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Eric Stephens’ NHL power rankings (Jan. 1, 2018)

By in Press Enterprise on January 1, 2018

By Eric Stephens

The holidays are now behind us, though maybe the leftovers aren’t. Those could stick around for a while.

We went dark for Christmas to get a greater sample size as the NHL shut down for three days. Tampa Bay sticks around, as it has all season. A lot has to knock the remarkably consistent Lightning from their lofty perch, though Vegas is giving them a serious run. No other expansion team has won seven straight games but the Golden Knights are doing a lot of things we never expected.

As for the locals, the Kings sometimes don’t pass the eye test but they just continue to scratch out wins. And they still have Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick among the elite at the three most important positions on the ice. That matters.

The Ducks, who are finally getting healthy, are just starting to have that playoff look. But they’ve still got ground to make up. Slip-ups can be damaging, even when a new calendar year is just beginning. (Records in parentheses are as of Sunday’s games).

1. Lightning (28-8-2): Everything seems to be running smoothly. Now Tyler Johnson is going, putting up eight goals and 10 assists over a 12-game point streak. He’s their second-line center. (1)

2. Golden Knights (26-9-2): Among things we didn’t count on: A seven-game winning streak and William Karlsson (20 goals) blowing up. Wild Bill just shot down Toronto with a New Year’s Eve hat trick. (3)

3. Predators (23-10-5): Wins over St. Louis and Minnesota show they’re just fine after a small dip. But they’ll be tested with Filip Forsberg on injured reserve and no timetable listed for his return. (2)

4. Jets (23-11-6): Injury to Mark Scheifele hasn’t slowed them. Three straight wins capped by a 5-0 thumping of Edmonton to sweep three-game series with Oilers. (9)

5. Kings […]    

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