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Cat calls

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The Pittsburgh Penguins retain top spot in this week's Power Rankings – and making a big jump are the rebuilt Florida Panthers, who go from 16th last week to 11th. In an early outcome few predicted, the Cats are leading the Southeast Division on the strength of their solid road record (9-6-0) and in spite of a sub-par home mark (5-2-4). With 16 assists and 28 points, well-traveled winger Kris Versteeg leads all Panthers point producers and is on pace for 38 goals and 89 points, which would smash his previous career highs (22 goals, 53 points). Florida also is receiving solid contributions from goalie Jose Theodore (2.28 goals-against average, .924 save percentage) and blueliner Brian Campbell (on pace to match his career best of 62 points).

The Panthers play eight of their remaining 13 games this month at home, giving them a good chance to atone for earlier poor home performances and pad their division lead. Will they be able to climb into the top 10 next week? Check back Monday afternoon, and every Monday, to find out.

RK.

TEAM

LW

OVERALL

L10

THE SCOOP

1

1

16-7-4

6-3-1

Weird. Despite Penguins' success, D-man Paul Martin a minus-8

2

3

16-7-1

9-0-1

Soaring Bruins now a league-best plus-34 in goal differential

3

2

14-8-1

6-4-0

Only Wings (34.7) put more shots on net than Sharks (34.1)

4

5

16-8-1

7-3-0

Nicklas Lidstrom (plus-8) amazing once again, but surprisingly, Ian White leads team in plus-minus (plus-13)

5

4

15-7-3

7-3-0

Claude Giroux on pace for 49 goals, 104 points; behold the league's newest addition to the "top superstar" debate

6

7

15-5-3

8-2-0

Ryan McDonagh tied for 12th in plus-minus (plus-12), second on Blueshirts in ice time (25:16 per game)

7

6

16-8-3

6-4-0

Hawks have West's most potent offense (3.22 goals per game), but the conference's third-worst defense (3.04 goals against)

8

8

17-7-3

8-2-0

Mike Yeo for coach of the year? If the season ended today, absolutely

9

9

13-9-4

6-3-1

Hard to believe given their talent, but Kings tied with Ducks for league's second-worst goals-for average (2.27)

10

11

15-10-1

7-3-0

Alex Burrows on pace for 79-game, 42-point season; last year, he had 48 in 72 games

11

16

14-8-4

6-3-1

Southeast-leading Panthers facing nothing but playoff-caliber teams (Washington, Boston, Buffalo and the Rangers) this week

12

12

13-11-1

3-7-0

There is no way Brooks Laich should be leading the Caps in power play goals, but he is in a tie with Mike Green with three

13

10

14-10-2

4-5-1

Leafs have second-best power play (22.4 percent), fourth-worst penalty kill (77.6 percent)

14

13

14-9-3

6-2-2

Only Hawks (8-2-2), Rangers (7-1-1) and Penguins (8-1-2) have lost fewer home regulation games than Blues (8-3-1), who play next four against Wings, Ducks, Sharks, Rangers

15

14

14-11-1

4-5-1

Look for exasperated Sabres to bring King Kong Korab back if Jordin Tootoo isn't suspended for running Ryan Miller

16

18

15-10-1

4-5-1

Resilient Stars kick off five-game road trip Thursday on which they'll visit Sharks, Kings, Rangers, Isles and Devils

17

19

12-10-4

4-5-1

Rookie Craig Smith leading Preds in goals (eight), assists (13), points (21) and power play goals (four); if it wasn't for Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Smith would be considered the Calder frontrunner

18

15

11-12-2

3-7-0

Bolts are 2-5-0 in their past seven games and this week have four games in six nights on the road, where they continue to stink (4-8-2)

19

17

13-9-3

5-5-0

At 11.1 percent, Coyotes' power play second-worst in the league

20

22

11-11-5

4-4-2

In his past nine games, Brian Gionta has three goals, four points; on course to finish with 40-something points for third straight season

21

23

12-11-3

5-3-2

Plucky Sens have league's worst goals-against average (3.38)

22

25

13-13-1

5-5-0

Up and down Avs much better on the road (6-4-1) than at home (7-9-0)

23

24

11-11-4

6-3-1

In his past nine games, Evander Kane has nine goals and 12 points

24

20

13-11-3

4-5-1

Have now lost four of five, but get good chance at turning things around this week against subpar Canes, Avs and Flames

25

28

8-11-5

4-4-2

Four of next five are at home, including showdowns with Hawks and Pens

26

21

12-12-1

4-6-0

Outscored 14-5 in three losses last week

27

27

11-13-2

4-5-1

If collapse against Jackets doesn't show management this team needs to be rebuilt, nothing will

28

26

8-16-4

2-7-1

The Tomas Kaberle bandwagon has been abandoned, stripped of all recyclable materials and can be bought on eBay for best offer

29

30

7-14-5

1-7-2

Lubomir Visnovsky due back soon from broken finger

30

29

7-16-3

4-4-2

Four-game Canadian road trip ends Tuesday in Montreal; face Preds Thursday in kickoff of five-game home stint that also includes Bruins, Canucks, Kings and Bolts, which could put more nails in the coffin of their playoff hopes

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.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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