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Power Rankings: Hawks vault to No. 4

1/17/2012

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks jumped three spots in ESPN.com’s weekly Power Rankings from No. 7 to No. 4 after earning points in five straight games since losing three in a row in regulation.

The fact the Hawks are No. 3 is less interesting than the notion that three teams in the Central Division now occupy positions in the top 5 of the rankings. St. Louis vaulted from No. 5 to No. 2 and Detroit moved from No. 6 to No. 5. The Nashville Predators aren’t far behind at No. 9, once again proving for another week the Central might be the toughest in hockey.

Some could argue the Wings should be ahead of the Hawks based on two overtime wins their last two meetings. But either way it’s appropriate the two teams are neck-and-neck in the rankings. They’ve played three games against each other this year -- all within the last two weeks -- and each game has ended 3-2, two have gone to overtime.

Meanwhile, the Blues have moved all the way up to No. 2 and are getting it done thanks to a stingy defense and great goaltending. They earned two more points on Monday night -- after the rankings were released -- in a fantastic 1-0 win over Dallas. St. Louis and Chicago are tied in the standings, but the Blues have played one less game and haven’t lost in regulation since the calendar changed years. The Wings are just one point behind Chicago and St. Louis.

With the Blues proving they have staying power, the three teams seem destined to battle in the standings and in the power rankings. This week St. Louis wins by the narrowest of margins.