Let's take a look at the rest of the rankings, which include a New York team few thought would be hanging around this close to the Stanley Cup Playoff picture this late in the season:
1. Anaheim Ducks (1) -- Faced with three straight road games against tough opponents, the Ducks went 2-0-1, picking up five of six points in their pursuit of the Blackhawks. The Ducks haven't lost in regulation in 10 games (7-0-3).
2. Chicago Blackhawks (2) – They had a light two-game schedule this past week and won both games, including the 8-1 destruction of the Dallas Stars. A showdown with the Ducks in Anaheim looms Wednesday night between the NHL's two-best teams.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (4) -- Nine straight wins for the Penguins, six of which have come with Evgeni Malkin out of the lineup. Their two wins in six days against the Boston Bruins cemented Pittsburgh as the East's top team entering the second half.
4. Montreal Canadiens (5) -- All the Canadiens have done lately is win five in row and earn at least a point in 16 of 17 games (13-1-3). They have a chance to open some distance on the Bruins in the Northeast this week with a pair of games against the Buffalo Sabres and one against the New York Islanders.
5. Boston Bruins (3) -- The only blemishes on the Bruins' record in their past seven games are those two losses in Pittsburgh. They have three tough road dates this week – at Winnipeg, Ottawa and Toronto.
6. St. Louis Blues (9) -- They took advantage of a three-game homestand by beating the Sharks, Coyotes and Ducks last week. Winners of five of six, goaltender Jake Allen, an afterthought with the Blues before the season, owns the five wins in that streak.
7. Minnesota Wild (8) -- In their past five games, the Wild are 4-1-0. Their only loss was a 2-1 setback against the Ducks in the game Jason Zucker was hurt by Corey Perry's illegal hit. As the season progresses, the Wild continue to improve.
8. Los Angeles Kings (6) -- The Kings split their four games last week, winning a pair at Staples Center and losing two on the road. Jonathan Quick continues to struggle, as he was pulled from Thursday's game against the San Jose Sharks after allowing three goals on 12 shots.
9. Ottawa Senators (12) -- It's time to stop qualifying the Senators' success with statements like, "Even with injuries…" because they have proven for a long enough period that injuries aren't hampering them. They have points in five straight (3-0-2).
10. Detroit Red Wings (13) -- After laying an egg in Calgary on Wednesday, the Red Wings squeezed out a pair of road wins against the Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks. After a quick stop at home to face the Wild, the Red Wings embark on a five-game road trip that starts with back-to-back games against the Anaheim Ducks.
11. Carolina Hurricanes (7) -- If the Hurricanes miss the postseason by a point or two, they'll rue their home loss to the Washington Capitals in which they let a 2-0 lead turn into a 3-2 regulation loss. They start the week with a huge road game with the New York Rangers on Monday.
12. Vancouver Canucks (NR) – A battle for Northwest supremacy will take place with the Minnesota Wild in Vancouver on Monday with the Canucks having won two of their past three. If they want to re-affirm their divisional dominance of the past two seasons, the Canucks need to be better than they were Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.
13. Columbus Blue Jackets (15) -- They lost two of three last week, but both came after regulation, which extends their point streak to 10 games. Nine of those 10 games have gone beyond regulation and they are 7-0-3 during that stretch. A playoff spot is actually within striking distance for the Jackets.
14. Winnipeg Jets (NR) -- They ran out of gas Sunday against the Senators, but they finished a busy week with a 3-1 mark and are 5-1-1 in their past seven games. They are 9-6-2 on the road and 6-6-0 at home. If they can rediscover the MTS Centre magic they had last year, a playoff berth could be theirs.
15. Phoenix Coyotes (14) -- Facing three of the NHL's hottest teams last week, the Coyotes went 1-1-1 against the Kings, Blues and Jackets. It doesn't get an easier, as the Coyotes play two straight games Monday and Tuesday in Los Angeles to start this week.
16. New York Islanders (NR) -- When the calendar turned to March, the Islanders became a different team. They're 5-1-1 this month, and if you throw out a 6-1 drubbing against the red-hot Penguins, they're outscoring opponents 21-12. The Canadiens' only regulation loss since Feb. 9 came against the Islanders.
Just missed: San Jose, N.Y. Rangers, Toronto, New Jersey, Edmonton
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