Power Up: Chicago Blackhawks rise in rankings and into Pittsburgh.

Power Up: Chicago Blackhawks rise in rankings and into Pittsburgh.

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.

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  • The power rankings are fun to check out every week... but LeBrun and Burnside definitely like to stir the pot for reactions too. I remember somewhere back near the beginning of the season they had the Hawks down at like #20. I agree with HH that the Bruins are a stronger team right now, and dominate the Hawks in most categories on paper. However, while living in New England, I'll gladly enjoy the bragging rights of the Hawks being in the #1 spot for a while.

  • I have to agree on the power rankings. I look at them, but don't take much weight from them. I also agree on Boston. After a start of the year blip, they have picked right back up and if anything, look to me like they have gotten better. Bylsma is an awesome coach, but I still think the Pens fate will be in Crosby's hands. Because the Hawks have scored so many goals, I do believe they deserve to be in the discussion. However, that ugly differential tells the whole story; the Hawks have sucked defensively. The emergence of Leddy has been great, but it hasn't replaced entirely what we lost in Campbell. The team is learning to adapt to what they have and if nothing else (knock on wood) the bleeding has stopped. Seabrook is back tonight, I hope he's really okay.

    The Hawks have a favorable schedule through the end of the year. However, I doubt anyone here believes they will run the table. Tonight is a game I am not very confident about. If the Hawks third or fourth line has a good night, this could be a win. Without secondary production though, it might be possible to isolate the top lines and win through match ups. These two teams are probably closer then the Hawks record suggests.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    I am still of the opinion that the defensive woes have little to do with the loss of Campbell. The Hawks were not that much better last season, and where they were better, it was in larger part to a bunch of defensive-minded forwards on the team. Which is why our scoring lacked. Campbell was great at getting the puck from blue-line to blue-line, but beyond that, I felt that his contribution in the corners and along the boards is far less what Leddy has given. However, Campbell was caught out of position less, in large part because of his speed.

    Leddy and Hjalmer have been great these past few games. Keith is getting back to full form, and if Seabs isn't done for a while, I think the Hawks start fixing some back-end issues now. The only variable is that 6th D-man. Q needs to roll a little more consistency there right now, as it is a sore spot for the team. That means more Lepisto in my eyes.

  • TSN, ESPNs Canadian counterpart has the 'hawks ranked fifth overall. A much more realistic ranking. http://www.tsn.ca/fantasy_news/rankings/nhl/

    As for the game tonight, we all know the 'hawks have problems with a disciplined defensive strategy. The Pens will roll their lines and play their system and the 'hawks will have to adjust. I look for a lower scoring game and I think the 'hawks have enough to get the job done. It'd be nice to string together b2b wins before the break.

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