The hockey-less summer seems to drag on endlessly, yet before you know it, we've arrived the unofficial quarter-point of the 2011-12 season. Thanksgiving is generally a time when teams take stock of where they are, so we're going to do the same with a bonus edition of the Super 16.
Who are the NHL's 16 best teams with 25 percent of the schedule now complete? What should these teams be thankful for? Let's take a look.
|RANK||TEAM (RECORD)||LAST WEEK||COMMENTARY|
|1||Boston (13-7-0)||1||The Bruins should be thankful for Tyler Seguin. With 21 points in 19 games, he has nearly matched last year's point total (22) in about a quarter of the games (74).|
|2||Minnesota (13-5-3)||2||The Wild should be thankful for rookie defensemen. Justin Falk, Nate Prosser and Marco Scandella are ranked 3-4-5 in rookie ice time, easing the loss of Brent Burns.|
|3||San Jose (13-5-1)||3||The Sharks should be thankful for Thomas Greiss. Loaned to the Swedish league last year, he's returned with four wins in six starts with Antti Niemi and Antero Niittymaki banged up.|
|4||Pittsburgh (12-6-4)||6||The Penguins should be thankful for Matt Cooke. No, seriously. He's staying out of the penalty box (eight PIMs), he's scoring goals and killing penalties. He appears to be a changed man.|
|5||Philadelphia (12-6-3)||4||The Flyers should be thankful for Matt Read. The rookie leads the team at plus-nine and has nine goals in 18 games. Two of the nine goals have been game-winners.|
||5||The Blackhawks should be thankful for Patrick Kane. He's seamlessly made the shift to center. He's plus-10, has 21 points and has won 47.9 percent of draws. He took 93 prior in his career.
|7||Florida (12-6-3)||14||The Panthers should be thankful for Dale Tallon. He completely turned over the roster, hired a rookie coach, and it's resulted in a fast, fun, successful team.
|8||Detroit (12-7-1)||9||The Red Wings should be thankful for Johan Franzen. He's healthy and dominating. He has a team-leading 21 points and four game-winning goals.
|9||N.Y. Rangers (10-5-3)||7||The Rangers should be thankful for Ryan McDonagh. With Marc Staal sidelined, McDonagh has been a rock on the top d-pairing despite playing in just 58 career games.|
|10||Toronto (12-8-2)||11||The Leafs should be thankful for Phil Kessel. It'd be nice to shine the spotlight on an unsung hero, but Kessel is having a Hart-worthy season for a team that's short on scoring depth.|
|11||Phoenix (11-6-3)||8||The Coyotes should be thankful for Dave Tippett. The guy can coach. Along with goalie coach Sean Burke, they've turned Mike Smith into a Vezina Trophy candidate.|
|12||Washington (12-7-1)||13||The Capitals should be thankful for Dennis Wideman. With injuries on the blue line, he's been logging more minutes and has three goals and 10 assists.|
|13||Dallas (13-8-0)||NR||The Stars should be thankful for Kari Lehtonen. He's the obvious choice, thanks to his 13-4 record (backup Andrew Raycroft is 0-4) and .928 save percentage. He faces 33 shots per game.
|14||Buffalo (12-8-1)||12||The Sabres should be thankful for Jhonas Enroth. Another obvious pick, he's 7-2-1 with a 2.13 GAA and .930 save percentage in place of Ryan Miller, who is out with a concussion.|
|15||Los Angeles (11-7-4)||NR||The Kings should be thankful for Jonathan Quick. With three shutouts, he's responsible for more than a quarter of the team's wins.
|16||Edmonton (10-7-2)||16||The Oilers should be thankful for Ryan Smyth. On a team full of young, future stars, Smyth has been the guiding veteran presence. He's also got 22 points in 21 games.|