The Western Conference teams remain on top this week, as the Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks continue to battle for the top seed in the Western Conference. Western teams have been more aggressive this season as they have forced 15 games to overtime shootouts, while only three games in the Eastern Conference have faced shootout rounds.
Injuries and adjusting to a grueling shortened season are still wearing on some teams like the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals. While other teams like the Buffalo Sabres and the Los Angeles Kings have talented individual players, the overall effort from the team prevents them from being at the top of their divisions.
1. Chicago Blackhawks (8-0-2) Last week: 1
With a near perfect record and having yet to lose in regulation, the Blackhawks remain No. 1. Backup goalie Ray Emery is proving that he is just as viable an option as Corey Crawford.
2. San Jose Sharks (7-2-1) Last week: 2
The Sharks are famous for choking when the playoffs start, so the shortened season may work in their favor, especially if left winger Patrick Marleau continues to lead the league in goals.
3. Boston Bruins (7-1-1) Last week: 4
The Bruins have a pretty solid team all around, and are 3-1 in their last four games.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins (7-3-0) Last Week: 5
Chris Kunitz impressed in the Pens’ 6-3 win over the Capitals last Wednesday, scoring four goals after coming off an illness, and achieving his third career hat trick. The thing that has the Pens off to such a fast start is their diversity of goal scorers.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning (6-3-0) Last week: 7
Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis gel so well together it’s no surprise that they remain among the top point producers in the league.
6. St. Louis Blues (6-3-0) Last week: 3
Rookie Vladimir Tarasenko had a great debut, and he’s really showing his talents early on through his persistence to always be at the net either as the goal scorer or as a capable setup man.
7. Ottawa Senators (6-3-1) Last week: 8
With Jason Spezza out indefinitely, Kyle Turris moved to the top line with Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek. The Sens won 5-1 the first time the line was used last Wednesday against the Canadiens.
8. Anaheim Ducks (7-1-1) Last week: 10
The Ducks have solid goaltending in both Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth, and it is confirmed by them being 4-0 in their last four games.
9. Montreal Canadiens (6-3-0) Last week: 11
After another two wins, the Canadiens jump up two more spots. They were threatened to lose power forward Max Pacioretty for awhile when he had an emergency appendectomy, but he pulled through in record time and went on to help the Habs win 2-1 against the Senators on Sunday.
10. New Jersey Devils (5-1-3) Last week: 9
The Devils are good at forcing an overtime period, but they just can’t seem to finish with an overtime win. Is veteran goalie Marty Brodeur finally showing his age?
11. Vancouver Canucks (5-2-2) Last week: 15
Robert Luongo’s game has significantly improved this week, and the NHL has noticed too as he was given the third star of the week. The Canucks as a whole have also have improved as they won their last three games.
12. Detroit Red Wings (4-4-1) Last Week: 12
Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg anchor the offense, but filling the holes in the defense is still the team’s biggest problem as they lost their last two out of three games.
13. New York Rangers (4-5-0) Last week: 6
The Rangers drop again, mostly due to Henrik Lundqvist making some miscues in the net. The Rangers needed to make some changes which was why they traded Mike Rupp to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Darrell Powe and Nick Palmieri from the Wild’s AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros.
14. Dallas Stars (5-5-1) Last week: 16
The Stars move up after going 3-1 since re-signing restricted free agent Jamie Benn. Veteran Jaromir Jagr also seems to be pulling himself out of his sluggish rut as he continues to lead the team in points (six).
15. New York Islanders (4-4-1) Last week: 21
The Islanders try to turn a corner this season, but it will be hard as they are 1-2 after three games. They may be 4-1 when they play Pittsburgh, but the Penguins sought revenge on them on Tuesday night by beating them 4-2.
16. Minnesota Wild (4-4-1) Last week: 13
Signing unrestricted free agent Zach Parise was the best thing that ever happened to the Wild, but the rest of the team needs to pull their weight if they actually want a chance at the cup, especially after dropping their last two games.
17. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (4-6-0) Last week: 17
The Flyers are trying to turn it around after some disappointing losses. Ilya Bryzgalov remains hot, and it looks like Claude Giroux might have found his line as he is meshing well with rookie Tye McGinn.
18. Winnipeg Jets (4-4-1) Last week: 14
The Jets momentum didn’t last long as they lost two out of their last three games this week. Tobias Enstrom still comes out strong by getting a lot of ice time and continuing to set up his teammates as he leads the team in assists (ten) and points (12).
19. Buffalo Sabres (3-6-1) Last week: 19
Thomas Vanek leads the NHL in points (19), so naturally one would assume that the Sabres would be higher in the rankings, but they've lost their last three games, so the defense and goaltening clearly need work.
20. Nashville Predators (4-2-3) Last Week: 18
We had high hopes for the Preds early on, but they just don’t seem like the team who went to the playoffs last season. They are 3-0 in their last three games, so they can only improve from here on out.
21. Carolina Hurricanes (4-4-0) Last week: 23
The Hurricanes biggest problem is their inability to score on the powerplay. The Staal brothers are starting to live up to expectations as the 'Canes have managed to win their last two out of three match-ups.
22. Los Angeles Kings (3-3-2) Last week: 20
Simon Gagne and Justin Williams attempt to get the team on the scoreboard, but their efforts have yet to pay off, especially since the Kings have dropped their last three games in a row.
23. Colorado Avalanche (4-6-0) Last week: 24
Without captain Gabriel Landeskog, the Avalanche are attempting to hold it together. With another two more wins they seem to be capable as P.A. Parenteau has stepped in as the top goal scorer with seven goals and leads the team with nine points.
24. Washington Capitals (2-7-1) Last week: 22
Remember when the Ovech-trick commercial came out and Alexander Ovechkin was the star of the league? Having lost their last two out of three games, the Caps need to remind him, because it seems the superstar and the rest of the team forgot they play hockey for a living.
25. Edmonton Oilers (4-3-3) Last week: 25
Right now the Oilers are lucking out with all the talented youth in their roster and the league is finally starting to pay attention to Sam Gagner who leads with 11 points and Nail Yakupov who leads in goals (five). Could this be the year they get out of their decade long funk?
26. Phoenix Coyotes (4-4-2) Last week: 27
Journeyman Chad Johnson was a huge help in net for the ‘Yotes during Mike Smith’s injury. Offensively the team needs to be better but Radim Vrbata is a key point leader for the team, as they won two more games.
27. Florida Panthers (3-5-1) Last week: 28
Tomas Fleischmann and Brian Campbell try to turn around this team as the go 2-1 in the last three games, but the team’s poor goaltending will continue to weigh them down.
28. Toronto Maple Leafs (5-5-0) Last week: 26
It’s not surprising that the Leafs move down drop their last two out of three games. James Van Riemsdyk is starting to help them recover with his six goals while Phil Kessel continues to struggle.
29. Columbus Blue Jackets (3-6-1) Last week: 29
The Blue Jackets won another game, but they also lost another two, so they’ll stay at the bottom of the rankings.
30. Calgary Flames (2-3-2) Last week: 30
The Flames remain a flop and have one of the worst records in the league, especially after two more losses. So it’s no wonder that Jarome Iginla’s name is floating around in the trade rumors.