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Helene Elliott's NHL rankings

The Flyers are No. 1 but will have to go without star defenseman Chris Pronger (foot surgery) for six weeks. The Kings stay at No. 11, and the Ducks fall three spots to No. 19.

December 20, 2010|By Helene Elliott

Through Monday's games

Rank; Team; Record; (last week's rank)

1. Philadelphia; 22-8-5; Defenseman Chris Pronger is expected to miss six weeks after undergoing foot surgery. That's a big loss, but the Flyers have depth. (2)

2. Pittsburgh; 22-10-2; Sidney Crosby runs point streak to 21, with 31 goals and 41 points. And he came off as a regular guy in the first episode of HBO's 24/7 behind-the-scenes show. (1)

3. Dallas; 20-10-3; Stars joined the 20-win club Sunday with an impressive comeback win at Detroit. Loui Eriksson (14 goals, 34 points) has been exceptional. (5)

4. Vancouver; 19-8-4; Canucks have won four straight and are 9-1-1 in their last 11. Ryan Kesler (16 goals, 26 points) is chirping less and scoring more. (6)

5. Colorado; 19-10-4; Avalanche has won six straight, outscoring opponents, 27-19, and becoming NHL's most productive team, with 121 goals. Surprises on every count. (17)

6. Atlanta; 19-11-5; Thrashers have points in nine of their last 11 games. Dustin Byfuglien still leads defensemen with 11 goals and 35 points. (10)

7. Montreal; 19-12-2; Canadiens' loss at Colorado on Sunday was their fourth in five games. Not a good way to start seven-game trip, their longest this season. (4)

8. Detroit; 20-8-4; Red Wings are only 3-4-2 in their last nine. They didn't look good in losses to the Kings and Blackhawks. Is it just boredom or something more? (3)

9. N.Y. Rangers; 20-14-1; Losing forward Ryan Callahan to a broken wrist will hurt. He was second on the team in goals, with 10, and points, at 23. (8)

10. Chicago; 18-14-3; Blackhawks rediscover virtues of defense, cohesion in solid wins over Red Wings and Kings. Patrick Kane (ankle) probably won't return until after Christmas. (15)

11. Kings; 18-12-1; They bounce between baffling extremes, mixing superb — their first shutout at Detroit in 32 years — with inconsistent efforts in losses at St. Louis and Chicago. (11)

12. Nashville; 17-9-6; Predators ran into the good Kings on Saturday in a 6-1 loss. But that was Predators' only regulation loss in the last 10 games. (14)

13. Tampa Bay; 19-10-4; Lightning reportedly interested in goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who left Russia's KHL. Not certain he'd fix the wonky goaltending. (12)

14. Boston; 17-11-4; The Bruins made No. 2 draft pick Tyler Seguin a healthy scratch last week for the first time. Welcome to the NHL, kid. (7)

15. Phoenix; 15-10-7; With goalie Ilya Bryzgalov ill and no backup in place, Coyotes signed Manhattanville College grad student Tom Fenton to a one-day amateur deal. Great story. (9)

16. San Jose; 17-11-5; Center Logan Couture deserves consideration for rookie of the year honors. He leads rookies with 17 goals and 24 points and has five game-winners. (18)

17. Washington; 19-12-4; Capitals rally at Ottawa to end eight-game losing streak. And keep Coach Bruce Boudreau on the job for rest of HBO Penguins-Capitals miniseries. (13)

18. Carolina; 15-13-4; Hurricanes had won four straight and had points in eight of 10 before losing to Tampa Bay on Monday. Center Jeff Skinner (eight goals, 24 points) remains among top rookie scorers. (22)

19. Ducks; 18-15-4; They've played more games than anyone else, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Jonas Hiller was a standout in shutting out the Bruins on Monday. (16)

20. St. Louis; 15-12-5; Beleaguered Blues getting healthy: defenseman Roman Polak (wrist) activated for first time in two months, and Erik Johnson (knee) missed only one game. (20)

21. Minnesota; 15-13-4; Wild swept home-and-home series with Calgary, getting first power-play goal at home in more than a month on Monday. (24)

22. Edmonton; 12-14-5; Coach Tom Renney says he expects Oilers to make playoffs. This season. No way of knowing if he was sober at the time. (23)

23. Florida; 15-16-0; Panthers squandered 3-0 lead in 4-3 loss to Carolina but rebounded to rout Sabres and Flyers. (28)

25. Columbus; 16-13-3; Blue Jackets have scored only 22 goals in their last 12 games and lost nine. Goalie Steve Mason struggling, with a 3.29 goals-against average and .901 save percentage. (19)

25. Buffalo; 13-16-4; Sabres have scored one goal or none in eight of 33 games. They don't have the depth to compete with top-tier teams. (21)

26. Ottawa; 14-17-4; Goalie Pascal Leclaire is hurt again, to no one's surprise. But Brian Elliott has faded after a good start, so Senators have big problems. (25)

27. Calgary; 14-17-3; Flames continue to flicker, winning only five of their last 11. Fans deserve better than what they've gotten. (27)

28. Toronto; 12-17-4; Goalie J.S. Giguere fears latest groin soreness might be a long-term problem. Too bad. Nice guy, and he had been playing well. (26)

29. N.Y. Islanders; 6-18-6; Rick DiPietro has swelling in his knee and is out. Again. That 15-year, $67.5-million contract looks more stupid, if that's possible. (30)

30. New Jersey; 9-21-2; This isn't just bad. It's monumentally, irredeemably bad. Something has to change, and soon, or the Devils will be eliminated from the playoffs by Christmas. (29)

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelene

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