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Avalanche, Ducks overtake Sharks in Week 5 Power Rankings

Photo: Andrew Dieb/Icon SMI

The Avalanche just keep rolling despite the ugly sideshow involving goalie Semyon Varlamov.

That the San Jose Sharks find themselves someplace other than top spot in our Power Rankings for the first time this season speaks more to the continued success of their competition than any failing of their own. It's unfair to dock them for losing twice in extra time, but how can anyone ignore an Avalanche team that simply refuses to lose while playing with the sort of emotional baggage that would sink a lesser club? Or fail to recognize the Ducks, who just reeled off a 5-0-1 mark in the last six games of a road trip to propel themselves into first overall in the NHL?

Tough league, eh? And a tough break for the Sharks.

Meanwhile, the Rangers seem to have remembered how to win games, at least at Madison Square Garden, and put some distance between themselves and the league's legitimate drain circlers. Henrik Lundqvist isn't at his usual all-world level yet, but you could see him rounding into form during that three-game winning streak.

Here's how the rest of the league stacks up after Week 5:

Notable rise: New York Rangers (29 to 18)

Notable drop: Boston Bruins (4 to 13)

NHL Power Rankings
1Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 2
How unlikely is Colorado's rise to the top? According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Avs are just the fifth team in NHL history to begin a season by winning 12 of its first 13 games -- and they managed to take the last two with Semyon Varlamov's situation hanging over them. (Last week: 2-0-0)
 
2Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 3
Anaheim Ducks (12-3-1)
They made the most of their season-long eight-game road trip, going 5-2-1 to take over top spot in the Western Conference. The big guns came through (Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf combined for seven goals), but the kids were alright, too. Devante Smith-Pelley had four assists and was plus-6, while Frederik Andersen went 3-0 with a 1.33 GAA and .938 save percentage. (Last week: 4-0-0)
 
3San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 1
A touch of complacency? Maybe. Or maybe it was just a couple of bad bounces. The Kings beat them in OT and the Coyotes needed five rounds of the shootout to steal a W from the SAP Center, so it's not like the Sharks have fallen apart. Let's see how they react with their next two at home. (Last week: 0-0-2)
 
4Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 6
Their offense was finally cooking, scoring 16 goals during the team's three-game winning streak, before it was cooled down on Sunday by Reto Berra, a rookie netminder making his NHL debut. No matter. The swagger is back, and the Hawks (now third overall and averaging 3.33 goals per game) look like a very dangerous club. (Last week: 2-0-1)
 
5Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 10
They ran their winning streak to four games by sweeping a home-and-home with Columbus, but it was last Wednesday's gritty win over Boston that was telling. They held the B's to 23 shots and exorcised the demons of last spring with their physical play and timely goal scoring. (Last week: 3-0-0)
 
6Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 7
There aren't many better stories this season than Josh Harding, who moved to 6-0 with a 1.06 GAA and .950 save percentage at Xcel Energy Center after shutting out the Devils on Sunday, but don't overlook the play of Minnesota's second line when considering the Wild's success. Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter and Player of the Week Jason Pominville are providing the depth scoring that this franchise has always lacked. (Last week: 2-0-0)
 
7Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 13
So here's how it plays out these days in Bizarro-Phoenix: the Yotes score a lot of goals (fourth in the league), the defense concentrates on offense (a string of five games with at least three points from the blueline was snapped on Saturday), and they don't seem to care about how many shots they're giving up (35.5 on average, 27th overall). A five-game winning streak suggests, somehow, it's working. (Last week: 3-0-0)
 
8St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 5
St. Louis has one of the league's top records, but coach Ken Hitchcock says his team has been over-relying on its top line of Alex Steen, David Backes and T. J. Oshie. The numbers suggest he's right -- the trio has accounted for 43 of the team's 78 points -- but he's taking a chance by breaking them up. It'll be interesting to see how the Blues react. (Last week: 2-1-0)
 
9Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 9
Western Conference clubs may be feasting on the East this season, but they haven't taken a bite out of the Bolts. Tampa Bay moved to a perfect 5-0 against the West after knocking off the Blues on Saturday night. Securing those points has been the difference-maker as the Lightning have taken over first place in the Atlantic Division. (Last week: 2-1-0)
 
10Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 12
About the only thing that's not going right for the Canucks these days is the power play -- it was an abysmal 1-for-9 on Saturday against the Maple Leafs to drop Vancouver's overall percentage to just 9.6 -- that's 28th in the league. But they're still finding ways to win, with Roberto Luongo on his game and a mix-and-match second line led by Chris Higgins that's contributing in all three zones. (Last week: 1-1-0)
 
11Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 8
They keep defying the dire warnings of the advanced stats clique and winning games the old-fashioned way: by scoring more goals than the other guys. That might get a little trickier now that both Tyler Bozak (lower body) and Dave Bolland (Achilles) are on IR. The pressure's on Nazem Kadri and James van Riemsdyk to take on two-way duties while continuing to light the lamp. (Last week: 2-1-0)
 
12Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 14
Pulling six points out of a Canadian road swing that saw them play four games in six nights looks swell on the surface, especially on the heels of a four-game losing streak. But as Monday's crushing loss in Winnipeg illustrates, there's still a lack of consistent offensive production that's wasting too many good efforts in net by Jimmy Howard. They're moving in the right direction, but they're not there yet. (Last week: 3-1-0)
 
13Boston Bruins
Last Week: 4
The B's have dropped three of four and it hasn't been because of a bad break here or there. They haven't looked particularly good, especially in losses to the Isles and Devils, teams they should be handling with relative ease. Nothing to worry about, but it'd be nice for someone to have a Big Papi-type week and turn this thing around. (Last week: 1-2-0)
 
14Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 11
Anze Kopitar is becoming an extra time nightmare for the opposition. He scored the OT winner last Wednesday to help the Kings knock off the Sharks, and has netted the clincher in three of their four shootout wins this season. (Last week: 1-2-0)
 
15Nashville Predators
Last Week: 15
The Preds know how to take the lead...they just don't know how to hold it. They were up 3-0 in the first period against the Coyotes last Thursday, but threw it away in a 5-4 shootout loss. On Saturday, they coughed up a 3-1 lead to the Kings, but managed to hold onto that one. Anyone worried about the goaltending yet? (Last week: 1-0-1)
 
16Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 16
With the Olympics fast approaching, Michel Therrien's use (or, more accurately, non-use) of P.K. Subban in critical situations is becoming a national story...and it's only going to get bigger if the coach continues to keep the Norris Trophy winner glued to the bench late in tight games. (Last week: 1-2-0)
 
17Washington Capitals
Last Week: 22
They finished off their five-game road swing with a decisive victory over Philly, then added a homecoming win over Florida. They're getting terrific mileage out of the third line of Mikhail Grabovski between Joel Ward and Jason Chimera. That unit, put together at the start of the roadie, has combined for 11 goals and 23 points over the six-game stretch. (Last week: 2-0-0)
 
18New York Rangers
Last Week: 29
After a disappointing loss to Montreal in their home opener, the Rangers rang up consecutive wins over the Isles, Sabres and Hurricanes. Not exactly heavyweights, but the Blueshirts looked like a more cohesive, effective team, especially in the defensive zone. That held true even in Monday's loss to Anaheim, suggesting that this team might finally have righted its ship. (Last week: 3-1-0)
 
19New York Islanders
Last Week: 20
The new-look Isles finally won two in a row for the first time this season, knocking off the Senators and Bruins. With their next four on the road, they'll need to play with the same defensive intensity they showed against the B's. Netminder Kevin Poulin deserves another start (or two) after a sharp, aggressive effort in that one. (Last week: 2-1-0)
 
20Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 17
Outside of the 2015 All-Star Game announcement, it was a lost weekend for the Jackets, who played well enough to win in Pittsburgh on Friday, but couldn't match the effort at home against the Pens on Saturday. They need to make some hay with three home games this week. (Last week: 0-2-0)
 
21Dallas Stars
Last Week: 19
Dallas Stars (6-6-2)
They've been meat in the third period this season, scoring just three goals in the final frame through their first 12 games. They finally showed some late-game moxie this past weekend, dragging the Avs into OT with two in the third of Friday night, and beating the Sens on Sunday. They're still getting outgunned 11-6, but it's a start. (Last week: 1-1-1)
 
22Calgary Flames
Last Week: 18
They feel the absence of captain Mark Giordano on the back end, but what they really miss is steady, reliable goaltending. Joey MacDonald, so solid in the early going, paid for the team's sins with his job last week. His replacement, rookie Reto Berra, looked solid in his debut win over the Hawks, but consistency will be the real test. (Last week: 1-2-0)
 
23Winnipeg Jets
Last Week: 24
There's no great shame in dropping three straight to the Avs, Blues and Hawks, but the losses are piling up for the Jets. Grabbing a decisive win over Detroit on Monday night was key to stopping the slide. Putting 47 shots on net and playing a solid defensive game will be essential to putting a few more in the win column. (Last week: 1-2-0)
 
24Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 21
Who are these guys? A team that some people (including myself) ranked as a Stanley Cup threat has lost five straight, and while the Sens have snuck points out of their last two, they haven't looked good in the process. They've averaged a league-worst 38.5 shots-against per game after setting a new franchise record in that department...for the second time this season. (Last week: 0-1-2)
 
25Florida Panthers
Last Week: 25
So much for a return to respectability. With just one win in their last nine games, the Panthers are settling slowly into the Eastern Conference basement. They're keeping it close, taking four of their last six contests to the shootout, but their defense and goaltending continue to fail them. (Last week: 0-1-1)
 
26Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 23
The goaltending was taking the heat as their losing streak hit five games, but third stringer Justin Peters doesn't deserve the goat horns. Slap 'em instead on an offense that's scored just five goals during the slide and is now ranked 25th in the league (1.93 goals per game). It's not too soon to call the five-game homestand that starts Tuesday night against Philly critical. (Last week: 0-2-0)
 
27New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 28
So much for building on their first two-game winning streak of the season. Their defense is depleted by injuries, but it's their offense that's letting the team down. The Devils have been shut out for seven periods now after being blanked by the Flyers and Wild. Tough to win when you don't score. (Last week: 1-2-0)
 
28Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 27
Maybe that 7-0 thrashing at the hands of the Capitals really was rock bottom for the Flyers. They rebounded nicely by shutting out the Devils in a game that saw them commit zero turnovers while allowing just 14 shots. They're still taking too many penalties, though; more, in fact, than any other team. (Last week: 1-2-0)
 
29Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 26
A month into the season and an eighth straight spring spent on the playoff sidelines is looking almost inevitable. They were shut out twice in a row at home -- the loss to a Detroit team that had played three games in four nights was particularly galling -- and they haven't scored in 160:48 as of this writing. The good news: Taylor Hall should be back this week. (Last week: 0-2-0)
 
30Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 30
Home ice isn't treating them particularly well -- they're now 0-8-1 in front of their paying fans at First Niagara Center -- so maybe a three-game trip out West is exactly what the Sabres need. Hey, they've actually managed two wins on the road so far... (Last week: 0-2-0)

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