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Blackhawks on the rise

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The Pittsburgh Penguins retain their top spot on this week’s THN.com Power Rankings, but the Chicago Blackhawks are quickly closing in on them.

The Hawks are riding a three-game win streak after taking advantage of weaker teams in Columbus, Calgary and Edmonton and now sit atop the Central Division and Western Conference with an 11-4-3 record. Their 25 points is most in the league, but Pittsburgh (10-4-3, 23 points) has a game in hand.

Unsurprisingly, Chicago is being led offensively by their big four of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa – all of whom have combined for 28 goals and 69 points. Their next nine highest-scoring players have combined for 25 goals and 71 points. Their goaltending hasn’t been spectacular (52 goals-against), but with the league’s most potent offense (62 goals-for), it hasn’t had to be.

The Hawks kick off a two-week, six-game road trip Wednesday with a visit to Vancouver, then trips to Calgary and Edmonton. Their task gets harder next week with road games against San Jose, Anaheim and L.A., so they’ll need to take advantage of softer challenges. Be sure to check back next Monday to see whether they’ve risen or fallen in next week’s rankings.

RK.

TEAM

LW

OVERALL

THE SCOOP

1

1

10-4-3

Sidney Crosby watch goes into overdrive this week, but Pens keep rolling without him

2

3

9-5-1

All of San Jose's seven game-winning goals have been scored by a different roster member

3

2

10-4-1

Caps have dropped three of past four games, but schedule-maker is nicer this week with road games against Preds, Jets, Leafs

4

8

11-4-3

Hawks on three-game win streak after dropping as many in a row the week before

5

4

11-5-0

Stars got reality check this weekend with losses to Penguins, Red Wings; face Panthers, Avs, Sharks this week

6

6

9-4-3

Rookie Sean Couturier a team-leading plus-9

7

5

10-6-0

Jhonas Enroth (1.75 GAA, .944 save percentage) making Sabres fans worry less about concussed Ryan Miller

8

11

9-5-3

Josh Harding (1.78 GAA, .948 save percentage), a free agent next summer, picked good year to pick up his game

9

7

8-6-3

Kings haven't won two in a row since Oct. 20/22

10

10

9-8-1

Wins over Kings, Isles show talent is there, but consistency still a problem

11

13

8-6-2

Neither Steven Stamkos nor Martin St-Louis has a game-winning goal, but Vincent Lecavalier has four

12

15

9-3-3

Six-game win streak is nice, but five have come against teams ranked no higher than 22nd in overall standings

13

16

9-5-1

Wings just one of two teams (Flames are the other) yet to play in a shootout this season

14

9

10-6-1

Phil Kessel (12 goals, 24 points) still on fire; Nikolai Kulemin (two goals, six points) still ice-cold

15

14

8-5-3

Shea Weber a team-best plus-11; Jonathon Blum a team-worst minus-9

16

12

9-6-2

Oilers lost only four time in October, but already have dropped four games this month

17

24

8-7-0

Bruins can extend five-game win streak with games this week against so-so Devils, pathetic Jackets, slumping Isles

18

18

8-4-3

Yotes a better road team (4-1-1) than home team (4-3-2) so far

19

19

8-5-3

If Kris Versteeg always put up points at his current rate (eight goals and 17 points in 16 games) he wouldn't be on his fourth NHL team

20

21

7-7-2

Even Blue Jackets (3-5-1) have better home record than Habs (2-4-2)

21

20

8-6-1

After scoring just twice in 11 games, Ilya Kovalchuk on pace for 14-goal season

22

17

8-8-1

Two wins in the past nine games for Avs, who face big tests this week (Pens, Wild Stars)

23

25

8-7-1

New coach, same inconsistency; team leader in game-winning goals is Alex Steen (two)

24

22

8-9-1

Sens 3-1 in shootouts this year; continue six-game road trip this week

25

26

6-8-3

Tomas Kaberle has no goals, four assists, is a minus-5 and makes $4.25 million. Pee. Yew.

26

28

6-8-3

Broken finger sidelines Lubomir Visnovsky, makes already-thin blueline thinner

27

23

4-7-3

Isles have played fewest games in the NHL (14), but no excuse for woeful offense (a league-worst 29 goals-for)

28

27

7-8-1

Three of offense-challenged Flames' seven wins have been over Avalanche

29

29

5-9-3

Five-game losing skid could be extended with games this week against Bolts, Caps, Flyers

30

30

3-12-1

Last two wins were against lowly Jets, Ducks; this week they've got Wild, Bruins, Preds

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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