Skip to main content

Feathered friends

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi: That’s the answer to the oft-heard pre-season question, “Who the heck is going to stop pucks in Chicago?”

When Nikolai Khabibulin left the Hawks as a free agent, many wondered whether the team would get the kind of goaltending required to be a top-flight NHL outfit. Twenty-two games into the season, Chicago’s team goals-against average of 2.14 is tops in the league.

Huet is 11-4-1 with a 2.16 GAA, while Niemi has two shutouts in five starts, a 1.85 GAA and .921 save percentage. Now, all this comes with the understanding that the Hawks are a good enough team to be judged by what they do in the spring, not November, and it will be up to both goalies to prove they can thrive when things get a little tighter under the collar.

Chicago gets a good litmus test when it puts a seven-game winning streak on the line this Wednesday in San Jose in a showdown of the THN Power Rankings’ top two clubs.

RK.

TEAM

LW

OVERALL

L10

THE SCOOP

1

2

16-5-4

6-1-3

Heatley is outscoring Cheechoo and Michalek 18-12 and leads the NHL in goals

2

5

15-5-2

8-1-1

Chicago completes a sweep of western Canada to run its winning streak to seven games

3

3

13-5-5

5-3-2

Blueline prospect John Carlson getting a look with the big club thanks to all the injuries

4

1

14-6-1

7-2-1

Not sure there will be a better player on Team USA than Zach Parise

5

8

15-8-0

4-6-0

Don't discount the
notion of versatile Jordan Staal squeezing his way onto Team Canada's Olympic roster

6

9

12-7-1

7-3-0

In what has to be a candidate for least likely fighting combatants of the year, Danny Briere and Marc-Edouard Vlasic squared off last Saturday in San Jose

7

6

13-6-2

6-3-1

Began a stretch of eight-of-nine away from home with a victory over the Kings

8

7

11-6-4

7-2-1

Another body joins a crowded infirmary as Niklas Kronwall is out four-to-eight weeks after Georges Laraque's knee-on-knee hit

9

13

13-9-2

5-5-0

Failed to gain a point in their first two games without Ryan Smyth, who's out with an upper-body issue

10

18

12-6-3

6-1-3

After Saturday's overtime loss, Jackets have lost 12 straight in Nashville. That's not the way to get the jump on a divisional foe

11

4

12-6-2

4-5-1

Suddenly the Bruins and Sens are breathing down Buffalo's neck for the Northeast lead

12

17

10-8-4

4-3-3

Having Marc Savard and Milan Lucic back means we can all finally see what's really up in Boston

13

14

12-8-1

8-2-0

Nashville has gone from looking like a write-off to racking up 10 wins in its past 13 contests

14

16

11-6-3

5-4-1

Shean Donovan is gone at least six-to-eight weeks after a knee-on-knee collision with Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke

15

12

13-7-3

3-6-1

Giving up 21 goals over your past four games makes it real tough to win

16

11

10-6-6

4-4-2

Some good signs, but still searching for consistency

17

21

13-9-1

4-5-1

Good news on the injury front; blueliner Ed Jovanovski could return this week

18

19

9-5-7

5-2-3

Antero Niittymaki runs his record to 15-0 versus Atlanta with a recent win over the Thrashers

19

10

10-7-3

5-3-2

Life is pretty good for everyone in Atlanta except 22-year-old Bryan Little, who has just eight points in 18 games

20

15

12-11-0

5-5-0

With Daniel Sedin back on the scene, the Canucks need to start making some hay

21

24

10-9-2

7-2-1

Went out on the road and racked up three wins in a row over Detroit, Buffalo and the Rangers

22

20

11-10-1

3-7-0

Scary to think where this team would be without Marian Gaborik

23

23

11-11-1

5-4-1

Memo to GM Bob Gainey: sign pending UFA Tomas Plekanec right now

24

22

8-8-7

4-4-2

Biron and Roloson both have respectable save percentages above .910

25

27

8-8-4

3-4-3

Long way to go, but Blues are starting to turn a corner as guys like Berglund and Kariya snap long goalless streaks

26

26

7-11-3

3-5-2

Ryan Getzlaf's brother, Chris, will play for the Canadian Football League's Grey Cup next Sunday; not sure Ryan will get to play a game nearly that important this year if things don't turn around soon in Anaheim

27

25

8-12-2

5-3-2

How about a minus-14 rating in 19 games for two-goal man Martin Havlat? Yikes.

28

30

5-12-5

3-5-2

Not one road win in 10 tries this season

29

28

4-11-6

3-4-3

Vesa Toskala trying to prove he can still be a starter

30

29

9-11-3

2-6-2

Coach Pat Quinn held a meeting with team's vets to try and figure out how it's all gone so wrong

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.

TOP HEADLINES

USATSI_8723284
Play

NHL Hot Seat Radar: Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins' competitive window is shrinking – something that happens to virtually every successful franchise – so it's up to the team's management to see how they approach both the short- and long-term future.

Juraj Slafkovsky

Prospect Pool Overview: Montreal Canadiens

From making the Stanley Cup final to snagging the first overall pick, the Montreal Canadiens have had a riveting last year and a half. Tony Ferrari looks at the team's prospect pool and who you need to get excited about.

USATSI_15981809

Jets Sign Appleton to Three-Year Extension, Avoid Arbitration

The Winnipeg Jets and forward Mason Appleton have avoided arbitration, agreeing to terms on a three-year contract extension.