The Anaheim Ducks just keep winning. They absorbed injury hit after injury hit this season. Their early schedule kept them on the road, touring North America like a Disney ice show.
And they just kept winning, earning 31 points in their first 19 games.
“It's surprising, but it's a nice surprise,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters after his team earned its fifth consecutive victory. “The way our training camp ended, with us losing the last three games -- then losing to Colorado 6-1 in the opener -- boy, I wouldn't have thought that we would have put this kind of string together.
“But then they started to compete, started playing for each other and started battling for jobs.”
The Ducks nudged the Avalanche from the top spot in this week’s power rankings. Here is how the teams stack up this week:
GOOD NEWS: Rookie goaltender Frederik Andersen ran his winning streak to six games with a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
BAD NEWS: They are heading out on the road again, this time for four games in the Eastern Conference. They must be getting sick of hotel food.
BOTTOM LINE: The Ducks started the season 8-0 at home. With the schedule turning in their favor, they have an opportunity to pile up a LOT of points.
GOOD NEWS: Their 14-2 start was the best in franchise history.
BAD NEWS: Winger Alex Tanguay (knee) and defenseman Ryan Wilson (back) remain out of the lineup.
BOTTOM LINE: With a deep group of offensive forwards and goaltenders Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere combing for a 1.79 goals-against average, the ‘Lanche will keep rumbling.
GOOD NEWS: The league’s second-best offense is wearing down opponents.
BAD NEWS: They have slipped a bit defensively, allowing four or more goals five times this season.
BOTTOM LINE: Skill up front, skill on the blue line, balance through the lineup . . . yeah, the Blackhawks could win still another Stanley Cup.
GOOD NEWS: Winger James Neal finally returned from his upper body injury, giving Evgeni Malkin his right hand man.
BAD NEWS: Sidney Crosby went seven games without scoring a goal. He had a wide open net against the St. Louis Blues Saturday night, but redirected a pass off the right post.
BOTTOM LINE: Neal’s return will make a deadly power play even more explosive.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
GOOD NEWS: Alexander Steen refuses to believe he is NOT a 40-goal scorer.
BAD NEWS: Chris Stewart refused to believe IS a 30-goal scorer.
BOTTOM LINE: Three solid defensive pairings and three legitimate scoring lines make this one of the NHL’s most consistent teams.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
GOOD NEWS: Martin Havlat is regaining his legs and Brent Burns is getting healthy, so this deep offensive team will get even sturdier.
BAD NEWS: They slipped into a five-game losing streak, although they got overtime/shootout points in four of them.
BOTTOM LINE: The team has all the elements of a serious Stanley Cup threat.
GOOD NEWS: Shane Doan came to life by scoring seven times in an eight-game span. He scored just once in his first nine games.
BAD NEWS: Goaltender Mike Smith has a 2.87 goals-against average, well off the 2.21 mark he posted two years ago.
BOTTOM LINE: Coach Dave Tippett has these guys flying again. Does any coach get more out of his team?
GOOD NEWS: The Bruins had the league’s second-best goals-against average (1.8) coming into this week, then shut out Tampa Bay.
BAD NEWS: Center Patrice Bergeron earned just three assists in his first 16 games.
BOTTOM LINE: Just wait until this team gets both its scoring lines clicking. Winning streaks will ensue.
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Josh Harding has been arguably the league’s MVP for the first quarter of the season. He is 9-2-2 with a 1.22 GAA and .947 save percentage.
BAD NEWS: The Wild need to get the incumbent goaltender Niklas Backstrom (3.42, .871) back on track.
BOTTOM LINE: With Jason Pominville pumping in goals (10 in a span of 13 games) and Harding preventing them, the Wild are hanging with the Western Conference power teams.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
GOOD NEWS: Steven Stamkos had 16 goals, 23 points and a plus-11 rating after 16 games. Those are Hart Trophy credentials.
BAD NEWS: He suffered a fracture tibia Monday in Boston, knocking him out for a big chunk of the season.
BOTTOM LINE: With Stamkos gone, goaltender Ben Bishop will have to win a lot of low-scoring games to keep the Bolts in contention.
GOOD NEWS: Veteran goaltender Roberto Luongo settled back into his old workhorse role after the team failed to meet his trade demand.
BAD NEWS: Only three Western Conference teams hand more regulation losses than Vancouver (7) coming into this week.
BOTTOM LINE: This team is still getting organized under new coach John Tortorella, as its 27th ranking on the power play underscores.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
GOOD NEWS: Young forwards Tyler Toffoli and Linden Vey have provided a lift with veteran Jeff Carter on injured reserve.
BAD NEWS: This is still just a middle-of-the-pack offensive team this season with Dustin Brown scoring just three times in 17 games.
BOTTOM LINE: They have been good, not great this season. They won 10 of 14 games before heading out on a four-game Eastern Conference road trip.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
GOOD NEWS: James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier have become an excellent tag team in goal, allowing just 2.4 goals per game.
BAD NEWS: Covering for the long-term loss of centers Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland won’t be easy.
BOTTOM LINE: David Clarkson didn’t score a goal in his first seven games. The Leafs need him to get the whole Wendel Clark thing going.
DETROIT RED WINGS
GOOD NEWS: Henrik Zetterberg scored 10 goals, earned 10 assists and had a plus-12 rating after 18 games.
BAD NEWS: Against all odds, this team managed to win just three times during a 10-game span.
BOTTOM LINE: This team needs to find some secondary scoring to keep up in the Eastern Conference. Stephen Weiss has just three points in his first 17 games.
GOOD NEWS: Max Pacioretty returned from his hamstring muscle strain.
BAD NEWS: Pacioretty’s scoring touch did not return with him.
BOTTOM LINE: The Canadiens are squeaking by with the league’s second-best power play. They needed to pick up their play at even strength.
NEW YORK RANGERS
GOOD NEWS: They quickly climbed the Eastern Conference ladder by winning six of seven games.
BAD NEWS: Power forward Rick Nash is still sidelined by a concussion, although he has resumed skating.
BOTTOM LINE: This team is finally rolling, with Henrik Lundqvist starring in goal and captain Ryan Callahan back on the attack up front.
GOOD NEWS: Their special team units have been awesome. They ranked first on the power play and second in penalty killing coming into this week.
BAD NEWS: They took a four-game winning streak on a western road trip and then lost at Phoenix and Colorado.
BOTTOM LINE: With four forwards with 15 points or more, the Capitals have enough front-line scoring to return to postseason play.
GOOD NEWS: Mike Cammalleri has started his salary drive by scoring seven times in his 10 games his season.
BAD NEWS: Left winger Curtis Glencross is expected to miss four to six weeks with a sprained knee ligament.
BOTTOM LINE: Reality is settling in for a team trying to get by without an established NHL goaltender.
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Pekka Rinne appears to be on the road to recovery from his hip infection.
BAD NEWS: Shea Weber, one of the NHL’s elite defensemen, brought a minus-8 rating into the week.
BOTTOM LINE: Somehow this team was still above .500 despite ranking 25th in both scoring and scoring defense. That can’t last.
GOOD NEWS: They went on the road and beat three Eastern Conference teams, two in shootouts and one in overtime.
BAD NEWS: Brenden Dillon was the only Stars defenseman with more than four points after 17 games.
BOTTOM LINE: There is no way this team should have just the 19th-best offense in the league.
GOOD NEWS: Robin Lehner is no longer the goaltender of the future. He is the goaltender of now with a .945 save percentage and a 2.13 goals-against average.
BAD NEWS: Veteran goaltender Craig Anderson (4-4-2, .913, 3.14) is surrendering his job without much of a fight.
BOTTOM LINE: This team is way too talented to be just one game over .500 after 17 games.
GOOD NEWS: They snapped a five-game losing steak with back-to-back victories, then earned a shootout point against Minnesota.
BAD NEWS: Carolina entered the week with the NHL’s 28th-ranked offense. How is that possible with forwards like Eric Staal and Alexander Semin?
BOTTOM LINE: With goaltender Cam Ward nearing a return, this team may finally get some traction.
GOOD NEWS: Their offense came to life, scoring 14 goals during victories over Detroit, Nashville and San Jose.
BAD NEWS: Somehow the Jets have the NHL’s worst power play.
BOTTOM LINE: This team will give up goals, so it needs to do a much better job with the man advantage to remain competitive.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
GOOD NEWS: Tough guy Cam Janssen sparked the offense by scoring a couple of goals. This was a happy and unexpected surprise.
BAD NEWS: He has as many goals as key center Travis Zajac.
BOTTOM LINE: Martin Brodeur and Cory Schneider offer solid goaltending, but the Devils’ 26th-ranked offense is holding this team back.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
GOOD NEWS: Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen scored 19 points in the first 18 games, joining John Taveras as elite offensive weapons.
BAD NEWS: The Islanders allowed 16 goals during a four-game losing streak.
BOTTOM LINE: Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov is floundering behind a suspect defense. The Islanders should have addressed those needs rather than trading for Thomas Vanek.
GOOD NEWS: Claude Giroux finally scored a goal, so the beleaguered captain may finally relax.
BAD NEWS: The Flyers still rank dead last in the NHL in scoring and second-to-last on the power play.
BOTTOM LINE: Team chairman Ed Snider has officially had with this team. Big changes could be coming if the Flyers don’t string together some victories.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
GOOD NEWS: Back-up goaltender Curtis McElhinney (1.97 GAA, .931 save percentage) is playing well enough to take some heat off the struggling Sergei Bobrovsky.
BAD NEWS: Marian Gaborik failed to score in six consecutive games.
BOTTOM LINE: Coach Todd Richards' seat gets hotter with each loss. He better think of something quick.
GOOD NEWS: The signing of Ilya Brzygalov changes the goaltending dynamic for the better.
BAD NEWS: Opponents outscored the Oilers by 27 goals in their first 19 games.
BOTTOM LINE: Edmonton has enough offensive talent to contend for a playoff spot. That makes this team’s abject failure all the more galling.
GOOD NEWS: During their nine-game losing streak, only five of those losses came in regulation. So there's that.
BAD NEWS: The Panthers built a nine-game losing streak.
BOTTOM LINE: GM Dale Tallon appeased his new ownership group by firing Kevin Dineen. But he could be the next to go if this team doesn’t start winning.
GOOD NEWS: Newcomer Matt Moulson scored six points in his first six games with the Sabres.
BAD NEWS: Only two Sabres have scored more points for Buffalo this season.
BOTTOM LINE: Goaltender Ryan Miller is tying to keep this team competitive, but he could use a little help. OK, he needs a LOT of help.