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Spending doesn't always equal success in NHL's salary cap system Add to ...

A long winning streak has propelled the Penguins into top spot in our weekly look at the NHL's teams from top to bottom (with last week's ranking):

1. Pittsburgh (4): Marc-Andre Fleury has turned it around after a rough start to the season. Says GM Ray Shero: "At the end of the story was if it didn't change, what was I going to do? You aren't going to be able to trade him so I'm stuck. 'So Marc, could you please play good?' That was me to him."

2. Detroit (1): Wishing a speedy recovery to Mike Modano. He hinted to local reporters that his career might be in jeopardy after having a tendon in his right wrist cut by a skate.

3. Washington (2): Alexander Semin is on pace for a 50-goal season and due to become an unrestricted free agent in July. It could be his last year in a Capitals sweater.

4. Montreal (5): A big area of improvement has been the penalty kill. The Habs have gone from an 83 per cent success rate last season to a league-best 89.3 per cent so far this year.

5. Vancouver (10): Strange stat - reigning Hart Trophy winner Henrik Sedin is on pace for 10 goals and 88 assists. He scored 29 times a year ago.

6. Philadelphia (3): Danny Briere is getting lots of love in Philly these days and with good reason. He leads the team with 14 goals.

7. Dallas (7): How will GM Joe Nieuwendyk manage this squad if it continues to stay with the league leaders? With no owner, he's in a tough spot to spend any more money.

8. Phoenix (12): Prospective owner Matthew Hulsizer made a strong impression on the league's power brokers this week. He looks like the white knight the franchise has been searching for.

9. Boston (16): The milestones keep coming for Mark Recchi. Having recently registered his 1,500th career point, the 42-year-old is closing in on his 1,600th game. Impressive.

10. Tampa Bay (6): A healthy Simon Gagne makes this team look even more dangerous. There are still questions about the goaltending duo of Mike Smith and Dan Ellis, though.

11. Atlanta (14): Ondrej Pavelec has been a rock in goal for the surprising Thrashers. He's second in the league with a .947 save percentage and 1.71 goals-against average.

12. Chicago (11): There's no room for sentiment when you're the defending champs. Coach Joel Quenneville elects not to start goalie Marty Turco in his return to Dallas.

13. N.Y. Rangers (9): The latest linemates for Marian Gaborik are rookie Derek Stepan and Ruslan Fedotenko, who came to training camp on a tryout. Call them the odd couple.

14. Columbus (8): Defenceman Rostislav Klesla led all NHLers with a plus-17 rating heading into play Wednesday. The Czech has never finished a season better than plus-7.

15. Anaheim (17): Joffrey Lupul returns to the Ducks lineup after sitting on the sidelines for 362 days. There were moments he wondered if he'd ever be back after a serious blood infection.

16. Los Angeles (18): It's been a tough season so far for third-year defenceman Drew Doughty. One step backwards for every two forward.

17. San Jose (19): Watch out for Logan Couture in the rookie scoring race. He's closed ground on Jeff Skinner after putting up 12 points in as many games.

18. St. Louis (13): There's lots of reason for optimism here. Owner Dave Checketts says he's close to bringing on investors and the team's local TV ratings are up more than 50 per cent from last season.

19. Nashville (22): They're starting to attract more fans in the Music City. Nashville's average attendance has jumped by more than 1,000 per game to 16,076.

20. Colorado (15): Joe Sakic attended the league's board of governors meetings this week. How long before he takes on a more permanent role with the Avalanche?

21. Minnesota (20): Coach Todd Richards is on the hot seat with the Wild. The results haven't been there.

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