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Beantown blues

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The way things are going in Boston, it’s almost like Patrice Bergeron’s bad luck is contagious.

In the eyes of many, the B’s entered this season as a serious Cup contender, based mostly on the fact they finished with more points than anyone in the East last year and returned with virtually the same lineup.

But a combination of things – from bad breaks to lack of consistent work ethic – have conspired to make Boston much more dark horse than favorite.

Bergeron is one of the best stories in the league, making the Canadian Olympic team from, really, out of the blue after battling through serious concussion issues the past two seasons. He is, however, on the sideline with a broken thumb right now, but should resume his role as the team’s best two-way player in the next couple weeks, well in advance of the Vancouver Games.

Center Marc Savard and banger Milan Lucic have also spent big chunks of time on the sideline, further depleting a forward crew that lost sniper Phil Kessel via trade before the season.

Backup Tuukka Rask has shown signs of brilliance, which is not just nice, but necessary for a team that’s not getting the same kind of play it received from reigning Vezina winner Tim Thomas last year.

Boston probably thought it could afford to slide a little this year and still win the Northeast going away, but the stellar play of Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres has changed all that.

Now, a team that looked ready to take the next step could be out of the playoffs entirely with any kind of stumble down the stretch.

RK

TEAM

LW

OVERALL

L10

THE SCOOP

1

2

31-11-4

7-2-1

Sounds like defenseman Cam Barker could return from a lower-body injury this week

2

8

27-11-6

6-4-0

The Caps have yet to lose in the three games since Alex Ovechkin was named captain

3

4

28-11-5

7-1-2

Tim Connolly is driving the offense; he's on a career-high nine-game point streak with five goals and 14 points over that span

4

1

28-10-7

8-2-0

After losing his captaincy in the summer, Patrick Marleau has responded with a league-leading 29 goals

5

3

31-11-1

7-3-0

Jamie Langenbrunner’s excellent leadership led him to being named captain of the U.S. Olympic team

6

11

27-16-2

7-1-2

With just one regulation loss in their past 10, the Canucks are closing in on the division lead

7

9

28-17-1

3-7-0

After missing four games with a foot injury, Sergei Gonchar fires two goals and an assist in his return versus Toronto on Saturday. The bad news is the Pens will be in tough to re-sign him this summer

8

5

26-14-5

6-3-1

Jay Bouwmeester is on pace for his worst offensive season (30 points) since the end of the lockout.

9

14

23-15-6

5-4-1

Jimmy Howard has earned the No. 1 job in Detroit, going 5-1-1 with a .959 save percentage in his past seven games

10

7

26-16-3

5-5-0

The Preds don’t have a single player in the top 80 in league scoring

11

6

25-15-6

6-4-0

Marek Svatos, who over his career has averaged 0.55 points per game, has just nine in 35 games and is day-to-day with a groin injury

12

10

26-15-5

5-2-3

Have faded the past couple seasons in the second half; let's see if they can see this thing through

13

12

25-17-3

4-6-0

Have lost three of their past four at home; not good news for a team that will play its next five games in its own arena

14

19

22-19-3

7-2-1

Goalie Michael Leighton has gone from the waiver wire to helping Philly get a miserable season turned around

15

20

22-17-6

6-1-3

Part of the reason the Rangers are winning again is center Brandon Dubinsky, who has five goals and 12 points in his past 10 games

16

13

22-15-7

6-4-0

The offensively challenged Bruins will be without Marc Savard for up to a month after he partially tore a ligament in his right knee last week

17

23

20-19-7

5-5-0

Jonas Hiller has seized control of the Ducks crease, meaning the playoffs are still a possibility

18

18

22-21-4

6-3-1

Benoit Pouliot has been playing on the top line since coming over from Minnesota and has four goals in nine games as a Hab

19

17

17-17-10

6-3-1

After a fairly quiet December, Steven Stamkos is heating back up with seven points in his past four games

20

16

19-15-11

4-6-0

Losing Mike Ribeiro for four-to-six weeks hurts, but not as much as catching an accidental stick in the throat from Chris Higgins

21

15

22-20-4

4-6-0

The Sens are 6-12-1 on the road this season, which is where they’ll play their next four games. Not good news for a team that has lost four in a row already

22

21

19-19-8

6-3-1

Will be interesting to see how things play out for Rick DiPietro now that he's had his first start in just more than a year

23

22

22-20-3

5-5-0

Rallied from four goals down in the third to top Chicago on Saturday for the biggest comeback victory in franchise history

24

28

13-24-7

5-4-1

Definitely a slightly tougher draw now than in the first couple months of the season

25

24

19-20-7

4-6-0

Panthers power play is 24th in the league and the penalty-killing isn't much better at 23rd

26

26

15-22-9

2-6-2

Snake-bitten Phil Kessel has one goal in his past dozen games

27

30

18-20-9

4-4-2

Mathieu Garon steps up to deliver three straight wins for a desperate Columbus crew

28

25

18-19-7

3-5-2

Davis Payne gets his first victory as Blues coach, despite turning in the wrong lineup card to league officials http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/teams/stl/report before the game

29

27

19-19-6

1-6-3

I'll be the first to admit I thought this team was for real when they held down a playoff spot for two months

30

29

16-23-5

1-8-1

Carolina's moderately improved play is making last overall a distinct possibility

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.

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