By Allan Muir
December 10, 2013
With a romp over the doormat Islanders, the gritty Ducks grabbed a share of the overall NHL lead.
Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images
NHL Power Rankings
1 Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 6
Anaheim Ducks (21-7-5)
The Ducks emerged from a brutal four-game stretch against the top teams in the West with six points and a share of first overall in the NHL. Monday's 5-2 win over the reeling Islanders was a much smaller challenge, but it bumped their mark at the Pond to 11-0-2, tops in the league and the best start at home in franchise history. (Last week: 3-0-1)
2 Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 9
The Habs are hockey's hottest team, winners of five straight and 9-0-1 in their last 10. Their offense is sputtering, but their team GAA of 2.00 is second best in the league. Carey Price has sealed his spot on Team Canada with seven wins in a row, allowing just 12 goals in the process. (Last week: 3-0-0)
3 Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 8
With just one regulation loss in their last 15 games, and big wins over Anaheim and St. Louis during the past week, the Kings are making some noise in the Western Conference race. Their defense has been rock solid, allowing no more than two goals against during that streak. (Last week: 2-0-0)
4 Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 1
The Hawks dropped three in a row at home, after winning six straight on the road. They lost goaltender Corey Crawford indefinitely to an apparent groin injury. The penalty kill has been scored on four games in a row and now ranks 29th in the league, but hey, a share of first overall still counts for something, right? (Last week: 1-2-1)
5 Boston Bruins
Last Week: 5
Boston Bruins (20-8-2)
Injuries and Shawn Thornton's suspension have decimated the roster, but even as the Bruins lose players, they're gaining ground in the East. The Thornton incident aside, Saturday's comeback win over Pittsburgh was a season highlight, evidence of how tough this team is to put down. (Last week: 2-1-0)
6 Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 7
No one here is complaining about having too many defensemen now, are they? That kind of depth has been key over the past couple weeks as the injury-decimated blueline has held strong to help the Pens win six-of-seven. The trick now will be keeping the offense flowing with James Neal sidelined for five games by his suspension for kneeing Boston's Brad Marchand. (Last week: 3-1-0)
7 San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 2
San Jose Sharks (19-6-5)
Now we'll see how they handle adversity. The Sharks were dominant in Minnesota on Sunday, outshooting the Wild by 38-13, but they still dropped their third consecutive decision for the first time this season. Their power play threatens the turn the rest of Todd McLellan's hair grey after going 0-for-9 in the three losses. (Last week: 1-3-0)
8 St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 3
St. Louis Blues (19-6-3)
They are now 0-for-California after dropping games to San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim during the past 10 days while being outscored 14-7 in the process. The problem is that they're getting out-Blues-ed. The Cali teams are playing the heavier, more consistent game the Blues were playing earlier in the season, and St. Louis wilted under the pressure. (Last week: 1-1-0)
9 Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 4
Jan Hejda was injured last Thursday in Edmonton and the Avs went on to lose two of three without him in their lineup. Last season, that would have been coincidence. Now? They miss him. Badly. The veteran blueliner is quietly putting together an outstanding season and he's played a big role in Colorado's early success. The good news: He could be back by the weekend. (Last week: 1-2-0)
10 Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 19
It's now five wins in a row for the Canucks, who are making an art out of blowing prime scoring chances, but they pay the bills with airtight defense. After rookie netminder Eddie Lack earned his first career shutout on Monday night against Carolina, Vancouver had allowed only six goals during this hot streak. (Last week: 4-0-0)
11 Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 10
Minnesota Wild (18-9-5)
They are finding ways to win games they shouldn't at home ... and finding ways to lose games they shouldn't on the road. Their 4-0 debacle in Columbus doesn't bode well for a team that plays seven of its next eight games away from the Xcel Center, starting with tough matches in Anaheim, San Jose and Colorado this week. (Last week: 2-1-0)
12 Washington Capitals
Last Week: 16
After dropping four straight, the Caps finally found some traction, winning four of their next five to solidify their hold on second in the Metro Division. They're still giving up too many shots (34.9, second most in the league), but solid goaltending and an honest, blue-collar effort in the offensive zone are making a difference. (Last week: 2-1-0)
13 Dallas Stars
Last Week: 17
Dallas Stars (14-9-5)
They've hemorrhaged pointsat home, winning just one of their last seven games there before everything came together in Saturday's tilt against the Flyers. The first line of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Calder Trophy candidate Valeri Nichushkin counted for nine points, and the defense, led by the resurgent Alex Goligoski, was dominant in the 5-1 win. The Stars are playing like a loose, confident bunch lately. A little more of that could go a long way. (Last week: 2-0-1)
14 Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 13
They've won just two of the eight games when Vinnie Lecavalier has been out of their lineup, which suggests that they'd better dig deep during the next month. That's how long their leading goal scorer will be out with a fractured back, putting the pressure on the underperforming first line to start living up to its paychecks. (Last week: 1-1-1)
15 New York Rangers
Last Week: 14
New York Rangers (15-15-1)
Back-to-back losses to the Devils and Caps left coach Alain Vigneault fuming and led the players to air it out behind closed doors. There doesn't seem to be a lot of compete in this bunch when they fall behind in games. (Last week: 1-1-1)
16 Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 15
So, when's Steven Stamkos coming back? Without their superstar forward, the Bolts' offense is stuck in neutral, scoring just four goals in its past four games. Goaltending continues to be Tampa Bay's salvation. Ben Bishop has allowed only five goals-against in his last five games. (Last week: 1-1-1)
17 Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 11
Phoenix Coyotes (16-8-5)
A 3-4-3 skid capped off by an OT loss in Vancouver has dropped the Coyotes out of the playoff picture for the moment. Their penalty kill has been a disaster--only three teams have allowed more shorthanded goals than the 25 coughed up by Phoenix. (Last week: 1-1-1)
18 Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 12
Three games in four nights is never easy, especially when travel is involved, but you had to hate hearing coach Mike Babcock blaming the schedule maker after the Wings lost to lowly Florida on Saturday. Fact is, Detroit was badly outworked—again--at the Joe, where the Wings have won just two of their last 13 games. (Last week: 1-2-0)
19 New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 20
They have played a league-low 13 games at home to this point, but somehow clawed their way to within one point of third place in the Metro. Too bad that GM Lou Lamoriello didn't leave himself any wiggle room under the cap. A little boost would go a long way with this team. (Last week: 1-1-1)
20 Winnipeg Jets
Last Week: 21
Winnipeg Jets (14-13-4)
Mark Scheifele's OT goal in Tampa put the finishing touch on a 4-2 road trip that had its ups (eight points) and downs (a power play on an 0-for-18 skid that might be even worse than it sounds). The Jets have played in a league-leading 18 one-goal games, so their ability, or inability, to cash in with the extra man could be the difference between booking playoff travel or early tee times. (Last week: 1-1-0)
21 Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 26
How about that Curtis McElhinney? Subbing for the injured Sergei Bobrovsky, he's stopped 56 of the 58 shots he's faced (a .966 save percentage) to keep the offensively inept Jackets in the mix. (Last week: 2-1-0)
22 Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 22
They haven't won a game in regulation since Nov. 19, and they've almost frittered away the spoils of their 10-4 start. If only they could find a way to give up more scoring chances to the opposition. After Saturday's 4-3 win over Ottawa, the Leafs are 3-0 when they allow at least 50 shots on net. (Last week: 2-2-0)
23 Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 23
They had their modest three-game winning streak snapped on Monday night in Vancouver, a disappointing effort after they'd played their best game of the season in a come-from-behind 5-3 win over the Sharks on Friday. Still, it's nice to see Jeff Skinner finding his mojo again, and Justin Peters continuing to play well in support of Cam Ward. (Last week: 3-1-0)
24 Calgary Flames
Last Week: 27
Calgary Flames (11-14-4)
They've found a groove, winning three of their last four games while allowing just six goals-against. Their penalty kill, a black hole early in the season, has become a strength, allowing just one goal in the last 31 chances it has faced, giving the Flames a chance in close games. (Last week: 2-1-0)
25 Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 24
Ottawa Senators (12-14-5)
The Sens finally scored a goal in the shootout and, more importantly, won one at home, beating Philly 5-4 on Monday night to end a streak of five straight losses at Canadian Tire Centre. That's one victory they desperately need to build on because they have eight more home games to play this month. (Last week: 2-1-1)
26 Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 25
Edmonton Oilers (10-18-3)
Embarrassed by Phoenix one night, they demolished the Avs the next, then dropped the opener of this season's Battle of Alberta in OT. They're not making up any ground by alternating wins and losses, but there's never a dull moment with these guys. (Last week: 1-1-1)
27 Nashville Predators
Last Week: 18
Teams go through, and come out of, rough stretches all the time, but this five-game losing jag that the Preds are on feels like more than just one of those rough patches in the road. Questions are being asked about the players, the coaching, and the management of the club. With the playoffs beginning to fade out of reach, this franchise might be on the verge of a significant shakeup. (Last week: 0-3-0)
28 Florida Panthers
Last Week: 28
Tim Thomas was finally given a break after 14 straight starts and back-to-back victories over the Jets and Wings. That meant throwing Scott Clemmensen to the wolves in Chicago. Goodbye, two-game winning streak... (Last week: 2-2-0)
29 Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 30
Buffalo Sabres (6-22-2)
With just 10 goals scored in their last eight games, the Sabres are on track to light the lamp 139 times this season. That would be a modern era NHL record. Still, you see a moment of magic like the goal Zemgus Girgensons scored against the Habs on Saturday night and you think there's hope for the future. At this point, that's all you can ask of this team.(Last week: 0-2-0)
30 New York Islanders
Last Week: 29
With their losing streak now up to 10 games, waiving Pierre-Marc Bouchard is only the beginning of the changes coming to Long Island. The pressure is on GM Garth Snow to do something meaningful to address obvious holes on the blueline. Look for him to first buy time by canning coach Jack Capuano. (Last week: 0-2-1)

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