Posted: Wednesday January 19, 2011 7:03PM ; Updated: Thursday January 20, 2011 11:56AM
Brian Cazeneuve
Brian Cazeneuve>NHL POWER RANKINGS

Flyers return to top as Canucks cool

Story Highlights

The Flyers, on a 14-4-1 run, are now the hottest team in the NHL

The Red Wings are hanging tough in the face of a wave of injuries

Martin St. Louis laments the Lightning have been too up and down

NOTE: All stats, records and standings are through the games of Monday, January 17.

NHL Power Rankings
1Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 3
It's always sunny in Philadelphia when you're on a 14-4-1 run, much of it without Chris Pronger, who is due back this week after a month on the shelf with a foot injury. GM Paul Holmgren was rewarded with a three-year extension and the ace trio of Danny Briere, Ville Leino and Scott Hartnell has produced 18 points in their last nine games. Hartnell was up in arms that the worthy Briere hadn't been picked for the All-Star Game, but that changed when Calgary's Jarome Iginla bowed out. Last week: 3-1-0
 
2Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 1
Funny how quickly fortune can change. After a 14-0-3 streak, they were shut out by the Rangers and Wild. In the 4-0 loss to Minnesota, they lost defenseman Andrew Alberts (right shoulder injury), who had replaced Aaron Rome (out for three weeks, MCL sprain). "We've been fortunate during this stretch not to lose too many guys," noted goalie Cory Schneider. "Now we're starting to and we'll have to deal with it." Last week: 2-2-0
 
3Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 2
With Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood down with injuries, third netminder Joey McDonald made 24 saves against Columbus to earn his first win since Dec. 2009. But there was more cloud than silver lining as the Wings also lost Tomas Holmstrom to a fractured hand. "We've got to find different ways, different players to step up each night," said center Darren Helm, "and that's what we've been doing so far." Last week: 1-0-1
 
4Dallas Stars
Last Week: 4
Dallas Stars (28-13-5)
The Pacific leaders celebrated the return of Jamie Langenbrunner with three wins, including one over L.A. in which he scored the go-ahead goal after being honored for playing in his 1,000th NHL game. "It's definitely a nice touch," he said. "The guys have made me feel really good here, the crowd made me feel great and I feel I can really contribute to this team for the rest of the season." Last week: 3-0-0
 
5Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 6
After squeezing out only three goals in three games without leading scorer Sidney Crosby, they uncorked four power-play tallies to win in Montreal and got 44 saves from Marc-Andre Fleury to take a 3-2 squeaker from the B's in which they'd coughed up a 2-0 lead. "We weren't playing the way we're capable of playing," noted blueliner Alex Goligoski. "Whether Sid's in the lineup or he's not, there's a way we want to play." Last week: 2-0-0
 
6Boston Bruins
Last Week: 10
Boston Bruins (25-13-7)
Hat tricks are in fashion for veteran Norris Trophy-winners. First Detroit's Nick Lidstrom bagged the first of his career, then B's captain Zdeno Chara potted his first in a 7-0 rout of Carolina and was simply giddy about it. He should also be giddy about his team's play: only two losses in regulation during its that 13 matches, a stretch that includes wins over the Bolts, Pens (albeit without Crosby) and Flyers as well as a torrent of goals, including six from Chara himself. And to think, people were griping about coach Claude Julien's overly defensive style not too long ago. Last week: 3-1-0
 
7Washington Capitals
Last Week: 5
They've scored three goals or fewer in 10 straight games, and their struggles with the man advantage have coach Bruce Boudreau fuming. "If we're going to look this lethargic on the power play, that's where we are losing games," he grumbled. "It's not 5 on 5, it's not the penalty killing, it's the power play. I keep putting the same guys out thinking eventually it's going to turn around, but it's not." Isn't that the definition of insanity? Last week: 1-2-1
 
8Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 9
After a sparkling 3-0 shutout of the Caps, they dropped a pair to the much less formidable Devils and 'Canes. "Our play is too up and down," said Martin St. Louis. "Execution, smarts, attention to details ? we're all over the map right now. We're there some nights. We're completely not other nights. You can see, the nights we're not, what kind of results we get." Last week: 1-2-0
 
9Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 15
Phoenix Coyotes (23-14-9)
Their 6-0-2 run was ended by a 4-2 loss to San Jose. No surprise there. They've now lost six in a row to their division foe. After three games in four nights, injuries (Ed Jovanovski, Vern Fiddler, David Schlemko) and fatigue could be factors with a key home-and-home vs. the Kings coming up. Last week: 3-1-0
 
10Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 11
There's no denying PK Subban's spirit. After a bad change and some sloppy play in his own zone led to a pair of Calgary goals, the rookie defenseman scored the winner in OT, lifting the Habs to their seventh one-goal win in eight games, including a nice pair last week against the improved Rangers. "I was pumped," he said. "I put our team in a bad position. But this is a game of highs and lows and I stuck with it." Last week: 3-1-0
 
11Nashville Predators
Last Week: 8
Coach Barry Trotz has a guess as to why his team can win five, lose five, and win six. "When we have a lot of urgency in our game, we'll play and win a lot of hockey games," he said. "When our urgency level comes down, our desperation comes down, then we lose hockey games. We have to learn from the last two long winning streaks that we tend to let down." Last week: 2-2-0
 
12Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 18
They took five points out of six during the week, blanking the Avs and splitting a home and home with the Preds, who have taken three of their first four meetings, but the playoffs are far from guaranteed for the defending champs, who hold the last spot in the tight, competitive west where a couple of wins or losses can send a team on an elevator ride. "We know when we work hard, things fall into place for us," says captain Jonathan Toews. Last week: 2-0-1
 
13New York Rangers
Last Week: 7
Thanks to Wojtek Wolski's first goal as a Ranger and Henrik Lundqvist's 31 saves, they eked out a gritty 1-0 win over the white hot Canucks, but it was sandwiched by two one-goal losses to the Habs and another to the division rival/NHL-leading Flyers that showed just how much Marian Gaborik's scoring drought (two goals in his last 14 games) can hurt. Coach John Tortorella tried kick-starting his sniper by planting his butt on the pine during the second period against Philly. Last week: 1-3-0
 
14Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 13
Blanked by Chicago, they responded with an emotional win in Minnesota, where Ryan O'Reilly was wheeled off the ice after crashing headfirst into the boards. A big plus was getting Chris Stewart (fracture hand) back after 21 games on the shelf. Hopefully he'll get the power play (one for its last 29) going again. Last week: 1-1-0
 
15Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 12
Anaheim Ducks (25-19-4)
Jeckyll and Hyde: After a humbling 6-2 loss to Phoenix, these sometimes ugly Ducks rallied to beat Edmonton and are now 6-1 in games after they've given up five or more goals. "I hate to say it, but maybe it's good when you lose a game like last night," reasoned Jason Blake. Last week: 2-1-0
 
16Atlanta Thrashers
Last Week: 14
Is Rick Dudley getting nervous? A four-game losing streak, and only four wins in your last 13, can give a GM the spooks, especially when it takes a Bryan Little to come up big and halt the skid with a goal and assist in the final two minutes of regulation followed by a shootout tally against the Panthers. Word is Dudley will be assessing his roster this week with an eye toward making moves. Last week: 1-2-0
 
17Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 17
Cam Ward, in his 310th game, passing the immortal Arturs Irbe as the franchise leader in goal appearances, got pulled after leaking two goals on five shots in a 7-0 loss to Boston. Until that eyesore (only their second regulation loss in their last 11 matches), things had gone rather well: 4-1 with division wins over the Cats, Thrashers and Bolts. "If you're fortunate to have been around the game a long time and unfortunate enough to have some experience at dealing with games like that, then it happens to every team," said philosophical coach Paul Maurice, who added he was interested in seeing how his charges respond to the beatdown. Last week: 2-2-0
 
18Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 16
Minnesota Wild (22-18-5)
What to make of these guys? Outscored 13-2 in their last tk losses, they get booed off the ice against weaker teams like the komings, but blank the mighty Canucks, 4-0, behind Anton Khudobin's 32 saves and first NHL shutout. "We're a strange team, there's no doubt about it," said forward Andrew Brunette. "You never know what's going to show up." Last week: 1-2-0
 
19San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 21
San Jose Sharks (23-19-5)
Finally out of the six-game losing streak that was the franchise's longest in 15 years, they brought in some grit from Atlanta in the form of enforcer Ben Eager. Also added via waivers, Kyle Wellwood, who is notoriously more grits (as in overweight) than grit. On a historical note, Patrick Marleau, 31, became the youngest player in NHL history to play his first 1,000 games with the same team. Last week: 2-2-0
 
20Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 20
Their home, once so sweet, has become a house of horrors. They recently dropped six of seven there before closing an eight-game stand by beating Edmonton. "If we didn't come out with this one, I think lips would be dragging on the floor," forward Justin Williams observed. "We had to treat this like a playoff game. Points right now are far too important to let slip, especially with the way we've been playing." Last week: 1-2-0
 
21St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 19
St. Louis Blues (21-17-6)
With one win in their last seven games, they are a long way from their 9-1-2 start to the season. Part of the problem: too many careless mistakes at key points in games, and that suggests a lack of focus as well as real leadership in the room. "It's one thing not to have your legs going early," Blues coach Davis Payne groaned, "but the mental preparation has to be better." Last week: 1-2-0
 
22Florida Panthers
Last Week: 26
Two days after furballing a 3-0 lead against the Caps, the Cats came back with a pair of third-period goals 2:14 apart to beat the Preds. "It's nice for someone else to blow a lead for a change instead of us," Panthers coach Pete DeBoer sighed. "It was a character win. It's been a while since we've had a comeback win like that. It's nice. I think it builds confidence." We'll see about that... Last week: 3-0-1
 
23Calgary Flames
Last Week: 25
Calgary Flames (20-20-6)
They gallantly scored three times in 11 minutes to even a contest with Carolina, only to lose in a shootout, but at least goalie Henrik Karlsson provided some spark after relieving Miikka Kiprusoff, who was on the pointed end of criticism from coach Brent Sutter and became the subject of trade rumors. A 3-2 win in Ottawa with Karlsson in net ensued. Suitably challenged, Kiprusoff responded with a 2-1 shootout win in Toronto. At last pronouncement, GM Jay Feaster sounded more inclined to hang on to his No. 1. Last week: 2-0-2
 
24Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 24
After a seven-week slide and five straight defeats, the tattered Jackets finally picked up the 300th win in franchise history via a shootout against Detroit as oft-beleagured netminder Steve Mason turned back four shots. "That game there wasn't for the faint of heart," coach Scott Arniel sagely noted. Nor has the team's season. Last week: 1-1-1
 
25Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 22
Buffalo Sabres (19-20-5)
Like little kids making a mess when dad's boss comes to call, they blew a 2-0 lead to the Flyers and lost 5-2 with prospective owner Terry Pegula visiting. Hopefully someone informed Mr. Pegula that the lads had played six straight games without a regulation loss. But so much for getting a playoff push going. After beating the 'Canes, who they're pursuing for ninth in the east, they dropped a 5-3 affair to the Isles. Maybe Ryan Miller, who hasn't had a night off since Nov. 24, is starting to flag. Last week: 1-2-0
 
26Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 23
A season of waffles and wackiness got even weirder when coach Ron Wilson was fined an undisclosed amount by the NHL for offering cash incentives to his players to get his 600th career win in San Jose against his former employer. Bottom line was it worked. If he can keep it on the QT, he may be on to something, but winning a Cup would surely cost him a bundle. Last week: 1-1-1
 
27Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 27
Ottawa Senators (17-23-6)
It's all or nothing for this bunch who hung a season-high six goals on the Isles, but lost their other three games by a combined margin of 12-3. "We play well in spurts," claims goalie Elliott, who has now played in eight straight games without tasting victory. "Then we fall behind and get disheartened." Last week: 1-3-0
 
28New York Islanders
Last Week: 28
In a week when John Tavares had a hat trick against Buffalo, Kevin Poulin faced 51 shots against Vancouver and still got his team a point, and ruffian Trevor Gillies scored his first NHL goal, the young Isles were bemoaned their habit of giving up early goals. "It seems like a trend in the first period," Blake Comeau said after Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson torched them in the first 32 seconds. "The guys were embarrassed." Last week: 1-2-1
 
29Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 29
Edmonton Oilers (14-23-7)
With two wins in their last 13 games, they need a geiger counter to find the back of the net while on a power play that has come up snake eyes in 38 straight tries since December 23. "The power play didn't do what it needed to do again," coach Tom Renney said with great understatement after a 3-2 loss in Anaheim in which the Oiler PP fizzled five times, including twice in the final 3:12. Last week: 1-3-0
 
30New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 30
By seizing five of a possible six points, they're showing signs of rising from the depths of despair to the soaring heights of mediocrity. They even got two goals from Ilya Kovalchuk (he's awake!) to beat Tampa Bay and snap an 11-game road skid that was one short of the franchise low. "The guys started to believe that if they work together," says coach Jacques Lemaire, "they'll have a better chance to score than working on their own." A novel idea, no? Last week: 2-0-1

 
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