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Flyers, Rangers approach No. 1 in Super 16 rankings

by Dave Lozo
Both teams in Monday's 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic have been sitting atop the standings for nearly two months and entered the outdoor game at Citizens Bank Park with wins in their previous games. The 3-2 Rangers win–not decided until Henrik Lundqvist stopped Danny Briere's penalty shot with 19.6 seconds remaining–boosts both teams in this week's power rankings. 

The Flyers and Rangers are chasing the Boston Bruins yet again in this week's Super 16. The NHL's most dominant team lost Saturday for the first time since Dec. 8. A 4-2 road setback to a solid Dallas Stars team is no reason to drop the Bruins in the rankings, but the Chicago Blackhawks are making a strong case to secure the top spot with a strong showing this week.

One team that's noticeably absent this week is the Minnesota Wild, who sit in seventh in the overall standings and rank No. 11 in points percentage. But those spots have little to do with what they've done lately. They closed December with a 1-6-3 mark in their final 10 games, scoring a mere 16 goals in that stretch.

Things won't get any easier in January; the Wild play 7 of their 10 games on the road.

There are three newcomers to this week's Super 16, with two of those teams finally getting some positives out of their mid-season coaching changes.

1 Boston (24-10-1) 1 Their loss in Dallas on Saturday ended a seven-game win streak and was only their fourth on the road this season. Could it be time for a shakeup in Boston? (kidding)
2 Chicago (24-10-4) 2 The two best things to come out of December for the Blackhawks was their 10-2-1 record and holiday music video. A great sign is they've allowed just six goals in their past four games.
3 N.Y. Rangers (24-9-4) 3
They bounced back nicely from a bad loss in Washington by beating the Panthers in Florida. Michael Del Zotto entered the Winter Classic at plus-25.
4 Vancouver (24-13-2) 7 On Dec. 16, the Canucks trailed the Wild by six points in the Northwest Division. Today, the Canucks hold a two-point lead on Minnesota with a game in hand.
5 Philadelphia (22-11-4) 4 Along with the Islanders, the Flyers have played the fewest home games (15). That's not necessarily a bad thing. The Flyers are 14-5-2 on the road, best in the NHL.
6 Detroit (24-13-1)
The Red Wings are the oldest team in the League, but they are surprisingly spry in the second half of back-to-backs, going 5-3 in those games.
7 Pittsburgh (21-13-4) 6
Since Sidney Crosby left the lineup almost a month ago, the Penguins are 5-5-0. An encouraging number, however, is they've scored 3.7 goals per game in Sid's absence.
8 Nashville (21-14-4) 12
GM David Poile is getting a rare look at what his team could look like with out Shea Weber, who is out with a concussion. He missed just four games in the previous three seasons.
9 St. Louis (21-12-4) 5 Finally, the Blues show they're human under Ken Hitchock with this 0-2-1 stretch. They fell to 0-5 in the shootout this week. Only Carolina and Philadelphia (0-2) lack a shootout win.
10 Florida (20-12-7) 13 After that fracas at the end of their loss to the Rangers on Friday, they'll go at it again Thursday in New York. The Panthers have led the Southeast Division since Nov. 19.
11 San Jose (19-11-4) 9 After stringing together three straight wins, the Sharks are 0-1-2 in their past three. Nine of their 14 games in January will be on the road. They've played the fewest games (34) of any team this year.
12 New Jersey (21-15-1) 14 On this date last year, the Devils were 10-26-2 and six points behind the Islanders, who were No. 29 in standings. However, this year's team only has four more regulation/OT wins than last year's team.
13 Dallas (21-15-1) 12
They lost on Thursday to the last-place Blue Jackets, then beat the defending Cup-champ Bruins two days later. The return of Kari Lehtonen should give the Stars a boost.
14 Winnipeg (19-14-5) NR The Jets will need to take some of their home dominance on the road with them this month. They play 9 of 13 in January on the road, where they are 5-8-4.
15 Washington (20-11-5) NR
It looks like the Caps may have turned a corner. They've won three straight and are 5-2-1 in their past eight. Not coincidentally, Alex Ovechkin has seven goals and three assists during that time.
16 Los Angeles (19-14-6) NR Darryl Sutter may not have the Kings scoring yet, but he has them winning again. The are 4-0-2 under Sutter, but have just 13 goals in those six games.
If you have any problems, questions, anger or praise for this list, you can let me know on Twitter: @davelozo
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