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Power Rankings: Golden Knights power their way back into top spot

Ken Campbell
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Power Rankings: Golden Knights power their way back into top spot

Vegas Golden Knights Image by: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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Power Rankings: Golden Knights power their way back into top spot

Ken Campbell
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Tuesday's win over Tampa Bay sees the Vegas Golden Knights take top spot from the Lightning in this week's Power Rankings, while the two New York teams move in opposite directions.

This is getting ridiculous. The Vegas Golden Knights started the season as a really nice story, winning hearts and winning games. But this wasn’t supposed to last. They were supposed to be bad by now and by this time we should be talking about what veteran players they’d be unloading at the trade deadline. This all should have ended when they got to the fifth goalie on the their depth chart.

But these guys are in first place – first place! – in the Western Conference and showing no signs of letting up. Taking out the best team in the NHL on home ice Tuesday night, after falling behind 2-0, capped it for us. The Golden Knights are for real, and they’re also back at the top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. They also found homes for 15 abandoned Pomeranian dogs when they held a charity auction at their practice rink Monday afternoon. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses):

THE CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Vegas Golden Knights (4)
2. Washington Capitals (5)
3. New York Rangers (17)
4. Chicago Blackhawks (9)
5. Tampa Bay Lightning (1)
6. Winnipeg Jets (11)
7. Nashville Predators (3)
8. Los Angeles Kings (2)
9. New Jersey Devils (12)
10 Boston Bruins (13)

When asked after the Golden Knights’ 4-3 win over Tampa Bay Tuesday night whether his team’s start was worth the $500 million expansion fee, owner Bill Foley responded, “It sure is tonight.”…Eight wins in past nine puts Caps in a familiar spot, No. 1 in the Metropolitan Division…The Rangers got Mika Zibanejad back for their 4-1 win over Anaheim Tuesday night after missing nine games with a concussion…Patrick Kane’s next goal, which should come soon by the way he’s playing lately, will be the 300th of his career…Tyler Johnson and Jake Dotchin missed the Lightning’s loss Tuesday night with the flu – not the Vegas flu, the real flu…After Tuesday’s game against Nashville, let’s all hope for a Jets-Predators playoff series…It’s weird that a team this good has only 24 first-period goals this season in 33 games. That’s sixth-worst in the NHL…Workhorse defenseman Drew Doughty leads the NHL with almost 32 shifts per game…One of the more underrated off-season signings was Brian Boyle with the Devils…Did anyone think Jake DeBrusk was going to be this good this quickly?

THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Edmonton Oilers (22)
12. Philadelphia Flyers (10)
13. Toronto Maple Leafs (14)
14. San Jose Sharks (16)
15. St. Louis Blues (7)
16. Minnesota Wild (8)
17. Calgary Flames (15)
18. Dallas Stars (20)
19. Columbus Blue Jackets (18)
20. Detroit Red Wings (29)

This ranking might seem a bit high for a team that has been so inconsistent, but it’s based on a hunch the Oilers are about to go on a major run. Don’t disappoint us…As yours truly said on THN’s podcast this week, the Flyers should be getting a good dose of Metamucil this Christmas. You know, to keep them regular…Auston Matthews, who has missed the past five games with a suspected concussion, made the trip with his teammates to Columbus, but likely won’t play tonight against the Blue Jackets…The Sharks’ depth is being tested with Logan Couture out with a concussion…With all the injuries, the Blues have called up 2016 first-round pick Tage Thompson, who will play tonight in Calgary…Mikko Koivu’s goal in the Wild’s comeback win over Ottawa Tuesday night was his first in 25 games…The Calgary Flames aren’t going anywhere unless they start playing better at home. They’re 8-10-0 at the Scotiabank Saddledome…Defenseman Marc Methot, out of the Stars’ lineup since November with a knee injury, is expected to be back in the lineup Saturday night against Nashville. That’s why the Stars dealt Jamie Oleksiak to Pittsburgh…Sonny Milano’s up-and-down season continues. He’s been called up by the Blue Jackets and will be with the team at least through the Christmas roster freeze…Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek stopped 34 shots in his team’s 5-3 win over the Islanders Tuesday night. It was his first win since Nov. 5 and his first complete game since Nov. 9.

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. Montreal Canadiens (23)
22. New York Islanders (6)
23. Pittsburgh Penguins (19)
24. Colorado Avalanche (26)
25. Florida Panthers (27)
26. Anaheim Ducks (21)
27. Ottawa Senators (30)
28. Carolina Hurricanes (24)
29. Vancouver Canucks (28)
30. Buffalo Sabres (25)
31. Arizona Coyotes (31)

The Canadiens would probably be a lot more worried about not having Shea Weber in the lineup if they weren’t 5-1-1 without him this season…Securing the Belmont site for the Islanders is great news for the future of the franchise. Will it be enough to get John Tavares to re-sign long-term? It helps, but Tavares’ agent Pat Brisson said the arena is only a part of the puzzle…Phil Kessel is playing nicked up, but there’s no reason to believe it’s anything that will keep him out of the Penguins’ lineup. He has an ironman streak of 645 games going…After a sub-par 2016-17, defenseman Tyson Barrie is on pace to score 68 points this season for the Avalanche…Only two teams in the NHL have fewer first-period goals than the 23 the Panthers have so far this season…Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said Ryan Kesler is “on the horizon” of returning from his hip injury…Hey, at least Erik Karlsson is starting to score for the Senators…After allowing eight goals against the Maple Leafs Tuesday afternoon, Carolina goalie Scott Darling said, “That was not fun.” Didn’t look like it…Learning Brock Boeser had only bruised his foot as a result of one of the worst shot blocks in NHL history is the best news the Canucks have received all season…The Sabres have the fifth-fewest giveaways in the NHL this season, probably because they spend so little time with the puck in the first place. But Evander Kane recently had a big one, buying Christmas dinner at a swank Buffalo restaurant for 50 underprivileged kids…The Coyotes announced they’ll be playing one more season in Glendale, thus giving the good citizens of that town who have paid through the nose for this team at least one more year of bad hockey. Merry Christmas, Glendale.

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Power Rankings: Golden Knights power their way back into top spot