Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
The Anaheim Ducks have won five straight and seeing as they've defeated the Calgary Flames 20 times in a row at home, we kind of like their chances in a seven-game series, which is exactly what would happen in the first round if the playoffs were to start today.
During Anaheim’s win over Calgary Wednesday night, Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen was so dehydrated from the flu that he had to have intravenous treatments between periods. Man, the Ducks must really want to avoid having to play Ilya Bryzgalov.
The win was the fifth in a row for the Ducks, making them one of the hottest teams in the NHL going into the all-star break and putting them, once again, at the top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)
1. ANAHEIM (7): The Ducks win over Calgary Wednesday night was the 20th consecutive victory at the Honda Center over the Flames, a winning streak that has spanned 10 seasons. If the Flames play the Ducks in the first-round, which would be the case if the season ended today, that would give Anaheim a huge advantage. Post all-star break: Seven of their next nine on the road.
2. DETROIT (13): The Red Wings are a remarkable 13 points better than they were at the same point last season with basically the same team. They’ve won five straight and scored 15 goals in their past three games. Post all-star break: Four of their next five on the road, where the Red Wings are 11-7-3.
3. TAMPA BAY (5): The Lightning’s depth on defense will be tested the rest of the season if they don’t go out and get a rearguard before the trade deadline. With Radko Gudas out for the rest of the regular season, the Bolts will be without Matt Carle for six-to-eight weeks. Post all-star break: On the road in Carolina, then home to Detroit and Columbus to close out the month.
4. WINNIPEG (15): Paul Maurice has suddenly entered the Adams Trophy conversation, largely because the Jets are the most improved team in the NHL and continue to play with the big dogs despite being ravaged by injuries. Great goaltending helps a lot, it turns out. Post all-star break: Four of their next five on the road, but getting out of Winnipeg in January isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
5. NASHVILLE (3): It probably doesn’t rank up there with “Deflate-gate” but Preds coach Peter Laviolette didn’t like that referee Kevin Pollock winked at the Chicago Blackhawks bench in December. That’s weird. Post all-star break: Home to the surging Avalanche, then three straight on the road.
6. N.Y. RANGERS (1): The Rangers continue to lock up their core to long-term contracts, the latest of which was defenseman Marc Staal’s six-year deal that will keep him in New York until 2020-21. Post all-star break: On the road against the Islanders, then four straight at home.
7. N.Y. ISLANDERS (8): The Islanders picked up their 16th win of the season at home with a 7-4 win over Philadelphia Monday night. They won just 13 at home all last season. And they’ve sold out seven of their past eight home games. Post all-star break: A huge home game against the Rangers, who sit five back of the Islanders in the standings.
8. ST. LOUIS (2): Goalie Martin Brodeur asked for, and was granted, an extension to decide whether he’ll stay on as the Blues No. 3 goalie or move on. Alex Steen has seven goals and 18 points in his past 10 games. Post all-star break: The Blues end a seven-game home stand against Nashville, then head out for two on the road.
9. MONTREAL (11): There was so much consternation over P.K. Subban not being selected to play in the All-Star Game that we were expecting a government inquiry, but he might need the rest because this team relies heavily on him. Post all-star break: Eight of their next 10 at home, where the Habs are 15-5-2.
10. PITTSBURGH (10): Both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are missing all-star weekend, which must have an awful lot of people in Pittsburgh nervous, particularly considering Kris Letang’s status. Crosby and Malkin are having MVP-type seasons and Letang had been one of the league’s best defensemen in the weeks prior to his injury. Post all-star break: Home to the surging Jets, then five of the next six on the road.
11. CHICAGO (9): The Blackhawks salvaged what was a rough patch with two wins going into the all-star break, which actually won’t be much of a break considering they’ll have five players participating. Post all-star break: Six in a row on the road, kicked off by three games in California.
12. CALGARY (17): The Flames went into the all-star on a down note, but it was a loss to the top team in the league. And they managed to get through a tough five-game road swing with four wins to vault themselves back into playoff contention. Post all-star break: Back home for six straight, with the first one coming against Buffalo.
13. SAN JOSE (19): Sharks coach Todd McLellan questioned his team’s drive and passion after a terrible 5-2 loss to New Jersey Monday, and his team followed that up two nights later with a huge win over the Kings on home ice. Post all-star break: The Sharks end a seven-game homestand with three more at the SAP Center. They’re only 12-8-3 there, though.
14. WASHINGTON (6): Three straight losses, all to Western Conference teams and one against Edmonton during which they blew a lead, had the Capitals going into the all-star break on something of a downer. Post all-star break: A potential meeting between Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin might not take place next Wednesday because the latter two are injured.
15. VANCOUVER (18): Ryan Miller has been lights-out for the Canucks in goal and their top players are experiencing great bounce-back seasons. And they’re tied for the league lead in road wins with 15. Post all-star break: The next six at Rogers Arena, which isn’t a great thing considering they’re just 11-8-1 there.
16. COLORADO (19): Don’t look now, but the Avs are just three points out of a playoff spot after a miserable start. There is no truth to the rumor that coach Patrick Roy will begin pulling goalie Semyon Varlamov in the second period. Post all-star break: The Avs mettle will be tested with a home-and-home series against Nashville.
17. BOSTON (4): Just when it looked as though the Bruins were gaining traction and had won five in a row, they dropped two of their next three, with the two losses coming to none playoff teams. Post all-star break: A bunch of tough games, including two against the Islanders and one each against the Rangers, Montreal and Los Angeles.
18. FLORIDA (12): Four straight losses after a pretty good run might have just scuppered the Panthers playoff hopes in the Eastern Conference. They’re seven points behind Washington and Boston with games in hand on each. Post all-star break: They close out January at home against Detroit and Columbus, on the road to New Jersey.
19. CAROLINA (25): The Hurricanes are 6-2-1 in 2015 and have been getting some success with Anton Khudobin in goal and Eric Staal playing on the left side alongside his finally healthy brother Jordan. Post all-star break: Two at home, then four on the road, including the usually torturous swing through California.
20. LOS ANGELES (20): The Kings aren't moving on this list because they've lost the games that have mattered. Los Angeles let an important two points slip away to Calgary, and they still don't seem to be quite right this season. Post all-star break: The Kings take on Chicago at home, before heading on the road for four straight, starting in Boston.
21. DALLAS (22): Just when veteran Erik Cole seemed to be finding his stride and producing – five points in his past five games – he suffered an upper-body injury against Boston Tuesday night that might keep him out a while. Post all-star break: Three on the road against Canadian teams.
22. OTTAWA (21): A 4-3 win over Toronto Wednesday night was a huge one for the Senators. With the win, they moved ahead of the Leafs in the standings, but they’re still 10 points out of a playoff spot. Post all-star break: Nine of their next 11 at home, where the Senators are 10-6-4.
23. MINNESOTA (29): The Wild feel like they’ve been saddled with tough puck luck through the first half of the season, and that might be true, but they are where they are because of sub-par goaltending and top players who have struggled. Full stop. Post all-star break: A three-game road trip though western Canada.
24. PHILADELPHIA (26): Noted goon Zac Rinaldo figured he changed the complexion of the Flyers 3-2 overtime win over Pittsburgh when he drilled Kris Letang from behind and knocked him out of the game, which should tell you everything you need to know about hockey’s culture of violence. Post all-star break: Four straight at home, then the next four on the road.
25. EDMONTON (28): Back-to-back shootout wins on the road aren’t about to prompt any celebrations along Whyte Avenue, but they can be seen as baby steps, can’t they? Post all-star break: Minnesota and Buffalo at home (in what amounts to a minus-four point game), then seven of their next eight on the road.
26. ARIZONA (24): Mikkel Boedker underwent successful surgery to remove his spleen Sunday night after being knocked out of a loss to Winnipeg. It’s about the only thing in Arizona that has been a success this season. Post all-star break: Five straight on the road, all against Eastern Conference teams.
27. COLUMBUS (23): The Season from Hell ™ continued for the Blue Jackets when they lost goalie Sergei Bobrovsky Wednesday night in a 4-0 loss to Winnipeg. Post all-star break: At home to Washington, then they close out the month with two on the road in Florida.
28. NEW JERSEY (27): The much-maligned Scott Gomez has five points in four games and sits at 466 points as a Devil, six points behind Bobby Holik for fifth place on the all-time franchise scoring list. Post all-star break: Five straight at home, four against Atlantic Division teams.
29. TORONTO (16): Six straight losses, fans tossing sweaters onto the ice and just one win in eight games for the new coach. But take heart, Leaf fans; this team is playing the game the right way. Post all-star break: Four of the next five on the road, but only one against a playoff time. Clearly a crucial time.
30. BUFFALO (30): Just when you thought Sabres fans would have to change all those ‘McDavid’ nameplates on their sweaters, their team loses 11 in a row and gets outscored 49-16. Post all-star break: A road trip through western Canada, then one in Montreal.