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Power rankings: Sharks vault to No. 1, and get one of their best players back

Ken Campbell
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Power rankings: Sharks vault to No. 1, and get one of their best players back

Tomas Hertl. Image by: Don Smith/Getty Images

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Power rankings: Sharks vault to No. 1, and get one of their best players back

Ken Campbell
By:

The Sharks have won six games in a row to move into the No. 1 spot in the power rankings for the first time, just as Tomas Hertl prepares to return from a knee injury.

The hottest team in the NHL could get even hotter if it gets one of their best players back Thursday night. Tomas Hertl, who has missed the past 32 games with a knee injury, could be in the lineup for the San Jose Sharks when they host the Edmonton Oilers.

In fact, the need to open up cap space for Hertl’s return was one of the main reasons GM Doug Wilson traded Tommy Wingels to the Ottawa Senators. The Sharks, meanwhile, have won six straight and after going the first three months without scoring five goals in a game, the Sharks have done it four times in their past 10 games. So it should come as no surprise that the Sharks are making their season debut in THN.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.):

THE CREAM OF THE CROP

1. San Jose Sharks (12)
2. Washington Capitals (1)
3. Minnesota Wild (2)
4. Chicago Blackhawks (5)
5. Columbus Blue Jackets (4)
6. New York Rangers (17)
7. Montreal Canadiens (13)
8. Anaheim Ducks (8)
9. Edmonton Oilers (6)
10. Pittsburgh Penguins (3)

Thursday night, Doug Wilson will become the fourth man in NHL history to play 1,000 games and serve as a GM for 1,000 games. And the Sharks’ GM will be the first not named Bob. Bob Pulford, Bob Gainey and Bob Clarke are the others... Before being shut out by Ottawa Tuesday night, the Capitals had averaged six goals in each of their previous eight games… The Wild have blown a lead of at least two goals in five of their past seven games, but have won five of them… The Blackhawks’ 5-2 loss to Tampa Tuesday night marked the first time in 84 games they’d lost in regulation after leading through two periods. They were 78-0-5… The Blue Jackets have been outscored 7-1 in the second period of their past three games… Rangers rookie Jimmy Vesey has not recorded a point in his past nine games and has been dropped to the fourth line…  Alex Galchenyuk is “day-to-day,” after aggravating his knee injury, but that’s what the Canadiens first said about Carey Price last season… It looks as though Anaheim's Jakob Silfverberg has a concussion and could be out until after the all-star break… It’s beginning to look like only a collapse of biblical proportions will keep the Oilers from making the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06… The Penguins’ 3-0 loss to St. Louis Tuesday night was just their league-low third on home ice this season.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE

11. Buffalo Sabres (27)
12. Ottawa Senators (15)
13. Toronto Maple Leafs (7)
14. Boston Bruins (18)
15. Detroit Red Wings (11)
16. Nashville Predators (25)
17. St. Louis Blues (19)
18. New York Islanders (16)
19. Los Angeles Kings (21)
20. Arizona Coyotes (29)

The Sabres have won their past three, but the most impressive things about the streak are all three wins came in overtime and the Sabres had to battle from at least two deficits in all three… After giving up six goals in an overtime win over Columbus Sunday, Senators goalie Mike Condon got his 14th straight start and bounced back with a 31-save shutout over Washington Tuesday night… With a goal and assist in a 4-0 win over Calgary Monday night, Mitch Marner took over the rookie scoring lead from teammate Auston Matthews. Both players are on pace to break Peter Ihnacak’s team rookie scoring record of 66 points… David Pastrnak’s overtime winner for the Bruins against Detroit Tuesday night was his first goal in more than a month. He scored his 19th of the season Dec. 14 and got his 20th against Detroit… The good news is the Red Wings haven’t lost in regulation in six games. The bad news is they’ve lost each of their past three games in overtime and are leaving valuable points on the table as they chase a playoff spot… The Predators have picked up at least a point in seven of their past eight games… Strange team, the Blues. They go into Pittsburgh Tuesday night having given up 18 goals in their past three games and go against a Penguins team that had 24 goals in its previous four. Then they proceed to shut the Penguins out 3-0… Hard to argue the Islanders mess was Jack Capuano’s fault, but it’s also hard to argue with the results since they let him go. They are 3-0-1 with Doug Weight behind the bench… The Kings’ 3-1 win over New Jersey Tuesday night was the 618th of Darryl Sutter’s career, moving him ahead of Jacques Lemaire for 12th on the NHL’s all-time wins list. Next up is Bryan Murray’s mark of 620 victories… Do the Coyotes deserve to be this high? Maybe not, but they’ve won two in a row and four of their past five on home ice.

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE

21. Philadelphia Flyers (23)
22. New Jersey Devils (9)
23. Tampa Bay Lightning (26)
24. Dallas Stars (22)
25. Vancouver Canucks (10)
26. Florida Panthers (24)
27. Calgary Flames (14)
28. Carolina Hurricanes (20)
29. Winnipeg Jets (28)
30. Colorado Avalanche (30)

Claude Giroux’s overtime goal against the Islanders Monday night was his first goal in 12 games… The Devils are 1-5-1 at home in their past seven and all eight of their regulation losses at the Prudential Center have come in the last month-and-a-half… Lightning coach Jon Cooper was brutally frank about his team’s prospects after a 5-2 road win over Chicago Tuesday night. “This is desperation mode,” Cooper told reporters after the game… The Stars were the last team in the NHL to participate in a shootout. They did so Tuesday night against Minnesota, and lost it… Tied with Arizona for the fewest wins on the road this season (five), the Canucks opened a three-game road trip by overcoming a two-goal deficit before losing late to Chicago Sunday night… The Panthers picked up only two of a possible eight points and failed to win a game on their recent Western Conference road trip… The Flames goaltending has sprung a leak, giving up 20 goals in the past four games, all of them losses… The Hurricanes knew a four-game diet of two games in Columbus, one in Washington and one at home against Pittsburgh would be tough. And it was. They lost all four by a combined score of 20-5… Rookie Patrik Laine returned Tuesday night after missing eight games with a concussion and had an assist in the Jets’ 4-3 loss to San Jose… Matt Duchene was a late scratch prior to Colorado’s 5-2 loss to the Sharks Tuesday night, fuelling speculation that he’d be dealt. But it turns out he was sick. He’ll probably still be dealt sooner or later, though.

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Power rankings: Sharks vault to No. 1, and get one of their best players back