Patrick Sharp has missed the past month with a knee injury, but his Chicago Blackhawks haven’t missed a beat, winning six straight games and nine of their past 10. In the process, they’re beginning to look like the favorite they were predicted to be.
The Chicago Blackhawks are playing so well lately that Patrick Sharp was demoted to third-line duty. His indiscretion? Well, he got injured a month ago and the Blackhawks can’t find a place for him on their top two lines at the moment.
Sharp is lucky he can find a place at all when the Blackhawks visit the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night. The Blackhawks have won six straight and nine of their past 10 and are beginning to look like the Stanley Cup champion we picked them to be at the beginning of this season. It should come as no surprise that the Blackhawks are the top team in thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)
1. CHICAGO (7): According to a report, winger Jeremy Morin, a healthy scratch in eight straight games, has asked to be played more or traded. Good luck with that. Coming up: A team that has played only two home games in three weeks is on the road for its next three, all against the east.
2. ANAHEIM (9): The Ducks should let the world know sometime today how long Corey Perry will be out with the knee injury he suffered Friday night in Minnesota. Coming up: Each of their next six against Canadian teams, with five of those games on the road.
3. DETROIT (3): Since coming back from his latest groin injury, Pavel Datsyuk has 7-4-11 totals in seven games and the Wings have won six of them. Games at home and on the road against Toronto between one at home against Florida.
4. PITTSBURGH (4): One of the best teams in the NHL, the Penguins acquired the best name in the NHL when they acquired Rob Klinkhammer from Phoenix last week. Coming up: Home to Calgary and Tampa Bay, on the road against the Rangers and Columbus.
5. N.Y. ISLANDERS (5): A blown lead and a 6-4 loss to St. Louis on Saturday provided a glimpse of the Islanders past, but this team now seems to have the fortitude to put those kinds of games behind it. Coming up: Three straight against tough western opponents, two of them on the road.
6. TAMPA BAY (2): Two losses in three games to two of the NHL’s bottom feeders in the standings has represented something of a speed bump for a team that had won four straight. Coming up: With a 7-3-0 record against Metropolitan teams, the Lightning has nine in a row against the Met.
7. VANCOUVER (11): The Canucks have pleasantly surprised observers this season, but when they’re bad, they’re spectacularly bad. Goaltending controversy? Discuss amongst yourselves. Coming up: An emotional road game against Montreal, then home for four straight.
8. ST. LOUIS (6): If you have Jake Allen in a hockey pool, as your trusty correspondent does, please feel free to insert swear word here. Coming up: Home to Florida and the Islanders, then a one-game road trip to Colorado.
9. NASHVILLE (1): The Predators are a little banged up with some injuries at forward and a 4-3 win over St. Louis marked the only time in five games they’d scored more than two goals. Coming up: Just 6-5-1 on the road, the Predators play six of their next seven away from Bridgestone Arena.
10. CALGARY (10): A first-time Norris Trophy winner in his 30s? Hey, it could happen to Mark Giordano this season. Coming up: Four straight on the road, three of them against eastern teams.
11. TORONTO (12): What to do with pending RFA Jonathan Bernier? He was brilliant in stopping 44 shots against Vancouver Saturday, other times less so. Coming up: One at home against Calgary before a crucial home-and-home against Detroit.
12. SAN JOSE (17): The Sharks would have been ranked higher, much higher, had they not lost to the worst team in the NHL Sunday night. But they are showing signs of a revival. Coming up: Five straight at home, including two against aforementioned worst team in the NHL.
13. LOS ANGELES (13): The Kings have given up two goals in their past three games and goalie Jonathan Quick now has a breakfast cereal named after him. Coming up: The Kings bring their mediocre 3-4-4 road record on a five-game swing, four of them against Atlantic teams.
14. WINNIPEG (14): Fans in Winnipeg waited more than 17 years to throw their hats on the ice for an NHL game and finally got to do it when Bryan Little potted a hat trick against Colorado. Coming up: The Jets take a six-game points streak into road games in Dallas and Colorado.
15. MONTREAL (8): You lose six of seven and look as listless as the Canadiens did against Dallas in a 4-1 loss Saturday and you deserve to fall seven spots in the rankings. Coming up: A five-game stand at the Bell Centre, where the Habs are 9-3-1.
16. WASHINGTON (20): Going pointless in four games isn’t a huge red flag for Alex Ovechkin, but having just one shot in two of those games is. Coming up: Home to Columbus and Tampa Bay before a stretch of six of seven on the road.
17. BOSTON (14): The Bruins salvaged a four-game western trip with a 5-2 win over Arizona, but had lost the previous three and been outscored by a 12-6 margin. Coming up: Chicago and Ottawa at home, followed by another three-game western swing.
18. FLORIDA (19): Nobody is coming to their games, so that means a lot of locals are missing the chance to see Aaron Ekblad, a star in the making. Coming up: On the road for three straight against St. Louis, Detroit and Buffalo.
19. OTTAWA (22): His team comes back from down three to win in overtime and Paul MacLean gets fired. No wonder he was scared. Coming up: Dave Cameron takes the helm with four of the next five on the road.
20. MINNESOTA (16): The Great Mumps Plague of 2014 has claimed Wild defenseman Ryan Suter as its latest victim, leaving the Wild with 25 minutes of ice time to fill. Coming up: At home to the Islanders before embarking on a three-game road trip.
21. N.Y. RANGERS (20): The Rangers felt like they threw away two points when they squandered a two-goal lead before losing to Detroit on the weekend. Coming up: Hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins before heading out on a four-game road trip.
22. DALLAS (24): Tyler Seguin for the Hart Trophy this season? Absolutely, so far. He has 13 goals more than the next highest scoring player on his team. Coming up: A light stretch with home games against Winnipeg and New Jersey.
23. COLUMBUS (27): If the Blue Jackets are going to make their move, now is the time. They’ve won three straight and a healthy Sergei Bobrovsky was second star of the week. Coming up: Home games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh sandwiched around a visit to Washington.
24. NEW JERSEY (26): Fans were booing the power play in a 4-1 loss to Washington on the weekend. The injury-riddled Devils have scored one goal in each of four of their past five. Coming up: Four of the next five on the road.
25. COLORADO (25): The Avs have been ravaged by injuries to many of their bottom-six forwards, but all four of the injured forwards are close to returning. Coming up: A three-game homestand against Central Division teams.
26. PHILADELPHIA (29): The Flyers haven’t beaten many teams this season, but they’ve been uncannily successful against the Stanley Cup champs, beating Los Angeles twice. Coming up: They wrap up a five-game road trip in Columbus, then have four straight at home.
27. EDMONTON (30): The Oilers ended an 11-game losing streak and finally beat a Western Conference team when the knocked off San Jose 2-1 on Sunday. Coming up: Three tough games, two against Anaheim and one against San Jose. Two of them are on the road.
28. CAROLINA (28): Jordan Staal took a big leap in his recovery from a broken leg when he skated on his own for the first time on the weekend. Coming up: Home to New Jersey, then the next three on the road.
29. BUFFALO (21): The Sabres were concerning us there for a while, but they’ve drifted back to their old ways, losing their past two games by a combined 8-2 score. Coming up: A week at home against Los Angeles, Calgary and Florida.
30. ARIZONA (23): GM Don Maloney shuffled his lineup, but that didn’t prevent the Coyotes from losing their seventh straight on home ice on the weekend. Coming up: Three games at home, but given the Coyotes play a Jobing.com, that isn’t necessarily a good thing.