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Power Rankings: Look out, NHL, the Blackhawks are getting the band back together

Ken Campbell
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Power Rankings: Look out, NHL, the Blackhawks are getting the band back together

Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Image by: Getty Images

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Power Rankings: Look out, NHL, the Blackhawks are getting the band back together

Ken Campbell
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It's beginning to look a lot like 2015 as the No. 1 Blackhawks re-unite Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook for a playoff run.

The band just might be getting back together. And that might not be great news for the rest of the NHL. When the Chicago Blackhawks last won the Stanley Cup in 2015, they rode their top-four defensemen – Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya – hard and often and the four minute-munched their way to a championship.

With Oduya coming back to Chicago at the trade deadline and Keith and Seabrook being reunited as a defense pair for the first time in almost two years, there’s a chance we could be seeing a steady diet of those four for the rest of the season and the playoffs. Hjalmarsson is due to return Thursday night after missing four games with an upper body injury. Oduya has yet to play with the Blackhawks and has missed the past two with an ankle injury, but is listed as day-to-day.

The big development for the Blackhawks, at least for now, is that they’ve reunited the Keith-Seabrook pairing, which would leave Hjalmarsson and possibly Oduya to handle the tougher defensive assignments. Hey, it worked two years ago.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, share the mantle of hottest team in the NHL with the Calgary Flames. Which means it should come as no surprise that the two Western Conference teams find themselves at the top of THN.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.):

THE CREAM OF THE CROP

1. Chicago Blackhawks (1)
2. Calgary Flames (7)
3. Montreal Canadiens (5)
4. Washington Capitals (3)
5. New York Rangers (12)
6. Pittsburgh Penguins (9)
7. Columbus Blue Jackets (8)
8. Ottawa Senators (16)
9. Minnesota Wild (2)
10. San Jose Sharks (10)

The Blackhawks have hit a bit of a rough patch with injuries and have 17 games in the final 30 days of the season, but they’re still white-hot…The Flames will go for a franchise record-tying eighth straight win Thursday night against Montreal and have already won more games than they did all last season…The Canadiens are still having trouble scoring, but when you give up two goals in four games, you don’t have to score very much…This is weird. Alex Ovechkin hasn’t scored an even-strength goal in 15 games, but the Capitals are 11-0-3 in that span…The Rangers’ 5-2 win over Florida Tuesday night was the 404th of Henrik Lundqvist’s career, which puts him 10th on the NHL’s all-time list…Kris Letang hasn’t played since Feb. 21 and the Penguins haven’t exactly extinguished speculation he could be suffering from a concussion or a heart issue…Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has allowed one goal in his past 243:53 of play…Alex Burrows averaged just 13:02 in his first three games as a Senator, but has four points…The Wild lost Tuesday night, but already have four more wins and three more points than they had all last season…After clearing up his visa issues, trade deadline acquisition Jannik Hansen is expected to play his first game for the Sharks Thursday night against Washington.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE

11. Boston Bruins (6)
12. New York Islanders (13)
13. St. Louis Blues (21)
14. Edmonton Oilers (11)
15. Anaheim Ducks (15)
16. Philadelphia Flyers (18)
17. Tampa Bay Lightning (19)
18. Toronto Maple Leafs (17)
19. Nashville Predators (3)
20. Dallas Stars (22)

After taking 20 stitches to his neck from a skate blade in Saturday’s win over New Jersey, Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid was in the lineup and played 17:28 in a loss to Ottawa Monday night…The debate over Joshua Ho-Sang wearing the No. 66 might be one of the silliest in the game over the past little while. Ho-Sang, by the way, scored his first NHL goal Tuesday night in a win over Edmonton…Blues goalie Jake Allen called his team’s 2-1 win over Minnesota Tuesday night, “our biggest win of the year, no question.”…Tuesday night’s 4-1 loss to the Islanders was the second of eight straight the Oilers play at home. In fact, the Oilers have only five of their final 16 games on the road. It will give them a chance to improve on their rather so-so 16-11-3 record at the newly minted Rogers Place…Antoine Vermette will return from his 10-game suspension Sunday when the Ducks host Washington…Defensemen Radko Gudas and Michael Del Zotto were both plus-5 in the Flyers 6-3 win over Buffalo Tuesday night. That’s a career high for both of them…Steven Stamkos has been skating and travelling with the Lightning, but there’s still no date set for his return to the lineup…The Maple Leafs have given up seven two-goal leads in the third period this season and almost blew another one in Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the Red Wings. The NHL record for that ignominious stat is nine…Trade deadline acquisition P.A. Parenteau is recovering from a finger injury, but expects to be in the Predators lineup either Thursday night in Los Angeles or Saturday in San Jose…The Stars snapped Washington’s 16-game home winning streak with a 4-2 win Monday night and have won six in a row at the Verizon Center.

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE

21. Florida Panthers (14)
22. Winnipeg Jets (27)
23. Los Angeles Kings (20)
24. Vancouver Canucks (28)
25. Arizona Coyotes (25)
26. Buffalo Sabres (26)
27. Colorado Avalanche (29)
28. Detroit Red Wings (24)
29. Carolina Hurricanes (30)
30. New Jersey Devils (23)

Panthers coach Tom Rowe had this to say about his team after watching the Panthers fading playoff hopes take another hit in a 5-2 loss to the Rangers Tuesday night, its sixth loss in seven games: “We’re still a young team, trying to learn how to win and playing against real good competition.” Huh? This is basically the same team that had 103 points last season…With Ondrej Pavelec out with a knee injury, the Jets’ net is basically Connor Hellebuyck’s for the rest of the season. “It’s huge for my development,” Hellebuyck said…Anze Kopitar scored in the Kings 4-3 loss to Vancouver on the weekend, marking only the first time this season he’s had goals in back-to-back games…Bo Horvat has 20 goals this season. It’s a total people should expect to see the Canucks center reach and exceed for a lot of years to come…Let’s get this straight. The Arizona Coyotes almost bankrupted the city of Glendale, a place they’re abandoning because they need a new rink. And now they have their hands out again for public money. You know what they say. Fool me once…One of the hottest players in the NHL of late, Jack Eichel scored his 100th career point for the Sabres in their 6-3 loss to Philadelphia Tuesday night…Nathan MacKinnon of the Avalanche on the 13 goals he has so far this season: “I’m embarrassed by how many goals I have this season.”…Another slow start, another loss for the Red Wings, this time 3-2 to Toronto Tuesday night…Hurricanes coach Bill Peters and goalie Eddie Lack reported they’re “all good” after Peters publicly called out Lack for his poor play recently…The Devils have lost eight in a row, nine of 10, and have been shut out in three of their past four games. That’s ugly.

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Power Rankings: Look out, NHL, the Blackhawks are getting the band back together