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Power Rankings: Carter, Budaj best of all the Kings' men

The Los Angeles Kings have seen their depth tested this season with injuries to key players, and two in particular have stepped up in a big way.

Jeff Carter replacing Anze Kopitar as the Los Angeles Kings’ best forward? That’s not a huge stretch. After all, Carter is a heck of a hockey player in his own right. But journeyman Peter Budaj replacing Jonathan Quick as the No. 1 goaltender? And the Kings hardly missing a beat? Well, that might have taken some convincing.

But here we are with the Kings riding a five-game winning streak, largely on the backs of Carter and Budaj. Carter has been by far the Kings most valuable player this season, leading the Kings offensively after Kopitar's injury. He's followed closely by Budaj, who has provided surprising stability in the Kings’ net in the absence of Quick.

And both have helped propel the Kings to the top of’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.):


1. Los Angeles Kings (3)

2. St. Louis Blues (2)

3. Nashville Predators (23)

4. New York Rangers (5)

5. Chicago Blackhawks (7)

6. Pittsburgh Penguins (8)

7. Montreal Canadiens (6)

8. Columbus Blue Jackets (1)

9. Washington Capitals (12)

10. Anaheim Ducks (16)

The Kings got a whole lot more dangerous, and faster, when Marian Gaborik returned Saturday after missing the first 21 games…Streaky David Perron is hot, with an eight-game point streak going into tomorrow night’s game against Tampa Bay…Don’t look now, but the Predators are the hottest team in the NHL and are beginning to look like the team everyone thought they would be. Austin Watson had a Gordie Howe hat trick in the Predators’ 5-3 win over Colorado Tuesday night…The Rangers still lead the league in scoring, but the offense has cooled. After scoring 72 goals in their first 17 games (4.24 per game) they have 16 in their past seven (2.29)…Already missing their No. 1 center (Jonathan Toews), the Hawks lost Artem Anisimov in a 2-1 shootout win over Florida Tuesday night…The Penguins have given up exactly the same number of goals (64) as they’ve scored this season…The Habs are 1-7-2 in their past 10 games in California going into Friday night’s game in San Jose…The surprising Blue Jackets beat Tampa Bay twice – and hung five goals on them each time – in the span of five days…The Caps have just three goals from defensemen this season. John Carlson and Matt Niskanen have combined for zero…Rickard Rakell leads the Ducks in goals with nine, despite having played only 14 games.


11. San Jose Sharks (18)

12. Ottawa Senators (11)

13. Toronto Maple Leafs (22)

14. Edmonton Oilers (10)

15. Philadelphia Flyers (15)

16. Detroit Red Wings (30)

17. Winnipeg Jets (29)

18. Vancouver Canucks (27)

19. Minnesota Wild (19)

20. Boston Bruins (13)

With nine goals this season, Brent Burns of the Sharks is either tied with or outscoring the entire defense corps of 17 teams…The Senators not only had a four-game winning streak snapped in a 5-4 loss to Buffalo, but they finished the game without winger Bobby Ryan and defenseman Marc Methot…Quick question: Is Nazem Kadri becoming the most hated player in the NHL?...At this rate, Oilers fans might be pining for their old arena. The Oilers are 5-6-0 and the spanking new Rogers Place and are 7-4-2 on the road…Claude Giroux’s goal in a 3-2 shootout win over Boston Tuesday night broke a nine-game goal scoring drought…With three goals and five points in eight games, Anthony Mantha finally looks like he’s ready for full-time NHL work…Rookie Patrik Laine ended a career-high (irony intended) six-game goal scoring drought with the game-winner in a 3-2 win over New Jersey Tuesday night… After losing their first four games of November, the Canucks have gone a very respectable 6-3-1…Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper after his team’s ugly 5-4 loss to Vancouver Tuesday night: “It’ll be tough to talk to somebody that was happy about this one.”…The Bruins have scored two or fewer goals in 16 of their 23 games this season.


21. Arizona Coyotes (26)

22. Tampa Bay Lightning (9)

23. New Jersey Devils (24)

24. Florida Panthers (21)

25. Carolina Hurricanes (4)

26. New York Islanders (25)

27. Calgary Flames (28)

28. Dallas Stars (14)

29. Buffalo Sabres (20)

30. Colorado Avalanche (17)

The Coyotes have earned a point in six of their past seven games (3-3-1)…Lightning center Brian Boyle on his team’s defensive play in a 5-1 loss to Columbus Tuesday night: “I’d love to play against us right now in our own end. It’s easy." He’s right. They’ve given up 14 goals in their past three games…Taylor Hall returned to Devils at practice Monday after his knee surgery, but there’s no timetable for his return…The Panthers’ 2-1 shootout loss to Chicago Tuesday night marked the 21st consecutive game Aleksander Barkov has failed to score…The Hurricanes cannot be looking forward to returning to Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Their 3-2 loss Tuesday night made them 0-8-3 in their past 11 at the World’s Most Famous Arena…John Tavares’ goal in a 2-1 overtime win over Calgary Monday night was his first in nine games…No team in the NHL has a worse goal differential than the minus-20 recorded by the Flames… Stars defenseman John Klingberg was sixth among NHL defensemen in shot attempts last season. This season, he’s 213th…Welcome back, Jack Eichel. The Sabres missed you. Badly…Already out six games with a lower-body injury, Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog is not even skating and there is no timetable for his return.



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