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Power Rankings: Defending Cup champs separating from pack in West

Ken Campbell
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Steven Stamkos (left) and Patrick Kane (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Power Rankings: Defending Cup champs separating from pack in West

Ken Campbell
By:

The Chicago Blackhawks established a franchise record for consecutive wins with 12 , but will face two tough tests on the road with games against Tampa Bay and Florida on back-to-back nights.

This is getting downright scary. Will anyone be able to stop Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks this season? As great as the Blackhawks have been over the past half decade, they never won 12 games in a row the way they have this season. As brilliant as Kane has been throughout his career, he has never had a stretch like this one.

The Blackhawks established their franchise high-water mark for straight wins when they dispatched the Nashville Predators Tuesday night. And they’ll have a chance to usurp the Florida Panthers season-high winning streak when they visit the surging Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night.

Their play of late makes the Blackhawks an easy choice as the top-ranked team in thn.com’s Power Rankings for the second straight week. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)

THE CREAM OF THE CROP
1.
Chicago Blackhawks (1)
2. Washington Capitals (2)
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (6)
4. Los Angeles Kings (5)
5. St. Louis Blues (7)
6. Dallas Stars (8)
7. Boston Bruins (15)
8. Florida Panthers (2)
9. New York Rangers (9)
10. San Jose Sharks (10)

The one thing the Blackhawks couldn’t do early in the season was win on the road. They’ve won six in a row away from the United Center with five of their next six on the road… Defenseman John Carlson practiced for the first time since being hurt Dec. 26 and should be back in the Washington lineup in the next couple of days…The Lightning are playing their best hockey of the season, just in time for a Stanley Cup final rematch at home Thursday night… If Vincent Lecavalier keeps producing the way he has done since he joined the Kings, is there a chance he’ll change his mind about retiring?... The line of Paul Stastny between Alex Steen and Troy Brouwer had eight points in the Blues 5-2 road win over Pittsburgh Monday night…Uniting Jason Spezza on the top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on the first line did not produce the desired results against Los Angeles Tuesday night…David Krejci, out with an arm injury since Dec. 27, is hoping to be back in the lineup Thursday night when the Bruins host Vancouver…Nick Bjugstad, who led the Panthers in scoring last season, has just one goal in eight games since returning from injury…Rick Nash is goalless in eight games and has just 12 in 44 games, the fewest he’s had to this point of the season since his rookie year…The winner of Thursday night’s Sharks-Coyotes game will take over second place in the Pacific Division.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Ottawa Senators (20)
12. New Jersey Devils (16)
13. Detroit Red Wings (11)
14. New York Islanders (12)
15. Pittsburgh Penguins (17)
16. Colorado Avalanche (24)
17. Vancouver Canucks (21)
18. Montreal Canadiens (14)
19. Minnesota Wild (13)
20. Arizona Coyotes (4)

Mike Hoffman is out day-to-day following a scary crash into the goalpost in the Senators 4-3 shootout win over San Jose Sunday night…In Martin Brodeur-like fashion, Cory Schneider is tied for the league lead in goaltending starts with 39 for the Devils this season…The Wings have lost defenseman and wrecking ball Niklas Kronwall for two-to-four weeks with arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Drew Miller, whose knee problems are far more serious, is likely done for the season…John Tavares has just two assists in his last six games. Worse than that, he has just two goals in his past 14…Why are the Penguins struggling this season? Well, one reason is they’re just 2-7-1 in the second of back-to-back games. They face six more of those this season…Former Av and current Buffalo Sabre Ryan O’Reilly makes his first return to Denver when the Sabres visit there tonight…Alex Burrows scored for the first time in 25 games Tuesday night, but it wasn’t enough to help the Canucks, who lost to the Rangers in overtime despite a brilliant performance from Ryan Miller…Montreal Canadiens, out of a playoff spot. Just think about that for a minute…Losers of their past four, the Wild face six of their next seven on the road, where they have an 8-7-6 record…After being a healthy scratch nine times in a 13-game stretch, Steve Downie was sent by the Coyotes to the minors to get his game in order.

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. Anaheim Ducks (22)
22. Buffalo Sabres (23)
23. Philadelphia Flyers (19)
24. Carolina Hurricanes (18)
25. Calgary Flames (26)
26. Winnipeg Jets (25)
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (27)
28. Nashville Predators (28)
29. Edmonton Oilers (29)
30. Columbus Blue Jackets (30)

The Ducks are betting that a change of scenery will help David Perron get his scoring touch back. Early returns were positive. He scored in his first game for his new team on Sunday…With Josh Gorges out, Zach Bogosian moved up to the top defense pairing with Rasmus Ristolainen and is manning the point on the power play for the Sabres…After losing to the Leafs Tuesday night, the Flyers are now 1-6-2 against the NHL’s seven worst teams. That is not a sign of a team that’s serious about making the playoffs…Out since Jan. 2 with a concussion, rookie Phil DeGuiseppe will be back in the lineup and on the top line Thursday night when the Hurricanes visit Toronto…Last year when they made the playoffs, the Flames were 22-6-1 against Pacific Division opponents. This season, they’re 4-8-1…Rookie J.C. Lipon made his NHL debut in the injury-depleted Jets 2-1 loss to Colorado over the weekend…Brad Boyes will play his 800th NHL game when the Maple Leafs host Colorado Thursday night…Since Nov. 1, only Winnipeg and Montreal have worse records than the Predators…Which long-term injury has hurt the Oilers more: Connor McDavid or Oscar Klefbom? Discuss…Not a great game for goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in his return to the lineup from a groin injury Tuesday night. The Capitals scored four goals on their first nine shots. Penalty-prone Scott Hartnell was a healthy scratch for the game.

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Power Rankings: Defending Cup champs separating from pack in West