Blackhawks

NHL Power Rankings: Wild hoping to save season with coaching change

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NHL Power Rankings: Wild hoping to save season with coaching change

The Wild axed coach Mike Yeo and have turned to John Torchetti in hopes of saving a season that has gone south after losing eight straight games, and 13 of their last 14. The Ducks' surge also continued with an overtime win in Chicago over the weekend.

Meanwhile in the East, the Panthers and Lightning both slipped up, and the Red Wings are knocking on the door for the Atlantic Division lead.

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

 

Rank Team
Last Week Record/Comment
1 1

40-10-4, 84 points: The Capitals picked up a pair of road wins in Nashville and Minnesota, and nearly rallied from 4-0 against the Stars over the weekend, but fell a goal short after scoring three third-period goals.

2  

33-19-3, 69 points: Nothing says quality depth like having nine different Kings score in Tuesday's 9-2 victory over Boston, including Milan Lucic, who returned to TD Garden for the first time since getting traded to Los Angeles. 

3
 
8

27-19-8, 62 points: Ryan Getzlaf has scored three goals, including an overtime winner against Chicago, in seven games so far in February, to go along with eight assists. He scored just three goals in the team's first 43 games.

4

 
2

36-18-5, 77 points: Marian Hossa will miss roughly two weeks with a lower-body injury, which means the Blackhawks will have to find ways to play without one of their top players again.

5

 
6

32-17-9, 73 points: The Blues beat both the Panthers, who were 11-1-1 in their last 13 home games, and the Lightning, who had won nine straight at home, in their building. Solid week.

6
 
7

28-19-7, 63 points: A four-point night by Sidney Crosby in a 6-2 win over Anaheim gives him 53 points in 53 games this year, officially cracking the point-per-game mark. He's also up to No. 6 in the scoring race.

7

 
 9

36-15-5, 77 points: While they have won three straight games, the Stars took 4-0 leads into the third period against both Chicago and Washington, and nearly let both games slip away. They hung on, but they still have to tighten up defensively late in games. 

8
 
 4

32-18-6, 70 points: The Panthers are 1-3-1 in their last five games. They're simply a different team without Aleksander Barkov, who was placed on injured reserve on Sunday, meaning he'll miss at least another week.

9   5

30-21-4, 64 points: Steve Yzerman announced Monday that the Lightning will not trade Steven Stamkos before the Feb. 29 trade deadline, essentially putting all the pressure on the Bolts captain to sign a long-term extension or bring the city a Stanley Cup before he considers signing elsewhere in the offseason.

10
 
12

29-18-9, 67 points: The Red Wings went 3-0-1 last week, highlighted by a 3-0 shutout victory against Florida. They're now just three points behind those same Panthers for first in the Atlantic Division.

11

 
13

32-18-6, 70 points: The Rangers have picked up some steam, going 5-0-1 in their last six games. If they can add a natural goal-scorer at the trade deadline (similar to the Martin St. Louis acquisition in 2014), this team will be interesting to watch in the playoffs.

12
 
11

29-19-6, 64 points: The Islanders have scored at least a power play goal in each of their last five games, and are creeping into the top-10 in that category. Would be a nice complement to go along with their No. 2-ranked penalty kill unit.

13
 
10

30-20-6, 66 points: Brad Marchand has scored at least a goal in 12 of his last 13 games. An unbelievable run that isn't getting as much attention as it should be.

14


 
14 29-20-5, 63 points: The Sharks are going to be an interesting team to watch at the trade deadline. They've gone from sellers, to buyers, to potentially standing pat with Anaheim (finally) looking like a real threat in a tough Western Conference.
15
 
16

29-21-7, 65 points: Since retiring Martin Brodeur's number, the Devils are 3-0-0 and have allowed just two goals during that span, including a 1-0 shutout against Los Angeles. How fitting.

16
 
 15

25-21-10, 60 points: The Hurricanes haven't made the playoffs since 2009, and as tempting as it will be to try and keep break that streak, they have to think about the big picture and sell before the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

17
 
17 

26-21-9, 61 points: The Predators are the second-best possession team in the league (control 53.5 percent of even-strength shot attempts), but rank in the bottom-10 in shooting percentage. If that evens out (and they get improved goaltending), Nashville isn't a team to look over.

18
 
18 

27-25-4, 58 points: As the trade deadline approaches, the situation gets tougher for the Canadiens after a recent report by Montreal's La Presse indicated that Carey Price isn't expected to return before the regular season ends. Is that enough to wave the white flag on this season?

19
 
19 

29-26-4, 62 points: Jarome Iginla has recorded at least a point in five of his last six games, and has two goals and five assists in seven contests so far in February. He had nine points combined in December and January.

20
 
20 

24-21-10, 58 points: The Flyers are 1-3-2 in their last six games, a tough stretch that has pushed them even further down from the playoff picture.

21
 
24 

22-21-12, 56 points: Vancouver will be without Alex Edler (six weeks) and Brandon Sutter (six-to-eight weeks) during the final months of the season, which should confirm their status as sellers before the trade deadline.

22
 
23 25-24-6, 56 points: The Coyotes have scored seven power-play goals in their last five games, but the haven't had anything to show for it, going 1-3-1 during that span. 
23
 
25  23-28-6, 52 points: Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart are tied for No. 3 among goals scored by rookies with 16 each. Only Artemi Panarin (18) and Dylan Larking (18) have more. The future is bright in Buffalo with the high possibility of another top draft pick in 2016.
24

 
26

25-26-3, 53 points: Jonas Hiller came into the game cold during a two-minute, 5-on-3 power play for the Sharks with three minutes left in the third period in a tie game and came up big. He's 3-1-0 in the month of February with a .930 save percentage.

25   27 

23-28-6, 52 points: The Blue Jackets have quietly picked up a point in eight of their last nine games, which includes a 4-3 shootout win over a red-hot Anaheim team. Ryan Murray also signed a two-year contract extension to stay in Columbus. Up next: Seth Jones.

26
 
21

25-26-6, 56 points: Dion Phaneuf is a solid top-four defenseman, but he obviously comes at an expensive price. It's a great short-term pick-up that will certainly help lift a Senators blue line from the basement, but this may not have been the best long-term decision, especially considering there was no salary retained.

27   28

25-27-3, 53 points: Ondrej Pavelec appeared in his first game since Nov. 21 and stopped 21 of 22 shots a win over Edmonton. With the emergence of Connor Hellebuyck, Pavelec could make for an interesting trade deadline piece for teams looking to strengthen their goaltending position for the stretch (and postseason) run.

28
 
22

23-22-10, 56 points: Mike Yeo may not have deserved to be fired, but something needed to change in Minnesota. John Torchetti, who was an assistant on the Blackhawks' 2010 team that won the Stanley Cup, is a solid interim head coach. If this doesn't work, there's no where else to look but the roster.

29   29

22-29-6, 50 points: Is it possible that Connor McDavid is still in the Calder Trophy conversation? A five-point night in a win against Toronto last week gives him 12 points (four goals and eight assists) in seven games since his return from injury, and is back into the top-10 of the rookie scoring race with 24 points.

30   30

20-25-9, 49 points: After losing three straight games, the Maple Leafs closed out the week by picking up their first regulation win since Jan. 19, albeit against Vancouver. Oh, and they also got rid of Dion Phaneuf's contract of $7 million a year until 2021.

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

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Apparently time doesn’t heal all wounds. 

Nearly a year and a half since being traded to the Coyotes, Niklas Hjalmarsson will return to the United Center ice on Thursday playing for the visiting team.  

“It’s going to be strange coming in as the away team and being in the other locker room,” said Hjalmarsson on Wednesday. “I bet it’s going to be a lot of emotions and mixed feelings.” 

This is also the first time Hjalmarsson has been back to the city of Chicago since he was traded, a city he called his “second home.” A home where he spent parts of 10 seasons, and never really planned on leaving.

“I wasn’t happy, to be honest with you,” said Hjalmarsson of the trade to Arizona. “I was shocked. It took me a couple days to actually realize I wasn’t going to play for the Hawks anymore.”

Including the playoffs, Hjalmarsson played 751 games in the Indian head sweater. Despite that and the team’s three Stanley Cup victories, the Blackhawks shipped him off to Arizona for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin in June of 2017.

“You kind of let it go after a while,” he said. “Now I’m just hoping all the success for the guys over here too.”

Hjalmarsson was known for his toughness, repeatedly blocking shot after shot, giving up his body, while never missing a shift. He credits his long-time teammates — Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook — for a lot of his success and identity on the blue line.

“I couldn’t have had better role models coming into a team,” he said. “I’m very thankful to have played on the same team as those guys and created a lot of success together. We’re always going to be connected with the Cups that we’ve had.”

The third championship won by that defense-trio was on United Center ice against the Lightning in 2015, but that isn’t the memory that stands out most for Hjalmarsson.

“The first Cup is always going to be pretty special,” said the 31-year old. “Even just going to the conference final (in 2009), even when we lost against Detroit that year, the year before was great memories too. The first time for me going into the playoffs and playing deep.”

The tables have turned now for both Hjalmarsson and the Blackhawks. 

The Coyotes have yet to score an even-strength goal this season, while the Blackhawks have claimed eight of a possible 10 points thus far through five games and expect to have their starting goaltender back between the pipes. 

But you won’t hear any ill-will from Hjalmarsson, he’s still rooting for the Hawks.

“I always think that Chicago deserves to have a team in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s not that I wish them not to do well. It’s the total opposite. I want them to have continued success.”