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The mighty Penguins

Sidney Crosby leads the league in scoring and the Pittsburgh Penguins sit fourth in the East with a 15-8-2 record. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Sidney Crosby leads the league in scoring and the Pittsburgh Penguins sit fourth in the East with a 15-8-2 record. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins don’t have all their players clicking on all cylinders – or, for that matter, even healthy – but their recent turnaround in fortunes isn’t based on a fully healthy lineup or the return to form of star center Evgeni Malkin.

Instead, the Penguins have been the hottest team in the league, going 8-1-1 in their past 10 games on the strength of outstanding play by captain Sidney Crosby (18 goals and 40 points in 25 games), the defensive (and offensive) contributions of blueliners Kris Letang (18 assists, 22 points and a team-best plus-11) and Alex Goligoski (a team-leading three game-winning goals) and white-hot play from goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (2-0-0, 0.50 GAA and .986 save percentage in his past two games).

Malkin is still struggling (one goal in his past three games) and center Jordan Staal remains sidelined indefinitely with a broken hand, but coach Dan Bylsma and Penguins management have to be pleased to see the team overcome adversity as they have.

This week, the Penguins face the New York Rangers in Manhattan on Monday, the Atlanta Thrashers at home on Thursday and the Blue Jackets Saturday night in Columbus. All three opponents currently are sitting in a playoff position, so Crosby & Co.’s hot streak will be put to the test.

What are your thoughts on the rankings? Who should be No. 1? Let us know in the comments section below.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
P10
THE SCOOP

1

Detroit Red Wings

1

15-4-2

7-2-1

Johan Franzen and Dan Cleary have identical shooting percentages (10 goals on 53 shots)

2

Washington Capitals

2

17-6-2

6-2-2

Nicklas Backstrom (four goals), Brooks Laich and Mike Green (three apiece) have more power play goals than Alex Ovechkin (two)

3

Philadelphia Flyers

4

15-6-4

6-2-2

Flyers the league’s most dangerous 5-on-5 team (1.63 goals for/against ratio)

4

Montreal Canadiens

5

15-8-1

7-3-0

Brian Gionta has 101 shots – 32 more than the second-most-active Habs shooter (Mike Cammalleri)

5

Pittsburgh Penguins

17

15-8-2

8-1-1

Sidney Crosby making strong case as early frontrunner for Hart Trophy

6

Columbus Blue Jackets

6

14-8-0

6-4-0

Jackets still impressing – at least before running into Red Wings buzzsaw on the weekend

7

Dallas Stars

14

13-8-1

5-4-1

Stars can look like champs one night, chumps the next

8

Vancouver Canucks

10

12-7-3

5-4-1

Henrik Sedin is on pace to finish with seven goals – and 93 assists

9

Phoenix Coyotes

12

11-6-5

7-1-2

Keith Yandle now leading all Coyotes skaters in ice time (23:20)

10

Los Angeles Kings

3

13-9-0

4-6-0

After starting season well, goalie Jonathan Bernier (3.29 GAA, .889 save percentage) struggling to find consistency

11

Colorado Avalanche

9

13-9-1

6-4-0

Chris Stewart great at scoring; not so great at punching (he's out indefinitely with a broken hand sustained in a fight with Minnesota's Kyle Brodziak)

12

Boston Bruins

7

12-8-2

4-5-1

Bruins haven’t won when trailing after first period (0-5-2)

13

St. Louis Blues

8

12-7-3

3-6-1

Alex Steen is a decent player, but he shouldn’t be leading the Blues in game-winning goals (two)

14

Tampa Bay Lightning

11

13-8-3

5-4-1

Steven Stamkos has 21 goals – 13 more than Bolts’ next-most-proficient scorer

15

San Jose Sharks

15

11-7-4

5-2-3

Sharks not accustomed to being a .500 team

16

New York Rangers

18

14-10-1

7-3-0

With a 5-2-0 mark and 2.15 GAA, Martin Biron is one of the best off-season signings

17

Minnesota Wild

13

11-9-2

5-5-0

Martin Havlat playing best hockey in a Wild uniform, leading team with 22 points in 22 games

18

Atlanta Thrashers

24

12-9-3

6-4-0

Dustin Byfuglien is getting all the attention on Thrashers’ blueline, but Tobias Enstrom has been almost as good

19

Chicago Blackhawks

20

13-11-2

5-4-1

Marian Hossa had 11 points in his first seven games, but just seven in his next 14

20

Nashville Predators

16

9-8-5

4-4-2

Not a good sign when Cal O’Reilly leads all Preds point-getters with 13

21

Carolina Hurricanes

22

10-10-3

4-3-3

Ian White was a minus-10 before trade to Canes; is even on plus/minus in five games since deal

22

Ottawa Senators

23

11-12-1

4-6-0

Only Wild, Rangers and Oilers are averaging fewer shots on net than Sens’ 28 per night

23

Anaheim Ducks

19

11-11-3

4-4-2

Toni Lydman a team-best plus-13; next best is Bobby Ryan at plus-7

24

Florida Panthers

21

10-12-0

5-5-0

Panthers’ power play is abominable (an NHL-worst 6.4 percent)

25

Calgary Flames

26

9-12-2

3-5-2

Flames owner Murray Edwards recently said, “failure is not an option.” Obviously, he hasn’t seen many Flames games

26

Toronto Maple Leafs

25

8-11-3

3-6-1

GM Brian Burke running out of internal options to fix feckless offense (2.18 goals per game – tied with Nashville for third-worst in the NHL)

27

Buffalo Sabres

27

9-13-3

5-4-1

If Sabres could play the Leafs for 82 games, they’d be fine

28

New Jersey Devils

29

8-14-2

4-5-1

Nov. 26 loss to Islanders shows fixing Devils won’t be easy – or quick

29

Edmonton Oilers

28

6-12-4

2-6-2

Doesn’t matter who’s in Edmonton’s net – the result (a 30th-ranked team GAA of 3.86) is still awful

30

New York Islanders

30

5-12-5

1-6-3

The good news: the Isles’ (14-game) losing streak is dead; the bad news: there are more losing streaks ahead

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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