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MORE From TSN'S Hockey COLUMNISTS

Jan 4

Capitals land atop NHL Power Rankings

Alex Ovechkin

The Washington Capitals have reached the top of the TSN.ca NHL Power Rankings, ahead of the Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings.

It's not merely that the Capitals have the league's best goal-scorer or top goaltender, but they have one regulation loss in the past 15 games. That stretch earned them top spot after the Dallas Stars' recent slump.

Among the teams climbing this week, the Detroit Red Wings have won four in a row and move from12 to nine, the Carolina Hurricanes are 5-2-2 in the past nine games and rise from 25 to 22 this week, while the Arizona Coyotes are getting healthier and are 4-0-1 in the past five games, resulting in a bump from 27 to 23.

Heading the wrong way, the Montreal Canadiens continue to spin their wheels, and slide from eight to 11, and the slumping Nashville Predators -- despite a blockbuster trade -- fall from 10 to 14. Injuries have hammered the New Jersey Devils' forward ranks, dropping them from 20 to 25.

As for Canadian teams, the Winnipeg Jets are down one, to 17, and Ottawa Senators are down two, to 20. The Calgary Flames drop two spots, to 24, the Toronto Maple Leafs had been trending upwards until a harsh turn of events Saturday in San Jose, dropping from 24 to 26, one spot ahead of the Vancouver Canucks. The Edmonton Oilers are the lowest-ranked Canadian team, down to 29 after managing one regulation win in the past month.

 

Washington Capitals

32-7-3 This Week: 1 Last Week: 3

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    3.26
  • GAPG
    2.12
  • S.A. CORSI%
    51.6%
  • PP%
    26.6%
  • PK%
    85.5%

One regulation loss in the past 15 games is enough for the Capitals to finally take over top spot for the first time this season. It's great that Alex Ovechkin can be recognized as a great goal-scorer, now that he has 501, instead of just 499, but he's on a roll (12 goals in 12 games) right now.

Key Injuries: D Brooks Orpik (lower body), D John Carlson (lower body), C Jay Beagle (upper body).

Dallas Stars

29-11-4 This Week: 2 Last Week: 1

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    3.34
  • GAPG
    2.59
  • S.A. CORSI%
    53.0%
  • PP%
    22.5%
  • PK%
    81.3%

0-4-1 in the past five games knocks the Stars from top spot, and they've scored a total of four goals in the past three games. That doesn't sound like the fun and freewheeling Stars, does it?

Key Injuries: None.

Los Angeles Kings

26-12-3 This Week: 3 Last Week: 2

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.59
  • GAPG
    2.15
  • S.A. CORSI%
    56.7%
  • PP%
    19.2%
  • PK%
    81.8%

One regulation loss in the past eight for the Kings, who maybe be slightly better with Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn in the lineup, but maybe not $4-million cap space worth of better.

Key Injuries: D Matt Greene (shoulder).

Chicago Blackhawks

27-13-4 This Week: 4 Last Week: 5

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.84
  • GAPG
    2.36
  • S.A. CORSI
    53.0%
  • PP%
    22.9%
  • PK%
    81.8%

With seven straight wins, the Blackhawks are looking a lot like a championship team, and some of their big guns, like Duncan Keith (11 points in the past 11 games) and Jonathan Toews (14 points in the past 12 games), have picked up the scoring pace.

Key Injuries: None.

Florida Panthers

26-12-4 This Week: 5 Last Week: 7

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.64
  • GAPG
    2.10
  • S.A. CORSI%
    49.1%
  • PP%
    16.8%
  • PK%
    82.3%

The winning streak has reached 12 in a row, even as the Panthers have accumulated a total -- a total -- of 30 shots on goal in the past two games. There's something to be said for having the best goaltending tandem in the league.

Key Injuries: None.

St. Louis Blues

24-14-7 This Week: 6 Last Week: 4

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.40
  • GAPG
    2.44
  • S.A. CORSI%
    51.9%
  • PP%
    21.1%
  • PK%
    85.6%

The Blues have gone nine straight without a regulation win and had their lineup decimated by injuries after a couple of games in Southern California.

Key Injuries: LW Jaden Schwartz (ankle), D Jay Bouwmeester (upper body), G Jake Allen (knee), C Paul Stastny (upper body), D Carl Gunnarsson (upper body).

Boston Bruins

21-14-5 This Week: 7 Last Week: 9

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    3.03
  • GAPG
    2.68
  • S.A. CORSI%
    49.9%
  • PP%
    28.3%
  • PK%
    82.6%

Only two wins in the past eight games, but the Bruins are up this week thanks to getting a couple of quality wingers -- Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak -- back in the lineup.

Key Injuries: C David Krejci (upper body).

New York Islanders

22-15-5 This Week: 8 Last Week: 6

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.64
  • GAPG
    2.50
  • S.A. CORSI%
    49.5%
  • PP%
    17.8%
  • PK%
    86.4%

Three losses in the past four games and missing two of their top three defencemen due to injuries, the Islanders are a decent team, but don't seem like they've hit their stride at any point this season.

Key Injuries: D Johnny Boychuk (upper body), D Travis Hamonic (lower body).

Detroit Red Wings

22-13-7 This Week: 9 Last Week: 12

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.48
  • GAPG
    2.52
  • S.A. CORSI%
    50.8%
  • PP%
    17.4%
  • PK%
    80.1%

With four straight wins, the Red Wings are suddenly in second place in the Atlantic, and have a legitimate Vezina candidate in G Petr Mrazek, who has a .930 save percentage in 28 games.

Key Injuries: LW Johan Franzen (concussion), D Kyle Quincey (ankle), RW Teemu Pulkkinen (shoulder).

Minnesota Wild

22-12-8 This Week: 10 Last Week: 11

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.64
  • GAPG
    2.33
  • S.A. CORSI%
    48.7%
  • PP%
    17.9%
  • PK%
    79.2%

Seven straight games without a power play goal is not ideal, and, even so, the Wild have a unit that ranks in middle-of-the-pack for efficiency.

Key Injuries: None.

Montreal Canadiens

23-17-3 This Week: 11 Last Week: 8

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.79
  • GAPG
    2.47
  • S.A. CORSI%
    53.3%
  • PP%
    18.1%
  • PK%
    84.5%

Frustration may be mounting with the Habs, though they've split their past six games, which is a whole lot better than they had been through the month of December. If they're feeling frustration now, just wait and see how it feels after the next four with two against Chicago, and one each against St. Louis and Boston.

Key Injuries: G Carey Price (leg), RW Dale Weise (upper body), D Jeff Petry (lower body), D Tom Gilbert (lower body).

New York Rangers

22-14-5 This Week: 12 Last Week: 13

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.93
  • GAPG
    2.61
  • S.A. CORSI%
    48.5%
  • PP%
    18.8%
  • PK%
    80.1%

The Rangers have fallen on hard times, coinciding (not-so-coincidentally) with a slump for G Henrik Lundqvist, who has a .870 save percentage over the past month.

Key Injuries: LW Chris Kreider (hand)..

Tampa Bay Lightning

21-17-4 This Week: 13 Last Week: 15

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.50
  • GAPG
    2.36
  • S.A. CORSI%
    51.8%
  • PP%
    18.2%
  • PK%
    78.9%

The Wild have won three of four, which counts as progress in this uneven season, but regression can hit hard, man -- ask the Triplets.

Key Injuries: None.

Nashville Predators

19-16-7 This Week: 14 Last Week: 10

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.50
  • GAPG
    2.71
  • S.A. CORSI%
    53.8%
  • PP%
    19.6%
  • PK%
    75.4%

Acquiring Ryan Johansen might offer some long-term upside, but they have no regulation wins in the past six and that kind of drought can be trouble in the Central.

Key Injuries: LW Colin Wilson (lower body).

Pittsburgh Penguins

20-16-5 This Week: 15 Last Week: 14

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.34
  • GAPG
    2.37
  • S.A. CORSI%
    49.9%
  • PP%
    19.0%
  • PK%
    85.2%

Only two regulation losses in the past nine games, so the Penguins are getting better, but they've been inching forward. They've improved their puck possesion under new head coach Mike Sullivan, near 53% of even-strength shot attempts in 13 games.

Key Injuries: RW Beau Bennett (upper body).

San Jose Sharks

19-18-2 This Week: 16 Last Week: 19

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.70
  • GAPG
    2.86
  • S.A. CORSI%
    50.2%
  • PP%
    20.6%
  • PK%
    81.8%

Destroyed the Leafs on Saturday night and, despite an inconsistent season, the Sharks remain alive in the playoff race thanks to the horrible Pacific Division. 

Key Injuries: LW Raffi Torres (suspension).

Winnipeg Jets

19-20-3 This Week: 17 Last Week: 16

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.64
  • GAPG
    2.83
  • S.A. CORSI%
    51.7%
  • PP%
    15.4%
  • PK%
    77.1%

The Jets returned home from a five-game road trip to lose to the Buffalo Sabres in Evander Kane's return to Winnipeg. Tough loss when 44 shots on goal wasn't enough for more than two goals against Sabres rookie G Linus Ullmark.

Key Injuries: G Ondrej Pavelec (knee).

Anaheim Ducks

17-17-7 This Week: 18 Last Week: 17

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    1.85
  • GAPG
    237
  • S.A. CORSI%
    53.4%
  • PP%
    19.3%
  • PK%
    89.7%

Over the previous four seasons, only the Tampa Bay Lightning scored on a higher percentage of 5-on-5 shots than the Ducks (8.75%). This year? A league-worst 4.64%.

Key Injuries: D Simon Despres (upper body), D Cam Fowler (knee).

Philadelphia Flyers

18-15-7 This Week: 19 Last Week: 21

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.25
  • GAPG
    2.63
  • S.A. CORSI%
    48.9%
  • PP%
    15.8%
  • PK%
    78.7%

Three straight wins has lifted the Flyers into contention for a playoff spot and, even better, there's reason to think that GM Ron Hextall knows what he's doing. It's not a huge difference-maker to get rid of Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn, but the process suggests a team making smart incremental moves.

Key Injuries: None.

Ottawa Senators

20-17-6 This Week: 20 Last Week: 18

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.70
  • GAPG
    2.95
  • S.A. CORSI%
    46.3%
  • PP%
    17.9%
  • PK%
    76.2%

One regulation win in the past 10 games for a Sens team that is starting to find out what happens when you control 46% of the play at even strength. 

Key Injuries: LW Clarke MacArthur (concussion).

Colorado Avalanche

21-19-3 This Week: 21 Last Week: 23

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.91
  • GAPG
    2.86
  • S.A. CORSI%
    45.0%
  • PP%
    21.5%
  • PK%
    78.8%

Of course, the Avalanche are still a terrible possession team, but they're 12-5-2 since the beginning of December. In that time, D Tyson Barrie has picked up his production, scoring 15 points (6 G, 9 A).

Key Injuries: None.

Carolina Hurricanes

18-18-7 This Week: 22 Last Week: 25

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.37
  • GAPG
    2.72
  • S.A. CORSI%
    53.2%
  • PP%
    16.8%
  • PK%
    79.8%

With one regulation loss in the past six games, the Hurricanes are starting to see what can happen with solid goaltending. They still don't score enough, but decent goaltending and strong possession stats makes for a competitive team.

Key Injuries: D James Wisniewski (knee), LW Nathan Gerbe (lower body), RW Phil Di Giuseppe (concussion).

Arizona Coyotes

21-16-4 This Week: 23 Last Week: 27

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.83
  • GAPG
    3.02
  • S.A. CORSI%
    46.7%
  • PP%
    18.0%
  • PK%
    78.8%

One regulation loss in the past 10 games for the Coyotes, who have gotten healthier too, with Boyd Gordon and Martin Hanzal bolstering the middle of the ice. Rookie G Louis Domingue continues to kill it, with a .936 SV% in 10 games.

Key Injuries: G Mike Smith (lower body).

Calgary Flames

19-19-2 This Week: 25 Last Week: 22

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.60
  • GAPG
    3.08
  • S.A. CORSI%
    47.1%
  • PP%
    12.7%
  • PK%
    74.2%

With Jiri Hudler out, the Flames have Micheal Ferland (three goals in 58 career games) skating on the top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, introducing an opposite-to-Hudler effect.

Key Injuries: RW Michael Frolik (upper body), RW Jiri Hudler (foot).

New Jersey Devils

21-17-5 This Week: 25 Last Week: 20

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.21
  • GAPG
    2.28
  • S.A. CORSI%
    46.3%
  • PP%
    18.7%
  • PK%
    82.7%

This is not a team that can afford to have injuries to the forward ranks and, yet, here they are, with four goals in the past four games.

Key Injuries: LW Patrik Elias (knee), C Jacob Josefson (lower body), LW Mike Cammalleri (upper body), LW Jiri Tlusty (upper body).

Toronto Maple Leafs

16-17-7 This Week: 26 Last Week: 24

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.50
  • GAPG
    2.70
  • S.A. CORSI%
    49.5%
  • PP%
    18.4%
  • PK%
    81.0%

Just as it was looking like the Leafs were making some progress -- going 8-3-2 over a 13-game span -- they got drilled, 7-0, in San Jose Saturday and lost leading scorer James van Riemsdyk to a broken foot.

Key Injuries: LW James van Riemsdyk (foot).

Vancouver Canucks

16-16-10 This Week: 27 Last Week: 26

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.36
  • GAPG
    2.76
  • S. A. CORSI%
    47.4%
  • PP%
    17.1%
  • PK%
    79.4%

It's easy to be down on the Canucks, and this ranking would qualify, yet they've suffered two regulation losses in the past nine games. They also went to the unusual step of putting out a release that they are trying to trade veteran winger Chris Higgins, who has struggled this season.

Key Injuries: C Brandon Sutter (abdominal), D Dan Hamhuis (face).

Buffalo Sabres

16-22-4 This Week: 28 Last Week: 29

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.29
  • GAPG
    2.67
  • S.A. CORSI%
    46.0%
  • PP%
    20.1%
  • PK%
    76.8%

Snapped a six-game losing streak with Sunday's 4-2 victory at Winnipeg, though it required 42 saves from Linus Ullmark.

Key Injuries: G Robin Lehner (ankle), RW Tyler Ennis (upper body).

Edmonton Oilers

17-23-3 This Week: 29 Last Week: 28

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.37
  • GAPG
    2.95
  • S.A. CORSI%
    47.7%
  • PP%
    16.3%
  • PK%
    80.5%

It's been 13 games since the Oilers' last regulation win, yet they're still within five points of a playoff spot. Yay, Pacific!  

Key Injuries: C Connor McDavid (clavicle), RW Nail Yakupov (ankle), D Oscar Klefbom (finger).

Columbus Blue Jackets

15-24-4 This Week: 30 Last Week: 30

TEAM STATS

  • GPG
    2.49
  • GAPG
    3.21
  • S.A. CORSI%
    47.3%
  • PP%
    18.2%
  • PK%
    80.5%

One regulation win in the past nine games and a blockbuster trade to shake things up. Seth Jones could be really good for a long time, but he'll need to be to provide value for the departed Ryan Johansen.

Key Injuries: G Sergei Bobrovsky (groin), G Curtis McElhinney (ankle).

Notes: While all injuries are taken into account, those listed as key injuries include top nine forwards, top four defencemen and starting goaltenders.

GPG - Goals Per Game, GAPG - Goals Against Per Game

S.A. CORSI% - Score-Adjusted Corsi Percentage. The percentage of shot attempts, during 5-on-5 play, relative to the opposition, adjusted for game-score. 

PP% - Power Play%

PK% - Penalty Kill%

Much of the data included comes from great modern stats sites www.war-on-ice.com, www.puckalytics.com, and www.naturalstattrick.com

Follow Scott Cullen on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen and e-mail him at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca.