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Power Rankings: Once dead Ducks, Anaheim could win Pacific Division

Ken Campbell
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Jakob Silfverberg (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Power Rankings: Once dead Ducks, Anaheim could win Pacific Division

Ken Campbell
By:

Not that long ago, everyone was wondering what was wrong with the Anaheim Ducks. Now, everyone seems to be wondering how on Earth anyone is going to beat these guys.

Left for dead at the beginning of the season and at one point in January 16 points behind the Los Angeles Kings, the Anaheim Ducks caught their crosstown rival for a share of first place in the Pacific Division with a shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday night.

It’s a massive achievement for the Ducks, who have been the NHL’s best team in 2016. With nine straight wins and points in 17 of their past 18 games, the Ducks have an opportunity to make an enormous statement when they visit the Kings for an afternoon game on Saturday. First place in the Pacific will be on the line if the Ducks can win in Arizona tonight and the Kings can take care of business at home against the Canadiens - or if the two teams get the same result. The Ducks defeated the Kings 4-2 last weekend and face them two more times before the end of the season.

The Ducks may not be alone atop the Pacific Division yet, but their play of late puts them without peer in thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.)

THE CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Anaheim Ducks (2)
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (3)
3. Nashville Predators (9)
4. Washington Capitals (1)
5. New York Rangers (11)
6. Chicago Blackhawks (10)
7. St. Louis Blues (6)
8. Florida Panthers (7)
9. San Jose Sharks (12)
10. New York Islanders (8)

Trade deadline pickup Jamie McGinn scored a goal in his first game with the Ducks…“If I’m going to pay for it, I want to make us better.” Lightning GM Steve Yzerman on his lack of action at the deadline…The Predators have beaten Chicago, St. Louis and Dallas in succession and are riding a franchise-record 10-game point streak… With 19 games remaining, the Capitals have 47 wins, which is one more than they had last season and ties the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings for the most after 63 games…It took only two periods for Alain Vigneault to make a winger of Eric Staal in New York. Staal thinks he’s more effective as a center… The acquisitions of Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann have allowed Teuvo Teravainen to move to center and have a chance to succeed there…Blues GM Doug Armstrong didn’t make any deadline moves because the Blues didn’t have the cap space and he believes in his group…The most puzzling move of deadline day? The Panthers trading Brandon Pirri to Anaheim for a sixth-round pick…Since Jan. 1, Joe Thornton has been on a tear with 8-26-34 totals in 26 games…Between Feb. 19 and March 19, the Islanders will have played 12 of 14 games on the road. They’re 4-1-0 so far.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Dallas Stars (4)
12. Boston Bruins (16)
13. Los Angeles Kings (5)
14. Detroit Red Wings (13)
15. Philadelphia Flyers (22)
16. Minnesota Wild (17)
17. Pittsburgh Penguins (15)
18. Carolina Hurricanes (19)
19. Ottawa Senators (14)
20. Colorado Avalanche (20)

The Stars are 1-5-1 in their past seven and have allowed three or more goals in each of those games. That does not bode well for a team that considers itself a legitimate playoff contender…Over the next week, the Bruins will have their mettle tested with games against four of the best teams in the NHL. Starting tonight, they have home games against Chicago and Washington, then two on the road against Florida and Tampa Bay…Between Feb. 12 and 25, defenseman Drew Doughty went through a stretch in which he played 30-plus minutes in six of seven games…“You constantly have an opportunity to say what type of team you are. We had an opportunity to take two points and didn’t take them. There are a lot of things we can improve on.” That was Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill after his team’s 5-2 loss on home ice to Chicago Wednesday night…Now playing much better against the NHL’s bottom feeders, the Flyers play their next two home games against Edmonton and Columbus…Jonas Brodin and Jason Zucker are expected to play for the Wild tonight in Toronto…Defenseman Justin Schultz is available to make his Pittsburgh debut tonight, but has yet to practice with his new team…Great story, Part I: Hockey nomad Derek Ryan, who’s 29 years old, scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game in the Hurricanes 3-1 win over New Jersey Tuesday night…Craig Anderson is out with a lower-body injury, so Andrew Hammond will get the start tonight for Ottawa in Tampa Bay. The Senators could certain use some of The Hamburgler’s 2014-15 magic about now…Avs coach Patrick Roy has ordained Calvin Pickard as the teams No. 1 goalie – for now at least – over the struggling Semyon Varlamov. “We know Varly is going to come back,” Roy said. “But right now Pickard seems just more confident than him.”

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. New Jersey Devils (18)
22. Columbus Blue Jackets (21)
23. Edmonton Oilers (30)
24. Montreal Canadiens (25)
25. Vancouver Canucks (24)
26. Buffalo Sabres (23)
27. Winnipeg Jets (29)
28. Calgary Flames (27)
29. Arizona Coyotes (26)
30. Toronto Maple Leafs (28)

Newly acquired Devils Devante Smith-Pelly and defenseman David Warsofsky will make their New Jersey debuts tonight in Nashville…Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who has played only twice since Dec. 8, participated in his first full practice Wednesday, but there is no date set for his return…Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is back practicing with the Oilers on their four-game road trip with March 14 as a possible return date from his broken finger…GM Marc Bergevin insists the Canadiens are headed, “in the right direction.” A legion of fans and observers might respectfully disagree with that assessment…All three goals the Islanders scored in their 3-2 win over the Canucks Tuesday night went in off Vancouver defensemen…The Sabres have four goals in their past four games and have been shut out twice…The Jets had a 77-53-17 record at the MTS Centre going into 2015-16. This season, they’re 13-15-1…Great story, Part II: 28-year-old Jakub Nakladal scored his first career NHL goal in the Flames 2-1 loss to Boston Tuesday night…“Instead of finding ways to win hockey games, we’re finding ways to lose right now,” said Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, whose team has lost six in a row…The Maple Leafs are 2-7-1 in their past 10, but the funny thing is that with exception of a stinker or two, they’ve been in almost every game.

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Power Rankings: Once dead Ducks, Anaheim could win Pacific Division