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Power Rankings: Blackhawks, Kane get love from The Great One

Ken Campbell
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Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Power Rankings: Blackhawks, Kane get love from The Great One

Ken Campbell
By:

Wayne Gretzky told a Chicago radio station that what the Hawks are doing in the salary cap era is more impressive than what his Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders did in the 1980s.

When an authority no less than Wayne Gretzky gives you his seal of approval, you know you’re doing something right. On a Chicago radio station this week, The Great One said what the Chicago Blackhawks have accomplished in the salary cap era, “is probably harder to do today than what the Islanders did in the ’80s and what the Oilers did in the late ’80s.”

He went on to say of Blackhawks star Patrick Kane: “I don’t think there’s any question at this point of the season that he’s probably the leading candidate to win the Hart Trophy and it’s well deserved.”

The Hawks don’t only have Gretzky’s seal of approval. On the strength of an eight-game win streak, they also have thn.com’s, edging the Florida Panthers, who saw their 12-game run halted Tuesday night in an overtime loss to Vancouver. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)

CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Chicago Blackhawks (2)
2. Florida Panthers (1)
3. Washington Capitals (3)
4. Arizona Coyotes (16)
5. Los Angeles Kings (6)
6. Tampa Bay Lightning (22)
7. St. Louis Blues (8)
8. Dallas Stars (7)
9. New York Rangers (12)
10. San Jose Sharks (28)

Could Joel Quenneville, who tied Al Arbour for second in all-time wins with 782, even possibly think of passing No. 1 Scotty Bowman at 1,244? Why not? He’s 462 wins back and he’s 57 years old. Bowman was almost 69 when he finally retired…Their 3-2 overtime loss to Vancouver Monday night marked only the second time in 15 games the Panthers have given up more than two goals. The previous time? Against Vancouver in December…There is no rush to get Mike Richards into the lineup. Coach Barry Trotz said his goal is to deploy Richards sometime before the all-star break…Keep the games against the Pacific Division coming. The Coyotes 4-3 overtime win over Edmonton Tuesday night pushed them to 10-1-2 against Pacific teams this season…After a slow start to the season, Anze Kopitar has 4-15-19 totals in his past 15 games, capped by a one-goal, three assist performance against Detroit Monday night…With eight of a possible 10 points in their past three games, the Lightning are finally back in the playoff picture…After missing two games with a lacerated cheek, Paul Stastny said he hopes to play Thursday night, but Blues coach Ken Hitchcock says he’s week-to-week…With six days between games, the slumping Stars took complete days off on Sunday and Monday before a trip to California that begins Thursday night…Defenseman Dan Girardi, who left in the second period Monday night against Boston with a lacerated hand, is out day-to-day…Raffi Torres served the last of his 41-game suspension Tuesday night, but his knee surgery will keep him out of the Sharks lineup a little longer.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Detroit Red Wings (4)
12. New York Islanders (9)
13. Minnesota Wild (5)
14. Montreal Canadiens (13)
15. Boston Bruins (19)
16. New Jersey Devils (15)
17. Pittsburgh Penguins (11)
18. Carolina Hurricanes (26)
19. Philadelphia Flyers (25)
20. Ottawa Senators (18)

In his past 10 games, Gustav Nyquist has gone without a goal. More alarming is the fact that he’s taken only 16 shots in that span…With both Travis Hamonic and Johnny Boychuk out with injuries, the Islanders have lost their two right-shot defensemen and two of the workhorses on their blueline…The Wild are one of the teams in hot pursuit of Jonathan Drouin, with defenseman Matt Dumba said to be the player Tampa Bay wants in return…We know Carey Price can skate. What we’re no closer to knowing is when he’ll be back in the Canadiens lineup. Jeff Petry should be back when the Canadiens host Chicago tomorrow night…In five games in 2016, the Bruins have scored more than two goals just once…The struggling Devils would love to have Mike Cammalleri back for their visit to Colorado tomorrow night, but no word yet whether he’ll be available. They need him big-time…Nick Bonino, who missed half the third period and overtime Tuesday night with an undisclosed injury, was sent back to Pittsburgh and isn't expected to be in the lineup when the Penguins visit Tampa Bay Friday night…Since December, the Hurricanes have picked up their game, going 11-6-3, and are among a cluster of teams that are two points from a playoff spot…The Flyers enter tonight’s home game against Boston winners of five straight at the Wells Fargo Center and may have rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere in the lineup after missing two games…Hoping to change his fortunes after being a healthy scratch seven straight games, Senators defenseman Jared Cowen has cut off his “man bun.”

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. Vancouver Canucks (27)
22. Anaheim Ducks (10)
23. Buffalo Sabres (30)
24. Colorado Avalanche (23)
25. Winnipeg Jets (24)
26. Calgary Flames (17)
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (20)
28. Nashville Predators (14)
29. Edmonton Oilers (21)
30. Columbus Blue Jackets (29)

Daniel Sedin’s next goal will be the 347th of his career and will put him at No. 1 on the Canucks all-time goals list. The man he’s passing, Markus Naslund, is cheering for him. “Daniel deserves everything he has gotten and I am very pleased and happy for him,” Naslund said...Who would have thought that halfway into the season, the Ducks, of all teams, would be the only one unable to average two goals a game?...With two wins on a three-game road trip, the Sabres elevated their road record to a very respectable 9-9-2…The Avalanche are the only team in the league that has not participated in a shootout this season. They’re 2-3 in overtime games…Mark Scheifele, who has been out for a week, was officially put on the injured list retroactive to Jan. 7…When rookie Sam Bennett scored his first goal in 19 games Monday night, he celebrated by pretending to take a monkey off his back…Leafs leading goal scorer Leo Komarov – how weird does that sound – took two practice days off, but will be in the lineup tonight when the Leafs host Columbus…The Predators fired 43 shots at Chicago Monday night and lost 3-2. It marked this ninth time this season the Predators have taken at least 35 shots and scored two or fewer goals…Twice in three games, the Oilers went into the third period with a two-goal lead and came out with a win in none of those games…Brandon Dubinsky had this to say about the Blue Jackets after their 5-2 loss to the Islanders Tuesday night, their fourth straight. “The NHL is a man’s league. We played like boys."

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Power Rankings: Blackhawks, Kane get love from The Great One