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Capitals rocking the red

Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals sit atop the East with a 10-4-0 record. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

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Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals sit atop the East with a 10-4-0 record. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

After a so-so start to the 2010-11 season, the Washington Capitals are beginning to show why they ran away with the Presidents’ Trophy last year.

The Capitals began the year 4-3-0, but have since won six of seven games and sit atop the Eastern Conference. They have only lost once at home - a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Boston Bruins - and are tied with Los Angeles for the second-best goals for/against differential (plus-13) in the league.

As expected, superstar left winger Alex Ovechkin is leading the way on offense for the Caps, with a team-best 18 points. But a particularly bright light has been the all-round play of left winger Brooks Laich, who is a team-best plus-10 so far.

As well, Washington has got to be pleased with the performance of rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth, who has a save percentage of .914 to go along with his 8-3-0 record.

The Caps play four times in six days this week, including home games against the Lightning and Thrashers and road games against the Rangers and Sabres.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
THE SCOOP

1

St. Louis Blues

1

9-1-2

Jaroslav Halak, Ty Conklin combining to average a stupendous 1.42 goals-against per game

2

Los Angeles Kings

3

10-3-0

Jonathan Bernier’s 2.26 goals-against average and .922 save percentage is nothing to sneeze at, but Jonathan Quick’s 1.64 G.A.A. and .942 save percentage (as well as his 8-1-0 record) is even better

3

Washington Capitals

7

10-4-0

Lock up the lambs – the beast has awoken

4

Detroit Red Wings

4

8-3-1

Home games this week vs. Coyotes, Oilers and Avs give Wings good chance at building on 4-1-1 record at Joe Louis Arena

5

Vancouver Canucks

6

8-3-2

Canucks are winners of six straight; that Manny Malhotra signing isn’t looking so overpriced, is it?

6

Philadelphia Flyers

5

9-4-2

Flyers defense corps is so good Sean O’Donnell is leading entire team in plus-minus (plus-8)

7

Boston Bruins

9

7-3-1

Bruins’ penalty kill best in the league (92.9 percent)

8

Columbus Blue Jackets

10

8-5-0

Jackets are super-tight defensively, thanks in no small part to MVP-type play from Mathieu Garon (1.28 GAA, .951 save percentage)

9

Minnesota Wild

18

7-4-2

Wild are winning, but leaning too hard on Niklas Backstrom’s brilliance and powerful power play (27.1 percent)

10

Montreal Canadiens

11

8-5-1

P.K. Subban third among Habs skaters in average time on ice, fourth in shots on net

11

Dallas Stars

14

8-5-0

Mike Ribeiro has averaged more than 22 goals per year over the past three seasons; he has none this year

12

Tampa Bay Lightning

2

7-4-2

Sophomore defenseman Victor Hedman now leads team in time on ice (23:02)

13

Colorado Avalanche

13

7-5-1

Matt Duchene briefly benched as Avs try to find consistency

14

New York Rangers

12

7-6-1

Sean Avery has one goal on 36 shots; Brandon Dubinsky has 10 on 36

15

Ottawa Senators

27

7-6-1

Now this looks more like the borderline playoff team we thought Sens would be

16

San Jose Sharks

17

6-5-1

Joe Pavelski is fifth on the Sharks in scoring (three goals and eight points) – and last in plus/minus (minus-seven)

17

Atlanta Thrashers

19

6-5-3

Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay has some teaching to do on defense as team allows league-high 37.8 shots-against per game.

18

Carolina Hurricanes

22

7-7-0

Canes getting whipped on faceoffs, winning an NHL-worst 38.1 percent of draws

19

Chicago Blackhawks

15

8-8-1

The Good Patrick Sharp has a team-best 17 points; The Bad Patrick Sharp is a team-worst minus-11

20

Pittsburgh Penguins

16

7-7-1

Pens face tough tests this week in stingy Bruins, high-scoring Bolts and Thrashers

21

Anaheim Ducks

28

7-7-1

Three straight wins have scared vultures away from Randy Carlyle, but for how long?

22

Toronto Maple Leafs

21

5-5-3

Vultures now swarming around Ron Wilson, but why is the coach expected to score goals for this team?

23

Nashville Predators

8

5-5-3

Southerners’ sweet start swapped for sloppy swoon

24

Florida Panthers

24

5-7-0

Panthers are only team in bottom nine of league standings to have a positive goals for/against differential

25

Calgary Flames

20

6-7-0

When Brendan Morrison is your leading point-getter, what else is there to say?

26

Phoenix Coyotes

23

4-5-4

No Coyote has more than four goals or six assists

27

Edmonton Oilers

26

4-6-2

Oilers penalty kill is in holiday giving mood already - at 70.9 percent efficiency, their PK is ranked 30th in the league

28

New York Islanders

25

4-8-2

Rick DiPietro averaging a boo-pendous 4.21 goals-against per game

29

Buffalo Sabres

29

4-9-2

Seven points, a minus-8, and an 8.00 shooting percentage? For shame, Thomas Vanek, for shame

30

New Jersey Devils

30

4-10-1

Devils still haven’t won at home in six tries; team record for consecutive home losses is nine

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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