Blackhawks

NHL Power Rankings: Predators peaking at right time

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NHL Power Rankings: Predators peaking at right time

The Predators are 13-2-5 since Feb. 12, and are seriously threatening to take over the No. 3 seed from the Blackhawks in the Central Division. The Stars and Blues are neck-and-neck for the top spot after St. Louis recorded a franchise-record fourth straight shutout victory.

Meanwhile in the East, the Panthers knocked off the Lightning over the weekend to remain atop the Atlantic Division by two points. The Penguins also continued their winning ways with a dominant victory over the Red Wings and an overtime win over the Rangers, who may be their first-round opponent in the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

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 | Week 16 | Week 17 | Week 18 | Week 19 | Week 20 | Week 21 | Week 22 | Week 23 | Week 24

 

Rank Team
Last Week Record/Comment
1 1

53-16-5, 111 points: The Capitals can clinch home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs with a win over Columbus on Monday, and it's not even April yet. That's how big of a cushion they've built.

2   4 45-22-9, 99 points: There may not be a team playing better hockey right now than the Blues, who haven't allowed a goal in four consecutive games, which is a new franchise record. No team wants a piece of them in the first round of the playoffs.
3 2 45-25-5, 95 points: The Kings went on a mini three-game road trip last week, and failed to come away with a point in all of them. They finished strong, however, with a 6-4 victory over Edmonton, improving their home record to 5-0-1 in their last six games.
4 5

42-25-8, 92 points: A month ago, the Penguins wanted no part of the Rangers in another playoff series. Now, they're practically inviting it. Sidney Crosby is making a legitimate push for the Hart Trophy after another dominant second half of the season; he has 21 goals and 28 assists in 38 games since the calendar flipped to 2016.

5 3

41-23-10, 92 points: There was an opening to pull even with or surpass the Kings, who lost three straight last week, atop the Pacific Division, but could only pick up one point against the lowly Canadiens and Maple Leafs. Still, they remain just three points behind with a game in hand on Los Angeles.

6   6 45-22-9, 99 points: The Stars have won four of their last five games, their most recent victory against San Jose despite getting outshot 36-17. They found a way to win, and with the playoffs right around the corner, it certainly won't be the last time they'll have to dig deep and win ugly.
7  7 43-27-5, 91 points: Anton Stralman suffered a broken leg over the weekend, which will force him to miss the rest of the regular season. Coach Jon Cooper didn't rule out a potential return in the playoffs, but nonetheless, it's a tough blow for a team with a real shot at getting back to the Stanley Cup Final.
8 8 44-25-7, 95 points: After picking up just two wins in their last nine games, the Blackhawks recorded back-to-back victories over the weekend to clinch a playoff spot for the eighth consecutive year, the third-longest active streak — Detroit (24 seasons) and Pittsburgh (9) — in the NHL. 
9 9

42-24-9, 93 points: The Panthers earned a pair of impressive victories against divisional foes last week (Boston and Tampa Bay) to remain atop the Atlantic Division by two points.

10   11 39-23-13, 91 points: The Predators are one of two teams this season to have more than one 30-goal scorer: Filip Forsberg (31) and James Neal (30). Who would've thought? Dallas is the other (Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin).
11   13 43-24-9, 95 points: The Rangers are 3-0-1 in their last four games, but all the attention is on the fact they've lost three straight games to a Penguins team they had previously dominated and may end up drawing in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
12   12 40-28-8, 88 points: Brad Marchand hasn't scored in eight consecutive games, and the Bruins have felt the effects of it. They're 2-5-1 during that span, and now find themselves peaking over their shoulder again with Detroit only three points away plus a game in hand.
13   10

41-28-6, 88 points: After winning eight out of their last 11 games, the Sharks have lost three in a row for the first time since early December, likely locking themselves in at the No. 3 seed in the Pacific with the Ducks up four points with a game in hand.

14   14 40-25-9, 89 points: The Islanders, who had previously lost four straight games, stayed above water last week by going 2-2, but they're certainly not safe in that first wild-card spot. 
15   15

36-25-13, 85 points: Claude Giroux left Saturday's game with a head injury, but luckily for the Flyers, he won't miss any time, which is good news. So is this: Their next three games will be at home, where they are 19-10-7 this season compared to 17-15-6 on the road.

16   17

37-28-11, 85 points: The Wild picked up a 4-0 victory Colorado over the weekend in a must-win situation, which was essentially a four-point swing in a tight battle for the final wild-card spot between the two teams. Zach Parise has seven points (five goals, two assists) in his last three games, including his third hat trick of the season.

17 16 37-27-11, 85 points: Detroit's playoff streak of 24 straight seasons is in serious jeopardy after losing to Pittsburgh 7-2 over the weekend at home. That's a difficult one to swallow at this time of the year.
18 21

33-28-15, 81 points: If there's one team that has deserved better fate this season, it's arguably the Hurricanes. They're four points away from the final wild-card spot in the East, but are up two games on the Flyers. Those 15 overtime losses means 15 more points were left on the table.

19   18 38-33-4, 80 points: The Avalanche wisely made the decision to reassign top prospect Mikko Rantanen after his ninth NHL game, saving the first year of his entry-level contract. The decision was probably made easier after Colorado got shut out by Minnesota 4-0 on Saturday, and now trail by five points for the final wild-card spot in the West.
20   19

34-33-9, 77 points: The Senators blew a 3-0 lead over the weekend, and fell to the Ducks 4-3 in overtime, extending their losing streak to three games. They're slipping further and further down the standings, which actually isn't a bad thing.

21 20

36-32-8, 80 points: Devils rookie goaltender Scott Wedgewood is on a nice little run right now: He's 2-1-1 with a 1.25 goals against average and .957 save percentage, including a shutout, in four straight starts since joining the Devils.

22   23 34-34-7, 75 points: The Coyotes won just three games (out of 14) in the month of February. They've won their last three straight, and own a 7-4-1 record in March. While it's not helping them for draft lottery purposes, it's a nice confidence builder to close out the regular season on a positive note.
23   22 34-36-6, 74 points: P.K. Subban has not played since suffering a scary neck injury on March 10, and it'd be wise to shut him down for the rest of the season. No reason he shouldn't take the extra time off and extended offseason to get 100 percent healthy. 
24 25

31-34-10, 72 points: Sam Reinhart has quietly put together a strong March. In 12 games this month, he has three goals and eight assists, and logged a career-high 22:54 of ice time against Calgary on March 3.

25 24

31-38-6, 68 points: After picking up a point in seven of their previous eight games, the Flames have lost three in a row and have allowed a combined 15 goals during their latest losing streak.

26   26

30-41-7, 67 points: Nail Yakupov reportedly requested a trade near the deadline, but a deal couldn't get ironed out. This is another case where both sides need a fresh start, a theme too common in Edmonton. He'll likely be traded this offseason, and the Oilers won't have any problem finding takers.

27   29 31-38-6, 68 points: The Jets followed up a 2-0 win over Vancouver with a 4-1 victory over Los Angeles last week behind stellar goaltending from Ondrej Pavelec, who allowed only one goal on 62 total shots.
28 28

30-37-8, 68 points: The Blue Jackets played one of their worst games of the season in a 5-1 loss to Nashville over the weekend, where they were outshot 48-19, which led to a 20-second postgame press conference by coach John Tortorella. Wonder if the end of the season presser will be shorter.

29   27

27-35-13, 67 points: The Canucks have lost eight consecutive games, and have been shut out in four of those. The end of the season can't come soon enough for them.

30   30

27-36-11, 65 points: Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock realizes his team has a real shot at landing the No. 1 overall pick (Auston Matthews), but they sure won't try to increase their odds by losing on purpose: "If you cheat the system, it cheats you." Admire that attitude, and hard to argue against it.

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

Four takeaways: Kirby Dach holds his own in NHL debut but Blackhawks fall to Capitals

Four takeaways: Kirby Dach holds his own in NHL debut but Blackhawks fall to Capitals

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Blackhawks left wanting more

The Blackhawks were easily the better team at even strength against one of the deepest teams in the NHL. They led in total shot attempts (84-49), shots on goal (44-30), even-strength scoring chances (36-20) and even-strength high-danger chances (16-9), according to Natural Stat Trick, but couldn't pull out a win.

The Blackhawks put up 44 shots on goal against a Capitals team that allowed the second-fewest shots per game (27.8) going into the matchup. They deserved a better fate.

"I think we dictated most of the play tonight and we weren't rewarded for it, but that's the way hockey works sometimes," Drake Caggiula said. "You don't always get the bounces, you don't always get the results you're looking for, even if you play the prototypical game or the perfect game. We didn't get rewarded tonight but this is something we can build off of heading into the next one."

2. Kirby Dach's NHL debut

After being sidelined for the first week of training camp and working his way back from a concussion, the Blackhawks' No. 3 overall pick finally made his much-anticipated NHL debut. And he held his own.

Dach centered the second line with Dylan Strome playing left wing and Patrick Kane in his usual spot at right wing. He had one shot attempt, one takeaway and went 1-for-5 at the faceoff circle in 13:41 of ice time. His only noticeable blemish was not picking up Alex Ovechkin in time before he rifled a shot past Corey Crawford.

"Obviously you want to win in your first game in and help the team that way, but I felt good out there," Dach said. "But at the same time, there's things I can clean up in my game to kind of help the team moving forward."

3. Special teams is the difference

The reason the Blackhawks lost this game was their lack of success on special teams. The Capitals went 1-for-1 on the power play and scored a shorthanded goal while the Blackhawks went 0-for-5 on the power play, which included a four-minute double minor in the second period.

It was unfortunate because the Capitals entered Sunday's matchup with a +11 goal differential and +44 shot differential in the second period and a -5 goal differential and -13 shot differential in the first and third periods combined, but the Blackhawks couldn't capitalize in the middle frame even thought they outshot them 15-9. Caggiula's goal was negated just 1:28 after by Nic Down.

"You can look at in the second there, we had a lot of momentum, give up a shorthanded goal, so we gotta be better in that department," Kane said. "We also gotta be better on the power play. Comes down to things like that, but good team and I thought we had a pretty good effort overall tonight."

4. Third line stands out again

The third line of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad continues to be the driving force on offense for the Blackhawks, especially when it comes to possession. They were on the ice for 22 shot attempts for and nine against, 14 scoring chances for and four against, six high-danger chances for and one against, and one goal for and zero against in 9:07 of 5-on-5 ice time. 

Kubalik led the charge with 14 shot attempts (10 on goal) and scored a greasy goal to pull the Blackhawks within one in the third period. Kane evened it up shortly after. 

"Turned the game for us," coach Jeremy Colliton said of Kubalik's goal. "I think we were playing well, but they just took it to another level. Not only did they score, but it was an explosive shift there. And it wasn't the only good shift they had, but it really gave us momentum. They've been good."

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Instant reaction: Special teams the difference in Blackhawks loss to Capitals

Instant reaction: Special teams the difference in Blackhawks loss to Capitals

FINAL SCORE:

Capitals 5, Blackhawks 3

Snap judgments:

— The Blackhawks won the even-strength battle, but special teams was the story of the game. The Capitals went 1-for-1 on the power play while the Blackhawks went 0-for-5 and gave up a shorthanded goal.

— Kirby Dach made his NHL debut and held his own, centering the second line alongside Patrick Kane and Dylan Strome. He had one shot attempt, one takeaway and one blocked shot in 13:41 of ice time. He also went 1-for-5 in the faceoff circle with his sole win coming on the opening draw of the game.

— The third line of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad was excellent. They controlled 70.9 percent of the 5-on-5 shot attempts and 77.8 percent of the 5-on-5 scoring chances, according to Natural Stat Trick. Kubalik had a game-high 10 shots on goal.

Three stars:

1. Capitals RW Tom Wilson — Game-winning goal, three shot attempts (two on goal), four blocked shots, three hits and two takeaways in 16:48 of ice time

2. Capitals G Braden Holtby — Stopped 41 of 44 shots for a save percentage of .932

3. Blackhawks RW Dominik Kubalik — One goal, 14 shot attempts (10 on goal), two hits and one takeaway in 14:15 of ice time

Must-see highlights:

— Caggiula finishes off pretty goal by fourth line

— Kubalik's second goal of the season

— Kane goes five-hole Holtby to tie it up

What's next:

The Blackhawks host the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.