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Eric Stephens’ NHL power rankings (Oct. 23, 2017)

By in Press Enterprise on October 23, 2017

By Eric Stephens

It might have seemed a surprise to those outside of their El Segundo headquarters that the Kings would give Darryl Sutter and Dean Lombardi the heave-ho after two Stanley Cups won, but the feeling inside was that change was necessary.

Change, it seems, has invigorated a group that went stale last season. Now we’re not even one month into the season and real success must be maintained over the long haul, but the Kings’ best start in franchise history offers promise for something real down the line. (Records in parentheses are as of Sunday’s games).

1. Kings (6-0-1). The new No. 1 showed they’re just not living off home cooking. Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Co. dined well in Columbus to open a tough road trip. (3)

2. Tampa Bay (7-1-1). Lightning showing that missing the playoffs last spring was a we-didn’t-have-Steven Stamkos fluke. Nikita Kucherov won’t stop scoring. (4)

3. Toronto (6-2-0). We’re a long, long way from the trade deadline, but would the high-scoring Leafs part with a talented forward to beef up suspect defense? (1)

4. Chicago (5-2-2). Blackhawks looked bad in St. Louis but salvaged a so-so week with road win at Arizona after overtime home loss to Edmonton. (2)

5. St. Louis (6-2-1). As long as Jaden Schwartz stays healthy, the shifty winger is going to produce. Strong start (13 points in nine games) includes hat trick against Chicago. (8)

6. Pittsburgh (5-3-1). Picking up Riley Sheahan from Detroit could give them a solid third-line center if he can regain his scoring touch after nightmarish 2016-17. Now the Penguins need a backup goalie. (5)

7. Columbus (5-3-0). Back-to-back losses have come to the scorching Kings and Tampa Bay, so there’s no shame in that. Jackets add more two-way grit with return of Boone Jenner (back). (6)

8. Vegas (6-1-0). Are the expansion Golden Knights […]    

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