NHL Power Rankings: Stocking Stuffer Edition

Nazem Kadri tells Joey Vendetta (Tim & Sid guest host) how his game has evolved and matured so quickly, and talks about the team’s overall confidence, knowing they can beat any team and shut down their best players.

Despite their penchant for hot streaks (and, yes, cold dips too), we would not have predicted we’d ever bump the Toronto Maple Leafs all the way to the top three in our NHL Power Rankings this season.

But when you respond to two ugly losses with a tear of 10-1-1 and cruise along smoothly while two other Canadian teams axe their head coaches and your sparkplug (Leo Komarov) gets sidelined with a concussion, it’s time to give it up.

More impressive than the wins — shot clock be damned, of course — are the teams those wins have come against.

Tampa Bay. Anaheim. Los Angeles. Detroit three times in a row.

Of those 10 victories, only one (versus Dallas) came against a team more than one point out of the playoff race.

Keep this up, and it’ll be a merry Christmas in the Carlyle home.

Here are this week’s Power Rankings, with a carefully selected gift to stuff in each of the 30 teams’ stocking.

Rank Team

An iTunes gift card for Corey Crawford. The No. 1 goaltender sprained his ankle attending a Rise Against concert this month, but is ready to go. Would be safer listening to his tunes through headphones.

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Money. We all had that one relative who gave us a gift you could put a price on. With Martin Brodeur continuing to get starts (he gets the nod Thursday) — and collecting a $20,000 bonus for every W — St. Louis will just take the cash, thanks.

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NoDoz. Because when you’re revving the most dangerous 18-wheeler in the East — the Leafs are 10-1-1 in their past dozen games, including defeats of the Ducks and Kings — the last thing you can afford to do is fall asleep at the wheel.

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A new medical staff, or at least a better vaccine. Sidney Crosby, the world’s greatest hockey player, has the mumps — and it’s spreading fast.

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A Vezina for the league’s Scrooge. The Preds lead the league in goals-against average (1.93), thanks in large part to Pekka Rinne, who leads all in wins (20), save percentage (.937) and GAA (1.76). Stingy.

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Archery lessons. So the eagle-eyed Lightning can continue to be the league’s most accurate shooters. Consider: Tampa Bay only fires the 20th-most shots per game (29.6) but leads all with 110 goals scored.

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A rabbit’s foot slipped into a horseshoe. So first-place Anaheim can continue to win despite average rankings in offence (14th), defence (16th), power play (18th), penalty kill (17th) and goal differential (11th). Lucky Ducks?

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A box of red wine for Mike Babcock and a case of Coors Light for GM Ken Holland. So the two can unwind, draw up a deal that pays the coach $3.5 million for the next five seasons and put this baby to sleep.

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More national coverage. One of the greatest stories of the early season, the Islanders are winning at an early-’80s rate. They are fun to watch, score goals in bunches and, with Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic finally healthy again, should start seeing improvements in their 24th-ranked defence.

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Udderly Smooth hand cream, to keep Rick Nash’s mitts nice and soft. The power forward is on pace for a 56-goal campaign.

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Mirco Mueller got off to a smooth start, but spent a stretch as a healthy scratch and is still looking to establish himself as a permanent fixture on the Sharks’ blueline.

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The hardest to buy for (what do you get a franchise that has everything?). But let’s go with something classy: lifetime season tickets for the entire extended Beliveau family.

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A magnifying glass. So the league’s fourth-worst power play can locate offensive stars Thomas Vanek (four goals total, one on PP) and Mikko Koivu (five goals total, one on PP).

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Two litres of water, a First Aid shot and a big plate of peameal and eggs, so they can get over the Stanley Cup hangover. Prone to slow starts and hot finishes, the Kings have a tenuous hold on the West’s final wild-card spot.

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A shiny new skateboard. So they can keep rolling. Beset by an almost comical string of injuries early on, the Blue Jackets are finally looking like the club from last spring. Winners of seven in a row.

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‘Lincoln’ Blu-rays for everybody. Because even if the team could use more depth, they’re putting in an honest effort under Coach Trotz.

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Key to the handcuffs. For teenager Bo Horvat, who will miss out on a chance of a lifetime — playing meaningful minutes for Team Canada alongside Connor McDavid at the world juniors — and instead skate 10 minutes a game mid-season for a Vancouver team looking very ordinary lately.

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Earmuffs and work boots. So the Flames (17th in five-on-five play and 28th in shots on goal) can continue to block out the critics saying they’ll decline and go about their blue-collar business.

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A fake ID (or a weekend in Tremblant). For Aaron Ekblad, three years away from his first drink in the States. The 18-year-old defenceman is a big reason why the Panthers are in wild-card contention. A team-high 13 assists and 22 minutes per game deserves a holiday toast.

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Two more Byfugliens. With the Jets’ top three defencemen all sidelined with injuries, Winnipeg could use a couple more forwards to drop back.

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An alarm clock that works. The Bruins — a perennial threat to win their conference — are on the outside of the playoff picture, behind such teams as the Florida Panthers. Wake up, Boston.

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Taylor Swift tickets. So the Sens can shake, shake off their coaching change and slow start and get on a bit of a run under new boss Dave Cameron.

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All-expenses paid trip to Latvia, homeland of Zemgus Girgensons — the NHL’s leading All-Star Game vote-getter by a zillion miles. The Sabres should go where they’re loved most. Thanks to Latvia, Brian Gionta, Tyler Ennis, Jhonas Enroth, Rasmus Ristolainen and Tyler Myers are all charting in the ASG vote race. So is Nikita Zadorov.

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A party yacht full of ladies, for NHL scoring leader Tyler Seguin. It’s Christmas. Give the man what he wants, not what he needs.

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A box of Kleenex. For Claude Giroux to wipe his fluids somewhere not on a linesman and for GM Ron Hextall to wipe his sweat, as he watches his team languish in 20th place — not good enough to talk playoffs, not bad enough to tank.

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An “Analytics Guy” voodoo doll (by Mattel), so Patrick Roy can stick pins in the math heads who accurately predicted his team’s fall from grace. The Avalanche rank last in regulation/overtime wins.

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‘Murder She Wrote’ box set. That’s what old people watch, right? The Devils have seven regulars aged 34 to 42.

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A onesie for Eric Staal’s new baby, Finley (draft eligible in 2033), that reads: “I WOULDN’T TRADE MY DAD FOR ANYBODY.”

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A new jackknife, for GM Don Maloney. Time to cut bait, realize this isn’t the year they can win, but the year they need to tank. The Coyotes’ offence, defence and penalty kill all rank in the NHL’s bottom five.

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Coal would be too easy. Let’s go with Allan Lokos’ self-help book “Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living” for every Oilers fan realizing that firing Coach Eakins isn’t the answer and the team could still be two years away from being two years away.

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