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Boston is back

After winning four of five, the Boston Bruins moved up five spots in our rankings. (Getty Images)

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After winning four of five, the Boston Bruins moved up five spots in our rankings. (Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins remain the best in the latest THN.com Power Rankings, but the Boston Bruins – a team that spent much of the year at or near the top of those rankings – are slowly rediscovering their groove and could be back near the top by the end of the regular season.

After suffering through an extended post-All-Star Game slump, Boston began turning things around March 17 with a shootout win over Philadelphia. Since then, the Bruins have reeled off three wins in four games – and, combined with the slump of the Ottawa Senators, they're regained a stranglehold on first place in the Northeast Division. Certainly, they've been helped by a return to form from star goalie Tim Thomas (who has posted a 1.51 goals-against average and .951 save percentage in his past three games), but they've also received improved performances from Zdeno Chara (who has 13 points in his past 17 games), Chris Kelly (six points in his past four games) and Benoit Pouliot (who also has six points in his past four contests).

Boston hosts two Southeast teams (Tampa Bay and Washington) early this week before a two-game weekend road trip to New York to face the Islanders and Rangers. Can they continue to look like they're worth believing in again? The answer will be reflected when a new set of Power Rankings are posted next Monday.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
P10
THE SCOOP
1
Pittsburgh Penguins
1
47-22-6
8-1-1
Blowout loss to Ottawa Saturday was an aberration; Pens turning into many people's pre-playoff Stanley Cup favorite.
2
St. Louis Blues
2
47-20-9
6-2-2
Alex Pietrangelo, just 22, leads all Blues in average ice time with 24:39 a game - more than three minutes longer than his next most-utilized teammate (Kevin Shattenkirk at 21:28).
3
Philadelphia Flyers
3
44-23-8
7-2-1
Ilya Bryzgalov allowed three goals in a March 1 game; in 11 games that have followed, he's allowed no more than two a night.
4
New York Rangers
6
47-21-7
5-5-0
Blueshirts get a bit of a competitive breather this week with games against Wild, Jets & Habs, but their final week (facing Bruins, Flyers, Pens and Caps) will be much tougher.
5
Nashville Predators
5
44-24-8
6-3-1
Thorough thrashing of Blackhawks Sunday was arguably the best regular-season game in Preds history - and that could be a preview of a first-round matchup.
6
Vancouver Canucks
4
45-21-9
4-5-1
Loss of Daniel Sedin sends already-nervous Nucks fans scrambling for the Pepto-Bismol.
7
Chicago Blackhawks
7
42-26-8
7-2-1
Patrick Sharp reaches the 30-goal plateau for the second straight season and third of his career.
8
Los Angeles Kings
8
37-26-12
7-3-0
Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards have combined for five shorthanded goals; rest of the Kings have combined for three.
9
Dallas Stars
9
41-29-5
7-3-0
Everybody talks about Ken Hitchcock, Paul MacLean and Barry Trotz as coach of the year, but Stars' Glen Gulutzan also deserves consideration.
10
Boston Bruins
15
44-28-3
5-5-0
Bruins hoping four wins in past five games is a harbinger their post-all-star-game slump is over.
11
Detroit Red Wings
10
45-25-5
2-6-2
Win over Canes Sunday was only Detroit's first since March 9; they'll have a couple chances to curb their prolonged skid with two games vs. Jackets this week.
12
New Jersey Devils
11
42-28-6
5-4-1
Four of Devils' top five scorers are a combined minus-37; only rookie Adam Henrique is a plus (plus-5).
13
Florida Panthers
12
36-24-15
5-2-3
Five of Panthers' last seven games are on the road, but three of them this week are against league dregs (Montreal, Minnesota, Columbus).
14
Colorado Avalanche
13
40-31-6
6-2-2
Gabriel Landeskog has been overshadowed at times by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Henrique in Calder race, but he's been the most consistent rookie this season; he hasn't gone more than two games without a point since Jan. 14-18.
15
Phoenix Coyotes
14
37-27-13
4-2-4
At age 39, Ray Whitney has hit the 70-point plateau for the fifth time in his 19 NHL seasons.
16
Ottawa Senators
16
38-28-10
4-4-2
Sens have won just four of 11 games this month, but get rest time this week, with just two games (against Jets, Flyers) between Monday and Saturday.
17
Buffalo Sabres
23
37-29-10
7-1-2
Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis have combined for 23 points in Buffalo's past seven games.
18
San Jose Sharks
18
38-27-10
5-3-2
In dogfight for West's final playoff berth, Sharks facing tough finish: they take on playoff-hungry Avs, Yotes, Stars as well as Ducks before a final week that includes two games against Kings.
19
Washington Capitals
20
38-30-8
6-2-2
Absence of Nicklas Backstrom becomes more glaring as Caps try to hold off streaking Sabres for final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
20
Winnipeg Jets
17
35-32-8
5-5-0
Win over Caps kept Jets' fading playoff hopes alive, but four games in six nights this week (including home tilts against playoff-bound Sens, Rangers) could euthanize them.
21
Carolina Hurricanes
21
30-31-15
5-4-1
Canes' late-season run provides optimism for next year, but they're still a disaster on the road: their 11 road victories are tied with Lightning for second-worst in the NHL.
22
Calgary Flames
19
34-27-15
5-2-3
Four losses last week should erase any and all doubts that this team doesn't have what it takes either for what remains of this season, or for the future.
23
Anaheim Ducks
24
32-33-11
4-5-1
Only Devils (46.6), Flames (45.7) have worse faceoff win percentages than Ducks' 47.2 percent.
24
Tampa Bay Lightning
25
34-33-7
4-5-1
Steven Stamkos as MVP? Yes, he's amazing and arguably the NHL's most dangerous sniper, but don't get your hopes up, Bolts fans - he's not going to win this year.
25
Toronto Maple Leafs
22
33-34-9
3-5-2
Thanks to David Steckel, the one area Toronto isn't mired at or near the bottom of the league in is faceoffs: they're tied for fourth with a 51.9 percent efficiency.
26
New York Islanders
27
31-33-11
4-4-2
Isles tied for fourth in shootout wins (7) and Frans Nielsen is almost singlehandedly responsible: he has seven shootout goals and no other Islander has more than two.
27
Montreal Canadiens
26
29-34-13
4-3-3
Rumors of Patrick Roy coming in next season to coach Canadiens don't take away from the fact this team has serious deficiencies that won't be easily filled.
28
Edmonton Oilers
28
31-36-9
5-2-3
Devan Dubnyk establishing himself as Oilers' starter next year - and as a restricted free agent this summer, he's setting himself up for a bigger payday with his hot play (1.62 goals-against average and .942 .946 save percentage in his past six games).
29
Minnesota Wild
30
31-34-10
3-7-0
Wild won two games in one week last week - the first time that's happened in a month (Feb. 19-23).
30
Columbus Blue Jackets
29
24-44-7
 
Short stretch of strong play from goalie Steve Mason is officially over - in his past three games, he has a goals-against average of 4.13 and a save percentage of .882.

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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