- Big Bad Blog - http://bigbadblog.weei.com -

NHL Power Rankings, 12/23

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 [1] Power Rankings.

1. (1) 26-8-1  The Devils were challenged by the Penguins [2] for our top spot, but Martin Brodeur [3] 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 [4], 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 [5] take on Alex Ovechkin [6] 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 [7] 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 [8] 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 [9] 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 [10] 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 [11] 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 [12] 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 [13] 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 [14] 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 [15], 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 [16] could get the Maple Leafs on track.

29. (29) 13-17-7  Islanders super rookie John Tavares [17] 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.