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Monday, December 3, 2001
Updated: December 10, 9:36 PM ET
Rangers successfully navigate tough stretch

ESPN.com

Through games of Dec. 2

Misery loves company, which may be why so few teams are complaining loudly about their December schedules. After all, whether it's 15 games in 31 days or 14 games in 29, everyone has it tough. However, last week, the Rangers had it a tad tougher than other teams -- four games in six nights -- and finished undefeated.

Then there are the Dallas Stars. Most teams are content to finish a road trip at .500. Last week, the Stars batted 1.000. After winning just once on the road in their first eight tries, the Stars are unbeaten in their last seven games away from home and have the third-most road wins in the Western Conference.

Let us know what you think about this week's rankings and we'll post the best responses in Rank Comments.

Team Pvs. W-L-T-OL The skinny
1. Red Wings 1 22-4-1-1 If anyone has a good reason to drop the Wings from the No. 1 spot, please let us know. We're getting bored.
2. Rangers 7 17-9-2-1 Four games in six nights. Two at home, two on the road. Two shutouts. No losses. Enough said.
3. Maple Leafs 3 15-7-2-3 Ice time complaints? What ice time complaints?
4. Oilers 5 16-8-3-1 It's sweet revenge -- or a huge relief -- when your nickname is Juicy Rebound and you post a shutout in your first NHL game. Such is the life of Jussi Markkanen.
5. Senators 4 13-8-3-0 Zen Question of the Week, courtesy of the Ottawa Sun: How is it that Ivan Ciernik and Bill Muckalt need just nine shots between them to knock out eight targets at the skills competition, but don't have a goal between them this season?
6. Islanders 2 15-6-4-1 You've got issues when the coach says, "I hated our game at 2-0," and you were the team up 2-0.
7. Sharks 8 12-7-4-3 When your top defensive defenseman scores two goals, you're firing on all cylinders. Or you could be playing the Ducks.
8. Stars 13 11-7-6-3 The Stars are unbeaten (4-0-2-0) since dealing Donald Audette to Montreal.
9. Flames 6 13-6-5-2 There is a fine line between keeping up with the Oilers and fending off the Wild.
10. Bruins 12 13-7-3-3 The Bruins have played 11 overtime games this season, more than any other team in the league.
11. Canadiens 11 12-9-3-1 Anyone know the number of an exorcist?
12. Flyers 10 11-7-5-1 There's no truth to the rumor that the Flyers, who have the second-fewest power-play goals (10), are going to start declining penalties.
13. Blues 14 13-8-4-1 The Columbus Blue Jackets do a struggling Cup contender good.
14. Blackhawks 9 12-9-7-0 Overtaken by the Chicago blues and St. Louis Blues all in one weekend.
15. Wild 18 11-9-5-2 The Wild were 7-14-4-1 (19 points) through 26 games last season. This season, they're 11-9-4-2 with 28 points.
16. Hurricanes 15 12-11-4-3 Jeff O'Neill has a goal and an assist since cutting his hair. At least something is working.
17. Coyotes 17 11-9-3-3 Right now, we'd take Sean Burke over Curtis Joseph and Martin Brodeur. But we're not Wayne Gretzky, are we?
18. Sabres 21 12-13-2-1 Exactly how is Chris Gratton supposed to create more offense from the fourth line? Just wondering.
19. Avalanche 22 13-12-2-0 It's a good sign when the Avs can play two road games without Rob Blake and come home with a win and a tie.
20. Capitals 23 11-13-3-0 Last season, the Caps were 7-10-6-1 in October and November. So technically, their season is just starting.
21. Canucks 16 11-16-3-0 We're getting the feeling that Dan Cloutier isn't the only one responsible.
22. Penguins 20 10-11-3-2 How can a team that has Mario Lemieux have the worst power play in the league? Oh, that's right. They don't have Lemieux.
23. Devils 19 10-10-2-2 If the goalie says "I don't think we're out of the woods yet," believe him.
24. Blue Jackets 25 7-14-5-1 Transaction-happy GM Doug MacLean to the Post-Dispatch: "I'm getting itchy." The players must have enjoyed reading that.
25. Kings 27 8-12-3-2 Bryan Smolinski has a slight case of separation anxiety. He's registered just 2-1-3 in the 15 games since Glen Murray was traded to Boston.
26. Predators 24 9-15-3-0 Home at last.
27. Lightning 26 10-14-1-1 If Vincent Lecavalier was traded, would anyone notice? Oops. We asked that four weeks ago.
28. Thrashers 28 6-15-2-2 A .500 road trip is plenty of reason to get excited. OK, maybe not excited, but it's positive.
29. Mighty Ducks 30 8-16-3-0 When a minor leaguer gets called up and the coach says he'll be spending time on the top lines, you know it's all about the future.
30. Panthers 29 6-15-2-3 Mike Keenan in favor of Duane Sutter? Florida just got a little hotter.