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When Penguins fly

Evgeni Malkin leads the league in points as the Penguins sit sixth in the East with 58 points, despite being without a couple key players. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Evgeni Malkin leads the league in points as the Penguins sit sixth in the East with 58 points, despite being without a couple key players. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

The red-hot Wings – winners of six straight games – ascend to the top spot in this week's Power Rankings, knocking the Rangers down to second. But back in the top 10 are the injury-riddled-yet-still-resilient Pittsburgh Penguins, who also have won six in a row.

The Pens are staying in the playoff hunt in large part due to large superstar Evgeni Malkin, now the league's leading point-getter (58) despite missing seven games with injuries. However, they're also getting stellar contributions from James Neal (whose 26 goals have him tied with Malkin for the team lead), Marc-Andre Fleury (2.26 goals-against average) and Chris Kunitz (on pace for a 52-point season, which would be his best since 2008-09). They have a tough final test before the all-star break when they take on St. Louis Tuesday, and when they return, they'll take on the increasingly desperate Leafs in a home-and-home series on back-to-back nights, then square off against the defending champion Bruins Feb. 4 in Boston. Can the Pens climb higher? Will more of them get hurt? That will be reflected each and every Monday when the new Power Rankings are posted at THN.com.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
P10
THE SCOOP
1
Detroit Red Wings
4
32-15-1
8-2-0
Johan Franzen leads league in game-winning goals (8), one ahead of Pens star Evgeni Malkin
2
New York Rangers
1
30-12-4
7-3-0
Brad Richards is the Blueshirts' most dangerous power play performer, leading the team in assists (10) and points (13)
3
Boston Bruins
2
31-13-2
6-3-1
Bruins and hated rival Canucks are both 21-0-0 when leading after two periods
4
St. Louis Blues
5
29-12-6
8-1-1
Stingy Blues have allowed more than three goals in a game only once since Dec. 5 - and they won that game (beating Columbus 6-4)
5
San Jose Sharks
3
26-14-5
6-3-1
Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Ryan Clowe and Brent Burns each have four power play goals
6
Chicago Blackhawks
8
29-14-6
5-3-2
Hawks' 27th overall penalty kill (78.2 percent) remains a work-in-not-very-much-progress
7
Vancouver Canucks
6
29-15-4
5-3-2
Ten of 14 games in February come on the road; fortunately, the Canucks are better there (16-9-1) than at home (13-6-3)
8
Nashville Predators
9
28-16-4
8-2-0
Six Predators (Martin Erat, David Legwand, Colin Wilson, Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling and Matt Halischuk) have at least two game-winning goals
9
Philadelphia Flyers
7
28-14-5
6-3-1
Matt Read (15 goals, 31 points, plus-12) still a frontrunner for Calder Trophy
10
Pittsburgh Penguins
15
27-17-4
6-4-0
James Neal has 12 power play goals - second only to Philly's Scott Hartnell (13)
11
Ottawa Senators
10
27-17-6
7-2-1
Sens finish January with three road games, then begin Feburary with crucial five-game homestand against Isles, Leafs, Blues, Preds and Oilers
12
Washington Capitals
11
25-19-3
5-4-1
Caps have East's most impressive home record (17-6-1), but still struggle on the road (8-13-2)
13
New Jersey Devils
13
26-19-2
5-4-1
Devils still winning despite Martin Brodeur's awful .893 save percentage
14
Los Angeles Kings
12
23-16-10
4-2-4
Anze Kopitar has a team-best 15 goals, but just one game-winner; Dustin Brown has 13 goals, and five game-winners
15
Florida Panthers
14
22-15-10
3-4-3
Stumbling Panthers have just two wins in eight attempts this month, and just one game left (against Flyers) to try and make it three
16
Colorado Avalanche
17
26-22-2
5-4-1
Avs still have league's best shootout record (7-0)
17
Toronto Maple Leafs
18
23-19-5
5-5-0
Leafs epitome of mediocrity: even goals-for/against ratio; 13 wins and 12 losses at home; and 10 wins and 12 losses on the road
18
Dallas Stars
16
24-21-2
3-6-1
Stars haven't won in five games, and are without Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro; have their playoff-chances taken a death blow?
19
Winnipeg Jets
19
22-20-6
3-6-1
Jets haven't won two consecutive games all month, get another chance this week with back-to-back road games against Canes, Rangers
20
Calgary Flames
22
23-20-6
5-4-1
Curtis Glencross' injury another hurdle for Flames to attempt to overcome
21
Minnesota Wild
20
23-18-7
3-6-1
Dany Heatley on pace for a 23-goal season; five seasons ago, he had 50
22
Phoenix Coyotes
21
21-20-8
2-4-4
Ageless wonder Ray Whitney leads Coyotes in assists (26), points (41), plus-minus (plus-12)
23
New York Islanders
25
19-21-6
6-4-0
John Tavares on pace for a 51-assist, 84-point season; he already has five game-winning goals - one more than he did last season
24
Anaheim Ducks
26
18-22-7
8-1-1
Five consecutive wins is nice, but Ducks remain 11 points out of eighth and have won just five road games all season
25
Montreal Canadiens
24
18-21-9
4-4-2
With a puny 8-9-7 home record, Canadiens are tied with Jackets (8-13-3) for fewest wins in their own building
26
Tampa Bay Lightning
29
20-23-4
3-6-1
Three straight wins for Bolts, but they're still 13th in the East and nine eight points out of eighth; look for Dominic Moore, possibly Pavel Kubina to be shopped around
27
Carolina Hurricanes
27
17-24-9
4-3-3
Trading Alexei Ponikarovksy just the beginning of Canes' serious roster alterations
28
Buffalo Sabres
23
19-24-5
2-7-1
Playoffs just a dream for Sabres at this stage; who pays for such a shocking underachievement?
29
Edmonton Oilers
28
17-26-4
2-7-1
Fading Oilers average just 26.3 shots per game; only Ducks (25.9) are worse
30
Columbus Blue Jackets
30
13-28-6
3-6-1
With a little more than a month until the trade deadline, very few Jackets should feel secure in their place with the franchise

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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