First Line: Quack Quack Quack, Mr. Blackhawk

The Blackhawks and Ducks have remained steadfast at the top of the NHL, what about the other three teams? In a light week, the top five might not see much of a change.

Hello, this is a feature that should run on a weekly basis. While I can’t watch every hockey game, through what I can watch, watching highlights, and examining stats, I’ll try and piece together the best five teams in the league each week with one team to look-out for as well.

1. Chicago Blackhawks (24-2-3)

They started last week with two straight losses, but start this week with three straight wins. One of those wins includes the 8-1 shelling of the Dallas Stars, in which even the score can’t tell you how much the Blackhawks embarrassed the Stars in front of their owner. It’s important to note that Patrick Kane is seemingly unstoppable right now, with 16 goals and 37 points thus far this year. But a big matchup looms Wednesday night against the Ducks…

2. Anaheim Ducks (21-3-4)

The Ducks are now going on a streak of their own (seems to be the theme in this shortened season) with 10 straight non-regulation losses. They played well on the road over the past week, but besides the game against the Blackhawks tomorrow night, they have two straight against the Red Wings coming up as well. Detroit has won 2 straight, and is 5-3-2 over their last ten, and besides the 5-2 loss in Calgary, haven’t looked bad as of late. There’s no question the Ducks are a contender, but if they want to continue to challenge for the first seed out of the Western Conference, they’ll face a test this week.

3. Pittsburgh Penguins (22-8-0)

The Penguins, facing off against the Capitals tonight, are on a nine game winning streak and are hoping to make it 10. Two of those wins are over the Boston Bruins. Three more are over current playoff teams, with the other wins over teams currently only a few points out of a spot.  If the Ducks and Blackhawks hadn’t gotten off to such a great start, the Penguins would certainly be number one now. How can they get there? Option A) Continue to win. Or option B) Option A plus Ducks or Blackhawks falter. I expect they’ll jump at least one spot by the start of next week.

4. Montreal Canadians (19-5-4)

Another streak in the NHL as the Canadians have won five straight games, and are playing very well in their past nine with only two total losses. They see the Sabres twice during the next week, with a trip to the Islanders in between those games, giving them a great chance to continue the good play. The only thing holding them back is the fact that the Bruins are catching up in games played (Montreal is at 28, Boston at 27) and winning most of those too, now only one point back. With an easy week though, the Habs can add some distance between themselves and Boston.

5. St. Louis Blues (16-10-2)

Remember that three game home-stand I said was huge? They won all three, and are winners of five of six games. Goaltending from Halak and Elliot isn’t on pace to what it was last season, but rookie goaltender Jake Allen has been stellar as of late – he owns all five wins out of those six – and as long as he keeps it up, there is no reason the Blues can’t continue to rise up the standings with Vancouver being the toughest matchup this week, and two other games against Edmonton and Calgary.

Watch out for: Detroit Red Wings (14-10-5)

Yes they aren’t as good this season as they were last season, as longtime defensive powerhouse Nicklas Lidstrom retired. But any team losing their best defenseman would falter (Philadelphia Flyers are a prime example), and lately the Red Wings have found their wings. They enter the week having spanked the Vancouver Canucks in their fancy Millionaires jerseys, with three important games ahead of them. One against the Wild tomorrow night, and then two against the Ducks, and even taking three out of six points could move them up in the standings, as one point separates third and sixth (where Detroit currently sits).

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