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Kings seek crown

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The Pittsburgh Penguins unseat the St. Louis Blues for top spot in this week's THN.com NHL Power Rankings. But although Sidney Crosby's return and the Blues' astonishing turnaround under coach Ken Hitchcock have received much attention as of late, the streaking Los Angeles Kings could be stepping into a much larger spotlight very soon.

The Kings, plagued most of the season by an inability to score, have rediscovered their touch around the opposition's net and sit just a single point out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The trade deadline addition of Jeff Carter clearly has been a success, as the former Flyer and Blue Jacket has amassed six points in his past five games and eight points in 11 games since coming to L.A. In addition, captain Dustin Brown – the subject of trade speculation – has been arguably their most consistent forward, with 15 points in his past 11 games.

The Kings will need all hands on deck if they want to continue to push for a playoff spot, especially considering they'll play the Sharks, Bruins and Blues this week. Will they continue to atone for what has been a pretty disappointing year thus far? The answer will be apparent when next you check back on the Power Rankings, which appear on THN.com every Monday afternoon.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
P10
THE SCOOP
1
Pittsburgh Penguins
2
44-21-6
9-0-1
Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury have been Pens' MVPs this year, but by the time the playoffs are over, Sidney Crosby could be in that role; talk about an embarrassment of riches.
2
St. Louis Blues
1
46-19-8
7-2-1
Incredible that the Blues are atop the league standings when they don't have a single player on the roster with more than 21 goals or 50 points.
3
Philadelphia Flyers
9
42-22-8
8-1-1
Win over Pens Sunday showed Flyers are putting it all together at the right time of year.
4
Vancouver Canucks
4
43-20-8
4-4-2
David Booth starting to get hot (four goals and five points in his past six games).
5
Nashville Predators
3
42-22-8
6-3-1
Preds lost two straight last week - first time in more than a month they haven't followed up a loss with a win.
6
New York Rangers
5
44-20-7
4-5-1
Blueshirts have dropped five of past seven games; only two wins came against non-playoff teams (Isles, Canes), while all five losses were against post-season-bound teams (Devils, Sens, Hawks, Pens, Avs)
7
Chicago Blackhawks
10
40-25-8
7-2-1
Even without injured Jonathan Toews, Hawks are starting to turn things around and had big week with wins over Blues, Stars, Caps.
8
Los Angeles Kings
16
35-25-12
7-3-0
In their past eight wins, Kings have averaged 4.125 goals-per-game; if they can keep that up, they'll be a playoff dark horse to beware of.
9
Dallas Stars
6
39-28-5
7-2-1
Stars clinging to division lead and face desperate Coyotes and Flames (as well as juggernaut Nucks) this week.
10
Detroit Red Wings
7
44-24-4
3-6-1
Hurry back, Nicklas Lidstrom, you're missed very much.
11
New Jersey Devils
8
41-26-5
6-3-1
Shootout win over Avs gives Devils a league-best 11-3 mark after overtime.
12
Florida Panthers
18
35-23-13
6-3-1
Now five points separating Southeast-leading Panthers from their closest divisional rival.
13
Colorado Avalanche
17
39-30-5
6-3-1
Win over Rangers Saturday was a statement game for Avs; they'll need to make a few more (especially against the Flames, who they play twice in race for a playoff berth) to make the post-season.
14
Phoenix Coyotes
13
36-26-11
3-5-2
Yotes' final nine games include a pair against both desperate Sharks and powerhouse Blues.
15
Boston Bruins
11
41-27-3
4-6-0
Bruins' record since the all-star break: 10-13-1.
16
Ottawa Senators
12
37-26-10
5-3-2
Only three Sens with double-digit plus/minus marks: Filip Kuba (plus-25), Erik Karlsson (plus-16) and Erik Condra (plus-10)? One of these things is not like the other .
17
Winnipeg Jets
19
34-30-8
5-4-1
Jets are awful away from home and have three tough road challenges this week (Pens, Caps and Predators).
18
San Jose Sharks
22
36-25-10
4-3-3
Wins over Preds, Wings last week ended prolonged standings skid, but now the schedule isn't San Jose's friend, as they have eight games in 13 days to end March.
19
Calgary Flames
15
34-26-13
6-2-2
Eleventh-place Flames just two points behind Avs and Yotes for seventh/eighth in West with a game in hand on Colorado, but both those teams, as well as ninth-place Sharks and 10th-place Kings, all have more victories. In other words, their playoff chances are shrinking by the day.
20
Washington Capitals
14
36-30-6
5-4-1
Caps can't put space between them and Jets for eighth overall, making their Friday night game against Winnipeg arguably the most important they'll play all season.
21
Carolina Hurricanes
25
29-29-15
5-3-2
Canes are the last team in the league to not have a shootout win this season (0-6).
22
Toronto Maple Leafs
26
32-32-8
3-6-1
Next year's Leafs ought to be hypnotized into thinking they've been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in training camp.
23
Buffalo Sabres
20
33-29-10
6-2-2
Three of four games this week are against relatively soft touches (Bolts, Canadiens, Wild); by this time next Monday, they could be in a playoff spot or in 12th or 13th.
24
Anaheim Ducks
21
30-32-11
3-6-1
Ducks have eight UFAs and one RFA this summer and $22 million in cap space, so significant change may have to come via trade.
25
Tampa Bay Lightning
23
32-32-7
5-4-1
Only Oilers (10-21-3), Jackets (10-23-4) have fewer road victories than Bolts (11-19-5).
26
Montreal Canadiens
27
28-32-13
4-3-3
What would you pay soon-to-be RFA Carey Price? That's just one of many crucial decisions Habs management faces after this dismal year.
27
New York Islanders
28
29-32-11
3-4-3
Parts of Isles' future look good, but the fact they have the league's worst 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio (.74) shows how much work remains.
28
Edmonton Oilers
30
28-36-8
3-5-2
Oilers now just four points behind Wild for 28th overall.
29
Columbus Blue Jackets
24
23-42-7
5-5-0
Goalie Steve Mason admits he didn't realize he was wearing undersized goalie pads for this season and last year; who do you blame more for that - him or the organization?
30
Minnesota Wild
29
29-32-10
2-7-1
Wild won just four of 13 games in February and have only one win in eight games this month; if the regular season ran a month longer, they might have been passed by lowly Blue Jackets for the league's worst record.

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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