Kevin Shattenkirk, who has been a key offensive contributor from the blueline for the St. Louis Blues this season, left Sunday’s game in the first period with an upper-body injury. If he’s out a while, it will be a huge blow to the Blues, but not an insurmountable one.
Even with a defense corps as deep as the St. Louis Blues blueline, losing a player the likes of Kevin Shattenkirk is going to hurt. The Blues hope they won’t have to deal with that, but Shattenkirk left the Blues game Sunday afternoon with an upper-body injury and is expected to be re-evaluated today.
Should Shattenkirk be out for a while, it would be a blow to a team that has won five in a row and playing its best hockey of the season. Shattenkirk, who took an accidental elbow to the head then slid into the boards, had scored the game-game deciding goal in two of the Blues shootout victories last week and leads the league with 20 power-play assists.
That’s part of the reason why the Blues find themselves at the top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)
1. ST. LOUIS (8): Alex Steen has more than half his points this season (22) in his past 15 games. Meanwhile, the Blues have lost just once in regulation time in 2015. Coming up: The Blues have a Western Conference-best 13-3-2 record against Eastern Conference team and they have one at home against Tampa Bay, then games on the road against Buffalo and Columbus.
2. TAMPA BAY (3): The Lightning benefitted from a fairly easy schedule the second half of January, but that all changes this month when Tampa faces a murderers’ row of Western Conference teams. Coming up: The Lightning plays western opponents all month, with eight of their 12 games on the road. The good news is the Lightning is 9-3-1 against western teams.
3. NASHVILLE (5): The Predators had some rather, um, unusual background noise playing in their 5-4 shootout loss to St. Louis last week, but despite some uneven play lately, the naked truth is they’re sitting in first place overall. Coming up: Seven of their next eight at Bridgestone Arena, where the Predators have lost only two of 21 games in regulation this season.
4. DETROIT (2): Pavel Datsyuk went head-to-head against John Tavares Saturday and shut down one of the hottest scorers in the NHL in a 4-1 win. The only blemish on their record recently was a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of the Lightning. Coming up: A huge test for the Wings comes in February when they play nine of 11 on the road. They’re just 12-8-3 away from Joe Louis Arena.
5. MONTREAL (9): The Canadiens were outshot by an average of five shots in each of their five straight wins. Then they were outshot by 12 in a loss to Arizona Sunday afternoon. Coming up: Five of their next six at home, including very winnable games against Buffalo and New Jersey.
6. ANAHEIM (1): The Ducks have played the Chicago Blackhawks three times this season and have a 1-2-0 record and have been outscored 8-3. Against San Jose they’re even worse, going 1-4-0 and being outscored 21-11. Coming up: The Ducks have five of their next six on the road and seven of their next eight against Eastern Conference teams, against whom they’re 10-5-1.
7. SAN JOSE (13): Hard to figure, these Sharks. They lose 5-2 to the lowly Devils prior to the all-star break, then reel off wins against Los Angeles, Anaheim and Chicago in which they outscore their opponents 12-5. Coming up: A busy week with Edmonton and Carolina at home with a two-game road trip to Calgary and Vancouver sandwiched in between.
8. BOSTON (17): Tyler Seguin believes “100 percent” the Bruins gave up too easily on him and he’s right. They gave up on Phil Kessel pretty early, too. But it hasn’t stopped them from being a perennial contender, a status they’re living up to with a record of 8-1-1 in their past 10. Coming up: Three days off before a road game against the Rangers, then home for three straight.
9. CHICAGO (11): The Patricks are starting to heat up for the Blackhawks. Prior to the Hawks being shut out by the Sharks Saturday, Patrick Kane vaulted himself into a tie for second in NHL scoring with a 6-8-14 rampage in nine games. Patrick Sharp had a goal and nine points in five going into the San Jose game. Coming up: The Hawks finish a seven-game road trip against Minnesota, Winnipeg and St. Louis.
10. N.Y. RANGERS (6): That gasp you heard throughout the league this weekend was from New York Ranger fans when goalie Henrik Lundqvist took a puck in the throat in a 4-1 win over Carolina. None to worry, though. The King was fine. Coming up: Home to Florida and Boston at home, then five of their next six on the road.
11. N.Y. ISLANDERS (7): Legend Mike Bossy thinks the Islanders can win the Stanley Cup this season, but they won’t if they play the way they did in their past two games, losing to Boston and Detroit by a combined score of 9-3. Coming up: Home to Florida, then the next three on the road.
12. PITTSBURGH (10): What’s happened to the explosive Penguins? They’ve been shut out in two of three games and needed a late goal and overtime to beat the Devils Friday night. Coming up: Five of their next six on the road, including the annual trip through western Canada.
13. PHILADELPHIA (24): Will he or won’t he? There still seems to be considerable debate over whether defenseman Kimmo Timonen will return from a blood clot this season. If he does, it will probably be too late to salvage a playoff spot for a team that has been playing very well lately. Coming up: Four days off, then a home game against the Islanders, who put seven past them prior to the all-star break.
14. DALLAS (21): Number of goals scored by the Stars in their past five wins: 27. Number of goals scored by the Stars in their past five losses: 9: Coming up: Home to Colorado and Tampa Bay, then three on the road to Eastern Conference teams. The Stars are just 11-10-5 at home this season.
15. CALGARY (12): The Flames have scored a league-high 63 goals in the third period, just eight fewer than they’ve scored in the first and second combined. In their 4-2 win over Edmonton Saturday, they scored four in the third. Coming up: Home to Winnipeg, San Jose and Pittsburgh, with seven of their next nine at home.
16. WASHINGTON (14): Alex Ovechkin became just the fifth player in NHL history to score 30 goals in each of his first 10 seasons in the Capitals 4-3 loss to St. Louis Sunday afternoon. Coming up: Three of four on home ice, then four straight on the road, including the always-difficult trip through California.
17. MINNESOTA (23): The Wild has a lot of ground to make up and four teams to catch, but its 5-1-1 record in its past seven has given the team hope. So has goalie Devan Dubnyk, who’s 5-1-0 with a 1.71 goals-against average and .935 save percentage since coming to Minnesota. Coming up: Five of their next six at home, with a quick trip to Winnipeg as the only road game until mid-February.
18. COLORADO (16): Too bad teams can play in their third sweaters only in pre-determined games. With their 3-0 win over Nashville Friday, the Avalanche is 6-1-0 in their third sweaters this season. Coming up: Three of their next four on the road, where the Avs are just 8-9-8 (which actually means they’re 8-17) this season.
19. LOS ANGELES (20): The Kings will visit the White House and President Obama for the second time in three years, but if they keep playing the way they have this season, the only white house they’ll be visiting this spring is a White Castle. Coming up: After dropping the first of a five-game road trip, the Kings continue their trek through the Eastern Conference.
20. VANCOUVER (15): The Canucks have not beaten a playoff-bound team since back-to-back wins over Detroit and the Islanders Jan. 3 and 6. And what happened to Nick Bonino? Coming up: Three straight at home, where the Canucks have not been near as good as they’ve been away from Rogers Arena.
21. WINNIPEG (4): The Jets are the most penalized team in the NHL and it came back to haunt them when they gave up four power-play goals against Dallas over the weekend. Coming up: On the road for two games in Alberta, then three straight at home, all crucial ones, against Central Division opponents.
22. NEW JERSEY (28): Even with a 6-2-2 record in their past 10 and points in each of their past four games, the Devils probably would be wise to hold off on printing playoff tickets. That stretch marked the first time this season the Devils have earned points in four straight. Coming up: If the Devils want to keep the winning going, they have two good opponents at home in Ottawa and Toronto.
23. OTTAWA (22): No. 1 goalie Craig Anderson has missed two straight with a hand injury and his status is uncertain, but Robin Lehner bounced back with 35 saves in a 7-2 win over Arizona on the weekend. Coming up: In New Jersey, then home to Washington and Columbus.
24. ARIZONA (26): Coyotes captain Shane Doan reiterated his stance that he has no interest in being a rental player at the deadline, even if it means having a shot at the Stanley Cup. But most others on the roster, with a few exceptions, are tradeable. Coming up: An eight-game road trip ends with a game in Columbus Tuesday night, then home for two.
25. CAROLINA (19): The Hurricanes are 7-4-2 since Jordan Staal returned to the lineup and took his brother Eric’s spot at center on the top line. Since moving to the left side, Eric has 9-2-11 totals in 14 games. Coming up: Five of the next six on the road, including the three-game trip through California.
26. EDMONTON (25): The Oilers front office may rue the day last week that its team beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 for a debilitating two points in the NHL’s turtle race. Coming up: The losing should pick up again quickly. The Oilers have seven of their next eight on the road, where their four wins is tied with the Sabres for worst in the league.
27. COLUMBUS (27): The Blue Jackets will once again go into the trade deadline as sellers, but nobody among the core players is going anywhere. There is speculation Matt Calvert or Cam Atkinson could be dealt. Coming up: Four of their next five at home before embarking on a five-game road trip.
28. FLORIDA (22): With losses in six of their past seven, the Panthers have all but extricated themselves from the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. Coming up: A three-game road trip through the Metropolitan Division ends with back-to-back games against the Rangers and Islanders Monday and Tuesday.
29. TORONTO (29): Since firing Randy Carlyle and replacing him with Peter Horachek as coach, the Maple Leafs have scored 14 goals in 11 games and are 1-9-1. But they’re playing the game “the right way.” Coming up: A game in Nashville Tuesday night where they’ll try to avenge the 9-2 beating the Predators pinned on them in November.
30. BUFFALO (30): The Sabres lost all their games last week. Check back with us next week, when we’ll probably be saying exactly the same thing. Lose, rinse, repeat. Coming up: With 14 straight regulation losses, they’ll try to get on the winning track against one of Montreal, St. Louis, Dallas or the Islanders. Good luck with that.