The post-Olympics race for playoff spots is heating up. The high-powered Capitals remain atop our rankings, but there’s plenty of shifting going on.
1. (1) 44-13-9 Deadline deals by George McPhee, adding versatile center Eric Belanger, rugged Scott Walker  and skilled defenseman Joe Corvo, make the Caps a serious contender.
2. (3) 43-17-5 The big game ability demonstrated by Patrick Kane in the Olympic gold medal game provides some indication the Blackhawks will have plenty of playoff leadership when the road gets tough.
3. (2) 42-14-9 Likewise, the no-show performance by Joe Thornton , Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley  and Dan Boyle during the gold medal game shows the Sharks still have an unsurpassed ability to disappear when it matters.
4 . (9) 40-22-4 Would anyone really mind if Matt Cooke  were suspended for the season?
6. (5) 39-22-5 Good luck in the desert, Derek Morris . Mr. Chiarelli found you a nice landing spot.
8. (6) 35-20-9 Has Ilya Kovalchuk  made the Devils a better team? They’re just 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.
9. (8) 37-22-4 Talk about under the radar. Avalanche forward Chris Stewart suddenly received league-wide attention, being named as the NHL  First Star for the week ending Sunday. Stewart leads Colorado in goals (24) and plus/minus (plus-13).
10. (11) 35-20-9 The Sabres will play just six of their final 17 games at home. A five-game road trip that begins Saturday in Detroit could greatly impact how the battle for the Northeast Division title plays out.
12. (14) 31-21-12 How funny would it be if the Red Wings grab the eighth playoff spot in the West and face the Sharks in the first round? Come on, the Sharks drawing the playoff-tested Wings in the opening round, that’s good stuff.
17. (19) 29-24-11 The loss of Marc Savard  could seriously dampen playoff hopes for the Bruins. But this team still has the character, skill and goaltending to get it done.
20. (19) 30-27-8 Ducks players won three gold, two silver and two bronze medals at the Olympics. But entering play Tuesday, they have not won an NHL  game since, and that could doom their playoff hopes.
25. (25) 26-28-10 Reports had free agent-to-be Dennis Seidenberg  eager to remain with the Panthers before being dealt to the Bruins. Some curious moves in Florida.
27. (26) 26-31-8 After an impressive start, Islanders rookie John Tavares entered play Tuesday without a goal in 16 games. His minus-19 rating is also the worst on the team. Welcome to the league, kid.
28. (28) 25-30-11 A 6-0 drubbing in Los Angeles Monday provides a nice sign the Blue Jackets  already are closing things down.