No Crosby, no problem as Penguins, winners of 15 straight, remain atop power rankings; Coyotes 25th.
By AJ PEREZFS Arizona
Pittsburgh Penguins’ winning streak stands at 15 games entering the week, two shy of the NHL record. It certainly doesn’t appear that captain Sidney Crosby (broken jaw) will be back in time to help lead the Pens get there. Cushioning the departure of the league’s leading scorer (56 points) will be a trio of acquisitions:
Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and
Douglas Murray. Count on several other clubs to be active before Wednesday's deadline, too. Teams are trying to add pieces for a playoff push, and next year’s smaller salary cap could make it even more interesting.
1. Penguins 28-8 -0 --
That pickup of Jarome Iginla certainly looms larger about now, especially from a leadership standpoint. The Pens will be without captain Sidney Crosby indefinitely after surgery to repair his broken jaw.
2. Blackhawks 26-5 -3 +1
A 7-1 thrashing of the Red Wings on Sunday helps mask the fact that the Blackhawks have lost to the
Ducks twice in the past two weeks. It’s no big deal now, but the playoffs are less than a month away.
Habs goalie Carey Price certainly didn’t languish over getting yanked on Wednesday, maybe aided by the fact his team beat the Bruins 6-5 in a shootout that night. He made 34 saves in a 3-0 victory against the Rangers on Saturday for his third shutout of the season. Another bright spot for the Habs down the stretch: former holdout defenseman PK Subban, who had a goal and three assists in the game.
4. Ducks 23-7 -5 -2
Anaheim can beat the Chicago. The Ducks’ victory over the Blackhawks on Friday was their only win in a six-game span. Granted, Anaheim tossed 17 shots at
Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and scored only once — a tally that forced OT, where Columbus prevailed on Sunday.
Minnesota’s seven-game win streak was snapped in Dallas on Friday, but at least it didn’t become a streak headed in the other direction on Saturday. The Wild came back from two goals down to the beat the Kings 4-3 in a shootout. The Wild entered this week 10-2-0 in their past 12 games.
6. Bruins 22-8 -4 --
It’s not good to encourage fighting, but the Bruins haven’t been bad when they drop the gloves. The Bruins are 11-4-2 this season and 41-16-3 the past two seasons when they’ve been assessed one or might fighting majors.
7. Canucks 19-10 -6 --
It was ugly. Oilers forward Taylor Hall scored three goals in the first eight minutes of Saturday’s 4-0 loss. The loss was the first for the Canucks since March 18, snapping a six-game winning streak.
8. Maple Leafs 20-12 -4 --
Party like it’s 2004? The Maple Leafs took more strides toward their first playoff berth in nine years, the latest coming with a 4-0 victory over the
Senators on Saturday. The Leafs entered the week with three straight victories a nine-point cushion on the ninth-place Islanders.
9. Senators 19-10 -6 --
Just as troubling as that 4-0 letdown against the Leafs on Saturday has been goalie Craig Anderson’s progress after a sprained ankle. He hasn’t played since Feb. 21, although he has returned to practice of late and could be back in the lineup as soon as later this week. He was a Vezina Trophy candidate before his injury.
10. Sharks 17-11 -6 +7
It’s obvious that defenseman Douglas Murray was the issue in San Jose. Well, not really, but the Sharks have moved on after Murray was dealt to the Penguins last week by winning three in a row.
11. Kings 20-12 -3 --
Los Angeles entered this week 15-6-1 in its past 22 games, the latest victory coming in a 3-2 decision against the Stars on Sunday. A Kings defense that still lacks defenseman Matt Greene (herniated disc) allowed only 15 shots on net during the game.
12. Devils 15-11 -9 --
The Devils had gotten points in six consecutive games entering this week, even if the last three were losses either in OT or in a shootout. An extra session could have been avoided the last two games (Lightning on Friday and Panthers on Saturday), as the Devils held a lead in each.
13. Blue Jackets 15-14 -7 +1
A three-game skid that ended Friday with a victory over the Flames didn’t help the Blue Jackets’ playoff chances. But a 2-1 OT victory over the Ducks on Sunday moved Columbus into the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. It also showed that these Blue Jackets could be for real.
14. Red Wings 17-13 -5 -4
Detroit was outscored 9-1 total in losses to San Jose (Thursday) and Chicago (Sunday). Those are the kind of losses that make a general manager re-examine things this close to the deadline, but it’s doubtful Ken Holland will make any rash decisions.
15. Jets 18-16 -2 --
Winnipeg isn’t exactly running and hiding with the Southeast Division. The Jets entered this week with two wins in a six-game stretch. On a positive note: The Jets are on the road with games against the Rangers (Monday), Islanders (Tuesday) and Canadiens (Thursday). Winnipeg is 10-7-2 on the road and below .500 at home.
16. Blues 17-14 -2 -3
Losers of their past three entering Monday’s game against the Wild, the Blues have gotten away from the stingy defense they opened the season with. Maybe the addition of defenseman Jordan Leopold (acquired from the Sabres over the weekend) will change things.
17. Oilers 14-13 -7 +9
The Oilers closed March with three consecutive wins, outscoring the opposition 13-4, with two shutouts, in the process. Forward Taylor Hall set a record Saturday, scoring the quickest hat trick in Oilers history (7 minutes, 53 seconds) in a 5-4 win over the Canucks.
18. Rangers 16-15 -3 --
Rangers coach John Tortorella said there is “no sense in dragging your (butt) around” after Saturday’s 3-0 loss. (The Rangers had also been shut out a game prior by the Senators.) The Rangers have 14 games remaining and are clinging to the final playoff spot in the East (via a tiebreaker) entering play Monday.
19. Stars 16-15 -3 -3
Dallas is 1-2 since dealing captain Brenden Morrow to Pittsburgh. The Stars were listless for a decent portion of Sunday’s 3-2 to loss to Los Angeles. Sure, the Stars are three points out of a playoff spot entering play Monday, but this doesn’t look like a playoff team at the moment.
20. Islanders 16-16 -3 +5
Only four goalies have played more games than Evgeni Nabokov, who has seen action in 30 of the Islanders’ 35 games. There’s a good reason: No other Islanders goalie has earned a victory this season. He was again solid in Saturday’s 2-0 loss, holding Pittsburgh scoreless for the first 48 minutes.
21. Capitals 16-17 -2 -2
Sunday’s loss to the Flyers was a letdown of literally historic proportions, at least as far as the regular season is concerned. The Caps lost for the first time in franchise history when holding a lead with 10 seconds left, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Caps actually had a two-goal lead late that turned in what turned into a 5-4 OT loss. Not that kind of game that helps a playoff push.
22. Predators 14-14 -7 -2
Center Mike Fisher, one of the Preds’ few bright spots offensively, was forced to sit out Saturday’s 1-0 OT loss to the
Colorado Avalanche. Fisher (day-to-day with an upper body injury) has an eight-point (five goals, four assists) streak going entering this week.
23. Hurricanes 16-15 -2 -2
Powered by a first line (Eric Staal, Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty) that has scored a combined 95 points (40 goals and 55 assists), scoring hasn’t been the issue this season in Carolina. Defense and goaltending has. The team hasn’t shown much consistency, either even strength or on the penalty kill.
24. Flyers 15-17 -3 +3
The Flyers rallied from two goals down late to beat the Caps in OT on Sunday. Philly will need a comeback almost as dramatic to make the playoffs.
25. Coyotes 14-15 -6 -3
The Coyotes had fewer wins last week (a 4-2 victory over Vancouver) than new suitors (AltaCorp Capital chairman and CEO George Gosbee as well as Capstone Affluent Strategies CEO Darin Pastor, according to FOXSportsArizona.com’s Craig Morgan). The chances of the Coyotes making the playoffs are about the same as them heading out of town: 50-50.
26. Flames 13-16 -4 -3
Already dealing captain Jarome Iginla, the Flames are certainly sellers come the trade deadline. Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and goalie Miikka Kiprusoff are the next who appear to be on the block on a team that has sat in the West basement much of the season.
27. Sabres 13-17 -6 -3
The Sabres closed out the month with four consecutive losses, a run that came after a three-game winning streak. There are lots of problems in Buffalo, including the power play. Buffalo is second-worst in the league with the extra man (13.1 percent).
28. Avalanche 12-18 -4 --
Like the losses, the injuries have piled up for the Avs. Colorado has lost 93 man-games to injuries this season.
29. Lightning 15-18 -1 --
A 5-4 shootout victory over the Devils on Friday gave the Lightning consecutive victories, the second time they accomplished that feat in March. Maybe more uplifting for Lightning fans was the news Martin St. Louis wouldn’t be traded.
30. Panthers 11-19 -6 --
The Panthers have allowed the most goals per game (3.44) this season. It comes to no surprise that Florida has averaged 4.36 goals in their 11 victories entering the week (including the goal awarded for a shootout win).