Tuesday March 15th, 2016

Big (and perhaps, belated) jumps this week for both the Predators and the Flyers, two teams whose recent play makes them far more dangerous than their records indicate. Nashville has been dominant on the road, winning 11 of 14, while scoring almost at will. Since Feb. 1, the Preds have scored 62 times, sixth most in the league, with all four lines and a very active defense chipping in. The Flyers have been even more productive, tallying 65 times, tied for third over that span, including 17 in the past four games alone. That's a huge turnaround from the first three months of the season. Philly scored just 77 goals through Dec. 31, the second-fewest in the league. 

Biggest jump: Boston Bruins (14 to 6)

Biggest drop: New York Rangers (4 to 12

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HOW THEY STACK UP AFTER WEEK 23
 
  • 1
    1Washington Capitals
     
    last week: 1
    record: 49-14-5
    It's to Washington's credit that the Caps are the league's most dangerous third period team (a sizzling +33 in the final frame), but they might want to work on those starts. They've allowed the first goal in 13 of their past 15 games, and while they're finding ways to win (9-5-1), that's a pretty poor habit to get into ahead of the playoffs. Last week: 0-1-1

  • 2
    2Anaheim Ducks
     
    last week: 2
    record: 38-21-9
    Turns out all the Ducks needed was a little home cooking. After turning in a pair of soft performances in Colorado and St. Louis, Anaheim righted the ship with a 7–1 thrashing of the Devils. The win made it 10 straight with at least a point at home (9-0-1), the longest active streak in the NHL. Last week: 1-2-0

  • 3
    3Nashville Predators
     
    last week: 5
    record: 35-22-13
    Maybe the Preds aren't trapped in the West's first wild card spot after all. Their 10-1-5 streak has allowed them to pull to within five points of the slumping Blackhawks with 12 games to go, eight of which will be played at Bridgestone. They might not bridge the gap, but they're setting themselves up as the team no one wants to face in the first round. Last week: 2-0-1

  • 4
    4St. Louis Blues
     
    last week: 8
    record: 41-21-9
    Their six-game winning streak came to an abrupt end in Calgary, but the Blues look like a very dangerous team after knocking off the Hawks, Ducks and Stars in a matter of four days. Last week: 3-1-0

  • 5
    5Los Angeles Kings
     
    last week: 7
    record: 41-22-5
    Full marks to the Kings, who responded to a late challenge from the Ducks with an 8-2-1 streak of their own. They've tightened up their D, allowing just 17 regulation goals over that stretch. Is it too early to call them the favorites to advance out of the West? Last week: 2-0-1

  • 6
    6Boston Bruins
     
    last week: 14
    record: 39-23-8
    A 3-0-2 streak might not sound like cause for celebration, but for a Bruins team that was bleeding points at home earlier this season, this recent run of success at the Garden—which includes wins over the Blackhawks and Islanders--offers reason to believe. Last week: 2-0-1

  • 7
    7Tampa Bay Lightning
     
    last week: 3
    record: 40-24-5
    Win nine in a row. Drop three in a row. Sure, why not. It's not the losses that hurt, though. It's that the Lightning couldn't match the intensity of a desperate Flyers squad (twice!) while they themselves are locked in a battle for playoff positioning. Last week: 1-2-0

  • 8
    8San Jose Sharks
     
    last week: 10
    record: 38-24-6
    A standing O for Jumbo Joe. With a helper in San Jose's 5–2 thumping of the Caps on Saturday, Thornton became just the 16th player in NHL history to record more than 10 seasons with at least 50 assists. The dead-lock Hall of Famer is third in apples this season, trailing only Erik Karlsson and Patrick Kane. Last week: 2-1-0

  • 9
    9New York Islanders
     
    last week: 9
    record: 38-21-8
    The Isles are 8-2-1 in their past 11 and closing quickly on the Rangers and the second spot in the Metropolitan Division. Thomas Greiss stole two points for them against the Panthers on Monday night. He'll need to play at that level, or something close to it, for this team to have a chance down the stretch. Last week: 2-1-1

  • 10
    10Philadelphia Flyers
     
    last week: 16
    record: 32-23-12
    This was one of those weeks when the Flyers wish they were playing every night. Philly is an astonishing 8-2-2 in its past 12 games thanks primarily to an enhanced commitment in the defensive zone, and the Flyers look like serious contenders for an Eastern Conference wild card. And they're getting Jake Voracek back this week, too. Look out above ... Last week: 1-0-1

  • 11
    11Dallas Stars
     
    last week: 11
    record: 41-20-9
    The Stars have secured points in five straight (3-0-2) and managed to take three out of four from back-to-back games against the Hawks and Blues. All things being equal, pretty sweet ... but as long as the goaltending is going the way it is, Dallas fans will be whiteknuckling it all the way to April 9. Last week: 1-0-2

  • 12
    12New York Rangers
     
    last week: 4
    record: 39-23-7
    There's one upside to New York's fragile blueline: Henrik Lundqvist is at his best when he's busiest. The Vezina Trophy hopeful was sensational in Saturday's 3–2 OT loss to Detroit, making 40 saves. In 16 career games when he's made at least that many stops, he has a 9-0-7 record. Last week: 1-1-1

  • 13
    13Chicago Blackhawks
     
    last week: 6
    record: 41-23-6
    Look, it's the Hawks. No one is panicking. Still, with a month to go in the season, is this really the best time to get smoked by the Kings and the Stars and drop a winnable game against the Blues? Chicago has just five victories in its past 14 outings. Maybe it's time to stop reading all those clippings about how unbeatable they are since making those deadline moves. Last week: 0-2-1

  • 14
    14Pittsburgh Penguins
     
    last week: 12
    record: 36-24-8
    No way around it: Losing Evgeni Malkin for 6-8 weeks with an upper-body injury (hand?) is about the worst possible news for a team that's in tough to secure a playoff bid. On the bright side: Sidney Crosby knows how to step up to the challenge. After putting up a goal and an assist against the Rangers on Sunday, he now has 101 career points (32-69) in 80 games when Malkin is out of the lineup. Last week: 2-1-0

  • 15
    15Florida Panthers
     
    last week: 13
    record: 38-22-9
    How important is home ice to Florida? The Cats are 5-0-2 in their past seven at BB&T, but just 2-4-1 over that same span on the road. That doesn't bode well for a team that plays eight of its final 13 in unfriendly environs. Last week: 2-1-0

  • 16
    16Detroit Red Wings
     
    last week: 17
    record: 34-24-11
    If the Wings weren't feeling pressure from below before, they sure are now. Detroit has just two regulation wins in its past 13, and kicks off a four-game roadie on Tuesday night with a must-win in Philly. Top prospect Anthony Mantha has joined them for the trip. No pressure, kid. Last week: 2-2-0

  • 17
    17Minnesota Wild
     
    last week: 15
    record: 32-27-10
    When you're in a neck-and-neck battle for a wild card berth, you can't be losing at home. In regulation. To Edmonton. Then again, the Wild have won just two of their past 13 at Xcel, so maybe the problem is larger than one bad loss to a very bad team. Last week: 1-1-0

  • 18
    18Colorado Avalanche
     
    last week: 18
    record: 35-31-4
    Win one, lose one is no way to secure a playoff spot, boys. Neither is blowing third-period leads. The Avs did it again it in Saturday's 3–2 loss to Winnipeg, the eighth time that's happened out of 31 opportunities this season. Last week: 1-1-0

  • 19
    19Carolina Hurricanes
     
    last week: 21
    record: 31-26-12
    Look at the defense the Canes are trotting out on Tuesday night: Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Noah Hanifin, Ryan Murphy, Trevor Carrick and Michal Jordan. The future is now in Raleigh, and it looks pretty good. Last week: 2-0-1

  • 20
    20Ottawa Senators
     
    last week: 19
    record: 32-30-8
    With the playoffs sliding out of reach, these Sens don't have much to be proud of ... but at least they can say they swept all four games against the hated Maple Leafs this season. That's the first time they've completed the sweep since 2000-01 and just the second time in franchise history. Last week: 1-2-1

  • 21
    21Montreal Canadiens
     
    last week: 23
    record: 32-31-6
    This is what it's come to for the Habs: Due to injuries and illness, Saturday's lineup against Minnesota included just seven players from the team's opening night roster. Probably no surprise then that they were smoked, 4–1. Could have at least one familiar face back this week, though: goaltender Carey Price. Last week: 2-1-0

  • 22
    22Columbus Blue Jackets
     
    last week: 20
    record: 28-33-8
    Maybe the Jackets were a little hasty sending Joonas Korpisalo back to the minors. Starter Sergei Bobrovsky returned to action this past weekend after missing 19 games and promptly allowed seven goals on 68 shots in two weekend losses. Probably not what coach John Tortorella was looking for. Last week: 1-2-0

  • 23
    23Buffalo Sabres
     
    last week: 22
    record: 28-33-9
    Not sure how Sam Reinhart has just 15 assists on the season. Seems like he's putting on a sauce clinic every time I watch this team. He has have five helpers in his past six games—maybe his teammates are finally figuring out they just need to keep their sticks on the ice and head to the net. Last week: 1-2-0

  • 24
    24Edmonton Oilers
     
    last week: 24
    record: 27-38-7
    The offense has gone ice cold, scoring just four times in the past four games while being shut out twice. Connor McDavid has just one goal and two points in his past five games. Any hope he had of stealing the Calder Trophy might have slipped away. Last week: 1-3-0

  • 25
    New jersey devils
     
    last week: 28
    record: 33-30-7
    In the first two games of their California road swing, the Devils limited the Sharks and Kings to a single goal ... then they got torched for seven in a season-worst loss to the Ducks on Monday. Don't ask me to make sense of this. Last week: 2-1-0

  • 26
    26Vancouver Canucks
     
    last week: 25
    record: 27-29-12
    Here's all you need to know about these Canucks. They were gunning to set a season high with their third (third!) consecutive win on Monday that they beefed it with a no-show, 5-2 loss to Winnipeg. Maybe Willie Desjardins can finally stop talking playoffs now? Last week: 2-1-0

  • 27
    27Winnipeg Jets
     
    last week: 27
    record: 29-35-5
    Mark Scheifele's chances of catching on with Team North America are growing with every game. The big center had a goal in Winnipeg's 5–2 win over the Canucks on Monday, extending his point streak to eight games (8-4-12). Last week: 2-2-0

  • 28
    28Calgary Flames
     
    last week: 26
    record: 29-35-5
    Looks like the Flames are planning on riding Joni Ortio hard down the stretch. The 24-year-old has made five consecutive starts, earning three wins in the process. He needs to be sharper though, and more consistent, if he wants to come into camp as the favorite to start next season. Last week: 2-1-0

  • 29
    arizona Coyotes
     
    last week: 29
    record: 30-32-7
    Nice to see Mike Smith back in action. The veteran keeper made 44 saves in his first game since Dec. 8 to help the Coyotes knock off the Oilers 4–0 on Saturday. Smith had lost 40 games to an abdominal injury. Expect to see him split time with rookie Louis Domingue the rest of the way. Last week: 2-0-1

  • 30
    30Toronto Maple Leafs
     
    last week: 30
    record: 23-34-11
    When fans look back at this learning curve of a season, they'll probably rate being swept by both the Canadiens and Senators as the true rock bottom of their rebuild. Last week: 2-1-0

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