Posted: Tue March 12, 2013 3:56PM; Updated: Tue March 12, 2013 4:56PM
Adrian Dater

Penguins look dangerous in latest Power Rankings

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Sidney Crosby and Penguins
They'll be without Evgeni Malkin for a while, but the Penguins look primed for a streak of their own.
Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Like one of those little piggies in "Angry Birds", the Chicago Blackhawks were wobbled by a couple of big hits from flying objects last week, but they've managed to survive atop the NHL Power Rankings for another week.

Yes, The Streak is over, and a new one started to go in the opposite direction after back-to-back losses to Colorado and Edmonton. But Chicago's overall record is still just too pretty to put anywhere but all the way up at the top. Boston, Anaheim and Pittsburgh are all angling to knock the Hawks off their perch, though. On to the list...

1Chicago Blackhawks
Last Week: 1
What's wrong with the Hawks? We love to build people up and then tear 'em down. So the folks who were waiting for a fall were happy with last weekend's results as Chicago's 30-game points streak came to an end in Colorado, followed by a home loss to -- gads -- Edmonton. Forget about that, though. The real worry for Hawks fans now is the loss of forward Patrick Sharp for what the team says will be three to four weeks due to an upper-body injury (suspected to be to a shoulder) caused by a hit from Colorado's Ryan O'Byrne in Chicago's final victory before the Avs ended the streak two nights later. Obviously, 12 goals allowed in their last two games is a problem, but let's give Corey Crawford and Ray Emery a break here. They've both been pretty darn good for a while, as has this team. The Hawks stay No. 1 for yet another week, but the hockey world is watching now for more signs of decline. Last week: 2-2-0
2Boston Bruins
Last Week: 2
Boston Bruins (17-3-3)
The Canadiens still lead the Northeast Division, but only by a point and the Bruins have three games in hand. Boston got a shootout win Monday in Ottawa, on David Krejci's fourth-round goal, upping their road record to 9-1-2. But the bad news for the Bs in Ottawa: Third-line center Chris Kelly was lost to a left leg injury after a hit from Chris Neil. The hit looked suspension-worthy to these eyes, but we'll see what Brendan Shanahan has to say. There was no immediate word on Kelly's condition, but he needed to be helped off the ice. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci figure to get more ice time now as the Bs' top two pivots. Last week: 3-0-1
3Pittsburgh Penguins
Last Week: 4
Sidney Crosby seems well on his way to winning the Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading scorer. He had five assists in Pittsburgh's 6-1 win over the Islanders on Sunday, and has 20 points in his last eight games. (Linemate Chris Kunitz ranks third in scoring and leads the league in plus/minus,) Meanwhile, the Pens entered Monday with five straight wins. Could they become the next team to put together a Blackhawks-esque streak? Depends on how deeply the loss of Evgeni Malkin (upper body injury) for the next week or so affects them. Right now, they look like they can handle it. Last week: 3-0-0
4Anaheim Ducks
Last Week: 3
Anaheim Ducks (18-3-3)
Now that Ryan Getzlaf is in the fold (eight years, $66 million), everyone wants to know how this will affect Corey Perry's pending UFA status, and the NHL trade-deadline market in general. Will the Ducks really trade Perry because they don't think they'll be able to afford him and Getzlaf? There are plenty of NHL insiders who think Perry is worth more than Getzlaf, and those who know Perry well don't believe he'll accept a penny less than what Getzlaf has been given. So GM Bob Murray has a tough decision ahead. Go for the Stanley Cup with this group, or get something for Perry while he can. He may get one, but he might not be able to get both. Last week: 3-0-0
5Montreal Canadiens
Last Week: 5
The line of Thomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta and Michael Ryder combined for 19 points during a superb week for the Habs, who are having no trouble filling the net. In 13 of their first 26 games, the Canadiens scored four goals or more. Backup goalie Peter Budaj has won four straight starts, which has a few Habs die-hards hoping that he plays even more. But let's get real: the No. 1 job belongs to Carey Price until further notice. Last week: 3-1-0
6Los Angeles Kings
Last Week: 8
Beating Calgary on Monday night gave the defending Cup champs' their ninth victory in a stretch of 11 games as center Jeff Carter continues to sizzle. The former Flyer and Blue Jacket scored six goals in four games last week, including a hat trick against Nashville, and he entered Monday with 13 goals in his last 13 games. "You look at the goals ... he scores goals on his off side," coach Darryl Sutter told the L.A. Times. "It's sort of like Jarome [Iginla] where he scores goals on his off side. He'll go up top, he'll go low. Where you're not just seeing how he shoots it. And then around the net, he just scores where it's natural. He's [shooting] to score, not just [shooting] to shoot." Last week: 3-1-0
7Carolina Hurricanes
Last Week: 18
I got down on the 'Canes after word came that goalie Cam Ward would miss as much as two months with a sprained MCL. But they had a very nice week, and I'm back on the bandwagon. The top line of Eric Staal, Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty has been tremendous, with a combined 77 points in 24 games. Entering Monday, one of the three had scored in all but one of Carolina's 14 wins. The 'Canes will probably need to keep scoring at a big clip, because Ward's loss is likely to be felt at some point soon. Still, this team is headed for the playoffs it seems to me. Last week: 2-1-0
8Toronto Maple Leafs
Last Week: 7
Injured forward Joffrey Lupul (broken forearm) skated for 20 minutes at practice on Monday, although in a non-contact jersey, and remains day-to-day, but he could return to action in the next week or so. Despite his absence since Jan. 23, the Leafs have hung in there and remain one of the surprise stories of the season. Captain Dion Phaneuf said a little amnesia helps in a lockout season. "It's such a short year, there's not a lot of time to dwell on the last game," he told the Leafs' website. "We've done a lot of good things so far, but we know there's a lot of work to do yet. We're happy with how we've played, but we know we've got to get better." Last week: 1-1-1
9Minnesota Wild
Last Week: 10
It had to be a very satisfying Saturday night for defenseman Ryan Suter, who put up two points in his first game in Nashville since deserting the Predators for $98 million of Craig Leopold's money. After a slow start, Suter has quietly been terrific again, and the Wild -- who caught the reeling Canucks atop the Northwest by beating Vancouver on Sunday -- are reaping the benefits. Suter has produced 18 points in 24 games, and is helping to settle a power play that had problems early on. Minnesota's penalty-killing (86.5 percent, fourth in the league) has helped make up for a sporadic lack of offense. Last week: 2-1-0
10Ottawa Senators
Last Week: 11
The word on the Sens is that they lack toughness, but they don't lack character as they continue to hang in the playoff pack without stars Craig Anderson, Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza. Ottawa's shootout loss to the Bruins on Monday was its ninth straight one-goal game, and the Sens have managed to chisel at least one point out of seven of them. Guillaume Latendresse, out since Jan. 30 with whiplash symptoms, returned to action against the B's and Kyle Turris lit the lamp for the first time in 21 games. Things won't be getting any easier this week as the Sens play their next two games -- against the Habs and Sabres -- on the road, where they are 4-7-2. Last week: 1-1-1
11New York Rangers
Last Week: 16
Despite losing to nemesis Ottawa at home, the Blueshirts are gaining some momentum for the stretch, having won five of their last six games. Brad Richards (two goals in his last two games) looks like he's starting to find his shot again, the power play is showing signs of life, and the Blueshirts kicked off a four-game road trip by handily beating the Capitals, 4-1, on Sunday. Marc Staal's absence hangs heavy over the team, though, after taking he took a puck to the face against Philadelphia. But Rangers doctors who examined Staal believe he will make a full recovery, according to the team's website. Will that be in time to play again this season? Coach John Tortorella isn't saying. Last week: 3-1-0
12Vancouver Canucks
Last Week: 6
Suddenly, there are all kinds of problems here. The Canucks entered Tuesday 3-4-3 for their last 10 games, including losses to the Blue Jackets, Sharks and Flames, and found themselves in an unfamiliar position: sharing first place in the Northwest Division. Their power play stood at 0-for-20 after Sunday's loss to the Wild, and the defense misses Kevin Bieksa, who is getting close to returning from the groin injury that's plagued him since Feb.22. Forward Zack Kassian has been in a long funk as well. Kassian -- the player acquired for Cody Hodgson in a trade with Buffalo -- scored five goals in his first seven games of the season, but has none and only three assists in his last 17. Last week: 0-1-2
13St. Louis Blues
Last Week: 9
St. Louis Blues (13-10-2)
Consistency eludes them, as they are 4-5-1 in their last 10. After a couple of nice road wins in Phoenix and San Jose, the Blues looked average again in a loss at Anaheim. Maybe a third straight road win against a top team was too much to ask. St. Louis could use another center. The Blues rank 19th in face-off percentage (49.6) and lack that dynamic offensive pivot to complement what remains a strong stable of young, talented wingers. Can GM Doug Armstrong get one by the deadline? After working out veteran Jason Arnott for several practices, the Blues elected not to sign him to a contract. Last week: 2-3-0 2-3-0
14Colorado Avalanche
Last Week: 20
Disregard the record. This team could be the surprise of the second half, as evidenced by its 6-2 streak-busting win over Chicago last Friday night. The addition of center Ryan O'Reilly to the mix has really been a game-changer, especially with Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny, the No. 1 and 2 centers, playing well. Duchene scored with 0.2 seconds left on the overtime clock to beat the Sharks on Sunday, one game after tying his career-high with four points as the Avs ripped the previously immortal Blackhawks. "We can't dwell on any one win right now," Duchene said. "We have to keep going, keep winning. We want to make the playoffs." Last week: 2-2-0
15San Jose Sharks
Last Week: 13
Though they blew a 3-1 third-period lead at home to St. Louis in a 4-3 OT loss on Saturday, and fell in OT to the Avs on Sunday, the Sharks are still scratching out points and staying in the West's top eight. Joe Thornton is still chugging along at a point per game pace for the season, but Patrick Marleau (one goal in his last eight games) has been in a slump, Ryane Clowe (no goals in 22 games) is trade bait, and the bottom two lines aren't giving much. Not good for a team that has gotten all of six goals from its defensemen "We're taking wins any way we can get them," coach Todd McLellan told the San Jose Mercury News. Last week: 1-1-2
16Detroit Red Wings
Last Week: 14
A listless shutout loss at Columbus Saturday was followed by an only a slightly better showing in an OT loss to the Jackets at home on Sunday. Injuries and a lack of punch on not only the bottom two forward lines but the bottom four on defense seems to be holding the Wings down near the level of mediocrity. Detroit's power play, at 14.4 percent, ranks 26th in the league. Nick Lidstrom, come back! Last week: 2-1-1
17Phoenix Coyotes
Last Week: 12
Phoenix Coyotes (12-10-3)
Fundamentals such as face-offs (53 percent, third in the league) and penalty killing (83.5, ninth) continue to keep them well in the hunt for another playoff spot. But getting on a roll has been a problem, for the Coyotes who are 4-4-1 for their last nine and face the resurgent Kings three times in their next six games. Of note: captain Shane Doan scored his 800th NHL point last week against Anaheim. "It means you've been around a long time, that's about it. I probably should have gotten there a lot sooner but I'm there finally," Doan told the Coyotes' website. Last week: 1-2-0
18Nashville Predators
Last Week: 22
They have a minus-7 goal differential (54-61), but are right there in playoff contention. They get in, anything is possible with Pekka Rinne in goal, but it's clear the Preds need some offense. Can GM David Poile get anything at the deadline? It doesn't seem promising. There isn't on the roster to dangle as bait, and Nashville got a poor appraisal in the most recent Hockey News' Future Watch issue, with its stable of prospects ranked 26th in the league. Last week: 1-0-1
19Columbus Blue Jackets
Last Week: 29
Break up the Jackets! They were winners of five straight entering Tuesday's home tilt with the Canucks and had grabbed points in seven straight (5-0-2). They are big and fast and seem to be buying into coach Todd Richards' system of shared sacrifice. It's nice to see this team get a good word in these rankings for a change. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was named the NHL's First Star of the Week on Monday after going 4-0-0 with a 0.77 goals-against average and .972 saves percentage. The Jackets' penalty-killing has been strong, too, at 27-for-its-last-28. Last week: 4-0-0
20Winnipeg Jets
Last Week: 21
Winnipeg Jets (12-11-2)
Their season has been baffling because of their home record, which was 4-6-0 entering Tuesday's game against the Maple Leafs at the MTS Centre. The Jets' barn is considered one of the better home-ice advantages in the league, what with their nightly throng of frenzied blue-clad partisans. Yet, wins have been tough to come by there for coach Claude Noel's group. On the road, things have been better, at 8-5-2. Now would be a good time to get 'er goin' at home, as the Jets play 14 of their last 23 games at MTS. Part of the problem: the power play. Last season, the Jets had the league's second-best PP on home ice, behind Nashville. This season, they are 28th. Last week: 2-1-0
21Dallas Stars
Last Week: 19
Dallas Stars (12-10-2)
Their leading scorer, good ol' Jaromir Jagr (18 points), scored twice in an impressive 5-2 win over the Kings that ended L.A.'s six-game home winning streak. But a 2-1 loss in Phoenix two nights later saw center Jamie Benn checked out of the game by the Coytoes' Martin Hanzal. Benn remains out as does Brendan Morrow (groin) as a four-game homestand looms with the Predators, Ducks and Blackhawks coming to town. Ray Whitney returns after 16 games out with a broken foot, so hopefully he'll pick up some of the offensive slack. Loui Eriksson needs to pick it up some, too. Sixteen points in 24 games is OK, but not up to his standards. Last week: 1-1-0
22New Jersey Devils
Last Week: 17
Martin Brodeur remains sidelined with a sore back. The future Hall of Fame goalie said a few weeks ago that it wasn't anything to worry about, but clearly that wasn't quite accurate. The Devils avoided their worst winless streak in 27 years by beating Buffalo last week to stop an 0-5-1 slide. Brodeur has not played since Feb. 24, and the team is saying now that there is no timetable for his return. Backup Johan Hedberg just doesn't inspire any confidence, especially not when the Devils are struggling to score and the defense is sloppy and mistake-prone. They desperately need No. 30, their leader, back in net. Last week: 2-2-0
23New York Islanders
Last Week: 23
It wasn't a bad week at all for the Isles, who enjoyed their 6-3 spanking of the Canadiens and another solid 5-2 home win over the Caps that was sandwiched around a tough 2-1 OT loss to the Rangers. Then they got smoked 6-1 by the Sidney Crosby-led (five assists) Penguins on Sunday. "Our discipline wasn't really good," coach Jack Capuano told assembled scribes. "They've got the fourth-best power play in the league and you can't get behind two or three goals to this team." The Isles, who -- believe it or not remain only three points out of a playoff spot -- have a Florida sojourn up next, against two cupcakes: the Lightning and Panthers. Can they take advantage? Last week: 2-1-1
24Washington Capitals
Last Week: 24
Back-to-back games this week against division foe Carolina could make or break their season. They probably need to get four points to have a realistic shot at the Southeast title, not to mention a spot in the playoffs. The Caps were almost back to the .500 mark, but then came blowout losses to the Islanders and Rangers, including a 4-1 drubbing by the Blueshirts on Sunday in a nationally televised game. It was a bad outing on the TeeVee for Alexander Ovechkin, who took two delayed penalties -- both of which resulted in Ranger tallies. Last week: 2-2-0
25Philadelphia Flyers
Last Week: 15
Losing prove-it-to-me games against Boston, Pittsburgh and the Rangers made it look like they'll be in a fight for the last playoff spot in the East. It would help if Daniel Briere could get going. Five goals and 13 points in 23 games isn't good enough for a guy like him. Ilya Bryzgalov's saves percentage is back under .900 again (.899). Maybe some rest -- Philly plays only three games between March 11 and 24 -- will help, but any way you slice it, the Flyers have been a disappointment. Last week: 1-3-0
26Edmonton Oilers
Last Week: 26
After a gruesome 6-0 loss in Nashville, the Oilers decided upon a closed-door, players-only meeting. A little group therapy seemed to work wonders for the Oil, as they then went into Chicago and pinned the first regulation home loss of the season on the Blackhawks with a 6-5 triumph. After Tuesday's game in Colorado, the Oilers will have finished up a nine-game road trip and can look forward to 14 of their last 22 at home. Maybe there's still some hope yet for my preseason No. 3 pick in these here rankings. "Man, the morale and the mental situation was really getting low over the last three games. We did a good job of turning that around (in Chicago)," said captain Shawn Horcoff told the Edmonton Journal, after his first game back from an injury "It would be nice to use that as a bit of a springboard." Last week: 1-2-1
27Buffalo Sabres
Last Week: 27
The playoffs look like a long shot as they ride a four-game skid and a draining stretch of seven one-goal games. Not only were the Sabres seven points back of the eighth spot entering Tuesday, their 26 games-played were two more than the eighth-place team, the Rangers. Their Tuesday night home matchup with the Blueshirts, therefore, is critical. The power play may be on the fritz, like Drew Stafford (two goals, seven assists), but at least super-pest Steve Ott is producing. He's been a point-per-game man over his last six contests. Last week: 0-2-1
28Tampa Bay Lightning
Last Week: 28
Rumors of coach Guy Boucher's job instability have hounded the Bolts of late, but GM Steve Yzerman shot them down over the weekend to the Tampa Bay Times. "I think our coaches do a good job of preparing the players and getting the game plan ready," he told the newspaper. "I am very pleased with the effort and attitude our team shows up with on a daily basis." Effort and attitude aren't winning many games right now, though. The Lightning are 2-8-0 in their last 10. Last week: 1-2-0
29Calgary Flames
Last Week: 25
Their three-game California road swing last week could have gone, um, a bit better. They lost all three by a combined 13-3 margin. "It was a big step in the wrong direction," captain Jarome Iginla told reporters. "We get to go home, and we've gotta win games, but this trip definitely put us a ways back." For what it's worth, goalie Miikka Kiprusoff is back from his knee injury. Last week: 1-3-0
30Florida Panthers
Last Week: 30
"This is just no fun," winger Peter Mueller told reporters last week. No, it wouldn't appear to be that way. The Panthers have allowed 98 goals so far, 10 more than the next most porous team, the Islanders. Goalie Scott Clemmensen has the NHL's worst goals-against average (4.28). Not much fun there. Last week: 1-2-1
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