As it stands right now, the Hawks are the best team in the league. Their league leading points indicate it, no longer just at top because of games in hand, and now the Power Rankings say so too. The Chicago Blackhawks have taken over the top spot in ESPN's weekly Power Rankings . Honestly, it shocks me just a tad. They overcome the Bruins for the #1 spot and I have to say that I would have gone with Boston.
The Hawks have 1 game in hand and lead by 1 point. The Bruins have 22 wins and the Hawks 21. Both teams are on 5 game winning streaks, good for best in the league at the moment, and both have 111 goals for which gives them the tie for 2nd best in the league. This is actually where they start to contrast very much, as the Bruin's goal differential is +48 (best in the league) and the Hawks are only at a+13. In fact, the Hawks have given up more goals than any other team within the top 10 in the West.
The recent surge of Ray Emery is what ESPN gives as the choice to raise their ranking. He " has started the past five games and played in the last seven, with the Hawks earning points in all of them. Balanced scoring along with Emery’s stellar play has vaulted the Hawks to the top spot in the rankings." Based on what December has shown us, are the Hawks the best team in the NHL?
Or, do they just have the best arsenal of talent, capable of overwhelming anyone's defense at the moment? Sharp has the best scoring streak in the league so far, and we all know what Toews, Hossa, and Kane are doing. If goals against are your concern, does the recent Calgary game not add weight instead of ease tensions due to the decisive win? Sure, but they still gave up 2 goals in a game that their goalie was on, and where they only allowed 11 shots in 2 periods. My point is, the Hawks still have a lot of room for improvement outside of their talent to score goals. When I watch the Bruins, I see a well oiled machine.
Tonight's game features what many expect to be a Cup Final's matchup. Again, I think that ignores the machine in Boston. Meanwhile, the Pens continue to fight through without their glistening star captain, earning them the title of a dangerous team even without Crosby. Could we say the same of a Toewsless Hawks? Plus, the Pens are without Letang on the back-end and a plethora of other players due to injury, including Jordan Staal. Seabrook is considered day to day after his head hit the other night. It would seem that the Hawks have the upper hand in talent at the moment.
The absence of personal that the Pens are facing could very well be their doom. What they have accomplished with a shorter bench proves a great many things, but it doesn't earn them a ticket to the finals. I think that the #1 Power Ranking and league leading Hawks should take care of business tonight, while continuing to show promise that their "league leading" goals against will continue to get better all the way to Spring, and bring that winning streak to 6 games.