Throw out Detroit at the top, Washington at the bottom and with the 28 you have left ask yourself this: Is there really much difference between any of these teams? Lowly Edmonton sweeps Anaheim in a home-and-home, lofty Ottawa goes winless in six, New Jersey rises from the depths with seven wins in a row. Can any of this be explained? We do our best, but don't be surprised if the regular season ebbs and flows like this for a bit longer. Power rankings are updated every Tuesday.
1. Detroit Red Wings (18-6-2, Previous: 1) – Chris Osgood through his first 16 games: 13-1, 1.79 goals-against average, .924 save percentage, moved coach Mike Babcock to say, "While Ozzie is hot we'd be crazy not to play him. We're riding the hot goalie."
2. Dallas Stars (15-9-4, Previous: 4) – Two bummers of the week: six-game winning streak ends and valuable two-way forward Jere Lehtinen is lost for 8-10 weeks following surgery for a sports hernia, never an easy injury to recover from.
3. Philadelphia Flyers (14-9-2, Previous: 3) – Riley Cote's flying elbow that connected to the chin of Stars rookie defenseman Matt Niskanen in the waning minutes of Saturday's three-goal loss at home result in the team's fifth suspension this season – three games – and along with it a warning to the team about future altercations.
4. Ottawa Senators (16-7-2, Previous: 2) – The Sens' 13-1 start drew comparisons to the 1976-77 Canadiens, who lost only eight regular-season games out of 80 (tied 12). "At least we've got rid of people asking about that," coach John Paddock quipped. That's what a six-game winless streak (0-4-2) will do.
5. Vancouver Canucks (14-10-2, Previous: 8) – Roberto Luongo's shutout streak ends at 210:34 following his posting of three straight goose eggs. His stats over a recent 11-game stretch: 1.45 GAA and .947 save percentage.
6. Chicago Blackhawks (14-10-2, Previous: 7) – Winners in four of their last seven, 'Hawks have produced some disturbingly low shot totals in that time – season-low 14, 17 twice, 18 and just one time more than 27.
7. Montreal Canadiens (13-9-4, Previous: 6) – Friday night's shutout loss in New Jersey dropped rookie Carey Price's road record to a still impressive 5-2. Then again when playing for the Habs, it might be easier for a goalie to produce away from hockey-mad Montreal.
8. San Jose Sharks (13-8-4, Previous: 9) – Jonathan Cheechoo (three goals, eight points) is on pace to score 10 goals and 26 points. Captain Patrick Marleau (four goals, 11 points) is on pace for 13 goals and 36 points. Wow.
9. St. Louis Blues (15-8-1, Previous: 12) – A West-best 53 goals allowed before Monday's game means that $18.8 million doled out this season to eight defensemen and two goalies has been money well spent so far.
10. Carolina Hurricanes (15-10-3, Previous: 5) – Usually proficient power play is just 2-for-27 over the last six games, and bottom-feeding penalty killing gets a reprieve Monday with 4-for-4 showing after dreadful stretch of eight power-play goals allowed out of 17 shorthanded situations.
11. Minnesota Wild (15-9-2, Previous: 15) – Recent offensive support from names like Branko Radivojevic, Aaron Voros, James Sheppard, Matt Foy and Stephane Veilleux to rescue the slumping Brian Rolston, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Eric Belanger has coach Jacques Lemaire saying, "It takes pressure off the top lines. You look at all the teams that have success, they're getting goals from all different guys."
12. New York Rangers (15-10-2, Previous: 11) – It doesn't matter that he's 38 years old playing a young man's game, Brendan Shanahan just keeps filling the net. He leads the Blueshirts with nine goals and 124 shots.
13. New Jersey Devils (14-10-2, Previous: 19) – Oh, they're back to Devils hockey – seven straight wins with Martin Brodeur on his game and special teams clicking (power play 7-for-25 over the last six, penalty kill 27-for-29 over the last eight).
14. Boston Bruins (14-9-2 Previous: 14) – Former Joe Thornton running mate Glen Murray scored one goal in his first 17 games but has seven in his last eight outings, which is good news to a team sorely in need offense.
15. Nashville Predators (13-9-2, Previous: 17) – No longer hamstrung by uncertain ownership, GM David Poile can go about starting talks with impending free agents that include restricteds Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Martin Erat and Jordin Tootoo in addition to unrestricteds David Legwand and J.P. Dumont.
16. Buffalo Sabres (12-11-1, Previous: 18) – Looking like the team that raced out of the lockout super-powered with offense, Sabres are on a roll with wins in six of the last seven, including a season-high eight-goal showing against Carolina.
17. New York Islanders (13-11-1, Previous: 5) – The same power play that went 12-for-42 (28.6 percent) in October scored just five times out of 56 chances (8.9 percent) in November – never producing more than one a game – and is the biggest reason the team hasn't scored more than three goals in their last 15 contests.
18. Colorado Avalanche (14-11-1, Previous: 11) – Joe Sakic was rolling along – his 203rd power-play goal last week moved him past Steve Yzerman for 13th place all-time and snapped team's 0-for-25 drought – until he suffered a groin injury and now has missed the last two games.
20. Pittsburgh Penguins (12-12-2, Previous: 21) – Get ready Western Canada, Sid the Kid makes his long-awaited NHL debuts in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver during three games in four nights.
21. Columbus Blue Jackets (12-10-5, Previous: 20) – What a week: Pascal Leclaire, the rising star in goal, suffers a hamstring injury, the franchise-best 8-3-2 start is barely a memory and two players on top minor affiliate are injured when team bus smacks the back of a vehicle and goes spinning off road into a field.
22. Edmonton Oilers (13-14-1, Previous: 27) – Gritty, passionate forward Ethan Moreau has missed 102 straight games – the last 75 of last season after shoulder surgery and the first 27 of this year with a broken foot. And he'll be in a cast for at least another two weeks. The earliest return is the last game before Christmas, Dec. 23.
23. Tampa Bay Lightning (11-13-2, Previous: 12) – Team CEO Tom Wilson says there will be no slash in payroll or a rush to locate a new buyer after proposed deal for sale of the club fell through. Nashville did a good job of not letting ownership issues cause a distraction, we'll see how this franchise does.
24. Toronto Maple Leafs (10-11-6, Previous: 28) – Who is getting fired this week? Oh, wait. They've won two in a row. Can plans for the parade route and a ring ceremony be far behind?
26. Calgary Flames (10-13-4, Previous: 23) – Thirtysomethings Stephane Yelle, Rhett Warrener, Adrian Aucoin, Marcus Nilson and Wayne Primeau all hurting like the offense in November: 15 goals scored during month's four wins and just 13 scored in 10 losses.
27. Florida Panthers (12-14-1, Previous: 26) – They have to hope '7' is the lucky number after going 7-6-1 in November. The last time the team won seven games during the season's second month – 1999-00 – they found themselves in the playoffs. And that's the last time they sniffed the postseason. By the way, the last two Panther Novembers: 3-7-3 last year and 1-9-3 two years ago.
28. Phoenix Coyotes (11-14, Previous: 25) – It's the true mark of a young team – inconsistency. The spark provided by newcomer in goal, Ilya Bryzgalov, enjoyed a four-game run, but that's been followed now by four straight losses.
29. Los Angeles Kings (10-14-2, Previous: 29) – Who says there's no fight in the Kings? I say it. Their six scraps are fewest in the league, and they've earned only one fighting major in the past 15 games. Show some emotion, will ya?