Hockey players are known for their tireless work ethic, so there must be something pretty special happening to completely shut down the league for a couple of days.
And, no, we're not referring to any work-stoppage-related events, either.
With NHL arenas dark Wednesday and Thursday, there's great anticipation for a visit from Old St. Nick. Fortunately, Santa's NHL wish list was leaked to Yahoo! Sports just in time to incorporate into this week's power rankings, which appear each Tuesday.
1. Boston Bruins (24-5-4, Previous: 2) – It's obvious, but a speedy recovery for Patrice Bergeron, who almost made it through half a season before suffering another concussion. Get well quick, Patrice.
2. Detroit Red Wings (22-6-4, Previous: 3) – Chris Osgood rediscovers his game because without a better showing from the team's top puckstopper, there is little chance of running the table once the playoffs begin.
4. Philadelphia Flyers (18-8-7, Previous: 5) – A more loving, caring, sensitive home crowd that's not so quick to judge. Santa tends to be sarcastic at times.
5. New York Rangers (22-12-2, Previous: 4) – A repeat of 1994. That was good theatre, whether you love or hate the Broadway Blueshirts.
6. New Jersey Devils (19-9-3, Previous: 9) – Nothing against Martin Brodeur, but how about a setback for the goalie's rehab just to see if the Devils can keep winning without him even longer? It is rather impressive.
8. Chicago Blackhawks (18-6-7, Previous: 10) – A top-eight finish in the West. We've got to get this team and this city back into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
9. Washington Capitals (20-11-3, Previous: 6) – A No. 1 goalie, otherwise this is a very talented and exciting team that will be out earlier in the spring than it wants.
10. Pittsburgh Penguins (18-11-4, Previous: 8) – More cap space.
11. Calgary Flames (18-11-4, Previous: 12) – Would whoever is hiding the real Mike Keenan return him at once? No public lambasting? No 7 a.m. practices following a sub-par effort the night before? C'mon, has Iron Mike really gone soft?
14. Anaheim Ducks (18-13-3, Previous: 11) – A full audit. We're thinking Brian Burke didn't leave the books as balanced as everyone thinks.
15. Edmonton Oilers (15-14-3, Previous: 14) – A grassroots effort to convince the team to keep those throwback, circa 1980s, bright blue and orange unis as the first and second instead of only third jerseys. And we beg our Canadian readership's forgiveness for not calling them sweaters.
16. Buffalo Sabres (16-13-5, Previous: 15) – Ditto for Edmonton. The way the Sabres look in their third jersey – the traditional dark blue and gold with the crossed-sword supporting a Buffalo logo – is the way they were intended to look forever. And ever.
17. Phoenix Coyotes (16-14-4, Previous: 17) – Everyone lift at once, and let's relocate the lovely arena in Glendale to a big vacant patch of desert soil in Scottsdale where the fan base lives.
19. Florida Panthers (15-13-4, Previous: 21) – A return of the rats.
20. Nashville Predators (16-13-3, Previous: 19) – Rudolph drops Radulov down the Music City chimney.
21. Colorado Avalanche (16-16-1, Previous: 16) – Restrictions on the sale of snow blowers to pro hockey players in the greater Denver area.
22. Toronto Maple Leafs (14-13-6, Previous: 25) – An eighth-place finish in the East. C'mon, it'd be fun. No one's expecting it from this team.
23. Dallas Stars (13-14-5, Previous: 26) – A mulligan to the season.
24. Columbus Blue Jackets (14-15-4, Previous: 24) – Just one measly playoff appearance, please. Just one.
26. Los Angeles Kings (13-14-6, Previous: 22) – Someone provide an argument as to why we can't say Drew Doughty is just as good as Dion Phaneuf was in his first year in Calgary, which was a much better team than the current Kings. Not sure that's a Christmas gift, but it needs to be said.
27. St. Louis Blues (13-17-3, Previous: 27) – Oh, the days of Al MacInnis, Curtis Joseph along with Hull and Oates seem so long ago. A reunion, please, even if it's only as an old-timers' game. (And yes, we're aware Joseph is still an active player).
28. Tampa Bay Lightning (7-16-9, Previous: 28) – Hey, where is Phil Esposito when we really need him?
29. Atlanta Thrashers (11-18-4, Previous: 29) – Give us something to dispel the notion that this is just the Atlanta Flames 30 years later.