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Power Rankings: Defense and goaltending have Panthers flying high

Ken Campbell
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Roberto Luongo (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Power Rankings: Defense and goaltending have Panthers flying high

Ken Campbell
By:

The Florida Panthers are on fire, but it's their goaltending and defense that have been extinguishing their opponents. In their past 17 wins, they've given up more than two goals in just one of them.

The fact the Florida Panthers have won each of their past 10 games is impressive enough. The fact that they’ve given up one or zero goals in eight of those games is downright mind-boggling.

The Panthers are scoring plenty, led by their 43-year-old wunderkind Jaromir Jagr, but their underpinning of their success over the past three weeks has been defense and goaltending. The Panthers have outscored their opponents 33-12 9 in regulation time during the streak, meaning they’ve averaged just over a goal a game against during their run.

So it should come as no surprise that the Panthers are at the top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings for the first time this season. After all, is there any team in the league you’d rather face than the Panthers at the moment? (Rankings from Dec. 23 are in parentheses.)

CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Florida Panthers (3)
2. Chicago Blackhawks (5)
3. Washington Capitals (1)
4. Detroit Red Wings (9)
5. Minnesota Wild (8)
6. Los Angeles Kings (10)
7. Dallas Stars (2)
8. St. Louis Blues (4)
9. New York Islanders (7)
10. Anaheim Ducks (30)

The Panthers have won 10 in a row and their next six are against teams not in the playoffs. Next five on the road, where the Panthers have an 11-6-2 mark…The Blackhawks have picked up 20 of a possible 24 points in games that have gone beyond regulation this season with an 8-4 record…The Capitals snapped their first two-game losing streak of the season with a 3-2 win over Boston Tuesday night, but have yet to lose two straight in regulation…On tap is a four-game road trip through the Pacific Division, where the Red Wings have a 5-2-2 record this season…The loss of Mikko Koivu, if long-term, would be an enormous blow for the Wild, who use him for every big faceoff and are getting a Selke Trophy-type season from him…After playing 11 of 13 on the road – in which they compiled an incredible 8-3-2 record – the Kings play their next four straight and seven of their next 10 at home…Patrick Sharp has points in 10 straight games, the longest current streak in the league, but the Stars have lost four of their past five…The Blues have been outscored 10-1 in the third periods of their past five games. Not surprisingly, they’re 1-3-1 in those games…With Johnny Boychuk out the next four-to-six weeks, a Travis Hamonic trade is looking less likely…The Ducks scored a grand total of three goals on a road trip through western Canada and came out with a 2-0-1 record.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Pittsburgh Penguins (23)
12. New York Rangers (12)
13. Montreal Canadiens (13)
14. Nashville Predators (6)
15. New Jersey Devils (16)
16. Arizona Coyotes (19)
17. Calgary Flames (17)
18. Ottawa Senators (18)
19. Boston Bruins (11)
20. Toronto Maple Leafs (24)

Since missing a game with a lower-body injury Dec. 21, Sidney Crosby has 6-3-9 totals in his past six games. He and the Penguins are heating up…No team was happier to see the calendar turn than the Rangers. They were 4-7-2 in the month of December…Speaking of bad spells recently, the Canadiens went into December in first place in the Atlantic Division by 10 points. They’re five behind the Florida Panthers today...The Predators have two or fewer goals in more than half the games they've played this season (21 of 40)…Michael Cammalleri will not accompany the Devils to their game in Montreal tonight, which marks his third straight game he’ll have missed with an upper-body injury…Senators goalie Craig Anderson has a 12-4-2 record with a 1.99 goals-against average and against Florida, Ottawa’s opponent tomorrow night…In six starts since Mike Smith went down with a core muscle injury, Louis Domingue is 4-2-0 with a .939 save percentage for the Coyotes…A 3-2 loss to Washington Tuesday night dropped the Bruins to 1-4-0 in the past five games…Until Tampa Bay scored late Tuesday night, Karri Ramo of the Flames had put together a shutout string of 152 minutes and 55 seconds…Since losing to Minnesota in early December, the Maple Leafs have compiled a record of 7-2-2 and have won five of their past seven.

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. Edmonton Oilers (21)
22. Tampa Bay Lightning (22)
23. Colorado Avalanche (15)
24. Winnipeg Jets (28)
25. Philadelphia Flyers (14)
26. Carolina Hurricanes (26)
27. Vancouver Canucks (25)
28. San Jose Sharks (20)
29. Columbus Blue Jackets (29)
30. Buffalo Sabres (27)

When the Oilers registered their 1-0 overtime win over Carolina Monday night, they became the last team in the NHL to register a shutout this season…Of the 13 games Ben Bishop has lost for the Lightning this season, he has given up two or fewer goals in eight of them…In the same game in which Jarome Iginla scored his 600th goal, Tyson Barrie became just the third defenseman in Avalanche history to score four points in a game…With 44 saves in a 4-1 win over Nashville Tuesday night, rookie goalie Connor Hellebuyck improved his record to 9-4-0 with a .935 save percentage…R.J. Umberger hasn’t scored in 41 games. “If I think about it, it makes me sick to my stomach,” Umberger told reporters recently…Rookie Phil Di Giuseppe, who had been off to a nice start with the Hurricanes with 3-5-8 totals in 14 games, is out with a concussion…Coming off a tough World Junior Championship, Jake Virtanen is back in Vancouver. But for how long?...With a league-leading 15 goals from the blueline, Brent Burns is 11 goals away from tying the Sharks franchise record for goals by a defenseman in a season…Brandon Saad had a seven-game points streak halted in a 4-2 loss to Minnesota Tuesday night. He had 6-5-11 in that span…The Sabres have given up the first goal in 25 of their 40 games this season and have won only six of those games.

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Power Rankings: Defense and goaltending have Panthers flying high