Updated: February 8, 2016, 12:27 PM ET

Not looking back


By Pierre LeBrun (posted Feb. 8, 2016)

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Anaheim Ducks repaid my faith in them from the last Power Rankings with powerful weeks. And the Boston Bruins get a big push up this week. As always, my rankings are based on this simple formula: If the playoffs started today, here's how I rank my Cup contenders, with some consideration for current form but also realistic season-long trajectory.

Rk(LW)TeamRec
1
Chicago
36-16-4
Ho-hum (picture Jonathan Toews yawning), the Blackhawks come out of the break and win games in Colorado, Arizona and Dallas. When do the playoffs start again?
2
Washington
38-9-4
The Caps have won three straight but strangely haven't scored a power-play goal since Jan. 19, going 0-for-17 over the past five games with the man advantage.
3
Tampa Bay
29-18-4
Last season's Stanley Cup finalists are looking like Cup contenders again, winning 10 of their past 11 games.
4
Anaheim
25-18-7
On the morning of Dec. 26, the Ducks were 12-15-6, seemingly going nowhere. They've since gone 13-3-1. Watch out, world: The Ducks are very much back, baby.
5
Florida
31-15-6
Their five-game winning streak was snapped with an OT loss to the visiting Penguins on Saturday night. Still, the Panthers are for real, a comment I'm hearing more and more from opposing scouts and hockey execs.
6
Los Angeles
31-17-3
The Pacific Division leaders begin a seven-game road trip Tuesday in Boston, with stops after that in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Newark, Washington, St. Louis and Nashville.
7
St. Louis
30-17-8
Goalie Brian Elliott has done a check of job replacing No. 1 Jake Allen since the latter went down. No surprise, really, because that's Elliott's track record in these situations.
8
NY Rangers
29-18-5
I wonder if we'll look back at that come-from-behind win at Philadelphia on Saturday and view it as the turning point in the season for the Blueshirts.
9
Boston
28-18-6
Said a rival Eastern Conference hockey exec Sunday, "The Bruins are a sleeper. Quietly having a real good season." Take a bow, Claude Julien, you've earned it.
10
Dallas
33-15-5
Their three-game winning streak was snapped with a 5-1 loss at home to the mighty Blackhawks. I think we know who's king in the Central. Stars are in Chicago on Thursday night for the rematch.
11
Pittsburgh
26-18-7
Five wins in their past six games for the surging Penguins. Tough test Monday night with the red-hot Ducks visiting.
12
Detroit
26-18-8
The Red Wings were swept in Florida but responded with 5-1 wax job over the Islanders. The Panthers visit Monday night.
13
NY Islanders
27-18-6
Funny weekend for the Isles, who were hammered 5-1 in Detroit but then went home and crushed the Oilers 8-1.
14
San Jose
27-20-4
Marc-Edouard Vlasic has played his way back into the World Cup conversation for Team Canada.
15
New Jersey
26-20-7
GM Ray Shero has had the golden touch in his first year at the helm, including training-camp-invitee-turned-point-machine Lee Stempniak.
16
Nashville
25-20-8
The Predators responded to getting pounded 6-3 by the Flyers with a 6-2 pounding of the Sharks. Talk about a tough week ahead with games versus the Capitals, Lightning and Panthers.
17
Carolina
24-21-9
Jordan Staal is playing his best hockey since he arrived in Carolina, putting up 16 points (5-11) in his past 14 games.
18
Colorado
27-24-4
The Avs began the post-All-Star break with three straight losses to Central Division rivals. The Canucks visit Tuesday night.
19
Philadelphia
23-19-9
The playoff push took a tough hit with back-to-back losses this weekend, although the Flyers are still alive at just four points out.
20
Ottawa
24-23-6
They got a blowout win over the rival Maple Leafs after suffering a blowout loss to the Oilers. You just never know what you're going to get with these guys. The white-hot Lightning visit Monday night.
21
Montreal
26-24-4
The Habs should play all their games in the afternoon for the rest of the season. The traditional Super Bowl weekend matinees on Saturday and Sunday produced back-to-back wins, the first time Montreal has strung together two straight wins since late November. That is a not a misprint.
22
Arizona
24-22-6
The Coyotes have lost eight of their past 10 games as reality starts to set in for the rebuilding club.
23
Minnesota
23-20-9
Make it 10 losses in 11 games and 13 of the past 16 for the Wild. This is just too good a team to be struggling this much. GM Chuck Fletcher gave head coach Mike Yeo a public vote of confidence Saturday.
24
Winnipeg
23-26-3
I sense progress has been made in the Dustin Byfuglien contract talks. Will it be enough? I hope so. He's a very popular player in the 'Peg.
25
Vancouver
20-20-12
I know the Canucks want to both make the playoffs while also retooling on the fly, but easily the best thing for them this season would be to pick as high as possible. Easy for me to say, I know.
26
Buffalo
21-26-6
Small sample size, I know, but Robin Lehner has been outstanding since finally returning from an injury that robbed him of most of the season.
27
Edmonton
21-28-5
Connor McDavid can't do it all. The weekend debacle -- a 5-1 loss at Montreal and an 8-1 loss in Brooklyn -- is a reminder of the work that's needed on that blue line.
28
Calgary
23-25-3
One of the things the Flames have to decide for next season is who exactly will be their No. 1 goalie, with both their current guys pending UFAs. And neither Jonas Hiller nor Karri Ramo has set the world on fire this season, either.
29
Columbus
21-28-5
Seth Jones is averaging 24 minutes per game in 13 games with the Jackets since coming over from the Predators. It's the kind of No. 1 role he never got in Nashville, obviously, stuck behind Shea Weber on the right side (Jones averaged 19:38 minutes in Nashville before the trade).
30
Toronto
19-23-9
It really underlines the parity in the standings that if the Leafs are my 30th-ranked club, they're still a team that on most nights plays a hard game and makes the other team earn those two points. In other words, there are no tanking teams this season.

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