1. Chicago Blackhawks 15-0-3 (33 points) [#1 last week]
They set the record for the longest consecutive point streak to start a season. I’m sure they’ll hit a lull at some point, but they’ve been incredible.
2. Anaheim Ducks 13-2-1 (27 points) [#2 last week]
If it wasn’t for the Blackhawks start, we’d be talking even more about the Ducks, who are off to an impressive start as well. Fresh off his new contract, Viktor Fasth is playing well.
3. Montreal Canadiens 12-4-2 (26 points) [#10 last week]
The Habs finished off a seven-point week. I love the offensive production they’re getting from the defense. I’m not sold that they’re going to win the division, but they’re greatly improved and they seem to only be getting better.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins 13-6-0 (26 points) [#3 last week]
Since they lost the home-and-home with New Jersey, the Pens have won five of six. With every other team in the Atlantic having difficulties, the Pens may end up running away with this division.
5. Boston Bruins 11-2-2 (23 points) [#5 last week]
No disrespect in dropping the Bruins two spots. They just haven’t been playing enough games, including the snow cancellation against Tampa Bay. They will be in what looks to be a two-horse race with Montreal for the division crown.
6. St. Louis Blues 10-6-2 (22 points) [#7 last week]
The Blues have been playing a lot of close games, but at least it looks like the goaltending has stabilized. They get a crack at the Blackhawks on Thursday which should be a good one.
7. Vancouver Canucks 10-4-4 (24 points) [#5 last week]
They were all set to be in the top five once again and then they put up that 8-3 stinker against Detroit. That’s only their second regulation loss in February though, no need to panic.
8. Ottawa Senators 11-6-2 (24 points) [#14 last week]
I have to give this team a lot of credit. They’ve been battling through an unreal amount of injuries, yet they’re still winning games. Will it last? Maybe not, but they’re playing hard every night.
9. Detroit Red Wings 9-7-3 (21 points) [#16 last week]
Was the huge win over the Canucks a breakout win for them? They’ve been inconsistent, as they dropped five games in a row prior to defeating Nashville 4-0 and Vancouver 8-3 this week.
10. Nashville Predators 8-6-5 (21 points) [#9 last week]
Just when it looked like the Preds were finally on track, they fall back a bit. They were shut out twice last week after putting up nine goals in their two games before that.
11. Toronto Maple Leafs 11-8-0 (22 points) [#11 last week]
James Van Riemsdyk has continued to be a stud for the Leafs. 11 goals on the year for the Middletown, NJ native. Not sure if they’ll keep up the pace in the division, but they have to be thinking playoffs at this point.
12. New Jersey Devils 10-5-4 (24 points) [#6 last week]
Boy do the Devils look lost. Was their hot start just a fluke? They look like a team without an M.O. They need to get their issues fixed quickly or they’ll fall too far behind Pittsburgh in the division.
13. Carolina Hurricanes 9-7-1 (19 points) [#8 last week]
The Hurricanes were staring an 0-4 week in the face before they responded with a come-from-behind win over the Islanders. They’ve been really streaky so far, are they the best team in the Southeast?
14. San Jose Sharks 8-6-3 (19 points) [#15 last week]
Two more tight losses for a Sharks team that is in desperate need of a winning streak. Patrick Marleau, who started out so hot, has only one goal in his last five.
15. Phoenix Coyotes 8-7-3 (18 points) [#17 last week]
The Coyotes have been better than they were at the start of the year, but they’ll face a big test this week. They play Vancouver, Minnesota and Anaheim in what is a crucial few days.
16. Tampa Bay Lightning 9-8-1 (19 points) [#19 last week]
Tampa has been a bit up and down but I think they’ll continue to challenge for the divisional crown. I think the real issue is that Anders Lindback needs to be more consistent if they expect to make the playoffs.
17. Philadelphia Flyers 9-10-1 (19 points) [#25 last week]
The Flyers had a very strong week and they’re starting to look like they’re coming out of their slump. They’re starting to score and Jakub Voracek (7g, 15a) has been a big part of that.
18. Los Angeles Kings 8-6-2 (18 points) [#23 last week]
The Kings are starting to find some mojo, but they have a big week coming up. Games against the Ducks, Red Wings and Canucks will give a much clearer picture about where this team is.
19. New York Rangers 8-7-2 (18 points) [#12 last week]
The injuries have been piling up and so are the losses. The Blueshirts are on a three-game losing streak and they just don’t look right. They’ve got the look of a pitcher who can’t get anyone out and then goes on the DL for some sort of random shoulder ailment. It’s just not working right now.
20. Dallas Stars 9-8-1 (19 points) [#13 last week]
The Stars are just lying in the grass, hanging around, doing enough to stay in the hunt. They are in the middle of the pack for team offense and defense and special teams. When they get goaltender Kari Lehtonen back, they could be very dangerous. They were 7-2-1 with him in the pipes before a groin injury shut him down.
21. Minnesota Wild 8-7-2 (18 points) [#18 last week]
Very light week for them last week, winning at Edmonton and losing against Calgary. Is Devin Setoguchi alive? He has six points in 17 games. Even Ryan Suter has more points than him! If they don’t find some secondary scoring, other fringe teams in the West who have a shade more depth will overtake them.
22. Edmonton Oilers 7-7-3 (17 points) [#20 last week]
So much young talent and all of a sudden, this team can’t score. In nine of their last 11 games, they have scored just two goals or less. OH…and they start a nine-game road trip tonight that ends on March 12. And they only have to start it with the Blackhawks! Wow.
23. New York Islanders 8-10-1 (17 points) [#21 last week]
The Isles are one of the most interesting stories in the NHL this year. Their offense and special teams are Top-10 unites but their team defense is KILLING them at 29th in the league. They’ve had some HUGE wins but some embarrassing losses. On Monday, the Flyers diced them up to a 7-0 tune. Then, three days later, they go up and beat Montreal at the Bell Centre. Huh? That has been their problems for years…no consistency. It wouldn’t surprise me if head coach Jack Capuano is gone at some point. There is a coach out there somewhere who can squeeze a playoff berth from this roster if he can’t.
24. Calgary Flames 7-7-3 (17 points) [#22 last week]
They haven’t won or lost more than two games in a row since their first three games of the season, hence their .500 record. Their power play and other offensive numbers are pretty good, but their defense and penalty kill are both ranked 27th. Ouch. The longer Miikka Kiprusoff is out, the worse their playoff chances get.
25. Winnipeg Jets 8-9-1 (17 points) [#28 last week]
They have won three out of four games on their current five-game road trip. Solid wins too, coming against New Jersey, Philadelphia and Carolina with the Rangers on their slate for Tuesday. As lifeless as they seemed about a week or so ago, they’re now just two points out of a playoff spot. That’s how tight the East is.
26. Colorado Avalanche 7-8-2 (16 points) [#26 last week]
Up and down as they come. In the bottom third of the league in offense, defense and special teams. This past week, they had one-goal wins at home over Nashville and St. Louis but got smoked on the road by LA and ousted by Anaheim. They’re 5-2-1 at home and 2-6-1 on the road. Add it up and what do you get?!? An essentially .500 hockey club.
27. Florida Panthers 5-9-4 (14 points) [#27 last week]
What a difference a year makes. A 1-3 mark for them over this past week, as well as seven losses in their last eight games. They’re dead last in team defense and 26th in team offense. Their special teams are in the bottom half of the league as well. While they may be ahead of a few teams on our list, no team’s future is more murkier than Florida’s.
28. Washington Capitals 6-10-1 (13 points) [#29 last week]
Close loss to New Jersey as well as a 5-1 thrashing of the same Devils at home? It’s starting to turn around for Adam Oates’ club but they have a lot of catch up left to play before late April.
29. Columbus Blue Jackets 5-12-2 (12 points) [#30 last week]
The Jackets actually didn’t have as bad of a week as their 1-3 record might indicate. They lost a trio of one-goal games on the road to Anaheim, St. Louis and Chicago. There’s no shame in that. Their one win was a solid one; a victory at Joe Louis Arena against the Red Wings. Though it’s nice for them to playing slightly tighter hockey, again, it was still a 1-3 week.
30. Buffalo Sabres 6-12-1 (13 points) [#24 last week]
Fire the long-time head coach, then lose by a combined five goals to the Maple Leafs and Islanders? Yea, Lindy Ruff was OBVIOUSLY the problem (sarcasm).