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Power Rankings: Elliott and his band of stingy Blues lead the pack

Ken Campbell
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St. Louis Blues (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Power Rankings: Elliott and his band of stingy Blues lead the pack

Ken Campbell
By:

The St. Louis Blues have given up exactly one goal in their past five games and are in an epic battle for first place in the most difficult division in hockey. But the pivotal question is: Can they do it in the playoffs?

When Mikhail Grigorenko of the Colorado Avalanche scored in the first period of their game against the St. Louis Blues scored in the first period Tuesday night, the sellout crowd at the Scottrade Center burst into a standing ovation.

They were not cheering Grigorenko. Instead, they were showing their appreciation to their hometown Blues, whose shutout streak of 258:29 had finally come to an end. It turns out the St. Louis Blues couldn’t go forever without giving up a goal. But they way they and their goaltender Brian Elliott were playing, things were looking a little dicey there for a while.

The Blues have outscored their opponents by a 15-1 margin in the past five games and have won 11 of their past 13 games. Elliott has not lost in regulation in his last 11 starts. Put it all together and the Blues are more than deserving of the No. 1 spot in this week’s thn.com Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses).

CREAM OF THE CROP
1. St. Louis Blues (3)
2. Dallas Stars (2)
3. Washington Capitals (4)
4. Minnesota Wild (6)
5. Pittsburgh Penguins (1)
6. Anaheim Ducks (10)
7. New York Rangers (14)
8. San Jose Sharks (8)
9. Los Angeles Kings (10)
10. New York Islanders (17)

Not all the news in St. Louis is rosy. Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester may have a concussion and Robby Fabbri left Tuesday night’s game with a leg injury…The Stars lead the league in shorthanded goals against, have the fourth-worst save percentage and are 22nd in goals against, but are in first place in the toughest division in hockey… How good have the Capitals been this season? Well, they clinched the Presidents’ Trophy before any other team in the Eastern Conference had clinched a playoff spot…The Wild’s win 4-1 win over Chicago Tuesday night was their sixth straight and gave them a perfect 5-0-0 record against the defending Stanley Cup champions this season…The Penguins are 8-1-0 since Evgeni Malkin’s most recent injury and 13-5-1 overall without him this season…The Ducks got Ryan Kesler, who missed two games with a personal matter, and defenseman Sami Vatanen, who missed eight with a head injury, back Monday night against Edmonton… Eric Staal, who has been off to a rocky start in New York, makes his first return to Carolina when the Rangers visit the Hurricanes Thursday night…The Sharks will play either Los Angeles or Anaheim in the first round. They’re 3-1-0 against the Kings, 1-3-0 vs. the Ducks…The Kings, a team that usually knows how to close out teams, has been outscored 8-1 in its past three third periods…The Islanders blasted the ice conditions at the Barclays Center after their turgid 2-1 shootout win over Carolina Tuesday night.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Florida Panthers (15)
12. Tampa Bay Lightning (5)
13. Chicago Blackhawks (13)
14. Philadelphia Flyers (12)
15. Nashville Predators (7)
16. Boston Bruins (16)
17. Detroit Red Wings (18)
18. New Jersey Devils (22)
19. Colorado Avalanche (9)
20. Montreal Canadiens (19)

Vincent Trocheck’s lbreakout season took a very unfortunate turn when it was announced he is out "week-to-week" with a leg injury after taking a shot in the Panthers’ 5-2 loss to Toronto…Tampa’s 3-0 win over Toronto Monday night showed two things – how much the Lightning miss Anton Stralman and how brilliant Ben Bishop has been this season…Goalie Corey Crawford, reportedly dealing with vertigo, still isn’t skating and there are no immediate signs of a return…Ray Emery is on a tryout with the Flyers, but would not be allowed to play in the playoffs if the Flyers qualify…With losses on consecutive nights to Colorado and Dallas, the Predators blew two chances to clinch a playoff spot. Goalie Pekka Rinne allowed six goals on 33 shots in two appearances…The Bruins have lost six of seven games with two tough road games against Chicago and St. Louis on the horizon…The Red Wings are 6-8-0 in their past 14 and are backing into the playoffs, if they make it there at all…The Devils final five games of the season are all against Atlantic Division opponents. They held onto their slim playoff hopes with a 2-1 win over Boston Tuesday night…If the Avs miss the playoffs, they can look to their mediocre 17-17-4 record at the Pepsi Center as a major reason for it. It also doesn’t help when your top two scorers are hurt at the most crucial time of the season…Soon-to-be free agent Tom Gilbert said the Canadiens looked for excuses instead of answers as their season spiraled out of control and didn’t have the maturity to get things on the right track. Sounds like a stinging indictment of the team’s leadership group.

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. Arizona Coyotes (26)
22. Carolina Hurricanes (23)
23. Ottawa Senators (24)
24. Buffalo Sabres (20)
25. Calgary Flames (23)
26. Toronto Maple Leafs (21)
27. Winnipeg Jets (28)
28. Columbus Blue Jackets (25)
29. Edmonton Oilers (29)
30. Vancouver Canucks (30)

Defenseman Mark Stone has been shut down for the rest of the season with a knee injury…The Hurricanes have left a ton of points on the table this season. They have 16 overtime and shootout losses, which leads the league…There is speculation that if Bryan Murray does not return as GM of the Senators next season, former Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson will be named his successor…Defenseman Casey Nelson has given an early glimpse of why he was such a sought-after free agent. He has hit the scoresheet in each of his three games since leaving school and has four assists…The Flames signed 2012 first-rounder Mark Jankowski to an entry-level contract that kicks in next season. He’ll play the rest of this season in the American League on an amateur tryout contract…No player in Maple Leafs history has had four career hat tricks prior to his 26th birthday. Nazem Kadri, who turns 26 next October, has three of them…The Jets added to their prospect pool when they signed Brandon Tanev as a free agent out of Providence College. He’s the brother of Vancouver Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev…Prized prospect Zach Werenski, who signed a three-year deal with Columbus, will make his pro debut with the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters Friday night…It would be a major shock if Nail Yakupov is still wearing an Oilers uniform next season. The Oilers won’t get much for him and risk watching him succeed somewhere else…A 4-1 loss to San Jose Tuesday night was the ninth straight for the Canucks, one shy of the franchise record for consecutive defeats.

 

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Power Rankings: Elliott and his band of stingy Blues lead the pack