Nobody picked the Anaheim Ducks to win their own division this season, let alone be challenging for home ice advantage in the playoffs. But they’re doing both those things, as well as moving up the THN.com Power Rankings.
The Ducks, who began the year with just four wins in their first 12 games, currently are on a four-game winning streak and sit tied with the Pacific Division rival Dallas Stars at 68 points for third place in the West.
Although they signed veteran goalie Ray Emery as insurance for starter Jonas Hiller, the Ducks have been receiving solid support in net from Curtis McElhinney; the 27-year-old has won four of his past five games and allowed just 10 goals in that span.
The Ducks also brought blueliner Francois Beauchemin back to the organization in a trade with Toronto last week; the veteran won’t wow anyone with end-to-end rushes or pretty offensive plays, but he gives the team more depth as it anticipates a lengthy playoff run.
As usual, the Ducks have a punishing travel schedule to contend with: they take on the Washington Capitals at home Wednesday, then hit the road for back-to-back weekend games against the Wild and Blues. Only three points separate them from ninth-place Los Angeles, so they’ll have to continue their torrid streak to keep pace.
Loss of Hamhuis another big blow to battered blueline
Flyers have league’s top road record (17-6-3)
Since the start of 2011, Bolts are an impressive 12-6-0
Henrik Zetterberg on pace to play first full 82-game NHL schedule of his career
Could Ray Shero be a last-minute player in Brad Richards sweepstakes? One of Pens’ young defensemen would appeal to Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk
Brad Marchand has 16 goals – two more than Nathan Horton
Habs have lost at home in regulation just seven times this season; only Canucks, with four home regulation time losses, are better in their own building
In their past 14 games, Caps power play is an embarrassing 7.7 percent (3-for-39)
Sharks shoving their way back to prominence in tough Western Conference, finish grueling seven-game road trip in Nashville Tuesday
Addition of Mike Fisher will help, but won’t put Preds on level with Canucks, Wings
Kari Lehtonen’s stats from his past eight games played: a 2-5-1 record, 3.28 goals-against average and .899 save percentage
Ducks quietly adding some solid pieces (Emery, Beauchemin) that don’t require them to take much, if anything, off current roster
Up-and-down Kings on a big up: they’re winners of four of their first six games in a current, punishing 10-game road trip
Cal Clutterbuck has three goals, five points in past five games with surging Wild
No goalie hotter than Ilya Bryzgalov (4-0-0, 0.98 GAA, .961 SP in past four games)
Blueshirts’ three games this week – against Kings, Devils and Flyers – are far from cakewalks
In six of their past eight wins, Flames have scored at least one power play goal; they had none in more recent losses to Ducks, Nucks
Hawks one (extended) losing skid away from near-bottom of Western Conference basement
Dual-personality Jackets make trade decisions (i.e. buyer or seller?) difficult for GM Scott Howson
Epic collapse against Islanders Sunday shows improved Sabres aren’t yet out of the woods
Canes play hot Devils twice this week and East-leading Flyers once
Blues are the league’s worst road team (8-13-5)
Light week for sagging Thrashers: two road games (in Phoenix and Edmonton) Thursday and Saturday, then no action until Wednesday trip to Buffalo
Avs have won just one game (1-9-0) since Tomas Fleischmann was sidelined for remainder of year; little room left for error
David Booth leads Panthers in hits (84), goals (15), game-winners (three)
Should GM Lamoriello have fired John MacLean and hired Jacques Lemaire sooner? Sure seems so
More trades coming as playoffs become more of a pipe dream
Frans Nielsen (four), Michael Grabner (two) and Milan Jurcina (one) have Isles’ only shorthanded goals
Mike Fisher was the first Senator to go overboard – but he won’t be the last; Chris Phillips almost assuredly will go as well
Sam Gagner a minus-14 at home, minus-3 on the road
The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.
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