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Hatching Hawks

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

If there’s a team ready to exploit a seam in the West, it’s the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks are clearly the top two clubs in the Western Conference, but neither one of them has looked bulletproof this year.

I don’t care how good Detroit is, at some point in every playoff game and every playoff series, you need better goaltending than the Wings have been getting.

And what’s this I hear about springtime demons in San Jose?

Chicago is a young team and probably not a true contender, yet, but it has scoring depth up front, three very good defensemen and two goalies capable of stellar – though maybe not spectacular – play.

It still feels a little premature for the Hawks to leave the nest and fly with the big boys, but don’t count out Chicago as a possible Western Conference champ just yet.

RK.

TEAM

LW

OVERALL

L10

THE SCOOP

1

6

40-8-9

4-2-4

Big Joe heating up; Thornton has 10 points over his past five games

2

2

39-13-8

7-2-1

Jimmy Howard, the eternal prospect, lost 5-2 to Minnesota in his first NHL start in almost one year exactly

3

3

38-17-5

7-2-1

Only three players (not including the injured Paul Kariya) have more points-per-game than Alexander Semin's 1.27

4

8

34-16-8

7-3-0

Jonathan Toews has five goals and nine points in his past five games, completely compensating for his slow sophomore start

5

7

35-18-6

5-3-2

Did a nice job of beating division foes Edmonton and Minnesota with top center Daymond Langkow out of the lineup due to a bruised hand

6

1

38-19-3

6-4-0

Blanked twice in three games last week, losing 4-0 to both Florida and, uh, the Islanders

7

14

30-21-8

8-1-1

Just one regulation loss in their past 10 and Roberto Luongo still hasn't completely found his game

8

4

40-12-8

4-4-2

One win in their past seven as Beantowners endure the roughest patch of their storybook year

9

5

31-17-9

6-4-0

Special teams have been good, with power play ranking fourth overall and penalty-killing seventh

10

12

30-21-8

7-3-0

For all the trade talk, there's a good case to be made for keeping Jay Bouwmeester, too

11

16

31-25-5

6-4-0

Quietly playing some good hockey under Paul Maurice

12

9

30-24-6

6-3-1

Will they trade for an offensive-minded middle man this week?

13

11

29-22-7

6-4-0

With key players Brad Richards and Brenden Morrow out of the lineup, Mike Ribeiro has driven the Dallas attack with 18 points over his past 16 games

14

19

30-24-4

6-3-1

Suddenly Minnesota looks very interested in making the playoffs with big wins over Detroit and Chicago

15

10

28-28-4

5-4-1

After a hot start, Shea Weber went 14 games without a goal until getting an overtime-winner versus St. Louis

16

15

29-27-5

5-5-0

Long term direction of the franchise could be determined by moves made in the next eight or nine days

17

22

31-22-7

3-6-1

Tomas Plekanec showing signs of life with five goals and eight points over his past five contests

18

13

31-23-6

5-4-1

Ryan Miller's ankle sprain is a crushing blow to Buffalo's playoff chances

19

18

29-25-5

4-4-2

Can't feel good about giving up a late goal to the Flames, then losing in a shootout on Hockey Day in Canada

20

24

29-26-6

5-4-1

It's official; Sid doesn't want to play nice with Ovie and the NHL should be ecstatic about that

21

21

31-23-7

2-5-3

Ten losses in 12 games just too much for Tom Renney to keep his job

22

26

28-31-1

5-5-0

Ryan Smyth could be moved before the deadline and what playoff-bound team wouldn't want that guy?

23

25

22-26-12

3-3-4

Mikhail Grabovski's play has trailed off after two good months to start the season

24

23

25-26-8

5-2-3

He won't be back this year, but young defenseman Erik Johnson did return to the ice last week for the first time since tearing a knee ligament in September

25

28

27-28-5

3-7-0

A playoff berth can still be had with a hot finish to the year

26

20

22-27-9

5-3-2

Four days after fracturing his jaw, Daniel Alfredsson was back in the lineup for a team that is well out of the playoff race. Now that's a captain

27

17

25-24-9

5-3-2

Bad first periods are killing the Kings' playoff chances

28

29

21-33-6

4-5-1

Picked up five of a possible eight points on a very respectable western road swing

29

27

20-28-12

3-5-2

What crazy move does this team have in store for us before the deadline?

30

30

18-35-6

3-6-1

Did a good job of turning Mike Comrie and Chris Campoli into a first round pick

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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