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Sharks have bite

The San Jose Sharks have made it to back-to-back conference finals, but are saddled with a playoff curse. (Photo by Don Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

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The San Jose Sharks have made it to back-to-back conference finals, but are saddled with a playoff curse. (Photo by Don Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

The New York Rangers are atop THN.com's NHL Power Rankings for the first time this season, but the San Jose Sharks are looking nearly as formidable. Winners of four straight and with just one regulation loss in their past 10 games, they’re leading the Pacific Division despite having played two fewer games than the second-place Stars and four fewer games than the Kings and Coyotes.

Once again, their frontline stars are doing all the heavy lifting on offense – Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture have combined for 124 points, more than all the other forwards on the roster combined – and they're receiving solid netminding from Antti Niemi (2.28 goals-against average, .919 save percentage) and Thomas Greiss (2.21 GAA, .922 SP). They've got four road games to play this week, but the first three (against the Wild, Jets and Blue Jackets) are comparatively much easier than the fourth (against Chicago). Will they be able to overtake Boston and the Blueshirts for first overall? Check back next Monday to find out.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
P10
THE SCOOP
1
New York Rangers
3
26-9-4
9-1-0
Unheralded defenseman Dan Girardi leading all NHLers in average time on ice (27:19), fourth in league in blocked shots (100)
2
Boston Bruins
1
26-11-1
8-2-0
Since Oct. 28, Bruins have lost two straight games just once - and with games against Jets, Canadiens and Hurricanes this week, that isn't likely to change
3
San Jose Sharks
6
23-11-4
8-1-1
Sharks have won four straight - and with tilts vs. Wild, Jets and Jackets this week, they could make it seven
4
Vancouver Canucks
8
26-13-3
7-2-1
Weekend rumble, win against white-hot Bruins shows Canucks are firing on all cylinders
5
Detroit Red Wings
4
26-14-1
6-4-0
After late October/early November skid, Wings have gone 21-9-0
6
Philadelphia Flyers
5
24-12-4
4-5-1
It's a week of fairly soft touches for Flyers, with games against Canes, Isles, Preds
7
St. Louis Blues
10
24-12-5
6-3-1
With a 17-3-2 mark, Blues are the NHL's mightiest home team
8
Chicago Blackhawks
2
24-13-5
4-5-1
When Hawks lose, they lose in bunches; they've had two three-game losing skids before their current four-game loss streak
9
Los Angeles Kings
11
20-15-7
6-1-3
Kings have allowed just eight regulation/overtime goals in their past eight games, but have scored just 13 in that span
10
Florida Panthers
7
20-13-8
4-4-2
Panthers have won just two of their past eight games; perhaps light schedule this week (just two games, against Canucks and depleted Penguins) will get them back on track
11
Ottawa Senators
14
22-15-6
7-1-2
Milan Michalek on pace for a 40-goal season; his previous high is 26, in 2006-07
12
Washington Capitals
13
21-16-2
6-3-1
Mike Green's health a significant concern for this year and next; he's scheduled to be a restricted free agent this summer
13
Nashville Predators
12
22-15-4
6-4-0
Eleven of Preds' next 18 games are on the road, but they're as consistent away from Nashville (10-8-1) as they are at home (12-7-3)
14
New Jersey Devils
15
23-16-2
6-3-1
Calder Trophy contender Adam Henrique leads Devils in plus-minus (plus-9), on track for 24-goal, 65-point year
15
Pittsburgh Penguins
9
21-15-4
4-6-0
So many injuries ravaging Pens lineup, they might as well have entire AHL affiliate team travel with them
16
Toronto Maple Leafs
20
21-15-5
5-3-2
Win over Wings Saturday another indication Leafs will be in playoff hunt right down to the wire
17
Colorado Avalanche
18
23-19-1
8-2-0
Avs are NHL's deadliest in shootouts (7-0) thanks in large part to Milan Hejduk, who has five shootout goals on seven attempts this season
18
Dallas Stars
19
23-16-1
5-5-0
Jamie Benn leads Stars in assists (28), points (41), power play assists (7) shots on goal (114)
19
Winnipeg Jets
16
20-16-5
6-3-1
Blake Wheeler on pace for 46 assists, 62 points; previous career bests in those areas are 24 assists and 45 points
20
Minnesota Wild
17
21-15-6
1-7-2
Wild's freefall through the standings could continue this week - their opponents are Sharks, Hawks and Blues
21
Phoenix Coyotes
23
20-17-5
4-4-2
Three-game road trip for Coyotes this week, but their road record (12-9-2) is better than their home mark (8-8-3)
22
Buffalo Sabres
22
18-18-5
2-6-2
Return of Tyler Myers will help beleaguered blueline, but Sabres have more problems than that
23
Calgary Flames
24
19-19-5
5-4-1
Flames have league's worst faceoff win percentage (44.9)
24
Montreal Canadiens
25
16-18-7
3-7-0
Two straight wins has jackals off coach Randy Cunneyworth's back, but they could jump right back on this week with games against Blues, Bruins, Sens, Rangers
25
Tampa Bay Lightning
21
17-20-3
5-4-1
Hard to fathom that a team with Steven Stamkos, Martin St-Louis and Vincent Lecavalier has league's fourth-worst power play, but at just 13.8 percent, Bolts do
26
New York Islanders
27
14-19-6
5-5-0
Mark Streit is a minus-17 while averaging 23:30 of ice time per game; Kyle Okposo is a minus-17 while averaging 16:46 per game
27
Carolina Hurricanes
28
14-22-7
4-4-2
Only Anaheim (3-10-5) has worse road record than Canes (4-12-4)
28
Edmonton Oilers
26
16-22-3
2-8-0
Oilers haven't won two consecutive games since Nov. 22 and 25
29
Anaheim Ducks
29
12-22-6
3-6-1
Sustained ineptitude forcing GM Bob Murray's hand in taking trade offers for big three of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan
30
Columbus Blue Jackets
30
11-25-5
2-7-1
Jeff Carter's separated shoulder latest catastrophe in nightmare season

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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