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NHL Power Rankings Dec. 24: Islanders on Santa's Nice List

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The Isles move up 7 spots after a strong week, bringing comfort and joy to Islander Nation.

The Backhand of Judgment has been a real time saver for me!
The Backhand of Judgment has been a real time saver for me!
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Islanders are acting a lot like i did when I was a kid: Be extra nice and do lots of good things just before Santa arrives, and hopefully he'll forget about the naughty things done just weeks earlier.

After ending the Hawks' win streak, the Isles continued their hot hand against the Devils (shootout-aided), Wings, and Lightning. Last night's loss to the Habs won't be factored in until next week. Luckily for the Isles, Santa will already have rendered his Stocking Stuffer of Judgment.

Weekly Round-Up of Opinion Polls

Site Updated New Ranking Prior Ranking Comments
1 CBS 12/23/2014 6 6 The Isles have been awfully streaky this year and they're on a four-game winning streak right now. They'll be fine with the streakiness as long as it means they're winning a lot more than they're losing, like right now.
2 ESPN 12/22/2014 3 5 The Islanders have won four straight and continue to put pressure on Pittsburgh atop the Metropolitan Division.
3 TSN 12/22/2014 8 11 Getting healthier on the blueline and with four straight wins, the Islanders are rolling. If they're looking for projects to improve the club, league-worst penalty-killing (72.3%) is a good place to start.
4 Fox 12/18/2014 7 8 New York ended Chicago's eight-game winning streak and has won two straight, but at some point the Islanders will have to do something about the NHL's worst penalty-killing unit (71.1 percent). Winnipeg's Michael Frolik would be a nice option if the Jets falter.
5 USA Today --- --- 8 No rankings this week. On holiday break, I suppose.
6 SI 12/23/2014 5 8 Click on the SI link for full text. Comments range from their franchise record start to Halak to Fenwick.
Average 6 8 "I'm not gonna talk about the penalty kill" is the new "I'm not gonna talk about the goaltending."

Ah yes, the penalty kill. The biggest Achilles' Heel the Islanders have right now. All I want for Christmas is effective checking.

LHH Power Rankings

Through 12/22/14

GP Reg W OT W SO OT L Reg L LHH Pts LHH Pct LHH Rating
1 Pittsburgh Penguins 33 17 3 5 2 6 133 0.672 126
2 Chicago Blackhawks 34 18 1 5 1 9 129 0.632 123
3 St. Louis Blues 33 15 3 5 1 9 119 0.601 115
4 Nashville Predators 32 16 2 5 1 8 121 0.63 114
5 Toronto Maple Leafs 34 16 1 3 2 12 113 0.554 114
6 Tampa Bay Lightning 35 17 2 5 0 11 125 0.595 113
7 Anaheim Ducks 36 16 3 7 2 8 133 0.616 113
8 New York Islanders 33 14 3 6 0 10 114 0.576 113
9 Detroit Red Wings 34 14 2 8 2 8 120 0.588 112
10 New York Rangers 31 12 3 6 0 10 102 0.548 111
11 Montreal Canadiens 34 16 1 5 1 11 117 0.574 110
12 San Jose Sharks 35 16 1 6 1 11 120 0.571 109
13 Vancouver Canucks 33 15 3 3 1 11 113 0.571 107
14 Los Angeles Kings 35 15 1 5 3 11 115 0.548 101
15 Washington Capitals 33 13 3 4 3 10 108 0.545 101
16 Minnesota Wild 31 12 2 3 2 12 93 0.5 99
17 Winnipeg Jets 34 13 2 5 4 10 109 0.534 96
18 Calgary Flames 36 11 4 4 2 15 98 0.454 96
19 Philadelphia Flyers 33 10 3 5 1 14 89 0.449 96
20 Florida Panthers 32 9 1 9 4 9 93 0.484 95
21 Dallas Stars 32 12 0 3 4 13 89 0.464 92
22 Ottawa Senators 34 9 2 6 3 14 86 0.422 92
23 Boston Bruins 34 10 5 4 1 14 94 0.461 90
24 New Jersey Devils 35 9 1 7 1 17 81 0.386 87
25 Columbus Blue Jackets 33 8 2 5 2 16 75 0.379 87
26 Colorado Avalanche 33 7 1 6 6 13 76 0.384 85
27 Buffalo Sabres 34 7 1 6 2 18 68 0.333 81
28 Carolina Hurricanes 33 8 1 3 1 20 63 0.318 77
29 Arizona Coyotes 33 6 3 4 2 18 64 0.323 74
30 Edmonton Oilers 34 7 0 2 5 20 58 0.284 71

Technically, the Isles are in a three-way tie for 6th. I listed them in order of regulation wins (something they still don't do enough of, as far as upper-echelon teams are concerned). So that's a seven-spot improvement over last week's 13th place ranking. The Isles have had a tougher strength of schedule recently, and more importantly, they've beaten most of those teams.

I'm sure the Habs' win against the Isles will boost them a bit. Minnesota is perfectly average (12-12 in regulation, 2-2 in OT, a few shootouts which count as half credit no matter the outcome, and a 99 LHH rating.... one point from average). The Rangers continue to play above expectations, while five other Metro teams are 15th or worse. And Dom must be having a swell holiday season, as his other team is 3rd.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading this weekly wall paper of digits. It's the first time since starting this exercise that Isles fans are asking Santa for a Cup rather than high draft picks. I hope we've all been very good this year. You know... for goodness' sake. And a Cup. But mostly for goodness' sake... And a Cup.