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NHL Power Rankings: Detroit Red Wings Push Back To The Top Of The West

In our Western Conference Power Rankings, the Detroit Red Wings have returned to the summit, and it's starting to look familiar up there. Can the few teams still surprising us keep their hot starts going beyond the quarter pole?

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 08:  Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche with Daniel Cleary #11 at Joe Louis Arena on November 8, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 08: Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche with Daniel Cleary #11 at Joe Louis Arena on November 8, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Sidney Crosby denouement has reached it's end, but against all odds, other hockey stories actually do exist.

The big news of the past week has been changes behind the bench: Bruce Boudreau out in Washington, Dale Hunter in; Paul Maurice out in Carolina, Kirk Muller in; Randy Carlyle out in Anaheim, Bruce Boudreau in; Claude Noel out in Winnipeg, Randy Carlyle in. Well, that last one hasn't happened, yet.

The biggest story on the ice is the ascent of the familiar teams to the top of the Western Conference and these rankings with Detroit and Vancouver in the midst of six and give game win streaks, and the return of a member of the old guard as St. Louis has won four in a row and seven of their last ten.

From here out, the story will be about starts. Can those teams at the bottom of the conference overcome their poor starts in time to join the playoff race?  Can the teams that have played above expectations keep the pursuing dogs at bay?

Our power rankings are based on ballots submitted by each of our Western Conference blogs. Each week, we tally the votes and deliver the results with insight on each team. Eastern Conference Power Rankings are coming in later weeks.





Detroit Red Wings
7 The Wings jumped to the top of the power rankings on the strength of a six-game winning streak.  They're second in the league in winning percentage.  It's not enough.  The fans wanted Bobby Ryan added to the arsenal.
Chicago Blackhawks
1 After a hot start that culminated with a 5-1 revenge thumping of Vancouver in mid-November, the Blackhawks have lost four of their last six and have looked like a completely different team in recent weeks.
Vancouver Canucks
8 For Vancouver, it was all a numbers game.  Their goaltenders are too good to be so bad and the same goes for David Booth.  Given the overall strength of this team, it was only a matter of time before the bounces started going their way.  They've won five in a row and eight of their last ten.
St. Louis Blues
9 The Blues were a good team with a bad Jaroslav Halak that couldn't buy a break under David Payne.  Ken Hitchcock has been gifted a good team and a good Halak.  The combination has fans talking about contending for a Stanley Cup.
Minnesota Wild
6 The Wild are on top of the league in points, and fourth in the league by winning percentage.  They've won seven of their last ten games, but are about to start a stretch which will send them on the road for 20 of their next 29 games.
San Jose Sharks
2 The Sharks are being penalized for their light schedule.  They are ninth in the conference by points, but they are third by winning percentage and points/game. In 21 games, Joe Thornton has 21 points and Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski have 20.  Beyond that, their underlying numbers are fantastic.
Phoenix Coyotes
3 The Coyotes have won six of their last ten and they aren't relying on goaltending anymore.  The underlying numbers are solid, and now that Daymond Langkow is back from personal leave, the Coyotes look dangerous on offense.
Los Angeles Kings
10 Just as everyone stopped talking about the Kings, Terry Murray juggled the lines and pairings and the Kings won six of their next nine.
Dallas Stars
5 First it was Alex Goligoski, now it's Kari Lehtonen.  Toss in veteran role players Brendan Morrow and Trevor Daley and the overachieving Stars are trying to deal with injuries to too many key players.  They're 3-6-1 in the last ten and if they don't get healthy quickly, things won't get much better.
Edmonton Oilers
11 Edmonton has stalled in the bottom half of the conference, and the Oilers will remain there as long as they can't handle away games.
Nashville Predators
4 The Preds are 1-4 in their last five games and scored only 6 goals in those five games.   Pekka Rinne is good, but they've got to score, and do that, they've got to shoot the puck, something they are having a difficult time doing.
Colorado Avalanche
12 The Avs are outplaying their opponents but it's not showing up on the scoreboard.  It's not for a lack of chances, it's just been bad luck -- the puck isn't finding the net, especially for their best line so far: Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O`Reilly - Daniel Winnik.
Calgary Flames
13 Calgary is at the bottom of the Northwest Division and they've lost six of their last ten games.  Things are bad, but not bad enough to trade Jarome Iginla.
Columbus Blue Jackets
15 The Jackets began to improve as soon as Curtis Sanford was installed in goal, and with Steve Mason's .875 save percentage, it's easy to see why.  So what happens now that Mason is healthy again?
Anaheim Ducks
14 Just as the Ducks hit rock bottom, they replace their long-time Stanley Cup-winning coach with Bruce Boudreau.  Boudreau doesn't have much to work with, but it's safe to assume Bobby Ryan is no longer on the trade market