Blackhawks

NHL Power Rankings: Lightning starting to click

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NHL Power Rankings: Lightning starting to click

The Lightning stretched their winning streak to seven games before having it snapped on Saturday, and quickly find themselves challenging their cross-state rival Panthers for the No. 1 seed in Atlantic Division.

Meanwhile in the West, the Sharks have registered at least a point in nine consecutive games and have emerged as the No. 2 seed in the wide-open Pacific Division, aside from Los Angeles.

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

 

Rank Team
Last Week Record/Comment
1 1

35-8-3, 73 points: The Capitals had two games postponed last week due to inclement weather, but not before grabbing another win, a 6-3 drubbing in Columbus.

2  

33-15-4, 70 points: There's a high possibility that Corey Crawford, who leads the league with seven shutouts, could win the Vezina Trophy while not being named an All-Star in the same season.

3

30-15-3, 63 points: Vincent Lecavalier has given the Kings an extra shot in the arm, potting four goals in nine games, including a game-tying goal with 12 seconds left against the Sharks on Sunday night that ended in a 3-2 overtime win.

4
 
5

28-15-5, 61 points: Aaron Ekblad returned to the lineup after missing four games with a concussion as the Panthers crushed the reigning Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks 4-0 and the defending Eastern Conference champion Lightning 5-2 on back-to-back nights.

5
 

26-18-4, 56 points: The Lightning's winning streak reached seven games before losing to Florida on Saturday, and they looked good doing it. Jon Cooper's group is starting to click on all cylinders despite off-ice distractions.

6  

28-16-8, 64 points: The Blues suffered a 2-0 loss to Chicago in their final game before the All-Star break, but previously picked up at least a point in nine of their last 10 games.

7  

25-15-6, 56 points: A three-goal third period to break a 2-2 tie in a 5-2 win over Ottawa on Friday has the Islanders heading into the All-Star break with some confidence.

8  

23-17-7, 53 points: Trevor Daley and Carl Hagelin have been perfect additions for a Penguins team that needed a boost offensively. Evgeni Malkin continued his fine season with his 10th career regular-season hat trick in Saturday's win over Vancouver.

9  

24-16-8, 56 points: The Red Wings are 11-2-2 when Dylan Larkin scores a goal this season. He recorded his fourth multi-point game of the year in Friday's 3-0 win over Buffalo.

10   10 

30-14-5, 65 points: The Stars recorded an astounding 106 shot attempts in a 3-1 loss to the Avalanche, who had just 32 total shot attempts. Combination of soft goals allowed and bad luck.

11   13

25-17-5, 55 points: On Nov. 17, the Bruins owned the league's worst penalty kill unit with a 70.8 percentage (46-for-65). Since then, they've killed off 89 of 94 penalties (94.7 percent) and now own the league's fifth-best PK unit at 84.9 percent. Incredible turnaround.

12   15

25-18-4, 54 points: The Sharks are 7-0-2 in their last nine games, and own a plus-14 goal differential during that span. Joe Pavelski is on a roll with two goals, including his league-leading eighth game-winner of the season, and three assists in his last three games.

13   11

21-18-7, 49 points: The Ducks have outshot their opponent in 13 consecutive games, which has led to a 9-3-1 record. Ryan Kesler scored two goals in a game for the second time this month.

14

 
 12

26-17-5, 57 points: The All-Star break couldn't come at a better time for the Rangers, who are 10-14-3 in their last 27 games after starting the season 16-3-2. Hit the reset button.

15
 
 11

23-17-8, 54 points: Here's another team that could use a break. The Wild have just three wins in 2016, due in large part to a lack of scoring, which has always been the primary problem in Minnesota.

16   14 

24-20-4, 52 points: After GM Marc Bergevin reiterated the coaching staff's job security, the Canadiens pulled out a much-needed shootout win over the lowly Maple Leafs on Saturday. Bad news: Carey Price will be sidelined longer than expected.

17   17 

22-20-8, 52 points: The Hurricanes are sitting three points out of the final wild-card spot in the East, and aren't making things easy for GM Ron Francis, who has to decide whether or not to trade captain Eric Staal, an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

18    18

22-18-8, 52 points: The Predators are 11-14-5 in games they outshoot their opponent and own a shot differential of plus-332 in those games. They're 11-4-3 in games they're outshot with a shot differential of minus-114. How bizarre is that?

19
 
21 

25-19-5, 55 points: Despite being outshot in each of the last four games, the Devils have rolled off four consecutive wins. Because Cory Schneider.

20
 
22 

26-21-3, 55 points: The Avalanche, who allow an average of 2.66 goals per game, have given up just four goals during their four-game winning streak. Semyon Varlamov is a large reason for that.

21
 
20 

23-19-5, 51 points: The Coyotes improved their record to 11-2-2 against Pacific Division teams this season, a crucial mark in a wide open division below Los Angeles.

22   23  20-18-11, 51 points: According to Elias, Saturday's dueling hat tricks by Jannik Hansen and Evgeni Malkin marked the first time players on opposing teams have each netted three goals in a game since March 8, 2015 when Elias Lindholm and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins did the same in a 7-4 Carolina win over Edmonton.
23   24  23-20-6, 52 points: Bobby Ryan scored his 17th goal of the season — and his fourth in five games — in Sunday's win over the Rangers, and, by doing so, helped a family get a puppy, which will be named after him.
24   16 

20-17-8, 48 points: The Flyers have been on a surprisingly good run, but came back down to earth after squandering a two-goal lead to Pittsburgh on Thursday, allowing three answered goals in a 4-3 loss.

25    26

21-22-3, 45 points: In 23 home games this season, Johnny Gaudreau has 33 points (17 goals and 16 assists) and a plus-16 rating. In 23 road games, he has just 13 points (three goals and 10 assists) and a minus-13 rating.

26   27 

19-25-4, 42 points: No wins to show for it, but Robin Lehner has been terrific in his first three starts back from injury, posting a 2.37 goals against average and .936 save percentage.

27   28

19-26-5, 43 points: Connor McDavid, who suffered a broken collarbone on Nov. 3, has been cleared for contact, and is targeting to return on the first game back after the All-Star break. Great news.

28   30 

17-20-9, 43 points: The Maple Leafs are on a three-game point streak, but have just one win in their last nine games. To make things more difficult, eight of their next nine games are on the road.

29   25 

21-24-3, 45 points: The Jets have scored just one goal in each of their last four games, and are now tied for the second-worst record in the West. This is the team to watch at the trade deadline, as they hold two players who could fetch a big return in Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd.

30   29

17-27-5, 39 points: If John Tortorella fracturing two ribs in a collision with his own player during a practice doesn't define how this Blue Jackets season has gone, what does?

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

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

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AP

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.