Last week: 2-1-0
 
13Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 13
The reunited line of Tomas Fleischmann, Matt Duchene and David Jones combined for eight points in a strong win over the Wings -- no thanks to an anemic power play that has produced exactly one goal in its last 24 chances. "Our offense needs to get a couple of goals at some point to give us a chance to win," observed Paul Stastny. "We're doing things the hard way." Last week: 2-1-1
 
14Atlanta Thrashers
Last Week: 12
Ben (over) Eager earned a match penalty for punching Toronto's Colby Armstrong and was later rewarded with a four-game suspension. Of course, the Leafs were happy to capitalize, amassing five power-play goals in their 9-3 win, all on Eager's penalties. "We want our players to play physically with body checks," said coach Craig Ramsay, "but we can't condone that [kind of thuggery]." Armstrong went a bit further, eloquently calling Eager a "meathead" after the game. Last week: 1-1-1
 
15Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 22
Phoenix Coyotes (20-13-9)
A 2-1 OT loss to the Sabres marred an otherwise perfect week, but imagine how good these desert dogs might look if they could only replace their 0-6 mark in extra sessions, and 2-9 in total games decided after regulation, with last season's league-leading 19-1-6 in such matches. "Last year, we were finding ways to win," moaned coach Dave Tippett. "This year, the odds seem to be against us. And those are valuable points we're missing out on." Sure are in this conference. Last week: 3-0-1
 
16Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 21
Minnesota Wild (21-16-5)
With Nick Backstrom nursing his groin, Jose Theodore grabbed Third Star of the Week honors. The veteran backup is now 17-1-3 in his last 21 starts vs. the Pens and his 19 total wins rank second to Martin Brodeur's 40 vs. Pittsburgh. Add his 35-save effort vs. Boston that lifted Minny's mark against the B's to 9-1-1 and you wonder why this Wild bunch can't beat better teams with more consistency. Last week: 3-1-0
 
17Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 18
Snatching points in six straight games, they came from two goals down to beat Florida for the third time in five meetings, then blew a 3-0 lead against Atlanta before Erik Cole won it at 2:09 of OT. "The way we were skating," said coach Paul Maurice, "I thought that game was over. We're fighting in our division and we gave them a point. We can't afford that." Last week: 2-0-1
 
18Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 17
"Marian Hossa and I were looking at the standings this morning," said Patrick Kane after the Hawks whitewashed the Isles, 5-0, on Heritage Night honoring the 50th anniversary of Chicago's '61 Cup. "And we're in 12th. We have to make our own breaks." Good idea since the gods don't always cooperate, as when Viktor Stalberg deked Dallas' Kari Lehtonen and banked a shot off one post, the crossbar and then the other in a 4-2 loss. Last week: 2-1-0
 
19St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 9
St. Louis Blues (20-15-6)
Yes, 2010 ended with such promise as they rolled into 2011 with a five-game win streak only to promptly lose four straight. Trailing 2-1 against the Rangers, they had a golden chance to equalize after Sean Avery's double minor, but the flat power play (2-for-32) fizzled again. "Their four guys outworked our five throughout the four minutes," Blues forward David Backes groused. Last week: 0-2-1
 
20Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 15
A hideous 1-5 on their season-high eight-game homestand, the lads were inspired by a 3-2 loss to the Leafs to conduct a little players-only meeting. "We're halfway through the year, this is a big homestand for us, and the playoffs are at stake," noted captain Dustin Brown. "We need to look each other in the face and get this thing turned around. I'm not sure what we need to do, but we'll figure it out as players." The clock, as tney say, is ticking. (On a bright note, high-upside defenseman Jack Johnson was inked to a seven-year, $30.5-million deal. Last week: 2-2-0
 
21San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 14
San Jose Sharks (21-17-5)
You can smell blood in the Shark Tank where San Jose has dropped six of eight and managed just one goal in losses to the Ducks, Preds, and Sabres. The big three of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley are colder than flounders on ice and won't be heading to Carolina for the All-Star Game. "The last thing we need on this hockey team is to feel sorry for ourselves," observed defenseman Dan Boyle, who will be going with rookie Logan Couture. "It's very important that we stay together and not go, 'Why us?' or 'Why me?' I think we have to find a way." Frankly, it's hard to argue with the man. Last week: 0-3-0
 
22Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 25
Buffalo Sabres (18-18-5)
Snatching five points out of six on their Western swing was made sweeter by Lindy Ruff becoming the second NHL coach after the immortal Toe Blake to reach the 500-win mark while coaching one team during an entire career. "It means I've had a lot of good players to get to that point," Ruff said. "To get 500 and be with one organization, the organization I grew up playing in is special." Last week: 2-0-1
 
23Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 28
Well, well, look who's enjoying life for a change. The once waffle-covered Leafs scored six second-period goals in Atlanta as Tomas Kaberle and Nikolai Kulemin each enjoyed tasty four-point nights. A fourth straight road win ensued in L.A. with AHL call-up James Reimer manning the net and farmhands Darryl Boyce and Joey Crabb putting claws in the offense. "Those guys have all come in and helped us out when we needed it," gushed blueliner Dion Phaneuf. "We've been playing some great hockey for the last 10 days, two weeks. We weren't getting results for a bit...but we're all getting it done together now." Last week: 3-0-0
 
24Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 20
During the course of three miserable defeats, including a 6-0 loss in Anaheim, these mourning Jackets surrendered 12 consecutive goals until Matt Calvert, a 21-year-old rookie, turned on the red light against the Kings. "We actually had a lot of opportunities and we didn't bury them," insisted coach Scott Arniel. "When things are going bad, that's what happens." You bury yourself. Last week: 0-3-0
 
25Calgary Flames
Last Week: 23
Calgary Flames (18-20-4)
After watching his team outshoot the Wings, 39-27, in a 5-4 SO loss, coach Brent Sutter tried not to name names while placing the blame...squarely on Miikka Kiprusoff, who was burned by that old offensive dynamo Todd Bertuzzi in the skills competition. "I'm not pointing fingers," Sutter insisted, while pointing a gnarled digit at his netminder. "I'm not going to do that, but there are saves that have to be made and they go through you. We deserved two points here tonight and we never got them." A bitter pill no doubt. Last week: 0-1-1
 
26Florida Panthers
Last Week: 24
The Cats dropped contests to divisional foes Atlanta, Carolina and Washington by a grand total of four goals. In each, a bad penalty or careless giveaway led to the decisive tally. "That's as good as we can play under these circumstances," Florida coach Peter DeBoer sighed after a 3-2 defeat by the Caps. "Right now we're a team that if we make a mistake or two, we lose. Our margin of error is pretty small." Last week: 0-3-0
 
27Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 27
Ottawa Senators (16-20-6)
With a pair of listless one-goal losses to the Hawks and Bolts, the Sens remain firmly tethered to mediocrity. "It's frustrating," said blueliner Chris Campoli. "There are signs we're getting better, but those signs aren't translating into results. It's like we get there and we fall right back down." Sounds like they have a drinking problem, doesn't it? Last week: 0-1-1
 
28New York Islanders
Last Week: 26
Adding some "new" in New York, Jeremy Colliton potted two power-play goals on the day he was called up from Bridgeport Sound and Kevin Poulin made 34 saves in his first career start as the Isles beat the Avs on an OT goal by John Tavares, a relative greybeard who pushed the club's surprising run to 8-2-1. Perhaps its a sign of growing character that this kiddie corps didn't cave after Colorado's Milan Hejduk tied the game with only four seconds left in regulation. Last week: 1-2-0
 
29Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 29
Edmonton Oilers (13-20-7)
His callow club mired in an 0-6-2 slump, coach Tom Renney noticed a disturbing trend in which his boys often fall behind before forging rallies that come up short. "Maybe they have to be scared, afraid, fearful. I'm not sure," said Renney, figuratively scratching his head. "I'm not sure they understand how competitive they can be." Last week: 1-2-0
 
30New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 30
It's a new era in Jersey where Martin Brodeur dressed as a backup in consecutive games for the first time in seven years. After the poor Devils managed just one soft shot from Jamie Langenbrunner in the first period of a 2-1 loss to the Wild, and dropped a home-and-home to the Flyers, the captain was dealt back to Dallas, effectively raising a white flag for the season. GM Lou Lamoriello insisted he isn't rebuilding the team, though his broom closet appears to be open. Last week: 1-3-0

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