Rick Nash surely could have helped the league’s 28th-ranked power play. With no regulation victories since their 3-0 win at Boston on Valentine’s Day, the Rangers hold on to the top spot by the skin of their teeth.
2 Canucks 40-16-7 +1
A 12-1-4 record since Jan. 17 lifts Vancouver atop the West. They added Samuel Pahlsson, a former Cup winner, at the deadline. They’re well positioned for a long run.
3 Red Wings 41-19-3 -1
It’s not like Detroit to get complacent, but it has dropped all three games since goaltender Jimmy Howard returned to the lineup. The Red Wings appeared a little short on energy on Saturday. They play Tuesday in Columbus, and the Blue Jackets should expect the Wings’ best effort.
4 Blues 39-17-7
St. Louis’ penalty killing and goaltending have allowed it to eke out a pair of shootout wins, which is always a good way to begin a six-game road trip. Jaroslav Halak has two shutouts and a .944 save percentage in February.
5 Bruins 37-20-3
Tyler Seguin has slowed considerably in his past 13 games, posting five points (one goal, four assists) and a plus/minus rating of minus-three. After a 3-2-1 trip, the B’s return home for three straight against Ottawa, New Jersey and the Islanders.
6 Penguins 36-21-5 +1
After wins in six of eight, Pittsburgh slows down a bit this week with only two games, a trip to Colorado and Dallas. There’s also a home game next Monday against Phoenix, so a lot of Western Conference teams will become big Pens fans this week.
7 Predators 37-19-7 +1
Nashville’s schedule the past four weeks has been among the most difficult in hockey. The Predators’ seven one-goal games this month should prepare them for the playoffs. Pekka Rinne enters the week having made 10 straight starts.
8 Devils 35-23-4 -2
The Devils will play road games in four different arenas this week without traveling more than 250 miles from home. They have lost two straight. Their game Monday night against the Rangers at the Garden should have playoff intensity.
9 Coyotes 32-21-9 +3
With 41-year-olds in Detroit and Anaheim providing vintage minutes, it’s also time for 39-year old Ray Whitney to get some love. With points in 13 out of 14, Whitney leads Phoenix with 57 points. The Coyotes have risen to the top of the Pacific with a 10-0-1 stretch. The Winnipeg/Phoenix franchise never has raised a division banner.
10 Ducks 27-26-10 +3
After passing Luc Robitaille for 20th place on the all-time points list, Teemu Selanne is three points from tying Jari Kurri’s record as the highest-scoring Finnish player in league history. Anaheim’s 38 points in the standings since Jan. 1 are the most in the NHL.
11 Flyers 34-20-7 -2
Leading the NHL with 3.3 goals a game, the Flyers are outscoring several of their issues – penalty killing (80.6 percent, 23rd in the NHL) and faceoff percentage (48.5 percent, 26th). They have allowed the seventh-fewest shots but the fourth-most goals, a sign of poor goaltending.
12 Senators 33-23-8 +3
Having acquired goaltender Ben Bishop from the St. Louis Blues, Ottawa has some competition for minutes as Craig Anderson recovers from an injured finger. Robin Lehner made his case with a 28-save performance Sunday in a 5-2 victory over the Islanders.
13 Panthers 29-20-12 +1
If the Panthers are in first place heading into the final two or three weeks of the season, they’re in good shape. Of their final 10 games, only two (at Detroit, vs. Winnipeg) are against current playoff teams.
14 Sharks 32-22-7 -4
The thud you heard was the Sharks falling to within one point of the playoff floor. After a 2-6-1 road trip, they return to the friendlier Shark Tank for four straight. San Jose hasn’t missed the playoffs since 2003.
15 Blackhawks 33-24-7 -4
Patrick Kane’s tally on Sunday was Chicago’s first power-play goal in February and the only Blackhawks goal in a weekend in which they were outscored 7-1 by Los Angeles and Anaheim. They need center Jonathan Toews back badly; he might return against Toronto on Wednesday.
16 Stars 33-26-4 +5
Oh, those #PeskyStars. Dallas didn’t make any friends among the playoff hopefuls when it came from behind to beat Vancouver on Sunday afternoon. Pittsburgh visits on Wednesday before the Stars head out for a three-game trip through western Canada.
17 Jets 30-27-8 +1
With Jets getting points in six straight games and a healthy lineup, we’re heading in the right direction toward our goal of the directionally challenged “Southeast Division” banner hanging from the rafters in central Manitoba.
18 Avalanche 33-27-4 +4
The speedy Avs have outscored their opponents 13-4 during a three-game winning streak. The streaky Avs have won or lost at least three in a row 10 different times this season.
19 Kings 28-23-12
The Kings didn’t expect this kind of dogfight simply to get into the playoffs. Jeff Carter needs to produce immediately for the NHL’s worst offense as an unfriendly schedule looms. Of LA’s 20 remaining games, 12 are on the road and eight are against the top seven teams in the rankings.
20 Capitals 31-26-5 -3
It has been an awfully rough go for Mike Knuble, who was a healthy scratch Saturday for the fifth time this month. In 57 games this year, the 39-year-old has 12 points and a team-worst minus-16 rating.
21 Flames 28-24-11 -5
Tom Kostopoulos’ shorthanded goal Saturday against Philadelphia was Calgary’s first since Feb. 20, 2011. The Flames have been outshot in 10 straight games, outshot by 104 total shots in that time. Yet they went 4-1-5.
22 Wild 28-25-9 +4
The Wild picked up the pieces last week with wins in three of four games against teams currently in the playoffs. Dany Heatley is on pace for 26 goals, which would tie his lowest output in seven years.
23 Maple Leafs 29-26-7 -3
Neither James Reimer nor Jonas Gustavsson has been able to stop the Leafs’ skid. Losers of eight of nine and three points out of a playoff spot with 20 games remaining, Toronto faces an important next two weeks.
24 Sabres 27-27-8 +3
The Sabres have had 22 different players miss at least one game because of injury. Only Jason Pominville and Jhonas Enroth have been available for every game. Buffalo is 7-3-3 since the All-Star break.
25 Lightning 28-28-6
Martin St. Louis scored three times Sunday in Tampa Bay’s 4-3 victory at New Jersey, giving him 320 goals in his career. The Bolts are playing better than their 8-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday indicates.
26 Hurricanes 23-26-13 +2
Jiri Tlusti’s nine-game point streak ended Saturday in a shootout loss to Florida. The banged-up ’Canes should get Cam Ward back at some point this week. Justin Peters was 2-1-2 in the team’s five games entering Monday.
27 Islanders 26-28-8 -4
The Isles were outscored 16-6 in regulation last week but eked out a shootout victory over the Rangers. They have allowed at least two power play goals in three of their past six games.
28 Canadiens 24-29-10 -4
David Desharnais has been a nice story despite Montreal’s struggles, but there’s not a whole lot else to find excitement about. The Habs have scored four goals during a four-game losing streak and haven’t won in regulation in more than two weeks.
29 Oilers 25-31-6
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored Saturday in his return from a shoulder injury that has limited him to only four games since Jan. 1. He will skate alongside Ales Hemsky and Taylor Hall. We think the Oilers can play better than .500 hockey through their final 21 games if they remain healthy.
30 Blue Jackets 18-37-7
Though a minus-one and acting as a screen on one of Pittsburgh’s goals, Jack Johnson looked fine pulling the strings on Columbus’ power play in his debut Saturday. When the Jackets don’t bring their absolute best effort, they suffer losses like their 5-0 defeat vs. Colorado on Friday.