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NHL Rankings...By Jerry Butler

NHL Rankings For December 9, 2002 By: Jerry Butler

1-Boston Defenseman Bryan Berard has played surprisingly good hockey at both ends of the ice for the Bruins. 2-Dallas While the Stars have been nearly unbeatable at home they have to be concerned with their erratic play on the road. 3-Vancouver Goalie Dan Cloutier has gone from a reliable goaltender to a top notch goaltender in 2 seasons with the Canucks. 4-New Jersey With only 2 goals in 25 games, veteran Joe Niewendyk has done absolutely nothing on offense for the Devils. 5- Minnesota Forward Andrew Brunette has been a very solid offensive performer for the Wild. 6-Detroit Brett Hull has been one of the Wings only consistent offensive players through the first third of the season. 7-St. Louis Rookie winger Peter Cajanek has fit in nicely in his first season with the Blues. 8-Ottawa With 16 goals in 25 games, Marian Hossa has been the Senators top sniper. 9-Edmonton Goaltender Tommy Salo has been on top of his game during the Oilers current hot streak. 10-Tampa Bay The Lightning are not the same team defensively with rugged defenseman Jassen Cullimore out of the lineup. 11-Philadelphia The Flyers have as much dead wood on their roster as any team in the NHL. 12-Carolina The Hurricanes expected more than 8 goals in 29 games from speedy forward Jeff O.Neill. 13-Anaheim The lack of offensive talent on the roster is the Ducks biggest weakness. 14-Toronto Alexander Mogilny has been the main man on offense for the Leafs. 15-Los Angeles Career minor leaguer Derek Armstrong has made the most of his chance to play for the Kings. 16-Colorado The Avalanche have looked nothing like the squad that has been one of the top teams in the NHL for the last 10 years. 17-Pittsburgh Forward Jan Hrdina has to be the most underrated player on an improved Penguins team. 18-Florida Sandis Ozolinsh has been playing a lot of minutes and playing well for the very competitive Panthers. 19-Montreal If goaltender Jose Theodore wasn.t French he would have been benched 3 weeks ago. 20-NY Islanders The Islanders are hoping that their emotionally charged victory over the Leafs will turn their season around. 21-Chicago The Hawks need a legitimate NHL quality goaltender to backup Jocelyn Thibault. 22-NY Rangers With their only consistent goal scoring threat Pavel Bure out for the year, an overall lack of character and even less heart the Rangers can forget about a Playoff spot. 23-San Jose Ron Wilson was a surprising choice as the new Head Coach of the Sharks. 24-Washington Michael Nylander has been the Caps best player since coming over from the Blackhawks in early November. 25-Columbus Jaroslav Spacek has been a very pleasant surprise on the blueline for the Blue Jackets. 26-Nashville With 9 power play goals in 21 games, defenseman Andy Delmore has been a huge factor with the man advantage for the Predators. 27-Buffalo Three straight solid wins over the Ducks, Rangers and the Caps were the Sabres best efforts of the season. 28-Calgary Just fired Coach Greg Gilbert deserved a better fate. 29-Atlanta Struggling goaltender Byron Dafoe has given up 25 goals in his first 6 starts for the Thrashers. 30-Phoenix The Coyotes haven.t played with the same passion that they showed last season when they were the surprise team of the year.

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