The Pittsburgh Penguins haven’t had Sidney Crosby in their lineup for nearly a full year, but the tribute to the depth and talent on their roster can be seen in their play this season – and in their ranking as the NHL’s top team in this week’s THN.com Power Rankings.
Even without fellow superstar Evgeni Malkin (who missed seven games due to injury), Jordan Staal (sidelined for two games) and defenseman Zbynek Michalek (out indefinitely with a broken finger), the Pens are the Eastern Conference’s top team. That’s in part due to the strong play of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (1.95 goals-against average, .931 save percentage), the coaching of Jack Adams Award winner Dan Bylsma, and the scoring prowess of James Neal (a team-best nine goals and 14 points in 15 games) and blueliner Kris Letang (12 assists and 13 points in 13 games).
The Penguins’ rivals in Washington aren’t far behind them for the conference and league lead: Pittsburgh has 21 points, while the Caps have 18 with three games in hand. But two of Washington’s next three games are a home-and-home series with New Jersey, which begins three days after hosting the surprisingly dominant Dallas Stars. Will one of the two be No. 1 in our next Power Rankings? Check Monday afternoon to find out.
Five-day break this week before Thursday/Friday tilts against Dallas/Carolina
Nicklas Backstrom tied for league lead in assists (13)
Joe Pavelski leading team in goals (9), points (15); second behind Douglas Murray (plus-8) in plus-minus (plus-5)
Big tests this week: road games against Capitals, Penguins, Red Wings
What's wrong with Ryan Miller (4.84 GAA, .857 save percentage in past four games)? As long as Jhonas Enroth (1.41 GAA, .952 SP) is doing the job, it doesn't matter
Very light week for Flyers - Bolts Wednesday, then off 'til Sunday
No gimme games this week for Kings, who face Sharks, Preds, Canucks, Wild over next six days
Patrick Kane on pace for 64-assist season; previous high was 58 in 2009-10
Goalie carousel making no difference to Leafs
Hot-and-cold Nucks finish up six-game road swing with Thursday, Friday games against Ducks, Kings
In four-game win streak, Wild have allowed just three goals; thank Josh Harding (.965 save percentage) for that
Four-game Original Six road trip begins Tuesday in Montreal, takes still-surprising Oilers to Boston, Detroit, Chicago
Steven Stamkos tied for league scoring lead with 10 goals; Marc-Andre Bergeron tied for assists lead with 13
Pekka Rinne signed, but questions won't stop until futures of Shea Weber, Ryan Suter decided
Four straight wins, but three have come against subpar opponents (Ducks, Habs, Jets); more soft touches this week against Sens, Canes
Ended slump Saturday, but only against Ducks team slumping harder; home games this week against Avs, Oilers, Stars will be better indication of their current state
After starting so strong, Avs have dropped six of their past eight games
Who is David Schlemko and why is he tied for second overall in the NHL with a plus-9?
Tomas Fleischmann leads inconsistent Cats in plus/minus (plus-6), tied for team goal-scoring lead (5)
Half of Devils' wins have come in the shootout (3-1)
P.K. Subban leading team in ice time (23:26), but still looking for first goal
Host Rangers Wednesday before what could be a season-defining six game road trip
John Tavares has four power play goals; rest of Isles have combined for three
Took out Toronto and Ottawa last week, but they're hardly the league's elite
Firing coach Davis Payne may help, but not if Jaroslav Halak doesn't get back on track
Canes have won just two of their past eight
Wins over Wings, Avs are nice, but losses to Canucks, Sabres show how much work has to be done
Dropped six of seven games in just-concluded road trip
Loss of Tobias Enstrom will be felt throughout lineup
Saturday's loss to Philly was almost total surrender; hard to believe ownership hasn't fired anyone yet
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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