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Golden Knights Soar to Top Of the NHL Power Rankings

Flyers Own Top ATS Record

The defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights have soared to the top of the NHL standings while the New York Rangers would be the top seed in the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup playoffs began today. It should not be a surprise to see the Golden Knights and Rangers headlining the weekly NHL power rankings.

The Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche are the other two division leaders while three Canadian teams (Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg) are currently in playoff position.

Golden Knights Soar to Top Of the NHL Power Rankings
Mark Stone #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights throws a slot machine-themed pillow to fans after being named the first star of the game | Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

When looking at NHL odds predictions, the Philadelphia Flyers have the best record against the spread at 18-7 while Toronto and New Jersey are at the bottom of the standings with 5-17 marks against the spread.

The biggest item in NHL news is that St. Louis fired former Stanley Cup-winning coach Craig Berube.

When looking at NHL futures odds, the Colorado Avalanche is priced at +800 in the odds of winning the Stanley Cup. They are followed by the Boston Bruins, the New York Rangers and the Vegas Golden Knights coming in at +1000.

Here’s a look at the top five teams in the NHL as more than half of the NHL has played at least 30 games.

1. Vegas Golden Knights

The defending Stanley Cup champions are back on top in the NHL power rankings with just one regulation loss in the last 11 games.

Five of those games have gone to overtime with Vegas winning just two of those games. In the “that’s why you play the game” department, the last two regulation losses for the Golden Knights have come against Buffalo and Arizona.

Vegas is four points clear of any other team in the NHL. Jack Eichel has points in each of his last 10 games and Mark Stone has three multi-point games over the last six contests.

The real key has been the goaltending with Adin Hill (1.93 goals-against average) joining Logan Thompson as one of the most underrated goaltending tandems for the reigning champions.

2. New York Rangers

The Rangers get the nod after outplaying the Boston Bruins on the road and coming away with a 2-1 overtime win behind two goals from Vincent Trocheck.

The Rangers and Bruins are tied for the most points in the Eastern Conference. However, the Rangers have two more wins than the Bruins as well as two more regulation victories.

The Rangers got by without star defenseman Adam Fox for 10 games and young center Filip Chytil hasn’t played since Nov. 2.

Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider each have 16 goals and Panarin is on pace for 45 goals and 74 assists.

The Rangers are third in the NHL on the power play, converting on 29.8% of its man-advantage chances. Kreider has scored eight times on the power play while Panarin, Trocheck and Mika Zibanejad combined for 14 power-play goals.

Former No. 1 overall pick Alexis Lafreniere has gone five straight games without a point.

3. Boston Bruins

The Bruins were fortunate to come away with three out of four points in back-to-back games against the New York Islanders and New York Rangers.

If not for perhaps the best goaltending duo in the NHL, the Bruins likely would have lost both games. Boston was outshot in both of those games as the absences of first-line center Pavel Zacha and top defenseman Charlie McAvoy have been hard to miss.

Boston still leads the Atlantic Division by five points, but the reliance on the power play and on dynamic forwards David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand is a bit concerning.

Boston has scored more than three goals in regulation in just one of the last seven games and that is putting plenty of pressure on the two goalies.

4. Vancouver Canucks

J.T. Miller has nine points over his last seven games as the high-scoring Canucks continue to put pressure on Vegas in the Pacific Division standings.

Brock Boeser has 23 goals as Vancouver is 10-2 in the last 12 games when Boeser has scored at least once. His career high is 29 goals back in his first full NHL season. He is on pace for 59 goals.

Defenseman Quinn Hughes, listed by the NHL odds as one of the front-runners in the Norris Trophy odds, and Filip Hronek are both averaging more than 24 minutes per game. Hughes is the highest-scoring defenseman in the NHL while Hronek is just 10 points shy of his career high in points.

Goalie Thatcher Demko tends to get overlooked with the way the Canucks are piling up the goals but it is hard to ignore his .921 save percentage and 2.34 goals-against average.

Vancouver is second only to the New Jersey Devils with 15 of its games going over the Las Vegas NHL odds total this season.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs

With Colorado just 4-4-2 over the last 10 games, Toronto takes over the No. 5 spot.

The Maple Leafs have one regulation loss over the last 11 games and they are coming off a 7-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins without top goal scorer Auston Matthews.

It has been an interesting December for the Maple Leafs with four one-goal games and three of those going into overtime. Toronto outscored the Nashville Predators, the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins 17-3.

Rookie forward Matthew Knies had his first Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, assist and fight in the last game.

If there is a concern, forwards Matthews, Mitchell Marner and William Nylander all average more than 20 minutes per game. That lack of depth could catch up with the Maple Leafs.

Game of the Week

New York Rangers vs Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Tuesday, Dec. 19, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

The Rangers should have an extra jump after the way the last meeting with the Maple Leafs played out. Toronto scored four times in the first period on the way to a 7-3 win at Madison Square Garden.

These are two of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference standings and there are difference-makers throughout the lineup on both teams.

Toronto has won three in a row against the Rangers and the Las Vegas NHL odds favor Toronto to make it four straight.

Player of the Week

Mitchell Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs: Marner has four goals and five assists to go along with a +6 defensive rating over his last four games for the Maple Leafs.

Rookie of the Week

Connor Zary, Calgary Flames: Zary is no stranger to this list as he has made quite the impact after starting the season in the minor leagues.

He has two goals and two assists in the last four games. In 21 games, he has seven goals and nine assists for the Flames.

Goalie of the Week

Pyotr Kochetkov, Carolina Hurricanes: It has been a bit of a bumpy ride for a Carolina team expected to compete for the Stanley Cup. Kochetkov is doing his part as he stopped 76 of 79 shots over the last three games. He was 2-0-1 in those contests.



Questions Of The Day

Besides the Boston Bruins, which teams have emerged as the top contender for the Stanley Cup?

Colorado has the best Stanley Cup odds followed closely by Vegas, Boston and the New York Rangers.

Which individual players have consistently demonstrated an exceptional performance throughout the season?

Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning leads the NHL with 52 points while Vancouver’s Brock Boeser and Toronto’s Auston Matthews have a league-leading 23 goals.

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