Blackhawks

NHL Power Rankings: Bruins proving they're no fluke

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NHL Power Rankings: Bruins proving they're no fluke

The Bruins have earned at least a point in 14 of their last 15 games, and are now one point behind Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead with two games in hand.

Meanwhile in the West, the Blackhawks and Blues have each strung together three consecutive wins, battling for the No. 2 spot in the Central Division.

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
 

Rank Team
Last Week Record/Comment
1 1

24-6-2, 50 points: The Capitals overcame a multi-goal deficit in consecutive games against the Lightning and Rangers to win their fifth straight contest.

2   2

24-7-2, 50 points: The Stars have played five Central Division opponents through their first 33 games of the season. Their next four games on the schedule: at Minnesota, vs. Chicago, at St. Louis, vs. St. Louis.

3 8

19-9-4, 42 points: The Bruins have picked up at least a point in 14 of their last 15 games, owning a plus-19 goal differential during that stretch.

4
 
3

20-10-2, 42 points: The Kings are 1-2-1 in their past four games following a six-game winning streak, perhaps gearing up for their next five games, all against division opponents.

5
 
7

20-11-4, 44 points: The Blackhawks have won seven of their last nine games, led by Corey Crawford, who leads the NHL with five shutouts, three of which have come in the last six games.

6   10

20-10-4, 44 points: The Blues rolled off three straight wins last week, two against division opponents and the third snapping Calgary's seven-game win streak.

7   4

18-11-5, 41 points: After a 10-game point streak, the Islanders have lost their last three games to Florida, Colorado and Arizona by a combined six goals.

8   5

20-11-3, 43 points: The Canadiens are 3-7-1 since Carey Price went down with an injury, and have allowed at least three goals in eight of those 11 games. To make things more difficult, their next seven games are on the road.

9   6

17-9-7, 41 points: Entering December, the Red Wings sat 11 points behind Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. As of Monday, they're two points behind with a game in hand.

10   11

17-8-6, 40 points: The Wild have earned at least a point in nine of their last 10 games. A tough slate of games ahead: vs. Dallas, vs. Montreal, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Detroit, at St. Louis.

11   17

18-12-4, 40 points: The Panthers have outscored their opponents by 11 during their four-game winning streak.

12   13

17-12-5, 39 points: Erik Karlsson has 37 points in 34 games so far this season, on pace to shatter last year's total of 66 points, which led all defensemen.

13   15

17-14-3, 37 points: Steven Stamkos snapped a 10-game goal drought by scoring three goals in his past two games.

14
 
9

19-12-4, 42 points: The Rangers have allowed at least five goals in their last three games (17 combined goals). They allowed just five or more goals only three times in their first 32 games.

15
 
12

16-11-6, 38 points: The Predators are 4-4-2 in their last 10 games, and have slipped to the fifth spot in the Central Division.

16   19

14-12-7, 35 points: Jakub Voracek has two goals and four assists during his four-game point streak after being held pointless in his previous three games.

17   16

16-13-5, 37 points: The Devils have scored just one goal in each of their last three games, where they've gone 0-2-1.

18   20

16-15-2, 34 points: The Sharks improved their road record to 12-6-2 after going 2-1-1 in their first four games of a five-game road trip.

19
 
26

17-16-1, 35 points: The Avalanche have allowed only five goals during their five-game winning streak, which includes wins over division opponents Nashville, St. Louis and Chicago.

20
 
18

15-15-2, 32 points: The Jets are 3-10-0 against divisional opponents, which isn't helping a team that has slipped to the basement of the Central.

21
 
14

15-14-3, 33 points: The Penguins are winless (0-4-0) in four games under new coach Mike Sullivan, and will now be without Sidney Crosby, who's day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

22   22 13-15-5, 31 points: The Hurricanes are 5-2-1 in their last eight games, yet haven't gained much ground in the Metropolitan Division.
23   21 12-14-9, 33 points: After a road contest against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, the Canucks will play their next seven games at home, where they are 4-6-3.
24   24

14-18-2, 30 points: The Oilers have dropped their last three contests by a combined 10 goals after winning six straight contests.

25   23

12-14-5, 29 points: The Ducks were shut out for the seventh time this season following Thursday's 3-0 loss to Buffalo.

26   27

15-15-2, 32 points: The Coyotes are 2-1-1 since it was announced that Mike Smith will miss the next 8-10 weeks with a core muscle injury.

27   25

15-16-2, 32 points: A seven-game winning streak wasn't enough to remove the Flames from the Western Conference basement. Good news is, their next five games are at home, where they are 10-5-0 this season compared to 5-11-2 on the road.

28   28

14-16-4, 32 points: A demoralizing 3-2 shootout loss to the Blackhawks after leading in the final minute of regulation is how the Sabres are entering a six-day holiday break.

29   29

11-13-7, 29 points: Jonathan Bernier shut out his former team Los Angeles to earn his first win since April 5th.

30   30

13-19-3, 29 points: A highlight during a down season: 21-year-old rookie goaltender Joonas Korpisalo registered his first career win in a 3-2 shootout victory against Philadelphia on Saturday.

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

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Anton Forsberg cleared waivers on Tuesday morning and was assigned to the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League.

That's good news for the Blackhawks organizational depth chart, with Forsberg as the No. 3 in goal. But it also complicates things in Rockford, where Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen have been sharing the duties.

Delia is 3-1-0 with a 3.26 goals against average and .910 save percentage while Lankinen is 0-1-1 with a 3.39 GAA and .825 save percentage. Perhaps the most likely scenario is Lankinen gets sent to the ECHL with the Indy Fuel while Delia and Forsberg split the load in Rockford.

It's certainly a good problem to have, but it's still unclear how that dynamic will play out.

"We haven’t talked about that," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But we expect [Forsberg] to play."

Luke Johnson recalled

With a spot opening up on the 23-man roster, Johnson is being brought back up after he was squeezed out by Corey Crawford's return. He had a goal and an assist in two games with Rockford.

Brandon Saad returns to top-six role

After turning in arguably his best performance of the season on Sunday, Saad is back playing on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. He had seven shot attempts (three on goal) against Tampa Bay and led the team in 5-on-5 possession numbers.

"[Saad] is coming off a game where we liked what we saw," Quenneville said. "Playing with Kaner can help him get going."

Nick Schmaltz to play right side for first time in NHL career

Eight games into the season and Schmaltz has spent time at both center and left wing. Now he'll get a look on the right side with Alexandre Fortin on the left and David Kampf centering the third line.

Part of the reason for Schmaltz’s move to the right side was because Quenneville said they like Fortin on the left. It's not unfamiliar territory for Schmaltz, but could take some time getting used to.

"I played a little while back, not sure when," Schmaltz said "Just a little bit different. Catching pucks on your forehand now instead of your backhand. It's not a huge adjustment, just play with speed and compete hard and hopefully the skill on our line will take over."

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

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AP

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

The Blackhawks have said all along that they don't plan on carrying three goaltenders, but wanted to do so during the three games in four days stretch just in case, with Corey Crawford coming back from a 10-month layoff because of a concussion.

After being encouraged by how Crawford has responded to his return, the Blackhawks placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers Monday morning. Teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for the 25-year-old goaltender and would have to keep him on their NHL roster for 10 games and/or 30 days before he's eligible to go through the waiver process again.

His chances of getting claimed by any of the other 30 teams essentially depends on which teams believe Forsberg would be an immediate upgrade over their current backup — or starter, for that matter — or whether there's an injury to one of the team's two goaltenders that requires a placeholder, like we saw the Carolina Hurricanes do by claiming Curtis McElhinney from the Toronto Maple Leafs after Scott Darling's injury in the preseason.

If Forsberg goes unclaimed, the Blackhawks can assign him to the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs. With Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen sharing the goaltending duties in Rockford, it's possible Lankinen gets sent to the Indy Fuel in the ECHL to get consistent starts under his belt.

A third option, one that isn't very common but we've seen in the past as recently as last October with Maple Leafs goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, is that Forsberg can be loaned to any AHL team while still being a part of the Blackhawks organization. This would allow the Blackhawks to keep Delia and Lankinen in Rockford while Forsberg gets his starts in the AHL, too.

Or, the Blackhawks could simply trade Forsberg to another NHL team that could stash him in the AHL, as long as he clears waivers. They did it last season with Chris DiDomenico, who cleared waivers as a member of the Ottawa Senators but was then traded to Chicago for Ville Pokka days later. Had DiDomenico been claimed by the Blackhawks, he would have had to stay on the NHL roster as noted above.

Forsberg was 10-16-4 with a 2.97 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 35 appearances last season but has not appeared in a game yet this year. He was acquired as part of the Brandon Saad package for Artemi Panarin in June 2017.