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Blackhawks on the rise

With 25 points in 18 games the Chicago Blackhawks sit atop the NHL standings. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

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With 25 points in 18 games the Chicago Blackhawks sit atop the NHL standings. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins retain their top spot on this week’s THN.com Power Rankings, but the Chicago Blackhawks are quickly closing in on them.

The Hawks are riding a three-game win streak after taking advantage of weaker teams in Columbus, Calgary and Edmonton and now sit atop the Central Division and Western Conference with an 11-4-3 record. Their 25 points is most in the league, but Pittsburgh (10-4-3, 23 points) has a game in hand.

Unsurprisingly, Chicago is being led offensively by their big four of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa – all of whom have combined for 28 goals and 69 points. Their next nine highest-scoring players have combined for 25 goals and 71 points. Their goaltending hasn’t been spectacular (52 goals-against), but with the league’s most potent offense (62 goals-for), it hasn’t had to be.

The Hawks kick off a two-week, six-game road trip Wednesday with a visit to Vancouver, then trips to Calgary and Edmonton. Their task gets harder next week with road games against San Jose, Anaheim and L.A., so they’ll need to take advantage of softer challenges. Be sure to check back next Monday to see whether they’ve risen or fallen in next week’s rankings.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
THE SCOOP
1
Pittsburgh Penguins
1
10-4-3
Sidney Crosby watch goes into overdrive this week, but Pens keep rolling without him
2
San Jose Sharks
3
9-5-1
All of San Jose's seven game-winning goals have been scored by a different roster member
3
Washington Capitals
2
10-4-1
Caps have dropped three of past four games, but schedule-maker is nicer this week with road games against Preds, Jets, Leafs
4
Chicago Blackhawks
8
11-4-3
Hawks on three-game win streak after dropping as many in a row the week before
5
Dallas Stars
4
11-5-0
Stars got reality check this weekend with losses to Penguins, Red Wings; face Panthers, Avs, Sharks this week
6
Philadelphia Flyers
6
9-4-3
Rookie Sean Couturier a team-leading plus-9
7
Buffalo Sabres
5
10-6-0
Jhonas Enroth (1.75 GAA, .944 save percentage) making Sabres fans worry less about concussed Ryan Miller
8
Minnesota Wild
11
9-5-3
Josh Harding (1.78 GAA, .948 save percentage), a free agent next summer, picked good year to pick up his game
9
Los Angeles Kings
7
8-6-3
Kings haven't won two in a row since Oct. 20/22
10
Vancouver Canucks
10
9-8-1
Wins over Kings, Isles show talent is there, but consistency still a problem
11
Tampa Bay Lightning
13
8-6-2
Neither Steven Stamkos nor Martin St-Louis has a game-winning goal, but Vincent Lecavalier has four
12
New York Rangers
15
9-3-3
Six-game win streak is nice, but five have come against teams ranked no higher than 22nd in overall standings
13
Detroit Red Wings
16
9-5-1
Wings just one of two teams (Flames are the other) yet to play in a shootout this season
14
Toronto Maple Leafs
9
10-6-1
Phil Kessel (12 goals, 24 points) still on fire; Nikolai Kulemin (two goals, six points) still ice-cold
15
Nashville Predators
14
8-5-3
Shea Weber a team-best plus-11; Jonathon Blum a team-worst minus-9
16
Edmonton Oilers
12
9-6-2
Oilers lost only four time in October, but already have dropped four games this month
17
Boston Bruins
24
8-7-0
Bruins can extend five-game win streak with games this week against so-so Devils, pathetic Jackets, slumping Isles
18
Phoenix Coyotes
18
8-4-3
Yotes a better road team (4-1-1) than home team (4-3-2) so far
19
Florida Panthers
19
8-5-3
If Kris Versteeg always put up points at his current rate (eight goals and 17 points in 16 games) he wouldn't be on his fourth NHL team
20
Montreal Canadiens
21
7-7-2
Even Blue Jackets (3-5-1) have better home record than Habs (2-4-2)
21
New Jersey Devils
20
8-6-1
After scoring just twice in 11 games, Ilya Kovalchuk on pace for 14-goal season
22
Colorado Avalanche
17
8-8-1
Two wins in the past nine games for Avs, who face big tests this week (Pens, Wild Stars)
23
St. Louis Blues
25
8-7-1
New coach, same inconsistency; team leader in game-winning goals is Alex Steen (two)
24
Ottawa Senators
22
8-9-1
Sens 3-1 in shootouts this year; continue six-game road trip this week
25
Carolina Hurricanes
26
6-8-3
Tomas Kaberle has no goals, four assists, is a minus-5 and makes $4.25 million. Pee. Yew.
26
Anaheim Ducks
28
6-8-3
Broken finger sidelines Lubomir Visnovsky, makes already-thin blueline thinner
27
New York Islanders
23
4-7-3
Isles have played fewest games in the NHL (14), but no excuse for woeful offense (a league-worst 29 goals-for)
28
Calgary Flames
27
7-8-1
Three of offense-challenged Flames' seven wins have been over Avalanche
29
Winnipeg Jets
29
5-9-3
Five-game losing skid could be extended with games this week against Bolts, Caps, Flyers
30
Columbus Blue Jackets
30
3-12-1
Last two wins were against lowly Jets, Ducks; this week they've got Wild, Bruins, Preds

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.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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