The Anaheim Ducks finally lost a game. After rolling to 10 consecutive victories, they fell 3-1 at San Jose.
They can’t win them all, right?
“The League is so competitive,” veteran center Saku Koivu told reporters. “We've been able to find ways to win games. There's been a few that we've been down by a few goals but found ways to win the games and get the goals that we needed.
“Even though we know there's a lot of good things, we've got to find a bit more consistency when things are going well to push it a little more. But 10 wins is not easy and it's something that we can build on."
That extended roll kept the Ducks atop our power rankings. Here is how this week’s pecking order shakes out:
GOOD NEWS: The Ducks enjoyed their second-best 40-game start in franchise history at 28-7-6.
BAD NEWS: They can’t play all their games at the Honda Center, where they gained points in their first 16 games.
BOTTOM LINE: With Koivu getting hot (three goals, two assists in five games), this talented team doesn’t have to lean as hard on the powerful Ryan Getzlaf line.
GOOD NEWS: Forward Patrick Sharp caught fire last week, scoring six goals and adding an assist in three games. Like this team needed more scoring.
BAD NEWS: Forward Patrick Kane had a career-best point streak snapped at 14 games. He scored eight goals and added 17 assists during that surge.
BOTTOM LINE: With No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford on the mend and back-up Antti Raanta excelling, the defending champions have no real concerns.
GOOD NEWS: Even with linemate Evgeni Malkin on injured reserve, James Neal delivered a five-point game against the Blue Jackets.
BAD NEWS: Key winger Pascal Dupuis is done for the season with a knee injury and Paul Martin remains sidelined with a lower-body injury.
BOTTOM LINE: The near-term return of Malkin and top offensive defenseman Kris Letang should help this team overcome the demise of Dupuis.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
GOOD NEWS: Young forwards Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko are developing into impact players during their second NHL seasons.
BAD NEWS: Top gun Alexander Steen went back on the shelf with nagging post-concussion syndrome and captain David Backes has also missed time.
BOTTOM LINE: So far this team’s depth is passing the test, with Brian Elliott stepping up to spell the faltering Jaroslav Halak in goal.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Jonathan Quick is working toward an early January return to remain eligible for the Olympics.
BAD NEWS: They suffered their first three-game losing streak in more than a year.
BOTTOM LINE: LA’s scoring depth – or lack thereof – finally reared its head during a 1-0 loss at Chicago. Does this team need more supplemental scoring?
SAN JOSE SHARKS
GOOD NEWS: During a four-game streak they won three times in a shootout. Joe Thornton had seven assists during that stretch. Brett Burns had three straight multi-point games.
BAD NEWS: Poor Martin Havlat can’t get back to full speed. He has just three goals in 22 games and he went back to the shelf with a lower-body injury.
BOTTOM LINE: After losing six of seven games earlier this month, the Sharks started playing like Stanley Cup contenders again.
GOOD NEWS: While forward Loui Eriksson is working his way back from a concussion, rookie Reilly Smith scored five goals and added two assists during a four-game span.
BAD NEWS: Steady defenseman Dennis Seidenberg will miss the rest of the season after suffering a catastrophic knee injury.
BOTTOM LINE: They are using home-ice dominance to zero in on a top seed. During an eight-game winning streak in Boston they outscored opponents 27-11.
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Roberto Luongo is back on the ice, edging closer to active duty after recovering from an apparent groin muscle injury.
BAD NEWS: Young Frank Corrado had to come up from the AHL to replace injured defenseman Andrew Alberts.
BOTTOM LINE: They must upgrade their power play – which ranked just 24th in the league after Monday’s game – to keep pace with Western Conference leaders.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Ben Bishop became the second NHL goaltender to reach 20 victories this season. The Lightning earned points in eight consecutive Bishop starts.
BAD NEWS: Top center Steven Stamkos remains sidelined with a broken leg.
BOTTOM LINE: Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray might be second-guessing their decision to deal Bishop, who has become one of the NHL’s most valuable players.
GOOD NEWS: Since Nov. 7, this team has rolled to a 15-6-2 record.
BAD NEWS: They went 0 for 12 on the power play during their recent four-game road trip. They scored two or fewer goals five times during a six-game road stretch.
BOTTOM LINE: With Carey Price sharp in goal and winger Max Pacioretty scoring goals, this team is elite.
GOOD NEWS: They gained points in six consecutive games (4-0-2) to remain within arm’s reach of the Western Conference playoff bracket.
BAD NEWS: They are still playing without injured defensemen Sergei Gonchar (concussion-like symptoms), D Trevor Daley (ankle) and D Stephane Robidas (leg).
BOTTOM LINE: This offensive-minded team needs to get more out of its power play, which fell into a 3-for-27 rut.
GOOD NEWS: Paul Stastny resumed scoring after a nine-game drought, giving this team two highly effective offensive lines.
BAD NEWS: Forward PA Parenteau will miss the next six weeks or so with a knee injury, depleting the Lanche’s offensive depth.
BOTTOM LINE: Coach Patrick Roy would like to forget that December ever happened. They went 4-5-4 during their first 14 games of the month.
GOOD NEWS: Rookie Philipp Grubauer has been a revelation in goal, spelling the inconsistent Braden Holtby.
BAD NEWS: Key forward Brooks Laich remains sidelined with a groin muscle strain.
BOTTOM LINE: Before their 3-1 loss to Ottawa, the Capitals went on a 6-2-3 run to solidify their upper-tier standing in the Eastern Conference.
GOOD NEWS: Winger Wayne Simmonds broke out with three straight two-goal games.
BAD NEWS: They suffered a defensive breakdown at Vancouver and allowed 44 shots. They were fortunate to get the two points.
BOTTOM LINE: The must win some road games to make the playoffs. And sure enough, they snapped a six-game road slide with 4-3 victories at Edmonton and Vancouver.
GOOD NEWS: Power forward Shane Doan is finally recovering from an untimely bout with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
BAD NEWS: With Doan sidelined, they went 1 for 9 on the power play while struggling to salvage three points during a three-game span.
BOTTOM LINE: A brutal scoring slump caused this team to lose six of seven games heading toward the New Year.
GOOD NEWS: Ryan Suter is earning his big bucks. He played more than 30 minutes six times in a span of eight games.
BAD NEWS: They blew a three-goal lead to the hapless Islanders to lose their fifth consecutive game and their eighth in 11 games.
BOTTOM LINE: With Zach Parise injured, the Wild will need Josh Harding to resume his Vezina-caliber work in goal.
DETROIT RED WINGS
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Jimmy Howard (knee) and forward Darren Helm (shoulder) returned to active duty after missing significant time with injuries.
BAD NEWS: Howard suffered a 6-4 loss at Nashville in his first start since getting hurt Dec. 10.
BOTTOM LINE: If the reeling Red Wings were still in the Western Conference, they would be fading from the playoff picture.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
GOOD NEWS: Jonathan Bernier locked in with a .949 save percentage during a five-game stretch.
BAD NEWS: During a 20-game span, the Leafs earned just two regulation victories.
BOTTOM LINE: Tyler Bozak’s recovery from an oblique muscle strain restored bolstered the lagging Toronto offense. He returned with a three-assist performance against Carolina.
NEW YORK RANGERS
GOOD NEWS: Defenseman Marc Staal has recovered from his concussion, bolstering the blue line.
BAD NEWS: They finished below .500 for December, going 5-6-2.
BOTTOM LINE: Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist recently won just his second game in eight tries. Can he take charge in goal for the second half of the season?
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
GOOD NEWS: Winger Steve Bernier escaped major injury while crashing into the boards during a practice drill.
BAD NEWS: Winger Damien Brunner remains sidelined with a knee injury.
BOTTOM LINE: This team needs to find some offensive help for old-timer Jaromir Jagr, who scored 13 goals and added 21 assists during the season’s first half.
GOOD NEWS: Blake Wheeler scored three goals and added an assist as the Jets scored eight goals in back-to-back victories.
BAD NEWS: They went 5-6-1 in their first 12 games during December.
BOTTOM LINE: The Jets have some firepower with Evander Kane rolling again, but they don’t check well enough to make the playoffs.
GOOD NEWS: Mike Fisher scored three goals and added three assists in a two-game outburst.
BAD NEWS: They have gone 5-8-2 since Nov. 27, essentially ending their playoff hopes.
BOTTOM LINE: At least GM David Poile will have some fun with the Olympics. This season became a lost cause when goaltender Pekka Rinne suffered a post-surgery hip infection.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
GOOD NEWS: Power forward Nathan Horton had continued his recovery from shoulder surgery by banging around in practice. He is close to returning.
BAD NEWS: Marian Gaborik needed surgical repairs on his broken collarbone.
BOTTOM LINE: They survived the loss of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, going 7-3-1 in their first 11 games after his Dec. 3 injury.
GOOD NEWS: They remained in range of a playoff spot despite running their winless streak to five games last week.
BAD NEWS: They were outscored 20-12 during that stretch.
BOTTOM LINE: GM Jim Rutherford is growing impatient with his team. He is leaning on coach Kirk Muller and threatening to make deals.
GOOD NEWS: By beating the Capitals 3-1 Monday night, they built their first winning streak in 51 days.
BAD NEWS: Rugged winger Chris Neil suffered a leg injury whole colliding awkwardly with Alexander Ovechkin. Center Jason Spezza and defenseman Chris Phillips missed that game with lower-body injuries, but appeared close to returning.
BOTTOM LINE: Goaltender Craig Anderson provided a glimmer of hope by winning three consecutive games.
GOOD NEWS: New hockey czar Brian Burke added some toughness by acquiring Kevin Westgarth from Carolina.
BAD NEWS: During a six-game stretch at home, they scored two or fewer goals five times and suffered two shutouts.
BOTTOM LINE: Now if Burke would add significant offense and better goaltending, he might have something.
GOOD NEWS: Defenseman Brian Campbell ended a scoring drought by scoring a goal and adding two assists in two games.
BAD NEWS: Goaltender Tim Thomas missed eight games with a strained groin muscle.
BOTTOM LINE: They pushed up from the NHL’s bottom by winning eight of 12 games. Will that convince GM Dale Tallon to put off his fire sale?
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Ryan Miller carried his team to a 2-0-1 week, posting a 1.55 goals-against average and .961 save percentage.
BAD NEWS: During a nine-game winless streak on the road, opponents outscored them 29-12.
BOTTOM LINE: Miller’s strong play in goal is giving new hockey czar Pat LaFontaine plenty to think about. Can he make a blockbuster deal with his Olympics-bound goaltender?
GOOD NEWS: They converted four of 17 power-play attempts during a modest 2-0-1 upturn.
BAD NEWS: Talented winger Nail Yakupov faded to the fourth line, then out of the lineup entirely for this enigmatic squad.
BOTTOM LINE: Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has helped limited some bleeding, but this team won’t win until to commits to playing some level of team defense.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
GOOD NEWS: Cornerstone center John Tavares returned after missing one game with a minor injury.
BAD NEWS: They were 0-17-5 in the first 22 games they scored fewer than three goals.
BOTTOM LINE: By winning just five of their first 20 games, the Islanders fell rapidly from playoff contention. And yet there has been no coaching or management changes.