Until they start losing games, or suffer a serious rash of injuries, there's virtually no chance that the Chicago Blackhawks will be ranked anything but No. 1 in the TSN.ca NHL Power Rankings.
With a 12-0-3 record, with their only losses coming in shootouts, the Blackhawks have built up enough of a cushion that losing starting goaltender Corey Crawford to an upper body injury wasn't enough to cost them the top spot in the rankings.
For one thing, the Blackhawks have a good backup, Ray Emery, playing behing a deep defence. Everyone knows about Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, but Johnny Oduya (plus-10) and Niklas Hjalmarsson (plus-8) have been very effective too. Michal Rozsival, when healthy, and Nick Leddy are capable puck-movers while Sheldon Brookbank is a no-frills fill-in, who can mix it up, if need be.
Pittsburgh, bolstered by the returns of defencemen Kris Letang and Matt Niskanen, combined with three straight wins, vaulted from 12th to second; the Montreal Canadiens' four-game winning streak lifted them from 14th to seventh; six wins in the last eight games raised the Phoenix Coyotes from 18th to 13th while, further down the list, the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche were each boosted five spots to 19th and 22nd, respectively.
Heading south on the chart, the New Jersey Devils lost three of four and fell from third to eighth; the San Jose Sharks followed up seven straight wins with seven straight losses (including a couple shootouts), subsequently falling from second to 12th; the injury-ravaged Ottawa Senators dropped from eighth to 14th, only holding that ranking due to spectacular goaltending, and injuries, combined with three straight losses, knocked the Detroit Red Wings down from seventh to 17th.
Across the rest of Canada, the Vancouver Canucks are the highest-ranked Canadian team at fifth and the Toronto Maple Leafs have overcome some of their own injury woes to be ranked 11th. The Edmonton Oilers moved down three spots to 18th, the Calgary Flames were up two spots to 26th and the Winnipeg Jets went down four spots to 27th.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.