Power Rankings: Capitals keep cruising, Blackhawks are up, Canadiens come back to earth

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The Chicago Blackhawks move up, thanks to a five-game winning streak, while the struggling Montreal Canadiens desperately needed their five-day bye week. Which other teams were helped or hurt by the bye week?

1. (Last week: 1) Washington Capitals, 39-11-6

The NHL's one true powerhouse team enters its bye week on a six-game roll. Now let's see how the Caps come out of it. Many teams have looked out of rhythm after their bye weeks so far this season. These guys might be the exception to the rule.

2. (2) Minnesota Wild, 37-12-6

The Wild are ranked fourth as a team in goals per game -- yet they don't have an individual in the top 15 in league scoring. They are a true team with 10 -- yes, 10 -- players with 10 or more goals so far this season.

3. (5) Chicago Blackhawks, 35-17-5

Chicago has gone a perfect 5-0-0 in the month of February -- all road wins -- as the bye week arrives perhaps at the wrong time for the sizzling Blackhawks. When you're this hot, you want to keep playing every second day.

4. (4) Pittsburgh Penguins, 34-13-7

For the first time all season, Hart Trophy candidate Sidney Crosby has gone back-to-back games without a point. Pity the Vancouver Canucks, who visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

5. (3) San Jose Sharks, 34-18-5

Brent Burns willed his team to a win Sunday in New Jersey, as his two goals helped end San Jose's four-game slide. The Bearded One is amazingly in the running for the Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring champion -- and he continues to build his Hart Trophy case as the league's most valuable player.

6. (7) Anaheim Ducks, 29-18-10

The Ducks are 19th in the league in goals per game, which isn't terrible. But for a team with Cup aspirations, the addition of a top-six forward with offensive jam before the trade deadline would be a delight.

7. (9) Columbus Blue Jackets, 35-14-5

It's easier said than done, I know, but if Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen can get himself a top-nine center before the trade deadline, I'll like this team's chances even more.

8. (10) New York Rangers, 36-18-1

The Blueshirts, who have won five games in a row, can deliver a little statement if they make it six straight Monday at Columbus and tie the Blue Jackets at 75 points.

9. (6) Edmonton Oilers, 29-19-8

The Oilers came out of their five-day bye week and got smoked 5-1 at home by the Blackhawks. I don't think coaches like these bye weeks one bit.

10. (16) St. Louis Blues, 29-22-5

The Blues look re-energized and are playing with a purpose under new coach Mike Yeo. St. Louis has gone 5-1-0 since he took over, including a three-game sweep through Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

11. (9) Nashville Predators, 27-21-8

Nashville notched a huge comeback win on Sunday at home against the visiting Stars -- as the Predators erased a three-goal deficit -- and you wonder if it's the moment in the season they'll look back on as a turning point.

12. (12) Ottawa Senators, 29-18-6

It was great to see Craig Anderson back in net after he took time off to tend to his wife, who is battling cancer. Anderson came back in style, with a 33-save shutout over the Islanders on Saturday. We're all cheering for the Anderson family.

13. (8) Montreal Canadiens, 31-19-8

The slumping Habs have one win in seven games (1-5-1) this month, and they have to hope that they come out of their break refreshed. They're not defending as well as they were earlier in the season; the offense is sporadic, and superstar goalie Carey Price looks human.

14. (13) Los Angeles Kings, 28-23-4

For all the hand-wringing Los Angeles did back in October after it lost Jonathan Quick for most of the season, the Kings sit fourth in the NHL in goals against per game thanks largely to unsung hero Peter Budaj -- as well as the usual, effective defensive structure of Darryl Sutter's system. It's being 23rd in the NHL in goals per game that is making it difficult for the Kings to breathe easy.

15. (18) Boston Bruins, 29-23-6

The B's are 3-0-0 since their coaching change, although their problems had nothing to do with Claude Julien. But his firing clearly did give them a jolt. And perhaps some Bruins are playing with a little guilt, too.

16. (14) Toronto Maple Leafs, 25-18-11

Suddenly, the Leafs are sputtering, with only two wins in their past eight games (during which they've gone 2-4-2). One of the difficulties with the compressed schedule -- and the Leafs are in the teeth of theirs right now -- is the limited practice time. That particularly hurts a very young team that needs teaching.

17. (19) New York Islanders, 25-19-10

John Tavares heads to his hometown of Toronto for a game on Tuesday night against the Maple Leafs. He'll be bracing himself for the line of questioning about his future -- although he pretty much answered it all at the All-Star festivities in Los Angeles last month.

18. (15) Philadelphia Flyers, 27-22-7

A nice test through Western Canada with games in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver lies ahead this week for a Flyers team that is still on the bubble.

19. (20) Florida Panthers, 24-20-10

Jaromir Jagr turns 45 on Wednesday. He's one point shy of 1,900 during the regular season for his NHL career. Wouldn't it be nice if the Panthers gave him another taste of the playoffs too?

20. (21) Calgary Flames, 28-25-3

The Flames come out of their bye week on Monday to play Arizona at home sitting just one point behind Los Angeles for the last wild-card spot. The stretch run starts now for a team that must chase down the Kings to secure that spot.

21. (22) Tampa Bay Lightning, 25-24-7

The Bolts are finally playing some of their best hockey of the season -- and are just four points out of a playoff spot. But now comes their bye week. Ugh. The timing stinks for Tampa Bay.

22. (19) Carolina Hurricanes, 24-22-7

The Hurricanes scouted the Avalanche a couple of times last week. They've got plenty of young defensemen, which of course Colorado craves. Whether Hall of Famers Ron Francis and Joe Sakic decide to chat seriously remains to be seen, as the Avalanche GM has plenty of suitors these days.

23. (25) New Jersey Devils, 23-22-10

Are the Devils just teasing their fans, or are they for real? Colorado, Ottawa and the Isles visit New Jersey this week, so now's the time for the Devils to go on a run.

24. (17) Vancouver Canucks, 25-25-6

Sunday's win at Buffalo pulled the Canucks within four points of a playoff spot, but it still doesn't feel like the playoff drive is for real.

25. (26) Buffalo Sabres, 23-23-10

Their record speaks the truth: The Sabres have alternated wins with losses this month and can't seem to get rolling. A nice win on Saturday at rival Toronto was followed by a 4-2 home loss on Sunday to Vancouver.

26. (23) Winnipeg Jets, 25-29-4

The Jets are on the lookout for help on defense ahead of the March 1 trade deadline. Given their fading playoff hopes, they need to make a trade that has impact past this season, if possible.

27. (28) Detroit Red Wings, 22-24-10

Red Wings owner Mike Illitch died Friday, but his impact will be felt for a very long time in the Motor City. Once the new arena opens next fall, you'll need only to look around the downtown Detroit area to understand the impressive legacy that "Mr. I'' has left behind.

28. (27) Dallas Stars, 22-25-10

Dallas wasted a 3-0 lead on Sunday evening in Nashville -- allowing the Predators to score four times in the third period, including an empty-netter -- and lost 5-3. It certainly felt like the end of the Stars' faint playoff hopes, as Dallas dropped to a brutal 7-16-4 on the road this season.

29. (29) Arizona Coyotes, 18-28-7

Will pending unrestricted free agent winger Radim Vrbata be moved before the deadline? The Coyotes' leading point-getter still has good hands and can help a playoff team looking for a power-play presence.

30. (30) Colorado Avalanche, 15-36-2

I really hope that Sakic finds a good fit for Jarome Iginla before the deadline. The veteran winger is perhaps in his final NHL season, and a Stanley Cup has, of course, still eluded him -- so far.