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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

On the latest edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Charlie Roumeliotis is joined by Scott Powers of The Athletic to discuss Stan Bowman's comments following the Marian Hossa trade and debate whether they're finished making moves this summer.

They also provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks' top prospects and which players have caught their attention as development camp winds down.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: 'Our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs'

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: 'Our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs'

Jonathan Toews watched a lot of playoff hockey this spring. 

"Quite a bit," he admitted Wednesday before making his Chicago Pro Hockey League debut at MB Ice Arena. "More than usual."

That's because the Blackhawks missed out on the postseason for the first time since his rookie year in 2007-08. It's obviously not a position he'd like himself or his team to be in, especially after experiencing three Stanley Cups in a six-year span.

But you have to find a way to take the positives out of it at this point and let it fuel you for the upcoming campaign.

"You always want to be there playing," Toews said. "But when you can maybe step away from the game a little bit and just kind of breathe and — at the same time, look back and realize you’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of success. Obviously there’s no satisfaction there, but you understand it’s not the worst thing to stop and smell the roses and appreciate what you’ve been able to experience, because I think failing to get to the playoffs makes you realize how difficult it really is and maybe it’s something you took for granted.

"But watching more hockey this spring, I think, is something that was really motivating and kind of inspiring and exciting to want to get back to that level again. You dream of playing in the NHL, but at the end of the day, you want to play playoff hockey. That’s what it’s all about."

There were plenty of things that went wrong for the Blackhawks last season and contributed to why they watched the playoffs from home, whether it's the Corey Crawford injury, the down season from Brandon Saad, or the inexperience on the blue line.

For Toews, who turned 30 in April, it's about regaining that old form that made him one of the top players in the NHL and hoping it can filter down the rest of the Blackhawks lineup.

"For me, it’s part of just recapturing that energy, that motivation, excitement and that mindset of a young player who takes nothing for granted, that you had in your younger days," he said. "But also carrying the experience with you and understanding the impact of what you say, what you do, how you carry yourself can impact your teammates, especially the young guys. For me, it comes down to knowing what to say at the right time. But letting my play be the thing that helps me lead by example. No better time than now to use that experience and that excitement trying to rebound off the season we had last year."

If there's any reason to have belief that the Blackhawks can turn it around quickly, look no further than the two teams that collided in the Stanley Cup Final: Vegas and Washington. 

The Golden Knights had the longest odds to win it all at the beginning of the season while the Capitals' championship window was perceived to be closed after they failed to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017 in the second round yet again with a loaded roster. But it's not about what's on paper.

"Watching that last series, you just knew it came down to who had the most, the deepest belief in themselves," Toews said. "I even had a hard time predicting who was going to win every series. It could’ve gone either way in a lot of situations. It’s not only motivating, seeing how fast that play was and to have missed out on playoff hockey this year and to have the drive to get back there, but knowing if you do sneak into the playoffs it doesn’t matter. You can go a long way.

"For us, thinking, 'OK, we're gonna back and win a Stanley Cup this year,' it sounds like a long shot. But as always, our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs and being ready to hit our stride when we get there."