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Power Rankings: Knights sitting at the head of the table

The Golden Knights' early dominance has been the best story of the early season, and Vegas' winning ways put them atop the first edition of THN's 2017-18 Power Rankings.

Well, nobody saw this coming. And we mean nobody. When the season started, most of us thought the best-case scenario for the Vegas Golden Knights was that they might be able to hang around the periphery of the playoff race for most of the season. Heck, our own Matt Larkin predicted they wouldn’t win their 10th game until 2018. The way it’s going now, they could be at double figures by the end of this month.

What’s really remarkable in thn.com’s first Power Rankings of the season is not that Vegas is the top team, but that they are full marks for their status. This is not an attempt to go off the board or be cheeky. With a 7-1-0 mark built largely on the back of overtime excellence and making the most of early home ice, the Golden Knights deserve to be where they are.

THE CREAM OF THE CROP

1. Vegas Golden Knights

2. Tampa Bay Lightning

3. Toronto Maple Leafs

4. Los Angeles Kings

5. Vancouver Canucks

6. New York Islanders

7. Pittsburgh Penguins

8. St. Louis Blues

9. Ottawa Senators

10. New Jersey Devils

How good are the Golden Knights? Well, at the moment, they’re paying Vadim Shipachyov $5 million to play in the minors…Hate to bring this up, but Mikhail Sergachev is outscoring Jonathan Drouin 4-2…Explosive forwards have been great for the Leafs, who lead the league in faceoff percentage, but the play of defenseman Morgan Rielly has also been a key…Anze Kopitar already has half as many goals for the Kings as he did all last season….The torch is being passed in Vancouver. The Sedin twins are playing just over 14 minutes a game and the Canucks are winning…Just think of how good the Islanders will be when their power play gets going. They’re tied for last in the league at 7.1 percent…The Penguins are leaky – sometimes really, really leaky - but they’re starting to get it done. They’re averaging four goals against per game, better than only the Coyotes…The Blues are 6-2-1 despite playing just two of their first 10 games at home…After having his finger broken blocking a shot, this year marks the fifth straight season Bobby Ryan has missed time with a hand injury…Brian Boyle, who was diagnosed with leukemia in September, is practicing with the team, but likely won’t play until Devils go to western Canada Nov. 1.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE

11. Anaheim Ducks

12. Winnipeg Jets

13. San Jose Sharks

14. Chicago Blackhawks

15. Buffalo Sabres

16. Philadelphia Flyers

17. Colorado Avalanche

18. Calgary Flames

19. Columbus Blue Jackets

20. Dallas Stars

The Ducks got Ryan Getzlaf and Hampus Lindholm back Tuesday night and the two made immediate contributions in their win over Philadelphia, which made it two in a row…This is exactly what the Jets needed. After Steve Mason struggled early, Connor Hellebuyck came in and is 4-0-0 with a .927 save percentage…There’s some real chemistry developing between Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl in San Jose. Since Hertl joined his line, Couture has 6-3-9 totals in six games…The Blackhawks have eight NHL-caliber defensemen, but the only problem is that not enough of them are playing consistently well. Until that happens, look for the game of musical chairs to continue…Sabres goalie Robin Lehner went back to his old goalie gear, then stopped 28 shots in a 1-0 shutout win over Detroit Tuesday night…Losing Wayne Simmonds, who did not practice Wednesday and was being evaluated for a lower-body injury, for any significant amount of time would be a huge blow to the Flyers…Colorado leads the league with six-empty net goals, which indicates good things because they’re putting themselves in position to get those goals with late leads…With an injury to Jaromir Jagr and Sam Bennett struggling at center, the Flames finally called up Mark Jankowski for their 3-2 shootout win over Nashville Tuesday night…Lukas Sedlak went down with an ankle injury in practice Monday and will be out of the Blue Jackets’ lineup for the next six weeks…After winning four straight, the Stars started off a five-game road trip with a clunker in a 5-3 loss to Colorado Tuesday night.

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE

21. Nashville Predators

22. Washington Capitals

23. Boston Bruins

24. Montreal Canadiens

25. Edmonton Oilers

26. Carolina Hurricanes

27. Minnesota Wild

28. Florida Panthers

29. Detroit Red Wings

30. New York Rangers

31. Arizona Coyotes

Filip Forsberg, who has been carrying the Predators offensively, became the first player in franchise history to have seven goals in the first nine games of the season…The injury bug has hit the Capitals early. The latest to go down is Andre Burakovsky, who is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks after surgery on his thumb…The Bruins got Patrice Bergeron back just in time to lose David Krejci…The good news is the Canadiens exploded for five goals Tuesday night. The bad news is that represented almost half of their output from the previous eight games…Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl represent one of the most dangerous duos in the NHL, but the problem is that they’re not playing together. Draisaitl has been hurt and when he returned was put at center in an effort to balance out the team’s scoring…It’s clear that the Hurricanes intend on using Scott Darling in the vast majority of games, since he’s played six of the first seven. And he’s just been OK. To be sure, an .896 save percentage isn’t going to cut it…Zach Parise, who has yet to appear in a game for the Wild this season, is expected to miss eight-to-10 weeks after undergoing back surgery…A couple of reasons the Panthers are struggling? They’re giving up a league-high average of 36.5 shots per game and they have the NHL’s worst penalty killing…Andreas Athanasiou is expected to join the Red Wings in Florida, where they play the Lightning Thursday and the Panthers Saturday. He can’t get there soon enough…Henrik Lundqvist twisted his leg in a 4-1 loss to San Jose Monday night and won’t start tomorrow night when the Rangers host Arizona…Take heart, Coyotes fans. Your season is effectively over already, but in Clayton Keller, you’ll probably have the franchise’s first Calder Trophy winner since Teemu Selanne. Of course, he played in Winnipeg at the time.

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