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Power Rankings: After the circus, dominant Kings back on top

Ken Campbell
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Tyler Toffoli goal celebration (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

News

Power Rankings: After the circus, dominant Kings back on top

Ken Campbell
By:

Led by timely scoring and outstanding goaltending during a seven-game win streak, the Los Angeles Kings have served notice that they're ready to once again assume their status as a Stanley Cup contender.

After the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 overtime win over the Nashville Predators Saturday afternoon to give them a 2-0 record in the extra session, defenseman Drew Doughty said, “We don't know what to do yet.” Kings coach Darryl Sutter then said, “We’re geniuses at it because we’re 2-0. We know everything about it. We've got it figured out.”

It’s not the first time Sutter’s players have not seen eye-to-eye with their coach. But there is clearly no discord in Los Angeles these days for a change and it’s showing on the ice. With the carnage of the Slava Voynov and Mike Richards sagas behind them, the Kings have begun to pick up the pieces.

Of course it also helps that the Kings have decided to finally give budding star Tyler Toffoli the kind of ice time he deserves. Toffoli is averaging more than 17 minutes a game, up from his previous career high of 14:35 last season. Coincidentally, he shares the goal scoring lead with Jamie Benn.

And the Kings, for the first time this season, are on top of thn.com’s Power Rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)

THE CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Los Angeles Kings (5)
2. Montreal Canadiens (1)
3. Dallas Stars (12)
4. St. Louis Blues (11)
5. Pittsburgh Penguins (16)
6. Boston Bruins (19)
7. Washington Capitals (2)
8. New York Rangers (7)
9. Nashville Predators (3)
10. Minnesota Wild (15)

Defenseman Drew Doughty on springing Jeff Carter for a breakaway, on which Carter scored, in overtime in the Kings win over Nashville Saturday: “Really, he had whole ice in front of him. The slowest guy on our team I still think would have got that breakaway.”…According to Elias Sports Bureau, Mike Condon is only the third goalie in Canadiens history to win each of his first four starts. The other two are Ken Dryden and Wayne Thomas…After scoring in regulation and overtime to lead the Blues to a win over Minnesota Saturday, previously goalless captain David Backes said: “I came to the game today dressed as a hockey player and I think I was one finally.”…Sidney Crosby not only was held without a shot, but he did not have a single shot attempt in Pittsburgh’s 4-0 win over Toronto Saturday night…Brad Marchand, who scored four goals and six points, was named the NHL’s first star of the week.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. New Jersey Devils (8)
12. Vancouver Canucks (21)
13. Tampa Bay Lightning (6)
14. Winnipeg Jets (9)
15. San Jose Sharks (14)
16. Chicago Blackhawks (4)
17. Buffalo Sabres (29)
18. Florida Panthers (18)
19. New York Islanders (10)
20. Detroit Red Wings (17)

After dropping their first four games, the Devils have won six of their past seven and have played five games that have gone to overtime or a shootout…The Canucks are a mean bunch. First, Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen were berated in front of the team by coach Willie Desjardins, then were told by some of the veterans they had to be better. It was all a joke and right after they were told they had made the team…In his first game since the Stanley Cup final, Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 32 shots in Tampa’s 4-3 win over Carolina Sunday…The Blackhawks patience with the struggling Bryan Bickell finally ran out on Monday when they shipped him to Rockford and recalled Marko Dano. A key piece of the Brandon Saad trade with Columbus last summer, Dano had a goal and seven points in nine American League games…Sabres coach Dan Bylsma, talking about rookie Jack Eichel after his spectacular goal to open the scoring in Buffalo’s 3-1 win over Philadelphia Friday night. “With the puck on his stick, it’s a little bit different electricity in the air. You feel the energy in the building.”…The Islanders could have drawn lousy crowds like this at the decrepit Nassau County Coliseum. After selling out their home opener at the Barclays Center, the Islanders have had just one crowd of over 13,000 in the seven home games since then. The average attendance in those games is 11,538.

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. Carolina Hurricanes (28)
22. Calgary Flames (27)
23. Edmonton Oilers (26)
24. Anaheim Ducks (30)
25. Ottawa Senators (22)
26. Arizona Coyotes (20)
27. Philadelphia Flyers (13)
28. Colorado Avalanche (24)
29. Columbus Blue Jackets (23)
30. Toronto Maple Leafs (25)

The Flames 2-7-1 start was their third worst in franchise history after 10 games…The Ducks are 2-7-2, but are a small winning streak away from being right back in the playoff picture in the once mighty Pacific Division. Who ever saw that coming? The Ducks have scored six goals in the nine games they’ve lost this season, eight in the two games they’ve won…The Senators are 4-1-0 away from the Canadian Tire Centre, but are 1-3-2 on home ice. After Saturday’s 5-3 loss to Detroit, Dave Cameron blasted his team…After coming off a seven-game road trip and riding a two-game winning streak, the Hurricanes drew the two worst crowds of the season so far, 9,345 for a Friday night game against Colorado, followed by 9,081 for a Sunday matinee against Tampa Bay…No reports of eruptions of Mount Tortorella in Columbus yet, but it’s still early. Here’s what the coach had to say after a 3-2 loss to Winnipeg gave the Blue Jackets their worst month in franchise history (and that’s saying something): “I thought it was a struggle for us all night long, in all facets. Let’s be honest.”…The Maple Leafs fired Randy Carlyle as their coach almost 11 months ago and have won 10 games since then. They’re a combined 10-35-7 under Peter Horachek and Mike Babcock.

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Power Rankings: After the circus, dominant Kings back on top