The Pittsburgh Penguins unseat the St. Louis Blues for top spot in this week's THN.com NHL Power Rankings. But although Sidney Crosby's return and the Blues' astonishing turnaround under coach Ken Hitchcock have received much attention as of late, the streaking Los Angeles Kings could be stepping into a much larger spotlight very soon.
The Kings, plagued most of the season by an inability to score, have rediscovered their touch around the opposition's net and sit just a single point out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The trade deadline addition of Jeff Carter clearly has been a success, as the former Flyer and Blue Jacket has amassed six points in his past five games and eight points in 11 games since coming to L.A. In addition, captain Dustin Brown – the subject of trade speculation – has been arguably their most consistent forward, with 15 points in his past 11 games.
The Kings will need all hands on deck if they want to continue to push for a playoff spot, especially considering they'll play the Sharks, Bruins and Blues this week. Will they continue to atone for what has been a pretty disappointing year thus far? The answer will be apparent when next you check back on the Power Rankings, which appear on THN.com every Monday afternoon.
Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury have been Pens' MVPs this year, but by the time the playoffs are over, Sidney Crosby could be in that role; talk about an embarrassment of riches.
Incredible that the Blues are atop the league standings when they don't have a single player on the roster with more than 21 goals or 50 points.
Win over Pens Sunday showed Flyers are putting it all together at the right time of year.
David Booth starting to get hot (four goals and five points in his past six games).
Preds lost two straight last week - first time in more than a month they haven't followed up a loss with a win.
Blueshirts have dropped five of past seven games; only two wins came against non-playoff teams (Isles, Canes), while all five losses were against post-season-bound teams (Devils, Sens, Hawks, Pens, Avs)
Even without injured Jonathan Toews, Hawks are starting to turn things around and had big week with wins over Blues, Stars, Caps.
In their past eight wins, Kings have averaged 4.125 goals-per-game; if they can keep that up, they'll be a playoff dark horse to beware of.
Stars clinging to division lead and face desperate Coyotes and Flames (as well as juggernaut Nucks) this week.
Hurry back, Nicklas Lidstrom, you're missed very much.
Shootout win over Avs gives Devils a league-best 11-3 mark after overtime.
Now five points separating Southeast-leading Panthers from their closest divisional rival.
Win over Rangers Saturday was a statement game for Avs; they'll need to make a few more (especially against the Flames, who they play twice in race for a playoff berth) to make the post-season.
Yotes' final nine games include a pair against both desperate Sharks and powerhouse Blues.
Bruins' record since the all-star break: 10-13-1.
Only three Sens with double-digit plus/minus marks: Filip Kuba (plus-25), Erik Karlsson (plus-16) and Erik Condra (plus-10)? One of these things is not like the other .
Jets are awful away from home and have three tough road challenges this week (Pens, Caps and Predators).
Wins over Preds, Wings last week ended prolonged standings skid, but now the schedule isn't San Jose's friend, as they have eight games in 13 days to end March.
Eleventh-place Flames just two points behind Avs and Yotes for seventh/eighth in West with a game in hand on Colorado, but both those teams, as well as ninth-place Sharks and 10th-place Kings, all have more victories. In other words, their playoff chances are shrinking by the day.
Caps can't put space between them and Jets for eighth overall, making their Friday night game against Winnipeg arguably the most important they'll play all season.
Canes are the last team in the league to not have a shootout win this season (0-6).
Next year's Leafs ought to be hypnotized into thinking they've been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in training camp.
Three of four games this week are against relatively soft touches (Bolts, Canadiens, Wild); by this time next Monday, they could be in a playoff spot or in 12th or 13th.
Ducks have eight UFAs and one RFA this summer and $22 million in cap space, so significant change may have to come via trade.
Only Oilers (10-21-3), Jackets (10-23-4) have fewer road victories than Bolts (11-19-5).
What would you pay soon-to-be RFA Carey Price? That's just one of many crucial decisions Habs management faces after this dismal year.
Parts of Isles' future look good, but the fact they have the league's worst 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio (.74) shows how much work remains.
Oilers now just four points behind Wild for 28th overall.
Goalie Steve Mason admits he didn't realize he was wearing undersized goalie pads for this season and last year; who do you blame more for that - him or the organization?
Wild won just four of 13 games in February and have only one win in eight games this month; if the regular season ran a month longer, they might have been passed by lowly Blue Jackets for the league's worst record.
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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