By my count, Week 8 of the 2011-12 NHL season is in the books. Unfortunately, Sidney Crosby did not make another return to the lineup this week. Instead he stayed in the lineup. David Perron and Ryan Miller returned to the lineup, though.
1. Boston Bruins (--) - I wonder if Zdeno Chara made Phil Kessel look as helpless as he did in Toronto Saturday back when they were teammates in practice.
2. Detroit Red Wings (--) - While the Wings are washed up, too old, too slow and have too many big contracts, they're also busy being the hottest team in the NHL.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins (--) - When healthy, Pittsburgh's "Big 3" is an unbelievably dynamic trio. Who knew?
4. New York Rangers (+3) - After many years of failures after signing big ticket free agents, perhaps it's time to realize that Glen Sather got it right with Brad Richards...at least for now.
5. Minnesota Wild (-1) - After backup goaltender Niklas Backstrom was lifted from the game against New Jersey due to injury, Josh Harding shined to steer the Wild to victory.
6. Chicago Blackhawks (--) - To those who may have forgotten, the Blackhawks have Marian Hossa, and he's ridiculously good.
7. Philadelphia Flyers (+2) - The fact that Scott Hartnell plays on one of the best lines in hockey is just weird, but it's true.
8. Florida Panthers (+2) - No Panthers forward even has half of the points as Versteeg, Fleischmann and Weiss do each.
9. San Jose Sharks (-4) - The Sharks have been in three shootouts this season: all wins against Eastern Conference teams.
10. St. Louis Blues (+3) - David Perron scored in his first game back in the NHL after 97 games missed from a concussion. Didn't someone else pull a similar feat recently?
11. Toronto Maple Leafs (-3) - I wonder if James Reimer will be able to beat the Bruins. I guess we'll find out in March.
12. Dallas Stars (+5) - The Stars are thankful that Matt Moulson doesn't still play in the Western Conference.
13. Los Angeles Kings (+2) - Dustin Penner is heating up again. I'm pretty sure he had a few shots on goal this past week.
14. Phoenix Coyotes (-3) - Ilya Bryzgalov left Phoenox thinking "ha, the Coyotes miss me." The thing is, though, they don't.
15. Vancouver Canucks (-3) - Roberto Luongo came in to relieve Cory Schneider against Nashville. He eventually collapsed and the Canucks lost late, so order is still restored in the world.
16. Buffalo Sabres (-2) - Terry Pegula will definitely look to acquire a 'tough guy' to be Ryan Miller's personal bodyguard.
17. Washington Capitals (+1) - Dale Hunter was very excited to learn that he'd be coaching such elite players like Jason Chimera in Washington.
18. Nashville Predators (-2) - In their latest attempt to imitate the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, the Preds wear gold jerseys and have their players run over Ryan Miller.
19. Montreal Canadiens (+2) - There is something ironic about Max Pacioretty getting suspended for a nasty hit after his experiences from last season.
20. Winnipeg Jets (+3) - Don Cherry predicted the Jets would miss the playoffs. Winnipeg is determined to prove him wrong just to make him admit he's wrong about something.
21. Colorado Avalanche (+4) - The Avs spent their week learning how to score goals at home, and well, it worked.
22. Ottawa Senators (--) - Isn't it weird that Milan Michalek already has 16 goals, but he's third on his team in points?
23. Edmonton Oilers (+1) - Randy Jones is the latest Oiler to do his Wayne Gretzky impression for a game.
24. Tampa Bay Lightning (-4) - Brad Richards and John Tortorella returned to Tampa Bay this past week. The team is about as good as after the two of them left.
25. New Jersey Devils (-6) - Martin Brodeur spent his week making sure nobody will ever catch his most losses record.
26. Calgary Flames (--) - Jarome Iginla insists that he wants to win in Calgary. I guess we'll see if he'll still be playing in 15 years, then.
27. New York Islanders (+1) - Matt Moulson decided he's sick of his team not scoring, so he went a bit insane in Dallas.
28. Carolina Hurricanes (-1) - If Paul Maurice was leaving a note for John MacLean instead of Kirk Muller, you'd think if probably would have read "I already got them a bad record, so you can't really screw up much worse."
29. Anaheim Ducks (--) - After completing an anonymous poll following their first game under Bruce Boudreau, Anaheim players are in agreement that Boudreau is "f$%&ing" awesome.
30. Columbus Blue Jackets (--) - Nail Yakupov reportedly owns a blue jacket...not that there's any signifiance to that...