The Blackhawks just continue to roll one month into the NHL’s abbreviated season.
The only question at this point facing every team is how healthy they can remain while putting up as many points as possible. Chicago got a scare when Marian Hossa was clubbed in the back of the head by Vancouver’s Jannik Hansen last week, but he was able to pop back up into the lineup.
The Rangers and Penguins have not been so lucky. Rick Nash is still out of commission after Milan Lucic pounded him with a strong, clean body check that sent the Rangers power forward’s body and head crashing into the TD Garden boards, and it’s suspected he’s out with a concussion. The same goes for reigning Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin after he suffered a concussion crashing into the boards as well.
Most teams are sitting, hopping, praying and wishing that they can go avoid those kinds of injuries to their big guns, but perhaps there is hope in Ottawa. They’ve lost Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson to injuries and yet they’ve still also won five games in a row with a depleted lineup full of Binghamton Senators. Resiliency is an amazing thing folks.
Here are this week’s power rankings:
30. Buffalo Sabres (6-12-1, ranked last week: 25) – The Sabres finally fire Lindy Ruff and then proceed to keep on losing games. They are truly a hockey team adrift at this point.
29. Columbus Blue Jackets (5-12-2, ranked last week: 30) – The Blue Jackets are struggling, and now both big pieces from the Rick Nash trade (Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov) are banged up with injuries. Not a good look for the B.J.’s.
28. Florida Panthers (5-9-4, ranked last week: 29) – Watching the Panthers play, Stephen Weis looks like a puppy with his face pressed up against the glass waiting for somebody to adopt him. He should be a hot commodity at the trade deadline.
27. Colorado Avalanche (7-8-2, ranked last week: 27) – The 2-6-1 record on the road reveals a young team that still just doesn’t quite get what it takes to compete away from their Mile High environs.
26. Washington Capitals (6-10-1, ranked last week: 26) – Adam Oates looks like a soothsayer after predicting the Alex Ovechkin offensive explosion. Is he going to predict Mike Green showing a little toughness next?
25. New York Islanders (8-10-1, ranked last week: 22) – The long painful step toward divorcing Rick DiPietro has begun. Can winning their self respect back be right around the corner? I for one will miss the injury updates.
24. Winnipeg Jets (8-9-1, ranked last week: 28) – Apparently Blake Wheeler gave a Risky Business-esque “Sometimes you just need to say screw it” speech this week amid piling losses. Wheeler as a hockey team’s spiritual leader? That’s a new one.
23. Calgary Flames (7-7-3, ranked last week: 24) – The folly of Jay Feaster continues as the Calgary GM is apparently asking for a kings ransom in exchange for a player in Jarome Iginla that everybody knows is going to get traded. Good luck with that.
22. Philadelphia Flyers (9-11-1, ranked last week: 23) – Five times the Flyers have had a chance to hit .500 on the season and five times they’ve failed. Amazingly they’re almost at the halfway mark of the season.
21. Edmonton Oilers (7-7-4, ranked last week: 17) – A nine-game road trip for the Edmonton Oilers has brought them back down to earth a little bit, and that’s completely understandable.
20. San Jose Sharks (8-6-3, ranked last week: 15) – Has anybody warned the Sharks that they can’t coast for a month during a 48-game shortened season? It looks like they are in prime midseason malaise right now.
19. Minnesota Wild (8-7-2, ranked last week: 18) – Big new free agent signings, but it seems like it’s the same old Plain Jane Minnesota Wild doesn’t it?
18. New York Rangers (8-7-2, ranked last week: 12) – The mysterious Rick Nash injury is a bad scene in the Big Apple. Not what the Rangers needed after finally dragging themselves up off the mat.
17. Phoenix Coyotes (8-7-3, ranked last week: 13) – Is Father Time finally catching up to Shane Doan? The Desert Dogs absorbed tough losses to the Oilers and Flames last week.
16. Dallas Stars (9-8-2, ranked last week: 16) – Jamie Benn has been on fire for a team just hovering around a playoff spot in the bottom rung of the Western Conference postseason picture.
15. Tampa Bay Lightning (9-8-1, ranked last week: 11) – The Bolts thought they’d found an answer in Anders Lindback, but they’ve allowed the most goals (58) of any team currently in a playoff position.
14. Detroit Red Wings (9-7-3, ranked last week: 11) – Big weekend for the Winged Wheels handing out defeats to the Predators and Canucks, but it just doesn’t seem the same without Nik Lidstrom.
13. Nashville Predators (9-6-5, ranked last week: 14) – The Preds have only won four of their last 10 games, but they also got majorly jobbed on an off-sides call.
12. Carolina Hurricanes (9-7-1, ranked last week: 9) – The Canes are kings of the Southeast Division, which is kind of like being the King of Wishful Thinking.
11. Los Angeles Kings (9-6-2, ranked last week: 21) – Nothing like a four game winning streak to snap out of the Stanley Cup hangover funk.
10. Toronto Maple Leafs (12-8-0, ranked last week: 10) – Nazem Kadri is Toronto’s leading scorer, and Don Cherry could have told you this was going to happen if you dum-dums would just listen to him.
9. St. Louis Blues (10-6-2, ranked last week: 8) – Should be a good statement game between the Blues and Blackhawks on Thursday night, eh?
8. Ottawa Senators (12-6-2, ranked last week: 20) – The Senators are pulling a MacGyver during the hockey season and getting by on duct tape, gum and fishing wire on their roster. You’ve got to respect that. Five wins in a row. Wow.
7. New Jersey Devils (10-5-4, ranked last week: 5) – The Devils have lost two in a row and are a minus-1 in goal differential. Is reality starting to set in for New Jersey after an adrenaline-filled start?
6. Vancouver Canucks (10-4-4, ranked last week: 6) – Guess who’s back . . . back again? Ryan Kesler’s back, so tell a friend (maybe by sending the GIF of him flopping and diving that went viral last season).
5. Montreal Canadiens (12-4-2, ranked last week: 7) – The Habs are 6-1-1 since getting smoked by the Toronto Maple Leafs and are actually sitting atop the Eastern Conference right now.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins (13-6-0, ranked last week: 3) – The Pens dropped one spot this week. Hopefully Evgeni Malkin’s concussion doesn’t cause them to drop many more going forward.
3. Boston Bruins (11-2-2, ranked last week: 4) – With a win on Long Island Tuesday night the Bruins will have taken 9-of-10 points on a five-game road trip. That is straight up getting it done while playing the fewest games in the NHL to this point.
2. Anaheim Ducks (13-3-1, ranked last week: 2) – Guess it was an Alex Ovechkin/Alex Semin thing and not really a Bruce Boudreau thing after all, right? Ducks just keep on winning and surprising.
1. Chicago Blackhawks (15-0-3, ranked last week: 1) – Now people just want to know how long this can go on for as the Blackhawks start has become a national story. It’s very clear the hunger is back for a team that proved their championship mettle three years ago.