GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 17: (L-R) Ryan McDonagh #27, Brad Richards #19 and Mike Rupp #71 of the New York Rangers celebrate after Richards scored on a reviewed goal in the final second of the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on December 17, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Rangers defeated the Coyotes 3-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The holiday season in the for the New York-area NHL teams has brought along the success of two local clubs. The New York Rangers are still the cream of the crop, but no longer are they the only ones putting together a playoff-caliber season. The Blueshirts still occupy the fifth spot in the RCS Power rankings, which is one ranking compiled after averaging the rankings of seven of the best hockey media outlets around the web. But now, the New Jersey Devils have joined the better half of the standings, vaulting themselves nine spots into 14th. The lowly New York Islanders continue to toy with the last position in the NHL; they're at 27th.
Over the past week, the Devils have played perfect hockey, winning four times and scoring 18 goals in the process. They topped the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Dallas Stars (6-3) -- a team the Rangers were shutout against -- and the Montreal Canadiens. New Jersey won three times in the road, making the week even more impressive. The Blueshirts fell in two of their three games, losing 1-0 to the Stars, being smothered by the St. Louis Blues 4-1 and squeaking by at the Phoenix Coyotes. But the hockey experts must feel this team still shows something to be considered one of the top-five teams. The Isles, meanwhile, lost two of their three games (Montreal, Dallas), while getting their only win in a shootout against the league-best Minnesota Wild.
The Christmas holiday means the week is shortened by two days, but the slate is still full of games for the local squads. The Rangers and the Devils begin their week against each other Tuesday night at Prudential Center, while the Islanders take on the Winnipeg Jets on the road. The result of the Rangers-Devils clash could sway the voters' rankings next week pretty heavily. All three teams will play three games in a week that will end Friday on the NHL as it shuts down for the weekend.