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Super 16: Big leaps for Devils, Canucks, Ducks

by Dave Lozo

Power rankings are completely subjective, to be sure, but there’s just no arguing against the Chicago Blackhawks as the NHL’s top team.

After that, let the debate begin.

The Boston Bruins aren't that far behind. The New Jersey Devils are on fire. The Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks are surging. There are a lot of teams who seemed to have found their legs during the third week of the season.

Let's take a look at how the Super 16 stacks up as we enter the fourth week of the season.

1 1 Chicago Blackhawks: There's not much left to say that hasn't been said about the NHL's best team, but how about their even-strength play? They are averaging 2.58 goals per game when the manpower for each side is equal, which is the same or more than 12 teams are averaging in all phases. The Blackhawks are flat-out dominant right now.
2 3 Boston Bruins: The Bruins have been quietly plugging along atop the Eastern Conference (in points percentage). Just like Chicago, the Bruins haven't needed a dominant power play to get off to their great start -- they are 28th in the NHL with the man-advantage at 10.3 percent.
3 12
New Jersey Devils: After losing four straight (three after regulation), the Devils have torn through the NHL like a rock through a wet paper towel. They've allowed just five goals during their current five-game winning streak, and David Clarkson is tied with Patrick Marleau and Patrick Kane for second in the NHL in goals with nine.
4 8 Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks are scoring 2.82 goals per game without Ryan Kesler, a minimal drop-off from their 2.94 per game last season. A big reason is the offense coming from the blue line -- Canucks defensemen have eight goals in 11 games after scoring 40 in 82 games last season.
5 9 Anaheim Ducks: The biggest blemish on this great start for the Ducks is the penalty kill. In 40 shorthanded situations, the Ducks have allowed 13 goals, which ranks them 29th (67.5) in the NHL. They have won just 46 percent of shorthanded draws. It's a negative, sure, but it's also a sign the Ducks have room to get even better.
6 2
San Jose Sharks: The Sharks have only been as good as their power play. They opened 5-0 and went 12-for-32 in those wins. They are 1-for-25 in their last six games (2-2-2) and have zero regulation/overtime wins in that stretch. With just eight 5-on-5 goals in their last six games, there's cause for concern in San Jose.
7 5
Pittsburgh Penguins: Things were going pretty well for the Penguins until they ran into the Devils this weekend. The back-to-back losses snapped a five-game winning streak in which they outscored the opposition 23-8. Luckily for the Penguins, they don't run into Peter DeBoer's club again until their 47th game of the regular season.
8 10
New York Rangers: Are they finally back? The wildly inconsistent Rangers are healthy and above .500 for the first time this season after taking apart the Lightning on Sunday. After relying so heavily on Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Rick Nash, 10 of their last 13 goals have come from players other than their big three. They have won five of seven.
9 NR Detroit Red Wings: After finishing the 2011-12 season with the Ottawa 67's of the OHL, 20-year-old Petr Mrazek played three games with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. He was promoted to Grand Rapids of the AHL and after 25 games with the Griffins, made his NHL debut Thursday and stopped 26 shots in a 5-1 win in St. Louis. Not bad for a 2010 fifth-round pick.
10 NR Toronto Maple Leafs: It's looking more and more like James Reimer is becoming the unquestioned No. 1 goaltender for the Maple Leafs. His goals-against average is 2.30, 10th among goalies with at least eight starts, and his .929 save percentage is fifth. In his eight starts, he's facing an average of 32.5 shots per game.
11 16 Nashville Predators: The Predators are 4-1-1 in their last six, and yes, to say they are having trouble scoring goals would be an understatement. They have been blanked in three of their 12 games, but were on quite a roll (11 goals in four games) before running into the buzzsaw that is the Chicago Blackhawks.
12 4 St. Louis Blues: Just how out-of-nowhere is this Blues' four-game losing streak in which they've been outscored 21-10? Last year, in 78 games under coach Ken Hitchcock, the Blues allowed five goals in a game three times; it's happened in four straight games. Thanks to the fertile hockey mind of E.J. Hradek for that piece of information.
13 7 Montreal Canadiens: Carey Price allowed six goals Saturday to the Leafs, the most he's allowed in a game since Feb. 9, 2011 when he gave up eight to the Bruins. That night was more memorable for another reason -- during the second period, he was assessed a fighting major for scrapping with fellow goalie Tim Thomas.
14 NR Dallas Stars: After a 2-4-1 beginning to the season, the Stars have been buoyed by Kari Lehtonen, who is unbeaten in his past four starts. Three of the wins came on the road with the fourth a home win against the red-hot Ducks. The Stars have won all three games in which Jamie Benn has scored.
15 6
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning cooled considerably after leaving Florida. They went 0-3 on a road trip that saw a fourth game in Boston postponed by a blizzard. They are still getting their scoring chances, but they have just six goals in their last four games after scoring 37 goals in their first seven games.
16 13 Ottawa Senators: This team misses Jason Spezza like the deserts miss the rain, but they're still carving out points without their leading scorer of a year ago. They went 1-1-1 last week and could've been 2-0-1 or 1-0-2 if they could've squeezed out another goal against Winnipeg on Saturday.

Just Missed: Carolina, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Minnesota, Edmonton


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