Blackhawks

NHL Power Rankings: Penguins dethrone Capitals at No. 1

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NHL Power Rankings: Penguins dethrone Capitals at No. 1

For 18 straight weeks, the Capitals held the No. 1 spot in this space. With less than a week remaining in the regular season, they're not anymore.

The Penguins have won six consecutive games and 12 of their past 13, led by rookie goaltender Matt Murray, who was named the NHL's third star of the week after posting a 3-0-0 record with a 1.95 goals against average, .929 save percentage and a shutout in Marc-Andre Fleury's absence.

Meanwhile in the West, the Stars (without Tyler Seguin) and the Blues (now without David Backes and Jake Allen) are still battling for the top seed in the Central Division.

In the Pacific, the Ducks have overtaken the No. 1 seed from the Kings, but there's still one more matchup between the two of them before the regular-season concludes. 

Check in with CSNChicago.com for updated rankings every Monday throughout the 2015-16 campaign. Here's where we're at so far: Preseason rankings | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16 | Week 17 | Week 18 | Week 19 | Week 20 | Week 21 | Week 22 | Week 23 | Week 24 | Week 25

 

Rank Team
Last Week Record/Comment
1 4

46-25-8, 100 points: There isn't a team playing better hockey right now than the Penguins, who have won 12 of their last 13, including six straight; eight of those wins are against teams currently in the playoffs. Matt Murray was named the NHL's third star of the week after going 3-0-0 with a 1.95 goals against average, .929 save percentage and a shutout in Marc-Andre Fleury's absence.

2   2 47-23-9, 103 points: David Backes and Jake Allen will miss the rest of the regular season due to lower-body injuries, and will be re-evaluated before the playoffs. The hits keep coming, but with a potential Chicago-St. Louis first-round matchup on the horizon, this couldn't have come at a worse time.
3 1 55-17-6, 116 points: The Capitals are 2-2-1 in their last five games, and their next four will surely get them ready for the postseason: vs. N.Y. Islanders, vs. Pittsburgh, at St. Louis, vs. Anaheim.
4 5

44-24-10, 98 points: The Ducks scored two shorthanded goals in a 3-1 win over Dallas on Sunday, which propelled them to first in the Pacific Division. They've now won four of their last five games, but Thursday's matchup against Los Angeles may decide the division.

5 6

48-23-9, 105 points: The Stars have won seven of their last nine games, including an impressive road win over Los Angeles over the weekend. Goaltending is still an issue for this team, but it's certainly improved as of late.

6   3 46-27-5, 97 points: The Kings have two wins in their last seven games, and have lost the Pacific Division lead to the Ducks, who they play on Thursday in their second-to-last game of the season.
7  8 46-26-7, 99 points: Patrick Kane all but locked up the Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy with a four-point performance against Boston over the weekend, while Artemi Panarin likely did the same with the Calder Trophy following back-to-back four-point performances.
8   9 44-25-9, 97 points: Vincent Trocheck is expected to miss the rest of the regular season and maybe even a round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a huge blow to a team that isn't quite as deep as others in the postseason.
9 7

45-28-5, 95 points: The Eastern Conference playoff bracket took a big turn after it was announced late Saturday night that Steven Stamkos will miss 1-3 months with a blood clot in his arm. There's no replacing him, but the only way you do is by calling up Jonathan Drouin.

10   10 39-26-14, 92 points: After headlining last week's power rankings that they are "peaking at the right time," the Predators are 0-3-1 in four games since then, and have given up at least three goals in each of those. They better be careful not to trend the wrong way.
11   13 44-29-6, 94 points: The roller-coaster season continues for the Sharks, who have three wins in their last four after losing three straight. This is a club that, when they get hot, they get crazy hot. But when they get cold, they get real cold. Which will it be in the first round?
12   11 43-26-9, 95 points: The Sabres chased Henrik Lundqvist after he allowed three goals on nine shots in fewer than 21 minutes of action on Saturday. The Rangers nearly came back and won, but it wasn't ideal for a team looking to head into the postseason with confidence.
13   15

39-26-13, 91 points: The Flyers are 13-4-2 in their last 19 games, yet are fighting for their lives in the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. They're one of only two teams currently in the playoff picture with a negative goal different (minus-5). Detroit is the other at minus-12.

14   14 42-26-9, 93 points: With Jaroslav Halak out, the Islanders have tailspun into a wild-card spot and are simply just trying to hang on to a playoff spot. Now, Travis Hamonic will miss time with a right knee injury and it doesn't look like he'll return any time soon. Jack Capuano called out his young players on Monday in an effort to jumpstart his team. Let's see if it works.
15   12

41-30-8, 90 points: Lots of speculation that Claude Julien's job may be in jeopardy if the Bruins miss the playoffs, yet many are also arguing he could win the Jack Adams Award if they clinch a playoff spot for the job he's done during a supposed retooling year. It'd be an overreaction to fire him at the end of the season if they do miss out.

16   17

40-28-11, 91 points: With the Bruins losing seven of their last nine games, the Red Wings have crept into the No. 3 spot in the Atlantic Division. Their final three games are against teams fighting for a playoff position: vs. Philadelphia, at Boston, at N.Y. Rangers.

17 16 38-31-11, 87 points: After winning six consecutive games, the Wild have followed that up by losing three straight with two games remaining. Luckily for them, the Avalanche are five points away from catching them in the second wild-card spot.
18 18

34-29-16, 84 points: The Hurricanes spoiled Erik Staal's return to Carolina by beating the Rangers 4-3 on Thursday. If the hockey gods have watched this team all season, they'll reward the Hurricanes with a high position in the NHL Draft.

19   20 36-34-9, 81 points: Erik Karlsson is not making the Norris Trophy decision easy for voters. He's have a season for the ages with 79 points in 79 games, but the Senators are near the bottom of the league in points. Will that be his downfall?
20   19

39-36-4, 82 points: Patrick Roy called out Matt Duchene for celebrating his 30th goal of the season despite being down 4-0 on Sunday. Roy then admitted the Avalanche need to change their "losing mindset." Is he the one that can do it? 

21 21

37-34-8, 82 points: The Devils have been outshot in their last 10 games, and own a 4-5-1 record during that span. With or without Corey Schneider, who returned on Saturday, it's hard to win that way.

22   22 35-36-7, 77 points: Auston Matthews took in the Coyotes game over the weekend to watch the team he grew up watching. Wonder if he'll be on the ice during the next one. It'd be a perfect fit and story for both sides.
23   23 36-37-6, 78 points: The Canadiens recalled All-Star MVP John Scott for the remainder of the season, giving Montreal something to cheer about during a disaster second half of the season.
24 24

33-35-11, 77 points: The Sabres are quietly putting together a strong finish, which is crucial for a young team taking some momentum into next season.

25 25

33-40-6, 72 points: Joni Ortio registered his first career NHL shutout in a 5-0 win over the Oilers on Saturday, stopping all 28 shots he faced. 

26   26

32-39-8, 72 points: Jets prospect Kyle Connor was named a Hobey Baker Award finalist last week after a sensational freshman season at Michigan. There's a lot of be excited about in Winnipeg.

27   29 29-36-13, 71 points: The Canucks won't go down without a fight, picking up back-to-back road wins on consecutive nights against divisional foes San Jose and Anaheim last week. 
28 28

31-39-8, 70 points: Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno was demoted to the fourth line and Scott Hartnell will be a healthy scratch on Monday. The finish line is so close, yet so far away.

29   26

30-43-7, 67 points: Following a 5-0 loss to Calgary over the weekend, Todd McClellan ripped the Oilers' effort by saying, "That's the exact crap we're trying to eradicate from this group." Setting the tone for next season.

30   30

28-39-11, 67 points: Listen, the Maple Leafs may be the worst team in the league, but you can't accuse them of not bringing it on a nightly basis. This is the kind of attitude Mike Babcock has instilled in this team. 

*Advanced stats courtesy of war-on-ice.com

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

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AP

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident:

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

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USA TODAY

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.