By Allan Muir
January 08, 2014
Claude Giroux and the Flyers have risen from the dead to move into a Metro playoff berth.
Matt Slocum/AP
NHL Power Rankings
1 Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 1
Anaheim Ducks (32-8-5)
The Ducks, much like Parker Lewis, can't lose ... well, at home, at least. Wins over the Sharks, Oilers and Canucks last week boosted their mark at the Pond to 17-0-2 while extending several franchise records and tightening their grip on first place overall. Corey Perry notched the game-winner on Sunday night, his league-leading eighth of the season and 30th clincher during the last four seasons. (Last week: 3-0-0)
2 Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 2
It's hard to knock a team that's holding down first place in its division and has secured points in 10 straight, but the Hawks are bleeding when the game extends past 60 minutes. They've dropped five straight in extra time, including four in the shootout. Hard to figure that one out. A team with this much talent shouldn't be 24th in the league with a 24.4 shooting percentage, should it? (Last week: 0-1-2)
3 St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 3
St. Louis Blues (30-7-5)
So, what's with all this talk about needing to trade for Ryan Miller? The Blues have allowed just five goals during their past four games with Brian Elliott between the pipes. The veteran has been lights out at home this season, going 7-0-0 with a 1.89 GAA and a .924 save percentage, helping the team to its best record through 41 games in franchise history. (Last week: 3-0-0)
4 Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 5
That New Year's Eve stumble against the Devils aside, the Pens continue to be the East's hottest team, extending their record to 16-3-1 in their past 20 games with a 6-5 come-from-behind win over the Jets on Sunday. They got two key pieces, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, back in the lineup for that one after both had missed three weeks of action. (Last week: 2-1-0)
5 Boston Bruins
Last Week: 6
Boston Bruins (28-13-2)
Zach Trotman. David Warsofsky. Kevan Miller. Ryan Spooner. Niklas Svedberg. The steady stream of draft picks and free agents that have successfully been pressed into action by Boston during the past few weeks is a testament to the job that Peter Chiarelli has done rebuilding a system where prospects went to die before he took over as GM in 2006. There might not be any stars in that group (although Svedberg and Spooner look very good), but he's built up the kind of reliable depth that other franchises can only dream about, and that's helped keep this tea B's afloat through a series of devastating injuries. (Last week: 2-2-0)
6 San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 4
San Jose Sharks (27-11-6)
While the Hawks are struggling in the skills competition, the Sharks are making hay. They've won six of their last eight, with four of those wins coming via shootout. Might be tough keeping that ball rolling, though. Logan Couture, who leads the league with seven SO goals in 12 chances, is scheduled for hand surgery and could be out for up to a month. (Last week: 2-2-0)
7 Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 7
Jonathan Quick returned to the lineup on Saturday and made an immediate impact, stopping 27-of-28 shots to lead the Kings to a 3-1 win over the Canucks. Tough break for Martin Jones, who was sent back to AHL Manchester, but he may not be stuck on the farm for long. Outside of Jeff Carter (six goals in his last nine games), L.A.'s offense is stuck in neutral. Could Ben Scrivens be the trade chip that brings scoring help in return? (Last week: 1-2-0)
8 Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 9
The Bolts didn't just lose a game on Sunday. They may have lost their MVP. Ben Bishop left early in the 5-3 loss to Edmonton and while early indications are that his undisclosed injury isn't serious, we heard the same thing about Sergei Bobrovsky before he was sidelined for a month. Tampa's played well in the absence of Steven Stamkos in large part because of Bishop's steady, reassuring play. He'd be a lot tougher to replace than the sniper. (Last week: 2-1-0)
9 Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 13
They snapped out of a four-game losing streak with home wins over the Flyers, Blue Jackets and Sharks, but a 4-3 loss to the Flames on Monday stopped the party cold. No problem, though. They've got a fairly soft spot in the schedule coming up with just two of their next 14 opponents sitting in playoff position, giving the Avs a golden opportunity to solidify their own place in the standings. (Last week: 3-1-1)
10 Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 8
A pair of troubling weekend losses in SoCal stretched their losing streak to four games. The results were tight in both—3-1 against the Kings; 4-3 in OT versus the Ducks—but the process was ugly. The Canucks' defense coughed up 49 shots and a third-period lead in both, the result of sitting back on its heels and failing to establish any kind of forecheck. Even Steady Eddie Lack is showing signs of wearing down under the assault, allowing four goals in each of his past three starts. (Last week: 0-2-1)
11 Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 12
This is exactly what everyone figured would happen after Craig Berube took over behind the bench, right? After starting the season 1-7, the Flyers have gone 20-10-4 to pull themselves into a playoff berth in the hotly contended Metro Division. Steve Mason has been a lifesaver, going 7-1-2 in his last 10 starts to keep Philly in the mix, but the key has been the resurgence of Claude Giroux. Team Canada material or not, he's been back in world-class form during the past month. (Last week: 2-1-0)
12 Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 10
A month after being offered a ticket out of town by Montreal's mayor, David Desharnais has found his stride. He was the team's leading scorer in December with 12 points, and has six in his last four games, including the opening tally in a 2-1 win over the Panthers on Sunday. (Last week: 2-0-2)
13 Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 17
Detroit Red Wings (19-14-10)
"The next four games are going to be huge, especially the last three," said captain Henrik Zetterberg of the road trip that kicks off Detroit's second half. The Wings earned a win in the first game, thrashing the Stars, 5-1. despite the absence of Pavel Datsyuk (upper body), but the real challenge comes later this week with three in California. With Joe Louis Arena a house of horrors (they went 1-6 at home in December), the Wings need to fatten up on the road. (Last week: 1-1-0)
14 Dallas Stars
Last Week: 11
Dallas Stars (20-15-7)
Tight defense and timely goal scoring helped the Stars cap off 2013 with a 5-0-2 run that moved them into the top eight in the West. However, 2014 hasn't been so kind. Since the calendar flipped, they've dropped three straight by a combined score of 18-8. Too many turnovers, odd-man rushes and soft goals are derailing their playoff dreams. (Last week: 1-3-0)
15 Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 14
The good news: Nathan Horton made his season debut and Sergei Bobrovsky returned to the lineup after missing a month with a groin strain. The bad news: it may be too late to salvage this season. Sure, the Jackets are just four points out of a playoff spot at the midway point, but four teams are ahead of them. Time to put together a winning streak a little longer than just three games. (Last week: 2-2-0)
16 Washington Capitals
Last Week: 15
The Caps have mastered the art of shooting themselves in the boot during a cold snap that's seen them win just twice in their past nine games. Their penalty kill, one of the league's best in the early going, has fallen on hard times, giving up 10 goals on just 33 chances during those nine games, and their goaltending situation continues to be a distraction. (Last week: 0-1-1)
17 Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 16
They followed up a thrilling shootout win in the Winter Classic with an effort so appalling that Joffrey Lupul felt compelled to apologize to anyone who paid to watch them lose 7-1 to the Rangers. Hard to argue that newly acquired Tim Gleason is the answer for a shaky blueline, but a change in the chemistry sure can't hurt. (Last week: 0-1-1)
18 Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 18
Phoenix Coyotes (21-12-9)
The return of captain Shane Doan didn't provide much of a spark. Can a roster shakeup be far off? With just two regulation wins to show for their past 14 games and their playoff position in jeopardy, you have to think something will happen sooner rather than later in Phoenix. (Last week: 1-2-0)
19 New York Rangers
Last Week: 22
New York Rangers (21-20-3)
The Blueshirts reeled off five wins in seven games and moved within one point of third-place Washington after thumping the Leafs 7-1 on Saturday night. They continue to get spectacular work between the pipes from Cam Talbot. The rookie has allowed just one goal in four of his past five appearances and he leads the league with his .938 save percentage. (Last week: 2-1-1)
20 Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 23
Ottawa Senators (19-18-7)
The surprising Sens ran their winning streak to four with Saturday's thrilling 4-3 OT win over the Habs, but they'll be hard-pressed to keep it going with five straight on the road, starting Wednesday night in Denver. There could be reinforcements coming, though, with Jason Spezza expected to play and Chris Neil likely to return at some point during the trip. (Last week: 2-0-0)
21 Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 21
Minnesota Wild (23-17-5)
Back-to-back wins over Buffalo and Washington probably saved coach Mike Yeo's job, at least for now, but the dark cloud is still hovering over the Wild. Captain Mikko Koivu is out for four weeks after breaking his ankle and team MVP Josh Harding is out indefinitely for undisclosed reasons that are believe to have something to do with his multiple sclerosis. (Last week: 2-1-0)
22 New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 19
Jaromir Jagr, 41, was the team's MVP through the first half of the season, scoring 34 points in 43 games, but he's hit a dry patch of late, notching just one assist in his past six contests. The Devils' offense has dried up with him, notching just 11 goals, and two wins, during that stretch. (Last week: 1-2-0)
23 Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 26
So it turns out that Jeff Skinner is a pretty solid player when he's actually in the lineup. According to the Raleigh Observer, the Canes have generated an average of 3.3 goals in the 32 games he's played this season. The 11 games he missed? Just 1.5. He's on a tear right now, scoring 16 goals in his last 16 games to keep Carolina in the hunt. (Last week: 4-0-0)
24 Florida Panthers
Last Week: 20
Florida Panthers (16-21-6)
Beware the Killer B's! Sean Bergenheim has six goals in his past six games. Brad Boyes has six points in his past six. Aleksander Barkov has 12 points in his last 12 and he set a franchise rookie record with a six-game scoring streak. Beyond that line, though? The eternal rebuild remains well behind pace. (Last week: 1-1-1)
25 New York Islanders
Last Week: 29
Saturday's 3-2 loss to Carolina aside, the Isles are playing their best hockey of the season—and have possibly saved coach Jack Capuano's job. John Tavares is setting the pace up front, notching five points in a come-from-behind 7-3 win over the Stars, but there are concerns on the back end with Evgeni Nabokov going on IR (again). (Last week: 3-1-0)
26 Calgary Flames
Last Week: 24
Calgary Flames (15-22-6)
They snapped a four game losing skid with Monday's 4-3 win over Colorado—their first victory in regulation in a month--but no one is suggesting that their offensive outburst hints at a turnaround. Calgary's in full meltdown mode, having been shut out three times over that stretch (Last week: 1-2-0)
27 Winnipeg Jets
Last Week: 25
Winnipeg Jets (19-22-5)
A disastrous East Coast swing saw the Jets lose three games, allow 14 goals, and have their system ridiculed by the Penguins. "We're consistently inconsistent," said coach Claude Noel, seemingly making the case for his own dismissal. (Last week: 1-3-0)
28 Nashville Predators
Last Week: 27
The frustrating reality of another season on the playoff sidelines is starting to sink in for Nashville. Coach Barry Trotz lit up goaltender Carter Hutton after Sunday night's 2-1 loss to Carolina, saying he's "not good enough for this league," essentially challenging the work of GM David Poile. Might help if that 25th ranked offense provided a little more breathing room for the team's goaltenders, too, wouldn't it? (Last week: 0-1-2)
29 Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 29
Buffalo Sabres (12-26-4)
You can't say enough about the play of Ryan Miller, who improved to 7-3-1 in his last 11 starts with a 2-1 win over New Jersey on Saturday night. The star goaltender has a 1.87 GAA and a sterling .943 save percentage during that span, giving hope to both the surging Sabres and Team USA. (Last week: 1-2-0)
30 Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 30
Edmonton Oilers (14-27-5)
Here's something you don't see often: an Edmonton victory over a team in playoff position. The Oilers pulled off that trick for just the third time this season with Sunday's 5-3 win over the Bolts. (Last week: 1-2-1)

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