The Chicago Blackhawks are No. 1 in SI.com's NHL Power Rankings for the third week in a row.
After the last couple of seasons, nothing could be funnier than the 2014-15 Canucks, who have has everything except goaltending. I think Ryan Miller will figure it out, but until then, keeping laughing, Roberto.
Also causing mirth, at least in New York, is Rick Nash, one of the league’s great comeback stories. He ranks second in the NHL with 20 goals and is just six points shy of his output for all of last season. Now the Rangers are starting to look like a comeback story, too. New York did not have the feel of a Stanley Cup finalist last season, but the team rolled at the right time. This year, the club opened the season like a tired team that had exhausted all of its bullets last spring. Both Nash and keeper Henrik Lundqvist have picked up their games–Nash from the outset and Lundqvist after a slow start. With that, the Rangers are currently wielding the league’s longest win streak, at six games. This club probably won't reach the final again, but it should return to the playoffs.
Let’s give some love to the Jets for taking points in 10 of their last 11 games, including six wins. It’s especially impressive when you consider the injuries to the team’s hobbling defensemen. Winnipeg recently picked up Jay Harrison from Carolina after placing Jacob Trouba on IR. He joins Mark Stuart, Tobias Enstrom and Zach Bogosian on the long injured list that hasn’t seemed to slow the team.
In Los Angeles, center Anze Kopitar has jolted awake, it seems, after plodding along through most of the first two months of the season. He followed a five-point game against St. Louis with three assists against Arizona, and with nine points in his last three games, he almost doubled his season output last week. His re-awakening is pivotal for the Kings.
And as they get ready to host their first Winter Classic, the Capitals are coming off their best stretch of the season, taking points in nine straight games. Braden Holtby turned in a gem of a game against Ottawa on Monday night in which he turned back 38 of 39 shots and made a highlight-film glove snare of Clarke MacArthur’s blast from the right circle in the first period. Holtby has been playing with confidence lately. He gave up four goals in three straight games back in early November, but has done that in only two other games since then, a span of 19 appearances.
Calgary, one of the biggest pleasant surprises of the early season has now unceremoniously tumbled from fourth in the West to ninth, with one win in its last nine games. The Flames' superb comeback against the Kings on Monday night kept them from falling further, but has this team’s early success run dry? Perhaps reality has caught up; certainly the Calgary's scoring hasn’t kept pace. Can the Flames right their sinking ship? They’d better hope that coach Bob Hartley knows how, given that they just renewed his contract last week.
As clubs at the very bottom gear up to watch the start of the World Junior Championship, the temptation to play their assistant coaches in goal to make it easier to land one of those top draft picks next June will only intensify. If any other set of circumstances had led us to this point, it would be super cool to dream of McDavid's 97 joining Gretzy's 99 in Edmonton's rafters one day. But in this reality, we'd rather the Oilers have their draft pick taken away for consistent, egregious bungling.