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NHL Power Rankings, 12/23

12.23.09 at 7:24 am ET

As the countdown to Christmas continues,  step aside from the shopping cart. Put down the wrapping paper. Gather family and friends near and enjoy the gift that is the WEEI NHL Power Rankings.

1. (1) 26-8-1  The Devils were challenged by the Penguins for our top spot, but Martin Brodeur went into Pittsburgh and grabbed a milestone shutout. The Devils remain on top.

2. (3) 23-9-3  The Blackhawks have the best team goals-against average (1.96) in the league and high-end offensive talent. Santa has been very good to them this year.

3. (2) 25-11-1  Before running into shutout king Brodeur Monday, the Penguins had won five in a row. They could do the Bruins a favor by returning to their winning ways in their next three contests, all against Northeast Division teams.

4. (4) 22-8-6  After a few rough seasons for Brendan Morrison, it’s nice to see he has fit in well with the Capitals, with 24 points in 36 games and a plus-14 rating.

5. (7) 22-8-7  Tuesday’s 3-2 win in a showdown with the Blackhawks showed the Sharks could still be the team to beat in the West.

6. (6) 22-10-3  Here’s a holiday treat. The Sabres and league-best goalie Ryan Miller take on Alex Ovechkin and the Caps in Washington tonight. Eggnog for all.

7.  (11) 22-12-3  Despite a loss in Vancouver Tuesday, the Predators remain a scorching 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Don’t expect them to be cooling off for too long.

8. (5 ) 22-12-3  Ryan Smyth should be back in the lineup when the Kings play their next game Saturday in Phoenix. That’s as good a hockey Christmas gift as you’ll get.

9. (9) 21-12-6  The Avalanche look like they intend to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot. Going 6-3-1 in the last 10 games will do that.

10. (10) 22-13-2  There’s no way the Coyotes could shock the world and win the Pacific? That could never happen, right? Hmm. Third-best record in the league over their last 10 (7-2-1). Never say never.

11. (8) 20-11-4  Yes, we have confirmation. Jarome Iginla did end an eight-game goal-scoring drought with two goals Saturday. But the Flames still have lost three of four.

12. (12) 17-11-7  The return of Milan Lucic and the spirited atmosphere of the Winter Classic should provide a well-timed shot of adrenalin for the Bruins.

13. (13) 18-13-5  The Red Wings were already beset by a major rash of injuries, and now leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg is gone for at least another week with a shoulder injury.

14. (14) 15-10-11  The Stars are starting to wobble, going just 3-3-4 in their last 10 games.

15. (15) 18-13-4  Those speculating about the Thrashers moving Ilya Kovalchuk to Boston seem to avoid looking at the standings. The Thrashers’ next move could be to pass the Bruins in playoff positioning.

16. (16) 21-16  Beat the Caps, lose to the Ducks and Blues. Just another inconsistent week for the Canucks.

17. (18) 18-14-4  Congrats to Senators forward Mike Fisher for his engagement to country singer Carrie Underwood. That’s a sweet addition to the Northeast Division.

18. (21) 16-14-5  Since a postgame tirade by GM Larry Pleau Friday, the Blues have gone 2-0, while scoring 10 goals in the process. Well done, Mr. Pleau.

19. (23) 16-15-7  The Panthers have won five of their last seven games. OK, two of the wins were against Carolina. But there was a road win over New Jersey in there, too. This is a team on the rise.

20. (24) 14-14-7  The Ducks rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period to take a 4-2 win in Colorado Tuesday. They launched 43 shots at Craig Anderson in the process. Don’t think they are done this season.

21. (19) 17-16-3  After a strong run over the last six weeks, the Wild have lost consecutive games for the first time since mid-November.

22. (26 ) 17-16-3  Three wins in row for the Rangers, over the Islanders (see below), Flyers (see below) and Hurricanes (see below). Impressed? Neither are we.

23. (22) 17-18-3  Had to double check on this one. Yes, indeed, Canadiens forward Tomas Plekanec is among the top 10 in league scoring. That’s about the best of it in Montreal this season.

24. (27) 13-14-9  Lightning alert. Back-to-backs win for Tampa this week for the first time since Nov. 12.

25. (24) 14-16-7  It’s official. Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason, with his 3.41 GAA and .887 SP, has qualified for the worst second season by a Calder Trophy winner.

26. (17) 15-17-4  Three straight home losses after winning five straight on the road. There’s got to be some really bad home cooking in Edmonton.

27. ( 25) 15-18-2  The Flyers beat the Bruins and then lose four in a row. That says something about both teams that are headed to the Winter Classic.

28. (28) 13-16-8  If Saturday’s 2-0 shutout over the B’s is any indication, Jonas Gustavsson could get the Maple Leafs on track.

29. (29) 13-17-7  Islanders super rookie John Tavares may have hit the wall. He’s been held without a point in five straight.

30. (30) 9-21-6  Keeping it positive at the holidays, the Hurricanes have won two of their last four.

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