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Monday, December 19, 2011
Power Rankings: Hawks climb to top

By Jesse Rogers

NHL Power Rankings
CHICAGO -- It was undoubtedly a close call, but the Chicago Blackhawks have taken over the top spot in ESPN.com’s weekly Power Rankings released on Monday.

The Hawks are just ahead of the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins as both teams are coming off stellar undefeated weeks. After several overtime/shootout wins the Hawks have been more definitive in their last two victories, outscoring their opposition 8-3. Overall, they’ve scored no less than three goals in eight straight contests and have won five in a row.

The Detroit Red Wings (4) aren’t far behind in the rankings and neither are the surging St. Louis Blues (6) as the Central division boasts three teams in the top 6 and four (Nashville) in the top 11.

One key to the Hawks run has been the play of goalie Ray Emery. He started the season as the backup, winning the job in training camp but 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. They deserve the position based on their play in December so far.