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Power Rankings: Are Penguins channeling their inner 2008-09?

Ken Campbell
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Sidney Crosby (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Power Rankings: Are Penguins channeling their inner 2008-09?

Ken Campbell
By:

The Pittsburgh Penguins are on a 6-0-0 run, with all five victories coming against Metropolitan Division rivals. The only Metro team they haven't beaten on the streak is New Jersey, a team they face Thursday night.

In 2008-09, the Pittsburgh Penguins were out of a playoff spot in mid-February. In 2015-16, the Penguins were also out of a playoff spot in mid-February. In 2008-09, the Penguins fired their coach mid-season. In 2015-16, they fired their coach mid-season. In 2008-09, they went on a massive tear down the stretch. In 2015-16, they’re the hottest team in the NHL down the stretch.

In 2008-09, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup. And while it might be a little early to start planning the parade route just yet, the Penguins are giving notice they could be a major force late in the season and into the playoffs. And with six straight wins, the Penguins find themselves at the top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings for the first time this season. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.)

CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (6)
2. Dallas Stars (12)
3. St. Louis Blues (2)
4. Washington Capitals (10)
5. Tampa Bay Lightning (9)
6. Minnesota Wild (18)
7. Nashville Predators (5)
8. San Jose Sharks (7)
9. Colorado Avalanche (20)
10. Anaheim Ducks (4)

With Evgeni Malkin out, Sidney Crosby has pulled the Penguins off the mat. They’re 5-0-0 since Malkin went down…With their win over Chicago Tuesday night, the Stars ran their season record against the Stanley Cup champions to 4-1-0 and have outscored the Blackhawks 20-11…The Blues are 13-5-0 and averaging almost a goal per game more since Jaden Schwartz returned to the lineup from a broken ankle Feb. 12…The Capitals magic number for clinching the Presidents’ Trophy stands at five…Goalie Ben Bishop has allowed two or fewer goals in 37 of his 54 starts this season…The Wild have won each of their past three games with Thomas Vanek as a healthy scratch…Since Feb. 1, Predators sophomore Filip Forsberg leads the NHL with 16 goals…Joe Thornton might just get some Hart Trophy love with his play of late. He has 28 points in his past 23 games…With Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene both out, the Avs will have to decide whether they want to keep top prospect Mikko Rantanen for 10 games and burn a year of his entry-level contract…The Ducks will have to make do without David Perron, whom coach Bruce Boudreau said is out “week-to-week” with a shoulder injury.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Los Angeles Kings (1)
12. Philadelphia Flyers (3)
13. Chicago Blackhawks (15)
14. New York Rangers (14)
15. Florida Panthers (13)
16. Boston Bruins (8)
17. New York Islanders (11)
18. Detroit Red Wings (16)
19. Montreal Canadiens (26)
20. Buffalo Sabres (24)

The first two games of a three-game road trip didn’t go exactly as planned for the Kings with losses on back-to-back nights to Nashville and Minnesota, one of whom might be their first-round playoff opponent…If the Flyers miss the playoffs by one point, they’ll look back and rue their loss to Columbus Tuesday night. The Flyers had a 2-0 lead before giving up two goals in the final 64 seconds and losing in a shootout…Since acquiring Andrew Ladd, Dale Weise, Tomas Fleischmann and Christian Ehrhoff at the deadline, the Blackhawks are 4-5-1 and were booed during their 6-2 loss on home ice to Dallas Tuesday night…Speaking of underwhelming trade deadline acquisitions, Eric Staal has just a goal and three points in 11 games since being acquired by the Rangers, though coach Alain Vigneault took the blame, saying he hasn’t put Staal in successful situations…Speaking more of underwhelming trade deadline acquisitions, since he Panthers supposedly loaded up, they’ve been just 5-5-1…Rookie Frank Vatrano, who had 33 goals in 33 games in the American League, was called up by the Bruins to help provide offense…John Tavares likely won’t recall his 500th NHL game fondly. The Islanders lost 4-1 and he was scoreless, marking his fifth game without a goal. The Islanders have four goals in their past four games…In their 6-2 loss to Tampa Bay Tuesday night, the Red Wings gave up eight shots in the first four minutes and a goal in the first two minutes of each period…The Bell Centre celebrated its 20th birthday last week, so there’s that to keep people happy in Montreal…The Sabres will likely give prospect Hudson Fasching some action in the NHL after signing him out of the University of Minnesota this week.

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21.
Toronto Maple Leafs (29)
22. New Jersey Devils (30)
23. Carolina Hurricanes (19)
24. Ottawa Senators (17)
25. Columbus Blue Jackets (24)
26. Arizona Coyotes (21)
27. Calgary Flames (23)
28. Winnipeg Jets (27)
29. Edmonton Oilers (22)
30. Vancouver Canucks (25)

The Leafs are expected to have Tyler Bozak, who has missed the past 21 games with an upper-body injury, back in the lineup Thursday night when they host Anaheim…Michael Cammalleri is definitely done for the season, Patrik Elias is probably done for the season and the Devils are definitely done for the season…The Hurricanes likely watched their faint playoff hopes snuffed out Tuesday night when they gave up two late goals in less than a minute to drop a 3-2 game to Buffalo…Senators owner Eugene Melnyk proclaimed, “nobody is safe” in a late-season address to the media Tuesday…A John Tortorella team gooning it up in meaningless games after it has been eliminated from the playoffs? Shocking…Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson returned Tuesday night after missing six games with a bruised shoulder and helped the Coyotes to a 4-2 win over Edmonton…Defenseman Deryk Engelland missed the Flames 5-2 loss to Toronto Monday night for the birth of his second child…Less than 24 hours after learning Mathieu Perreault is out with a concussion, the Jets found out defenseman Tobias Enstrom will likely miss the rest of the season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery…Taylor Hall has just one goal in his past eight games for the Oilers…Speaking of not scoring, it has been exactly 228 minutes of hockey, or more than 11 periods, since the Canucks last scored a goal.

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Power Rankings: Are Penguins channeling their inner 2008-09?