Blackhawks

NHL Power Rankings: Red Wings surging toward top

nhl-power-rankings-red-wings.png

NHL Power Rankings: Red Wings surging toward top

The Red Wings are 7-0-3 in their last 10 games while the Bruins have picked up a point in each of their last eight games, both making a surge in the East.

Meanwhile in the West, the Kings have rolled off four straight wins and will look to continue their success on the road, where they will play 10 of their next 11 games, including six straight.

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

 

Rank Team
Last Week Record/Comment
1 1

18-5-2, 38 points: The Capitals have picked up at least a point in nine of their last 10 games; Braden Holtby is now 16-4-1 with a 1.95 goals against average and .928 save percentage.

2   2

20-5-2, 42 points: After going 2-0-2 during their four-game road trip, the Stars will play five of their next six games at home.

3   3

19-6-3, 41 points: The Canadiens are controlling 52.5 percent of even-strength shot attempts this season, which ranks sixth-best. Last year, they ranked 23rd at 48.5 percent.

4   6

17-8-1, 35 points: After winning four consecutive home games (all four against playoff teams last year), the Kings are gearing up to play 10 of their next 11 games on the road, including six straight.

5 4

18-7-3, 39 points: Mats Zuccarello has one point in his last eight games after compiling 15 points in his previous 10 contests.

6 9

15-8-5, 35 points: The Islanders have killed off 16 straight penalties, and have registered a point in each of their last six games, which include wins over the Rangers and Blues.

7 16 

15-8-4, 34 points: The Red Wings are 7-0-3 in their last 10 games, and have improved their puck possession significantly over the last several weeks.

8 12

14-8-3, 31 points: The Bruins have earned at least a point in each of their last eight games, and have killed off 27 of their last 28 penalties (96.4 percent).

9 5

14-9-4, 32 points: Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 22 games on Sunday, surpassing Bobby Hull for the longest streak in Blackhawks history.

10 7

15-8-4, 34 points: The Blues are 4-5-3 in their last 12 games, and have seen their overall goal differential slip to plus-1.

11 11

14-8-5, 33 points: Mike Hoffman has nine goals and three assists in his last eight games, and is already halfway past last year's point total (48).

12 13

14-7-4, 32 points: The Wild kicked off December with three straight wins, which included a 2-1 win over Chicago and back-to-back shutouts against Toronto and Colorado.

13 10

14-10-2, 30 points: Sidney Crosby has registered a point in seven of his last eight games, but the Penguins are still 1-2-2 in their last five.

14 14 

13-12-3, 29 points: Tyler Johnson returned Sunday and Cedric Paquette is eyeing a return later this week, which should provide a huge boost for the Lightning on both ends of the ice.

15 15 

13-8-5, 31 points: The Predators have just two wins in their last nine games, and squandered a pair of two-goal leads in an overtime loss to Detroit on Saturday.

16  

14-12-0, 28 points: The Sharks are 1-4-0 since their six-game winning streak, but still sit in second place in the Pacific Division.

17   18

13-10-4, 30 points: The Panthers will look to set a franchise record when they go for their sixth consecutive road win on Saturday against Boston.

18 19 

14-10-3, 31 points: Adam Henrique stepped up in Travis Zajac's absence with his second three-point game of the season in a win over Florida on Sunday. 

19 21 

11-12-5, 27 points: John Gibson is quickly becoming the No. 1 goaltender in Anaheim, where he's gone 4-2-1 with a 1.47 goals against average and .944 save percentage.

20   23

13-13-2, 28 points: In his first three career starts, 22-year-old rookie goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is 3-0-0 with a 0.97 goals against average and .965 save percentage.

21   22

11-13-3, 25 points: Evander Kane scored two goals in back-to-back games on Tuesday and Friday after potting just two total goals in his first 14 games.

22 17 13-13-1, 27 points: A tough week for the Coyotes, who lost four consecutive road games and were outscored 20-9.
23 20

9-11-8, 26 points: The Canucks are 3-9-4 since starting the season 6-2-4, and have yet to win a game in overtime or a shootout (0-8).

24   26

11-11-5, 27 points: The Flyers have won four of their last five games, including divisional wins over the Rangers and Devils.

25   25

10-13-4, 24 points: The Hurricanes are the third-best puck possession team yet won back-to-back games despite being outshot in both of them. Who would've thought?

26 28

11-15-2, 24 points: Three consecutive wins over Boston, Dallas and Buffalo has improved the Oilers' home record to 7-5-1. They're 4-10-1 on the road.

27 29 

11-15-1, 23 points: The Avalanche registered a pair of 2-1 road wins over the Rangers and Devils, but ended the week with a 3-0 loss to Minnesota, where they were outshot by 24.

28 30

10-14-2, 22 points: The Flames kicked off their five-game home stand with a shootout win over Dallas and an overtime victory over Boston.

29   24

9-13-5, 23 points: Illinois native Garret Sparks made history by recording a shutout in his first career start for the Maple Leafs on Monday.

30 27

11-16-1, 23 points: Brandon Saad was demoted to the fourth line and Scott Hartnell was a healthy scratch as things don't appear to be getting any better in Columbus. 

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

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

2-24_blue-jackets_matchup_nhl_chi_blank.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

2-23_berube_schmaltz_usat.jpg
USA TODAY

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass — who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube — have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last — and only — appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."