Hawks' power-rankings tumble no surprise

CHICAGO -- To the surprise of no one following the Chicago Blackhawks, the team tumbled in ESPN.com’s weekly power rankings released Monday, dropping from No. 2 to No. 7.

For several weeks, the Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins were alternating as the top two teams, but both were outdone by the New York Rangers, who took over the No. 1 ranking.

More worrisome than the Hawks’ fall in the rankings is their fall from the top of the Central Division, going from first to third. Both the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings are ahead of the Hawks in the standings -- but only by tiebreaking standards -- as well as in the rankings. St. Louis is No. 5 and Detroit is No. 6. So the margin in the rankings is as close as is is in the division, where all three teams have 53 points.

But the Hawks have dropped a season-high four games in a row. They’ve given away points at home, earning just three out of the last 10 possible. That’s hard to swallow knowing the beginning of a nine-game road trip is less than a month away and the Hawks will be without star Patrick Sharp until at least then. He was placed on injured reserve Monday with a hand injury.

The Hawks played better in their latest loss, a 3-2 overtime defeat to Detroit, so maybe their mini-slump is about to come to an end -- they play the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday -- and it can’t come soon enough. Chicago still has six home games left this month against just two road contests, so a chance to move up the rankings and reclaim the division is there. Now they just have to go out and do it.