Another week. And it’s a big one.

With Wednesday’s trade deadline right around the corner and teams ramping up for the final stretch of the 2016-17 NHL regular season, contenders are surging forward while pretenders are fizzling out in anticipation of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Washington Capitals have done nearly all they can to warrant a slide from the No. 1 spot in the league, but they can’t be dethroned just yet. The Chicago Blackhawks, meanwhile, have been gliding off big road wins, while middle-of-the-pack contenders like the Florida Panthers are vying for serious attention:

Biggest Movers
4 Sabres
4 Maple Leafs
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Capitals In a seven-game series, how can you not still favor these guys? Recent slip-ups -- and a road-warrior surge from Chicago -- make a drop from the top spot possible. But until the Caps' struggles severely outweigh their scoring dominance, they are No. 1. -- 28-23-9
2 Wild Consistency, consistency. They have it. Before their break, they suffered a few close losses but remain a deadly, reliable force atop the Western Conference. -- 29-27-6
3 Blackhawks If we were going strictly off recent performances on the road, Chicago would be No. 1, no question. If they stay healthy, look out. 2 15-42-5
4 Penguins Speaking of staying healthy, the Pens got at least a little relief by landing Ron Hainsey from Carolina. If they limp their way past an easier schedule to close the season, their offense will pose problems for teams in the playoffs. -- 27-24-8
5 Rangers Who says the Rangers, ultra hot over a 10-game stretch, wouldn't mind finishing behind the Caps and Co. to take on an Atlantic Division foe in the postseason? 2 40-18-4
6 Blue Jackets Hanging steady just outside the top five, they've held their own in a tough division and still boast considerable long-term talent for beyond the season. -- 21-30-10
7 Sharks We're still waiting for the Sharks to chomp at their chances to really build their division lead. -- 15-39-6
8 Oilers San Jose best watch its back. Edmonton is translating its division-high goals total to victories. 1 37-20-2
9 Ducks A jolt of offensive life (see: trade deadline) might help Anaheim avoid big-deficit losses and do more than sneak by teams to boost their rise in the Pacific. 1 22-36-3
10 Senators The time is now for Ottawa to capitalize on Montreal's slide and push forward for a bid at the Atlantic Division title. 1 25-31-3
11 Canadiens It was a big week in headlines for the Habs, who saw Claude Julien get his first win back in Montreal and Carey Price log a head-turning save. But this team needs to string together more than a few consecutive wins to really recapture momentum. 1 23-28-10
12 Blues They're giving up goals more than they're scoring them, which is never a plus, but they've also been on the upswing over the last week or so. The trade deadline will be big for the Blues. 2 32-26-3
13 Predators Filip Forsberg, everyone. Inconsistent or not, the Predators are dangerous when they're on. Just look at what they did to the Caps. 2 35-25-2
14 Panthers We don't want to exaggerate their recent climb, but no one can deny the healthy Panthers, with a recent historic road trip, are putting things together. 3 42-16-4
15 Bruins Maybe it's good the Bruce Cassidy hype train slows a bit. Because Boston has to bear down and prove its productive depth is ready for the stretch run. 3 36-13-14
16 Islanders Catch them on the road, and they're not so tough. But Doug Weight still has the team on a roll in the grand scheme of things. -- 26-20-14
17 Maple Leafs Neck and neck with the Bruins, these guys will be at the forefront of the battle between unpredictable wild card contenders. 4 35-18-8
18 Flames Let's see how the Michael Stone move pays off. A little help on "D" maybe makes this team's hot month a little more formidable. 2 30-26-5
19 Kings Falling behind the Flames and falling fast, L.A. needs to show it can beat top-tier competition again before anyone takes the Kings seriously. Topping Anaheim was a start. 1 31-19-10
20 Flyers You can't really fault them too much for falling to the Caps, who were hungry for a rebound. They do need some kind of defensive turnaround here, though, to get on the right track. 1 32-23-8
21 Sabres The deadline decision on Evander Kane could be a huge one as Buffalo coasts its way through a decent stretch despite bad defensive marks on the year. 4 29-29-4
22 Lightning Ben Bishop's elite stretch: Perhaps a prelude to a deadline deal rather than a late-season skate through the playoffs. -- 33-24-6
23 Devils In reality, this team's offense -- if you can call it that -- isn't exactly worlds removed from that of, say, the Avalanche. 2 30-27-4
24 Jets Success has come by the Jets lately. Good for Patrik Laine and the future of the organization. 2 39-16-5
25 Canucks The Pacific Division's parity leaves them within reach of the playoffs. But it shouldn't convince anyone they are ready. 1 39-17-7
26 Hurricanes They've got their sights set squarely on the future. The Ron Hainsey deal has them even more loaded for a haul of drafted talent. 3 36-19-6
27 Red Wings Beating the Caps didn't turn their season around, even if it was a nice touch for a team that'll break a long streak by missing the playoffs. 1 33-22-6
28 Stars Talent does not always equal production, as the Stars continue to make clear. 1 37-17-9
29 Coyotes Michael Stone is out. Now who's next? -- 25-31-5
30 Avalanche Let the Matt Duchene sweepstakes ramp up. -- 38-20-5