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NHL Power Rankings — 12/30

12.30.09 at 6:57 am ET
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The end of 2009 doesn’t end the Devils’ reign atop the WEEI Power Rankings. Here’s to every team having a happy start to the New Year.

New Jersey Devils 1. (1) 27-9-1  Each week we think about making a change at the top. But it’s tough to argue with the fact that the team that has played the fewest games (37) has the most wins (27).

Chicago Blackhawks2. (2) 26-10-3  Beating Detroit once and Nashville twice in the last week helps the Blackhawks maintain a solid hold on their lead in the Central Division. Now they host the Devils Thursday, with a chance to move atop our rankings.

San Jose Sharks3. (5) 24-8-7  The Sharks knock off the Blackhawks, Ducks and Coyotes, and Joe Thornton now leads the league in scoring. That’s a good week.

Washington Capitals4. (4) 24-9-6  This would be Exhibit A in the case suggesting the Capitals simply don’t have the right focus to be taken as a serious contender. They beat Buffalo and New Jersey, then lose to Carolina at home.

Minnesota Wild5. (6) 24-11-4  Rallying from a three-goal deficit to take a 4-3 victory over the Penguins Tuesday allows the Sabres to leap past Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Penguins6 . (3) 26-13-1  After squandering a 3-0 lead in Tuesday’s loss at Buffalo, the Penguins have dropped three of their last four games.

Phoenix Coyotes7. (10) 25-13-3  Who says the desert is no place to play hockey? The Coyotes took a 3-2 shootout victory over Vancouver Tuesday and set a franchise record with their 10th straight win on home ice.

Colorado Avalanche8. (9) 22-12-6  The surprising Avalanche may be in the fight for the long haul. Colorado has gone 7-3 in its last 10 games.

Nashville Predators9. (7) 23-14-3  Tough sledding for the Predators this past week, losing to Vancouver and twice to Chicago. A 4-3 victory over St. Louis got Nashville back on track Tuesday.
Calgary Flames10. (11) 21-12-5  This says a lot about the NHL. The Flames are 4-6-2 in December, but that’s good enough to tread water and stay among the top 10 points leaders.

Los Angeles Kings 11. (8 ) 22-14-3  Ryan Smyth returns, and two shifts into Saturday’s contest linemate Justin Williams is lost with a broken leg. The young Kings are getting plenty of experience handling adversity.

Boston Bruins 12. (12) 19-12-7  Finding ways to generate offense could remain a concern long after the Winter Classic rink at Fenway is done and gone.

Vancouver Canucks13. (16) 23-16-1  The streak is over. The Canucks suffered their first non-regulation loss Tuesday, dropping a 3-2 game in Phoenix in a shootout.

Ottawa Senators14. (17) 20-15-4  Past Senators teams would be devastated by last week’s loss of captain Daniel Alfredsson to a shoulder injury. But adherence to coach Cory Clouston’s defensive system could help Ottawa survive.

Detriot Red Wings15. (13) 19-14-6  My, how times have changed. The Red Wings have been shut out in three of their last four games, including a 1-0 setback in Columbus Monday.

Dallas Stars 16. (14) 17-11-11  Pesky Steve Ott scored twice to help the Stars knock off the Blackhawks 5-4 on Tuesday. Dallas improved to 7-1-2 in its last 10 home games.

Minnesota Wild 17. (20) 20-17-3  The up-and-down Wild had won three in a row before a 4-2 loss in Anaheim Tuesday. Minnesota has the most one-goal wins (15) in the league.

Atlanta Thrashers18. (17) 18-16-4  The Thrashers return to Boston Wednesday having lost four straight.

Montreal Canadiens19. (23) 19-19-3  Goalie Jaroslav Halak earns top-star honors in the NHL this week. He went 3-0 with a 1.97 GAA and .959 SP, helping the Canadiens move into seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

St. Louis Blues20. (18) 17-17-5  Tuesday’s setback vs. Nashville leaves the Blues winless in three, but they did end a 0-for-11 stretch on the power play.

New York Rangers 21. (22 ) 18-16-4  Signs of life in Manhattan. The Rangers win four straight before losing to the Islanders on home ice.

Philadelphia Flyers22. ( 27) 18-18-2  Three wins in a row for the Flyers with a contest against the Rangers still to be played before the Winter Classic.

Tampa Bay Lightning 23. (24) 15-15-9  After beating the Bruins Monday, the Lightning have won three of their last four. Martin St. Louis is getting hot, with two goals and six assists in his last five games.

Anaheim Ducks24. (20) 16-16-7  Bobby Ryan scored twice and the Ducks ended a two-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over Minnesota Tuesday. Goalie Jonas Hiller has gone 5-0-1 in his last six starts, with a .934 SP.

Florida Panthers25. (19) 16-17-7  The Bruins managed to cool off the Panthers’ top line in Sunday’s 2-1 Boston win. Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss and Michael Frolik had combined for 14 goals in eight games.

New York Islanders26. (29) 16-18-7  Yes, must-see TV Tuesday, as the Islanders and Blue Jackets went to a shootout. Rob Schremp‘s shootout goal lifted the Isles to victory, their third win in four games.

Toronto Maple Leafs27. (28) 14-17-9  Vesa Toskala stepped in as the Maple Leafs ended a three-game losing streak by defeating the defending champion Penguins in Pittsburgh Sunday. That’s got to help team confidence.

Columbus Blue Jackets 28. (25) 15-18-8  Things are not good when the Blue Jackets say goodbye to Columbus. Tuesday’s shootout loss on Long Island was the team’s 12th straight road loss.

Edmonton Oilers29. (26) 15-20-4  The free-fall continues. The Oilers have lost seven straight games since going 5-0 on a road trip in early December.

Carolina Hurricanes30. (30) 10-22-7  A 6-3 win against the Caps in DC shows the Hurricanes still have some talent and pride.

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