Tuesday February 16th, 2016

It’s about time! The Ducks finally look like the Stanley Cup favorites we expected them to be. Anaheim is 9-1-1 in its past 11 games and 16-4-2 since Christmas, propelled into second place in the Pacific Division and on track for home ice in the first round. The difference? A more confident offense. After tying a season high with six goals against Calgary on Monday, the Ducks have scored 53 goals in their past 14 games. That's 3.79 per game, nearly double the 1.85 they averaged up until Christmas. Having blueliner Cam Fowler (either one) back in the lineup helps—he’s a valuable asset in all three zones—but the key might be Ryan Getzlaf playing like a No. 1 center again. He's scored multiple points in six of his past eight and looks willing and able to take on the best in the West.

Biggest jump: Dallas Stars (13 to 2)

Biggest drop: Tampa Bay Lightning  (2 to 10)

  • 1
    1Washington Capitals
    last week: 1
    record: 40-10-4
    So the Caps finally lost their tenth game of the season in regulation. They became the last team to do so ... more than a month after Dallas became the 29th team to hit the mark. As frustrating as that 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Stars was, it serves to point out how consistently excellent Washington has been this season. Last week: 2-1-0

  • 2
    2Dallas Stars
    last week: 13
    record: 37-15-5
    They're battling injuries long-term (Jason Spezza, upper body) and short (Tyler Seguin, forearm laceration), but the Stars are back to playing the kind of hockey they were earlier in the season. Statement wins over Chicago and Washington have them looking like contenders again. The pressure's on GM Jim Nill to bolster the blueline, but Patrik Nemeth has done a nice job in relief. He could be an asset for them down the stretch. Last week: 4-0-0

  • 3
    3Anaheim Ducks
    last week: 3
    record: 28-19-8
    If they are thinking of selling goalie Frederik Andersen ahead of the deadline, they should probably put him on the market ASAP. The Danish Destroyer is 8-0-1 in his past nine decisions. Captain Ryan Getzlaf is heating up, too, with 15 points in his past 11 games. Last week: 3-0-1

  • 4
    4New York Rangers
    last week: 10
    record: 32-18-6
    No Rick Nash. No Ryan McDonagh. But the way Henrik Lundqvist is going, he might get the Rangers into the playoffs all by himself. The King has won each of his past three starts without allowing a single even-strength goal, posting a 0.67 GAA and .976 save percentage in the process. Last week: 2-0-1

  • 5
    5Los Angeles Kings
    last week: 7
    record: 33-19-3
    Have to think GM Dean Lombardi will be busy working the phones for the next two weeks after waiving defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and losing forward Marian Gaborik to a lower body injury. The Kings are close enough to contending for the Stanley Cup that Lombardi can't afford to leave anything to chance. Last week: 2-2-0

  • 6
    6Chicago Blackhawks
    last week: 4
    record: 37-18-5
    Yeah, it was just Toronto, but the Hawks needed that big 7–2 win to wash the stink of a three-game home losing skid off themselves. Big night for Patrick Kane, who enjoyed his first multi-point contest (1-3-4) in nearly a month. Last week: 1-2-1

  • 7
    7Pittsburgh Penguins
    last week: 5
    record: 28-19-8
    Word is that Evgeni Malkin is making progress in his recovery from a lower body injury but he hasn't skated for the Pens since appearing in the All-Star Game. Worrisome? You bet. It isn't helping that Sidney Crosby is picking up so much of the load. He skated nearly 27 minutes against the Panthers on Monday night. That's way too high, even for an OT contest. Last week: 1-1-1

  • 8
    8Florida Panthers
    last week: 6
    record: 33-18-6
    The Panthers are giving up ground fast in the Atlantic Division, but they continue to lead the league in one key category. Their shootout win over Pittsburgh on Monday night moved them to 6-1 in the skill session, the best mark in the league. Have to believe those bonus points will prove handy at the end of the season. Last week: 2-2-0

  • 9
    9San Jose Sharks
    last week: 8
    record: 29-20-5
    They couldn't buy a win at home earlier this season. Now they can't lose in the Shark Tank. San Jose picked banked three of four points to improve to 6-0-3 in its past nine games at SAP Center. More impressive though was that 2-0 win in Chicago. The Sharks may not be serious Cup contenders, but if they keep playing like this they might just knock one off. Last week: 2-0-1

  • 10
    10Tampa Bay Lightning
    last week: 2
    record: 30-21-4
    Not a great week on the ice, but an important one off it as GM Steve Yzerman committed to keeping star forward Steven Stamkos for the remainder of the season. Another deep run into the playoffs might be enough to convince Stamkos to accept a discount and sign on for a string of Cup chances in the future. Last week: 1-2-0

  • 11
    11St. Louis Blues
    last week: 9
    record: 32-17-9
    The Blues made the most of their annual fathers' trip, sweeping a pair on the road in Florida to improve to 5-0 during the past two seasons when their dads are in the building. Hey, you don't suppose they'd be able to plan another trip for the first round of the playoffs, do you? Last week: 2-0-1

  • 12
    12Detroit Red Wings
    last week: 12
    record: 29-19-9
    Nice call by coach Jeff Blashill to reunite Pavel Datsyuk with old buddy Henrik Zetterberg back on Feb. 6. The pair combined for seven goals and 15 points to power the Wings to a 4-0-1 record on Detroit’s five-game homestand. Last week: 2-1-1

  • 13
    13Carolina Hurricanes
    last week: 11
    record: 25-21-10
    That shootout loss to the Pens on Friday really cut into their playoff hopes, and while there’s no reason to count this plucky group out just yet, it’s probably time to start figuring out which vets to sell. Cam Ward’s lower body injury won’t make things easier, but there should be plenty of interest in Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner, Kris Versteeg and John-Michael Liles. Last week: 1-0-1

  • 14
    14New York Islanders
    last week: 20
    record: 30-19-6
    Not to suggest there’s a goalie controversy in Brooklyn or anything, but Thomas Greiss looks like the go-to option for the time being. The backup won his fifth straight start—a career high—on Monday to improve his season mark to 16-6-2 with a 2.16 GAA and .931 save percentage. Last week: 3-1-0

  • 15
    15New Jersey Devils
    last week: 17
    record: 29-21-7
    Amazing that the Devils have won three straight without scoring a single five-on-five goal. They did all their damage on the power play, going 5 for 10 with the extra man. Think we miight see some regression in that stat over the next few games, eh? Last week: 3-0-0

  • 16
    16Boston Bruins
    last week: 14
    record: 30-20-6
    Same ol' Bruins. Beat down a pair of patsies then give up 15 (!) goals in dismal losses to the Kings and Red Wings. I'm really not sure how anyone can take this team seriously. Big ups to Brad Marchand, though. With 13 goals in his past 13 games, he’s forcing his way into the conversation for Team Canada's World Cup squad. Last week: 2-2-0

  • 17
    17Nashville Predators
    last week: 15
    record: 26-21-10
    Think maybe Carter Hutton should see some more action down the stretch? The backup keeper has seen just four starts over the past month but has allowed only three regulation goals while picking up shutouts against Minnesota and Florida in the process. Last week: 1-1-2

  • 18
    18Columbus Blue Jackets
    last week: 19
    record: 23-28-6
    Someone needs to tell Joonas Korpisalo that the Jackets should be working to improve their draft position, not stage another late-season run. The rookie tender is now 8-1-2 in his past 11 starts, with a save percentage of .943 or better in four of his past five games. Last week: 2-1-0

  • 19
    19Philadelphia Flyers
    last week: 16
    record: 24-21-10
    Not too late to jump on the Shayne Gostisbehere bandwagon. The rookie blueliner is riding a 12-game points streak (3-12-15), the longest ever by a Flyers freshman and by an NHL defenseman this season. If he can keep it going while riding shotgun with Andrew MacDonald they may as well just give him the Calder Trophy. Last week: 1-2-1

  • 20
    20Colorado Avalanche
    last week: 18
    record: 29-26-4
    Not sure what coach Patrick Roy was thinking when he started Semyon Varlamov in Buffalo. Varlamov had already played twice in the previous 65 hours and looked out of sorts. The Sabres chased him after scoring on their first two shots and went on to steal two points that Colorado badly needed. This is one that could haunt them. Last week: 2-2-0

  • 21
    21Calgary Flames
    last week: 22
    record: 25-27-3
    Win a couple, lose a couple isn’t working out real well for the Flames, who dropped two in a row to fall eight points back in the Western wild card race. At least Jiri Hudler is warming up at the right time. The pending UFA has two goals and five points in his past five games. Last week: 2-2-0

  • 22
    22Buffalo Sabres
    last week: 23
    record: 23-28-6
    Sabres fans got a good look at both sides of the Evander Kane coin last week. The flashy winger tallied three goals in two games, putting him on track for a 25-tally campaign ... and then he overslept after attending the NBA All-Star Game and missed practice. You have to wonder if this kid will ever grow up. Last week: 2-2-0

  • 23
    23Vancouver Canucks
    last week: 26
    record: 22-22-12
    The Canucks had their lunch money stolen by a bunch of AHLers masquerading as Maple Leafs on Saturday and then were rolled over by a Minnesota team that had lost 11 of 12. The seat is warming under coach Willie Desjardins, and that might not be the only significant change on the horizon. Last week: 2-2-0

  • 24
    24Montreal Canadiens
    last week: 25
    record: 27-26-4
    At a time when this team desperately needs leadership, Max Pacioretty looks about as comfortable with the C as a kid wearing his dad’s sport jacket. Pacioretty turned in another listless effort in Monday’s 6–2 loss to Arizona, putting up one shot and a –3. He’s been a lousy fit for the job. Last week: 1-2-0

  • 25
    25Ottawa Senators
    last week: 21
    record: 25-26-6
    Adding defenseman Dion Phaneuf hasn’t quite had the effect they were expecting. The Senators have dropped three straight, allowing the first goal in each and continuing a season-long problem. They’ve given up 55 first period goals, second only to Winnipeg, and have a league-worst –21 differential in the opening stanza. Last week: 0-3-0

  • 26
    26Winnipeg Jets
    last week: 24
    record: 25-27-3
    The decision to send rookie netminder Connor Hellebuyck back to the minors pretty much signals the tank is on in Winnipeg ... unless, of course, they think showcasing Ondrej Pavelec will allow them to move the 28-year-old veteran and the $4.75 million he's owed next year. Naaaah. Last week: 1-2-0

  • 27
    27Edmonton Oilers
    last week: 27
    record: 22-29-6
    Plenty of buzz that the Oilers are showcasing Jordan Eberle alongside Connor McDavid to pump up his value ahead of a trade. If they are, it’s working. Eberle has scored seven goals in his past seven games, and he looks like a player who could help a contender down the stretch ... or maybe even help the Oilers for the next 10 years. Last week: 1-1-1

  • 28
    28Phoenix Coyotes
    last week: 29
    record: 26-24-6
    Some day, the hockey gods will smile on Oliver Ekman-Larsson and he finally will get the recognition he deserves. OEL notched his 17th goal of the season in Monday’s 6–2 win over Montreal, just one behind San Jose’s Brent Burns for the league lead among defensemen. Last week: 2-2-0

  • 29
    29Toronto Maple Leafs
    last week: 28
    record: 20-26-9
    Man, tough stretch for James Reimer. Toronto’s resilient keeper has allowed 16 goals on the past 81 shots he’s faced, a miserable .802 save percentage. Hard to be critical of him, though, given the quality of the chances he usually faces with the defense in front of him. Last week: 1-3-0

  • 30
    30Minnesota Wild
    last week: 30
    record: 24-22-10
    New coach John Torchetti managed to coax an effort out of the Wild in his debut behind the bench, but we’ll see where it goes from there. Minnesota went 1-11-2 in 14 games leading up to its coaching change and it may take awhile before the Wild turn the corner for real. Last week: 1-3-0

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