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Super 16: Stars edge Canadiens in first poll of month

by Dan Rosen

The Dallas Stars edged the Montreal Canadiens for the top spot in the Super 16 this week as voted on by a panel of five editorial staff members who participated in a point-based exercise to arrive at the final rankings.

The Stars were ranked No. 1 by three of the staff members (Brian Compton, Adam Kimelman and Mike G. Morreale). Dallas was ranked No. 2 behind the Canadiens by Dan Rosen and No. 3 behind the Canadiens and Washington Capitals by Arpon Basu.

Each writer submitted his version of the Super 16 and a point total was assigned to each ranking:

The Dallas Stars edged the Montreal Canadiens atop the first Super 16 Rankings of the month for December as voted on by a panel of five editorial staff members. (Photo: Dave Reginek/NHLI)

No. 1 = 16 points

No. 2 = 15

No. 3 = 14

No. 4 = 13

No. 5 = 12

No. 6 = 11

No. 7 = 10

No. 8 = 9

No. 9 = 8

No. 10 = 7

No. 11 = 6

No. 12 = 5

No. 13 = 4

No. 14 = 3

No. 15 = 2

No. 16 = 1

The point totals for each team based on where each staff member had them ranked were totaled to come up with the Super 16 for this week.

This exercise will be conducted for the first Super 16 of each month during the 2015-16 season.

The Capitals were ranked second or third on four of the five Super 16s submitted. The Los Angeles Kings were ranked in the top five by four of the five writers.

The opinions of the staff members varied most with the New York Islanders. Basu had the Islanders at No. 6, but Morreale had them at No. 13. Compton, Rosen and Kimelman had the Islanders between No. 7-10.

In addition, there was a wide-ranging opinion of the New York Rangers, who were ranked as high as No. 2 by Kimelman and as low as No. 7 by Morreale. The Minnesota Wild were ranked as high as No. 8 by Rosen and as low as No. 13 by Basu.

The writers, though, generally agreed on the 16 teams that should be ranked. The New Jersey Devils were the only team outside of the 16 ranked this week to receive any support. Compton had them at No. 16 and Kimelman had them at No. 15.

Here are the final rankings, including the total points, where they were ranked last week, and a bit of good and not so good with each team.

NOTE: All rankings, records and statistics are through the games played Wednesday night.

1. Dallas Stars (19-5-1)

Total points: 77

Last week: No. 2

Good: Goalie Kari Lehtonen is back after missing five games with an upper-body injury.

Not so good: They should have never lost to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday after building a 3-0 lead.

2. Montreal Canadiens (19-4-3)

Total points: 75

Last week: No. 1

Good: They entered their game Thursday against the Capitals with an 11-point cushion in the Atlantic Division standings, the largest lead for any first-place team in the NHL.

Not so good: Goalie Carey Price and forward Brendan Gallagher could both miss the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic against the Boston Bruins on Jan. 1. That's not good for hockey fans anywhere, except maybe in Boston.

3. Washington Capitals (17-5-1)

Total points: 71

Last week: No. 3

Good: They were outscoring the opposition 21-10 in their five-game winning streak entering play Thursday.

Not so good: They're two games into a stretch in which they play 14 of 19 games on the road.

4. Los Angeles Kings (15-8-1)

Total points: 61

Last week: No. 6

Good: They're 4-0 in games decided in overtime this season, including 2-0 in their past two games.

Not so good: Defenseman Matt Greene had to have shoulder surgery and is out indefinitely. He's played only three games this season.

5. New York Rangers (17-6-3)

Total points: 60

Last week: No. 4

Good: Defenseman Dylan McIlrath is finally getting a chance to prove his worth to the Rangers.

Not so good: McIlrath's chance is here because injuries started to pile up in the past week with defenseman Kevin Klein (strained oblique) and center Derek Stepan (broken ribs) being forced out of the lineup for extended time.

6. St. Louis Blues (15-7-3)

Total points: 58

Last week: No. 5

Good: After playing on the road against the New York Islanders on Friday, seven of their next eight games are at home, including five in a row from Dec. 5-13.

Not so good: They haven't finished a game with the same forward lines they used at the start of the game yet this season, an indication coach Ken Hitchcock is still searching for chemistry because of injuries and some inconsistent play.

7. Chicago Blackhawks (13-9-3)

Total points: 49

Last week: No. 7

Good: Patrick Kane and the second line, which also features Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov.

Not so good: Goals have been generally hard to come by for everyone else.

8. New York Islanders (14-8-4)

Total points: 41

Last week: No. 16

Good: They've won three in a row and are 4-0-1 in their past five games. It's their best stretch of the season.

Not so good: They play eight of their next 12 games on the road, where they're only 5-4-2.

9. Pittsburgh Penguins (14-8-2)

Total points: 32

Last week: No. 8

Good: Forward Evgeni Malkin has scored a goal in four straight games and in six of the past seven totaling eight in that span.

Not so good: Their defensemen have scored only five goals in 24 games, tied for fewest in the NHL with the Columbus Blue Jackets (26 games).

10. Minnesota Wild (12-7-4)

Total points: 31

Last week: No. 11

Good: Forward Jason Pominville is starting to heat up with goals in back to back games entering Thursday after not scoring through the first 21 games.

Not so good: They need to be more consistent because they're too good to be battling for a wild-card spot all season.

11. Nashville Predators (13-7-4)

Total points: 30

Last week: No. 10

Good: They have arguably the NHL's best defense and it accounted for a League-best 17 goals entering Thursday.

Not so good: Second-line center Mike Fisher is out a minimum of three more games with a lower-body injury.

12. Ottawa Senators (12-7-5)

Total points: 29

Last week: No. 12

Good: Forward Mike Hoffman has been running hot of late. He entered the game against Chicago on Thursday with six goals and eight points in the previous five games.

Not so good: They're a minor injury to goalie Craig Anderson away from having to choose between two goalies who have a combined 81 minutes of NHL experience (Matthew O'Connor and Chris Driedger).

13. Boston Bruins (13-8-2)

Total points: 19

Last week: No. 14

Good: They've gained 11 out of a possible 12 points in their past six games, including one in a 3-2 shootout loss at the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, when they were admittedly not at their best but still found a way to get a point in a road game.

Not so good: Forward Matt Beleskey, who had 22 goals last season, is on pace for seven this season. He has only two goals, none since Oct. 31.

14. San Jose Sharks (14-10-0)

Total points: 18

Last week: No. 9

Good: Odd to say, but because the Sharks are a paltry 4-7-0 at home, it might actually be a good thing that they play eight of their next 10 games on the road.

Not so good: Defensemen Matt Tennyson and Mirco Mueller, who was sent back to the American Hockey League on Thursday, are struggling to gain coach Peter DeBoer's trust, which is why the Sharks are struggling to ice six reliable defensemen.

15. Detroit Red Wings (13-8-4)

Total points: 14

Last week: No. 15

Good: Entering Thursday, 24 of their 30 points had come in one-goal games (10-1-4).

Not so good: That means they were only 3-7-0 in games decided by more than one goal.

16. Tampa Bay Lightning (12-11-3)

Total points: 12

Last week: No. 13

Good: Forward Jonathan Drouin made a big impact in his return from a six-game absence on Wednesday with a goal and an assist in Tampa Bay's 2-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks.

Not so good: They still only scored two goals in the win, marking the 13th time in the past 18 games the Lightning have scored two or fewer goals.

Out: None

Other receiving votes: New Jersey Devils (3 points)

Here is how each staff member ranked the teams this week:

1. Canadiens 1. Stars 1. Canadiens 1. Stars 1. Stars
2. Stars 2. Rangers 2. Capitals 2. Capitals 2. Canadiens
3. Capitals 3. Canadiens 3. Stars 3. Canadiens 3. Capitals
4. Kings 4. Capitals 4. Rangers 4. Kings 4. Blues
5. Blues 5. Blues 5. Kings 5. Blues 5. Kings
6. Rangers 6. Kings 6. Islanders 6. Blackhawks 6. Rangers
7. Blackhawks 7. Islanders 7. Blackhawks 7. Rangers 7. Blackhawks
8. Wild 8. Senators 8. Blues 8. Senators 8. Islanders
9. Penguins 9. Blackhawks 9. Penguins 9. Wild 9. Senators
10. Islanders 10. Penguins 10. Predators 10. Predators 10. Penguins
11. Predators 11. Lightning 11. Bruins 11. Sharks 11. Predators
12. Bruins 12. Wild 12. Sharks 12. Bruins 12. Wild
13. Sharks 13. Predators 13. Wild 13. Islanders 13. Red Wings
14. Red Wings 14. Red Wings 14. Lightning 14. Red Wings 14. Bruins
15. Lightning 15. Devils 15. Senators 15. Penguins 15. Sharks
16. Senators 16. Sharks 16. Red Wings 16. Lightning 16. Devils


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