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Gather 'round the dinner table

A special holiday list of what each team is thankful for

Posted: Tuesday November 26, 2002 7:35 PM


By Jamie MacDonald,

The wind is blowing cooler in most NHL ports. The holiday troops are marshaling for their annual merchandise march into the New Year. Yes, it’s that time of year in the United States, Thanksgiving, when growling stomachs are the last few sounds you’ll hear before drowning in a droning month of Christmystical musical cheer. While some take the last Thursday in November to toast gluttony and a few others actually pause for some humble thanksgiving, we’ve chosen here not to neglect the NHL’s teams, all of which have at least something for which to be thankful. Let us count the ways in this, a very special edition, designed to answer the grammatically questionable question: What are you thankful for?

NHL Power Rankings
Rank  LW    Team 
1 1 Dallas Stars
Marty Turco. No defenseman has scored more than Sergei Zubov's 21 points, and no forward has scored more than Mike Modano's 27 points (other than Mario Lemieux who factored himself out of the equation with otherworldly numbers), but only Turco stands alone among his peers. The former University of Michigan standout and former Ed Belfour backup leads the league with the lowest goals-against average, the highest save percentage. He's also tied for most shutouts and ranks second in wins.
2 2 Boston Bruins
Perhaps Alanis Morissette said it best: Thank you, providence. The Baby B's aren't always playing starring roles in Boston, but with so many injuries to the varsity team, the kids have been alright.
3 4 Philadelphia Flyers
Ken Hitchcock, for pulling the strings. Think Rangers fans wouldn't like to have another shot at Hitch?
4 8 Vancouver Canucks
November's gains. The NHL's longest current (as of Nov. 26) winning streak reached seven games and took the Canucks from 3-4-4-0 to within two points of the Northwest Division lead.
5 6 New Jersey Devils
Efficiency. As of Nov. 26, no team had played fewer games than New Jersey's 18 and only one team (Boston) had won a higher percentage New Jersey's 11 wins in 18 games.
6 5 Tampa Bay Lightning
The ice. Thankfully, that is where they play the games, as opposed to being penciled into the ledger at the beginning of the season.
7 9 Detroit Red Wings
Sergei Fedorov, for pulling the trigger more often.
8 3 St. Louis Blues
The return of some "material." The Blues found that a team can run on grit and guts and rally-round-the-campfire spirit only so long. Welcome back, Keith Tkachuk.
9 10 Minnesota Wild
October, for closing out the month with the NHL's best record (8-1-2-0). Last season win No. 8 came in game No. 22, at which point in 2002-03 they were 13-5-4-0.
10 7 Colorado Avalanche
Out-of-towners. If you catch them away from home (6-1-2-2), they're still one of the best teams in the league.
11 21 Ottawa Senators
The Power Rankings Move-From-The-Cheap-Seats Promotional Sweepstakes, which they won this week. (We're still looking for a sponsor. This week it's brought to you by Ottawa's current seven-game undefeated streak.)
12 15 Los Angeles Kings
The Pacific Ocean's healing powers. Jason Allison's torn medial collateral ligament and sprained anterior cruciate ligament have healed to the point of light drills. Adam Deadmarsh is returning from post-concussion syndrome. Ziggy Palffy, nagged by a groin injury, this week scored two goals in a game for the first time this season.
13 14 Carolina Hurricanes
You might hear otherwise from the Latvian neighborhoods in North Carolina, but the call here is Kevin Weekes, who, in sometimes dazzling style, has picked up eight of Carolina's nine wins.
14 11 Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Dodging a bullet. Despite getting out of the gate 2-5-3-0, they ran clear of trouble long enough to match their best 22-game start in franchise history.
15 12 Columbus Blue Jackets
Home, sweet home. On the road, they're 1-6-1-1. At Nationwide Arena: 7-3-1-1.
16 16 Montreal Canadiens
Our generosity. After taking two steps forward early in November, we're not punishing the Habs this week, despite catching them after taking one and a half backward and on the verge of again slipping to .500.
17 18 Pittsburgh Penguins
While Mario Lemiuex's name could be repeated 14 times, once each for the number of points separating him from the Art Ross race, we'll pay homage to an equally ridiculous power play. Pittsbugh's 30.4 percent efficiency hums along nearly eight percentage points higher than No. 2 Ottawa, a margin that covers two-thirds of the league.
18 13 Chicago Blackhawks
Home, sweet home, Part II. On the road, they're 2-6-2-0. At the United Center: 7-3-1-0.
19 19 New York Rangers
The points system. Since teams are most often ranked by points earned, the Rangers sit 15th. But with 11 teams having won more games in fewer outings, we can't keep them 15th here.
20 23 Toronto Maple Leafs
The Ed Belfour salad days. Over a recent five-game stint, the Eagle pitched two shutouts and went 4-1-0-0 while allowing only seven goals on 150 shots.
21 20 San Jose Sharks
Going in the Tank. A signs-of-life 4-1 win in St. Louis is followed by one more road game before playing 13 of 19 (and 20 of 29) at home.
22 17 Washington Capitals
The facts of life: Water is wet, the sun sets in the West and the Eastern Conference's Southeast Division isn't the kind of place most teams run away from.
23 26 Edmonton Oilers
That magic number. It only took 20 games, but on Nov. 25, the Oilers finally cashed in an opportunity, in Detroit of all places, to get back above the .500 mark.
24 27 New York Islanders
Destinations in the Atlantic and Southeast. The Isles over the past week or so have won in Pittsburgh, tied in South Florida, won in Tampa Bay and on Manhattan. And that, ladies and gentleman, is the teams' first four-game undefeated streak of the season.
25 22 Calgary Flames
The meat left on the bone. They've only played 21 games. Perhaps there is time for Calgary to find goal scoring. But let's be honest, this is a team that went seven games without a win and in the process scored three goals.
26 25 Phoenix Coyotes
Deron Quint. Yes, the former Jet, Coyote, Devil, Blue Jacket and Coyote again (which is quite some movement in 370 NHL games), who once scored two goals in something to the tune of four seconds, has scored three goals over his past four games, two of which ended in ties, the only points Phoenix can seem to find these days.
27 24 Florida Panthers
Overtime points. Between Nov. 11 and Nov. 24, they played eight games. All but one of which went to OT, and that was a 7-3 loss to San Jose.
28 28 Atlanta Thrashers
The fact that Byron Dafoe doesn't know how sloppy the Thrashers can be in their defensive zone.
29 30 Buffalo Sabres
Mark Hamister and Todd Berman, who this week went to the NHL orphanage and took home a bouncing franchise.
30 29 Nashville Predators
The Grand Ole Opry.

Related information
NHL Power Rankings: Week 7
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