It sounds like the same song and dance at the top of the NHL‘s power rankings every Monday, but that’s just because the teams in the top places are just that good. The Chicago Blackhawks are, of course, in first place–their point streak is so notable that it even received a mention in the most recent issue of Time magazine on its milestones page–and are very close to having played half this truncated season without a single regulation loss.
The Anaheim Ducks, also unsurprisingly, continue to be in second place. They have 32 points to their names, have found goal-scoring all over the lineup and then there’s the continued success story of Viktor Fasth. If the Blackhawks weren’t as stellar as they have been this season, it’s likely that the Ducks would be the sole Western Conference superpower. As it is, though, there are two.
The top-ranked Eastern team continues to be the third-place Boston Bruins. The team is now off to its best start since the 1929-30 season, when obviously things were quite a bit different across the league. They had a six-game win streak going until the Montreal Canadiens (fourth place) snapped it last night. Tuukka Rask is tied with Carey Price and Ilya Bryzgalov for the league lead in wins, plus has one of the league’s best goals-against averages at 1.97.
In fact, the power rankings look exactly as they did last week all the way through fifth place. The resurgent Canadiens stay in fourth and the Pittsburgh Penguins, getting ready to welcome Evgeni Malkin back tonight, stick in fifth.
But then there are the big climbers, like the Los Angeles Kings, getting up to sixth after being ninth last week. Part of that may have to do with the five-game win streak they strung together before the Vancouver Canucks (seventh place) snapped it and the fact that there’s a five-game string coming up on home ice.
The Carolina Hurricanes stormed up from 14th last week to 10th this week, although the news of Cam Ward‘s injury could cast doubt on the team’s immediate future. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators‘ stocks both fell slightly after less-than-stellar weeks.
The final four spots on the list are all populated by newcomers who weren’t ranked at all this time last week. Third star of the week Niklas Backstrom‘s excellent performance between the pipes for the Minnesota Wild is part of why they’re in 13th place. The San Jose Sharks look to be heating up again after slumping in February and got all but one point from three games this past week, landing them in 14th. Another goaltender’s strong presence–that of Kari Lehtonen–is recognized as a big reason why the Dallas Stars come in 15. With Rick Nash back in the lineup, the 16th-place New York Rangers are winning again.
It will be very strange indeed, though, if there’s a different team atop the power rankings this time next week.