The first few games back from the All-Star break are usually a struggle to regain the consistency they had before the layoff, but most of the teams at the top of the Super 16 didn't break stride.
The Rangers secured the No. 1 spot with their 5-2 win against the Flyers, who had a strong victory against the Nashville Predators at home this week but dropped two straight to the Rangers and New Jersey Devils in subsequent games.
The Devils, meanwhile, went 4-0 out of the break, with three wins against some of the East's top teams -- the Rangers, Flyers and Penguins.
The Blackhawks are struggling, but they had such a strong start that a mid-season hiccup shouldn't damage their place in the standings if they can right the ship quickly.
How is everyone else doing in this week's power rankings? Let's take a look:
If you have any problems, questions, anger or praise for this list, you can let me know on Twitter: @davelozo
|RANK ||TEAM (RECORD) ||LAST WK ||COMMENTARY |
|1 ||N.Y. Rangers (33-12-5) ||1 ||The Rangers are in the midst of a stretch where they are playing 36 straight games without leaving their time zone. A trip to Chicago on March 9 ends that streak. |
|2 ||Detroit (35-16-2) ||2 ||If the Wings' time without Jimmy Howard is extended, will Ken Holland make a deal for a goalie? Ty Conklin was yanked Saturday after allowing three first-period goals. |
|3 ||Nashville (32-17-4) ||3 || |
The Preds have a stigma of being an offensively challenged team, but at 2.76 per game, they rank 12th, two-hundredths of a point behind the San Jose Sharks.
|4 ||Vancouver (32-15-5) ||6 ||The Canucks' last four games and seven of nine have gone beyond regulation. They went past 60 minutes only 7 times in their first 43 games. |
|5 ||Boston (33-16-2) ||4 ||When historians study our society thousands of years from now, they will be mystified by two things -- the Kardashians' popularity and how Carolina went 4-0 vs. Boston. |
|6 ||Pittsburgh (30-18-4) |
|7 || |
In this stretch in which the Penguins have won 8 of 9, they are 6-1 in one-goal games. The one loss was 1-0 to the Leafs with backup Brent Johnson not getting any support.
|7 ||San Jose (29-15-6) ||10 || |
Before Saturday's loss in Phoenix in which the Sharks led 1-0, San Jose was 18-3-1 when scoring first. The Coyotes were 4-17-3 when giving up the first goal.
|8 ||St. Louis (30-14-7) ||5 || |
The Blues have scored two goals or fewer in four straight and six of seven. They went 1-2-1 in four games with the Pens, Wings, Kings and Predators since Jan. 23.
|9 ||New Jersey (29-19-3) ||14 ||Alexei Ponikarovsky has quietly been a solid addition by the Devils. In six games, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound left wing has 2 goals and 4 assists. |
|10 ||Philadelphia (30-16-6) ||8 ||The Flyers haven't strung together two straight wins since Jan. 10-12. They are 10-7-3 since a seven-game winning streak that kicked off December. |
|11 ||Chicago (29-17-7) ||9 ||The Blackhawks are in the midst of a five-game losing streak, their longest since March 2009. They've allowed 22 goals during the skid. |
|12 ||Los Angeles (25-18-10) ||11 ||The Kings' six-game road trip got off to a bumpy start with losses to the Blues and Hurricanes on back-to-back nights. |
|13 ||Toronto (27-19-6) ||15 || |
James Reimer hadn't started since Jan. 17 before registering back-to-back shutouts this week vs. the Pens and Sens, making 74 saves in the process.
|14 ||Florida (24-16-11) ||16 ||They continue to hold off the Caps in the battle for the Southeast Division. The two teams will meet again Tuesday and one more time Feb. 17. |
|15 ||Washington (27-21-4) ||12 || |
Nicklas Backstrom hasn't played since Jan. 3 due to a concussion, yet he still leads the team in assists and points.
|16 ||Minnesota (25-19-8) ||NR ||After stumbling for about six weeks, the Wild are starting to find it again. They've won 3 of 5 and have a four-game homestand starting this week. |
Author: Dave Lozo | NHL.com Staff Writer