Adrian Dater
Tuesday February 5th, 2013

Though his numbers don't reflect it, winger Viktor Stalberg has been excellent for the Blackhawks.
Warren Wimmer/Icon SMI

The NHL season just started, and yet we're already nearing the quarter-pole mark. After the lockout, many teams that otherwise could have written off their slow starts by vowing to improve in January or February are now in serious trouble.

But ... this cut-to-the-chase season has been kind of fun, right? Will anyone really miss those Florida vs. Nashville or Columbus vs. New Jersey matchups that would have been played during a regular 82-game season? Do we all not secretly want every regular season to be short and to the point, with each game actually meaning something?

Before we get to this week's rankings...

A disclaimer (of sorts): These rankings are based not just on each team's record, but an empirically tested formula that includes: a) realistic near-term expectations; b) consensus talent level and payroll considerations, and; c) my uncanny intuition that would make Nostradamus flush with envy if Nostradamus were only still around and able to flush. Please keep in mind that I do not stay up all night every night sticking voodoo pins in the McFarland action figures of players from your favorite teams, but if you feel I actually do have it in for your team and want to give me an earful, please send me an email by clicking on the link above. I may not always answer, but I'll give your screed a read.

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