NHL Power Rankings: ESPN Loves Us, They Really Really Love Us!

It doesn't take a sports genius to observe that the Chicago Blackhawks are hotter than a Zamboni with a faulty radiator cap (which probably explains why I'm writing this commentary). But for a numerical indication of just how hot Capt. Jonathan Toews and the boys have been, we hereby offer you a delectable sampling of NHL Power Rankings. Because the standings are just ... so ... bland.

First and foremost, we'd like to buy ESPN's Pierre LeBrun a beer the next time he's at the United Center. In a post updated just today in which he "clean[s] up Scott Burnside's confused rankings from last week" (tricky business, these power rankings), the Blackhawks jet nine places up to the No. 3 spot, between the San Jose Sharks and the Detroit Red Wings. "Pity the club that draws Chicago in the first round," writes LeBrun. Now that's the kind of braggadocio we like to read -- and seemed all but impossible to justify just a couple of weeks ago.

Up north Canada way, Sportsnet.ca also updated its power rankings today. They aren't quite as high on the 'Hawks as LeBrun -- in fact, they had them as low as 17 the week previous. But all is forgiven with a nine-place jump to the eighth spot, between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Writer Mike Brophy gives some strong praise to our captain, gushing, "Toews has eight goals and 13 points and is making a strong case to be included among the Hart Trophy finalists."

Last but not least, our benevolent and omniscient SB Nation Mothership conjured forth its very impressively comprehensive Aggregated NHL Power Rankings on Friday. Bear in mind, of course, that it does not include the Blackhawks' Saturday 5-3 slashing of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nonetheless, the aggregate rankings for the Western Conference put the 'Hawks at No. 6, between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Dallas Stars. The Blackhawks rank ninth overall in the NHL, according to these numbers.

Oh, and those insipid standings we mentioned above? The Blackhawks remain at the fourth seed in the West with 80 points. They've gone 9-1-0 in their last ten games. Interestingly, we're now seeing at least a little separation -- as of this writing, there are no ties among the contending top eight seeds. But it's still very close. The Blackhawks go for their ninth straight win tomorrow night, on the road, against the Florida Panthers. The puck shall drop at 6:30 PM Central.

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