Blackhawks

NHL Power Rankings: Panthers on a roll

nhl-power-rankings-florida-panthers-climbing.png

NHL Power Rankings: Panthers on a roll

The Panthers have won their last six games, leapfrogging Montreal, Boston and Detroit in a span of a week to the top of the Atlantic Division.

Meanwhile in the West, the Flames set a franchise record by winning their 11th straight game at home and look to continue climbing in the lowly Pacific 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 Week 11
 

Rank Team
Last Week Record/Comment
1 1

26-6-2, 54 points: The Capitals are 14-1-1 in their last 16 games, and are taking a seven-game winning streak into Buffalo, which begins a stretch of playing six of their next seven away from home.

2   2

27-7-3, 57 points: The Stars came away with seven of eight points during a four-game stretch against Central Division opponents, including shutout wins over Chicago and St. Louis.

3 4

21-11-2, 44 points: Anze Kopitar scored his third overtime goal of the season in Saturday's 4-3 win over Arizona, tying him for the league lead with Mikkel Boedker, Johnny Gaudreau, Shayne Gostisberhere and Jonathan Toews.

4
 
6

22-12-4, 48 points: The Blues entered the holiday break with a shutout win over Boston and returned from break with a nice comeback win over Dallas in a nine-round shootout.

5
 
11

20-12-4, 44 points: The Panthers have vaulted into the top spot of the Atlantic Division after winning their sixth straight win on Sunday. Aleksander Barkov has seven points in his last six games, including two game-winning goals.

6 5

20-13-4, 44 points: Patrick Kane was held pointless in back-to-back games for the first time since Oct. 14-15, right before he went on a 26-game point streak.

7   7

19-12-5, 43 points: Jaroslav Halak was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury, a big blow to an Islanders team that was trending in the right direction defensively.

8   9

18-10-7, 43 points: The Red Wings have played 22 home games this season to just 13 road games. To even that out, 13 of their next 17 games will be on the road, including eight of their next nine.

9   3

19-12-4, 42 points: The Bruins, who have lost their last three games, will really be tested after losing leading-scorer David Krejci — listed as week-to-week — due to an upper-body injury. 

10   10

18-10-6, 42 points: Darcy Kuemper has helped the Wild pick up at least a point in his eight starts this season, improving his record to 4-0-4 with a 2.12 goals against average and .926 save percentage.

11   12

18-12-6, 42 points: The Senators have been outshot by 51 in their last three games combined, but have found a way to pick up three of six points. That's a microcosm of how their season's gone till this point.

12   13

18-15-3, 39 points: Nikita Kucherov has six goals and seven assists in 13 games this month, and currently owns a five-game point streak. Steven Stamkos has five goals in his last four games. Has the offense officially woken up?

13   14

20-12-4, 44 points: The Rangers have a tough stretch coming up against Nashville, Tampa Bay, Florida, Dallas, Washington and Boston. Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein are coming back at a perfect time.

14
 
15

17-12-6, 40 points: After missing 11 games with a lower-body injury, Mike Fisher will return to the lineup on Monday night, which should give the Predators a nice boost up the middle. Also, Shea Weber is tied for the second-most points (15) so far in December.

15
 
8

20-14-3, 43 points: Sure, the Canadiens miss Carey Price, but they've scored two goals or fewer in 12 of the 15 games since Brendan Gallagher went down with an injury. They scored at least three goals in each of their first nine games to start the season.

16   18

17-15-2, 36 points: Joe Pavelski has 10 points (five goals and five assists) in his last five games, including two game-winning goals during that stretch.

17   17

17-14-5, 39 points: The Devils have been outshot in 10 of their last 12 games, but Cory Schneider has helped them pick up at least a point in eight of those contests.

18   16

15-13-7, 37 points: Sean Couturier has nine points in 11 games this December. Had had five points total in the 18 games during the first two months of the season.

19
 
22

15-16-5, 35 points: The results are beginning to add up with the metrics that the Hurricanes aren't as bad as the standings indicate, owning a 7-3-1 record since Dec. 5 and remain a top-five puck possession team (controlling 53.1 percent of even-strength shot attempts).

20
 
27

17-16-2, 36 points: Johnny Gaudreau has five goals in his past two games, leading the Flames to a franchise record of 11 straight wins at home.

21
 
21

17-15-3, 37 points: The Penguins are controlling 55.8 percent of shot attempts at even strength when Trevor Daley is on the ice, an acquisition that has made an immediate impact for Mike Sullivan's group.

22   23 14-14-9, 37 points: The Canucks finally picked up their first win in 3-on-3 overtime with a 2-1 win over Edmonton on Saturday after going 0-7 to start out the season.
23   20 16-17-2, 34 points: The Jets haven't converted on the power play in 20 straight attempts, slipping to 29th in the league with a 13.6 percent success rate.
24   26

17-15-3, 37 points: The Coyotes have earned at least a point in six of their last seven games. Second-year goaltender Louis Domingue has helped ease the blow of losing Mike Smith with a 2-1-1 record, 2.30 goals against average, .925 save percentage and a shutout.

25   25

13-15-6, 32 points: The Ducks have only 13 goals in the second period this season, which ranks last in the NHL. Three teams are tied with 25 goals, which ranks second-to-last. That's a 12-goal difference from 30th to 29th.

26   19

17-17-2, 36 points: The Avalanche followed up an impressive five-game winning streak with a 7-4 loss to Toronto and a 2-1 overtime loss to Arizona. The ups and downs continue.

27   26

15-16-4, 34 points: Jack Eichel registered a career-high four points in his homecoming return to Boston, helping the Sabres overcome a 3-1 deficit to beat the Bruins 6-3 along the way.

28   29

13-14-7, 33 points: Jonathan Bernier has three wins in his last four starts after failing to pick up a win in his first 11 games. The Leafs are 5-1-2 in their last eight.

29   24

15-19-3, 33 points: The Oilers have one win in their last six games, yet are only four points out of third place in the lowly Pacific Division. Good news: Connor McDavid is skating, but his return date is still up in the air.

30   30

13-22-3, 29 points: John Tortorella called the Blue Jackets "embarrassing" and "weak mentally," which signifies a new low to a season full of them.

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

All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens

37223567_10105857984279570_4623576162939961344_n.jpg
AP

All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens

The second wave of Blackhawks defensemen is on the way. That's exactly where all the attention was when prospect camp opened up Monday at MB Ice Arena.

Nicolas Beaudin. Adam Boqvist. Henri Jokiharju. Ian Mitchell. Call it the Big Four. Where are they all at in their development? When will they be ready to make an NHL impact? Who's the most pro ready? 

Lots of questions. Those will slowly start to get answered and it begins now.

While there may not necessarily be an open competition among the group right away, there's certainly a desire to make a strong first impression in front of the upper brass that included Stan Bowman, John McDonough and Joel Quenneville watching on Day 1.

"Every NHL team has a lot of good defensemen prospects, so I mean obviously when you want to go out there you want to showcase yourself as best as you can," Mitchell said. "Obviously you want to be the best defenseman here so that's my goal going into this, I want to prove to everyone that I'm a good defenseman, I deserve to play at the next level. Obviously there's lots of good players here, but you're trying to all succeed."

Said Beaudin: "There's a lot of competition. There's a lot of good, young defensemen. I think you just need to be different when you play when you show what you can do."

Said Boqvist: "I'm trying to be better every day. Of course I will play in the NHL one day and win Stanley Cups, so that's my mindset."

The theme? Focus on your own game, take what you learn out of this week and apply those tools in your game when advancing your development next season. The rest will take care of itself.

Mitchell will go back to Denver for his sophomore campaign to continue his development. Beaudin is expected to return to the QMJHL with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Boqvist signed with the OHL's London Knights, where he will look to get accustomed to the North American style of play.

For Jokiharju, the goal is different. This is his second development camp. He signed an entry-level contract in June. Making the big club is a real goal and a legitimate possibility for a Blackhawks team looking for young, impact defensemen immediately.

"I think if Henri has a really good summer of training, comes into camp, I certainly thinks he gets a good look," Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley told NBC Sports Chicago last month.

Jokiharju showed poise and confidence with and without the puck during drills, like someone who knows this is only the first step towards that ultimate goal.

"Yeah," Jokiharju responded when asked if the expectation is to make it to the NHL this season. "You want to set the bar high, you don't want to set the bar too low. I want to dream big and that's the dream."

That's the dream for everyone. When that happens, it's up to them. This week is a chance to set an early tone.

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery was identified as the victim in an early morning drowning on Sunday at the Hamilton Harbour, Hamilton Police confirmed. He was 35.

According to the Hamilton Spectator, Emery and his friends jumped in the water around 6:30 a.m., but Emery never resurfaced. His body was recovered later in the afternoon.

Emery played in the NHL for 11 seasons, two of which came with the Blackhawks from 2011-13, where he served as a backup goaltender to Corey Crawford.

In 2013, he teammated up with Crawford to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltender(s) with the fewest goals against in a single season, before going on to capture his first Stanley Cup. During that season, Emery went 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals against average, .922 save percentage and three shutouts.

The Blackhawks issued this statement following the confirmation:

The Chicago Blackhawks organization was deeply saddened to hear of Ray Emery’s passing. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. The Blackhawks will fondly remember Ray as a fierce competitor, a good teammate and a Stanley Cup champion.

The hockey community took to Twitter to offer their condolences when news began to spread: