Injuries continue to wreak havoc with the power rankings.
Sidney Crosby has been out more than a month while the Penguins have treaded water, but now they've lost another of their stars (Evgeni Malkin), and this time for the entire season. The Bruins, too, will be without one of their top players (Marc Savard) for the rest of the year.
One thing is certain, though: With injuries in Pittsburgh and goaltending questions in both Philly and Washington, the East is wide open for the Bruins if they can get their act together.
1. Vancouver Canucks (34-10-9, last week: 2) The Canucks are riding a five-game winning streak, theyre owners of the tightest defense in the Western Conference as Ryan Kesler has taken it to a different level this season. The Canucks are for real.
2. Philadelphia Flyers (35-13-5, last week: 1) The Flyers are setting the pace in the East and enjoy the best depth in the NHL, but it should tell you something that theyre fooling around with signing Ray Emery.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (34-16-6, last week: 4) Evgeni Malkin is done for the season with a knee injury and word on the street is that Sidney Crosby might not be back until March. Somehow the Pens keep on winning, but they cant go on like this forever without their two big guns.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning (33-16-5, last week: 5) Marc-Andre Bergeron steps into the Tampa lineup as a power-play specialist defenseman and notches two assists in his first game. Its really starting to look like their year, isnt it?
5. Detroit Red Wings (32-15-6, last week: 5) The Wings hit a skid as soon as Pavel Datsyuk returned to the lineup, and you cant make this stuff up. That should be a temporary phase for the Winged Wheels.
6. Boston Bruins (30-16-7, last week: 7) Its going to be difficult without Marc Savard, but the Bruins have found a way without him before. Theyll be able to do it again and have become much more consistent in the last month.
7. Washington Capitals (29-15-10, last week: 7) The Caps did a good job of weathering the storm against the Penguins last weekend, and dodged a bullet when hatchet man Matt Cooke couldnt quite take out Alex Ovechkin with a knee-on-knee hit.
8. San Jose Sharks (28-19-6, last week: 14) The Sharks have gone 7-0-1 in their last eight games and Logan Couture looks like hes Calder Trophy worthy this season. San Jose is finally making its move.
9. Montreal Canadiens (30-19-5, last week: 10) The Habs arent lighting anybodys world on fire, but theyve got a big Northeast Division showdown in Boston on Wednesday.
10. Nashville Predators (28-19-7, last week: 9) The Preds scored a big win over the Red Wings, and Sergei Kostitsyn has posted career highs in goals and points for Nashville. They continue to keep pace as a playoff team.
11. Anaheim Ducks (29-21-4, last week: 11) It looks like Jonas Hiller is hitting a wall as he had to be pulled from a loss to San Jose with fatigue and lightheadedness. Thats not good for the Ducks.
12. Phoenix Coyotes (27-19-9, last week: 13) The Desert Dogs have been stuck in neutral for a bit, but it looks like Ilya Bryzgalov is about to heat up between the pipes.
13. Dallas Stars (30-18-5, last week: 11) It may take the Stars to recover from the epic butt-kicking suffered at the hands of the Bruins that saw both Adam Burish and Krystofer Barch go down with fractured orbital bones in hockey fights.
14. Los Angeles Kings (29-22-2, last week: 18) Kings captain Dustin Brown is donating 50 to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles for every registered hit he records this season. Thats a pretty cool gesture from a pretty gritty forward.
15. Calgary Flames (27-21-7, last week: 21) The Flames have done an amazing job of climbing from 14th in the Western Conference all the way to a playoff position out West. Its amazing what happens when theres a Sutter surgically removed from the organization.
16. New York Rangers (29-23-4, last week: 12) The Rangers problems in a nutshell: Chris Drury is a fourth-line forward and penalty killer and he was a 7 million cap hit.17. Minnesota Wild (27-20-5, 17) I have nothing interesting or pithy to write about the Wild. I take that as a poor reflection on their team.
18. Carolina Hurricanes (26-21-6, last week: 20) If I had a nickel for every time I heard that Jeff Skinner was the NHLs version of Justin Beiber during All-Star weekend, Id be a rich man.
19. Chicago Blackhawks (27-22-4, last week: 15) The Blackhawks are on the outside looking in with 30 games left to go in the season. Time for Chicago to wake up as San Jose has done recently.
20. Colorado Avalanche (25-21-6, last week: 16) Perhaps Peter Forsberg can do something to rescue the Avs from their doldrums, but it appears their defense is the big bugaboo.
21. Atlanta Thrashers (24-22-10, last week: 22) The Thrashers have two wins in their last 10 games, and have dropped out of the Eastern playoff race for now.
22. St. Louis Blues (23-20-8, last week: 23) The Blues are 7-12-5 on the road this season, which makes then the worst road team in the NHL.
23. Buffalo Sabres (24-22-5, last week: 22) Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff are both in trouble with new ownership arriving in Buffalo. A good, old-fashioned housecleaning may be coming for Buff.
24. Columbus Blue Jackets (25-22-5, last week: 23) The B.J.s are 5-2-2 in their last nine games, and are giving GM Scott Howson some food for thought with the trade deadline approaching.
25. New Jersey Devils (19-30-4, last week: 27) The winning streak for the Devils is fools gold, but the Martin Brodeur knee injury certainly wouldnt seem to hurt them very much.
26. Florida Panthers (23-23-6, last week: 25) Tell me again why Dennis Wideman is the only Panthers defenseman with a negative plusminus rating?
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (21-26-5, last week: 27) Claude Julien must be rolling his eyes at all of the Phil Kessel complaints being aired about Ron Wilson these days.
28. Ottawa Senators (17-28-8, last week: 30) The Sens have been horrible, but small consolation is that Jason Spezza is back after missing 15 games.
29. New York Islanders (17-28-7, last week: 29) Rick DiPietro should probably quit trying to be the tough-guy goalie for a while after Brent Johnson broke his face with one punch.
30. Edmonton Oilers (15-29-8, last week: 30) One win in 10 games means the great fade has begun in Edmonton, and the spare parts should be flying fast and furious sooner rather than later.