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Apr 16, 2018

The 7-Eleven Power Rankings: Golden Knights rule during playoffs’ opening week

Golden Knights' playoff success vaults them atop 7-Eleven Power Rankings

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It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Vegas Golden Knights, the most successful expansion team in NHL history, are still firing on all cylinders.

With three straight wins over the Los Angeles Kings in their first three playoff games, the Golden Knights are just one win away from reaching the second round and, as a result, are the No. 1 playoff team this week in TSN’s 7-Eleven Power Rankings (the first playoff ranking of 2018), according to consensus rankings formulated by the TSN Power Ranking panel of Ray Ferraro, Jeff O’Neill, Jamie McLennan, Craig Button and Darren Dreger.

The high-scoring Boston Bruins, who pounded the Toronto Maple Leafs with 12 goals (including four goals and five assists from first-line winger David Pastrnak) to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round series, are No. 2 this week. Winners of the Presidents’ Trophy, the Nashville Predators have a 2-0 series lead over Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche to earn the No. 3 spot in our top three.

Backed by Andrei Vasilevskiy’s .933 save percentage, the Tampa Bay Lightning are ranked No. 4 after easy Game 1 and 2 home wins over the New Jersey Devils. The Winnipeg Jets were whipped 6-2 by the Minnesota Wild (No. 9) in Sunday’s Game 3 in Minneapolis, but are in the No. 5 spot with their 2-1 series lead.

The surprising San Jose Sharks, thanks to Martin Jones’ .964 save percentage, are the No. 6 team this week after two straight victories over the Ducks in Anaheim. The inconsistent Ducks slipped ahead of the Sharks for second spot in the Pacific Division regular-season standings, but they’re ranked No. 12 this week.

Buoyed by Artemi Panarin’s five points and Sergei Bobrovsky’s .920 save percentage, the No. 7-ranked Blue Jackets return home for Game 3 Tuesday with a 2-0 series lead over the Washington Capitals (No. 10). Columbus is just two wins away from advancing to Round 2 for the first time in franchise history.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, who have scored 13 goals in three games for a 2-1 series lead over the No. 11 Philadelphia Flyers, are No. 8 this week to round out the teams with winning records thus far in Round 1.

Badly missing starting goalie Semyon Varlamov, the Avalanche are ranked No. 13 after dropping their first two to the Predators. Nathan MacKinnon has three points in two games, but so far it just hasn’t been enough against a loaded Preds squad that has beaten the Avs 12 straight times.

Rounding out the bottom-three teams are the Maple Leafs (No. 14), who were badly outplayed by the Bruins in both of their opening-round games, losing each game by four goals; the No. 15 Devils, who will go with Cory Schneider in Monday night's Game 3 after Keith Kinkaid allowed nine goals in two games; and the Kings (No. 16), who are one loss away from being eliminated by the Golden Knights to earn the dubious distinction of being the worst playoff team in this week’s rankings.

Boston Bruins
2. Boston Bruins

  • 2017-18
    50-20-12
  • Playoff Record
    2-0
  • LAST WEEK
    3

Four Bruins are in the top-10 scoring race, led by David Pastrnak (nine points). He, along with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, have 20 points between them. Blueliner Torey Krug has five points.

Nashville Predators
3. Nashville Predators

  • 2017-18
    53-18-11
  • Playoff Record
    2-0
  • LAST WEEK
    1

Going back to the previous two playoffs, the Predators have won eight straight first-round games. They won all four last year against Chicago and the final two in 2016 (a 4-3 defeat of Anaheim).

Tampa Bay Lightning
4. Tampa Bay Lightning

  • 2017-18
    54-23-5
  • Playoff Record
    2-0
  • LAST WEEK
    4

Three goals in 6:54 in Game 1 and three in 2:47 in Game 2 were all the Lightning needed in their first two games to put away the Devils. Andrei Vasilevskiy also made 70 saves (.933 SV%) in two games.

Winnipeg Jets
5. Winnipeg Jets

  • 2017-18
    52-20-10
  • Playoff Record
    2-1
  • LAST WEEK
    2

Going back to the regular season, the Jets have won 11 straight home games. Their Game 1 win was the first playoff victory for the franchise since 1999 when they were the Atlanta Thrashers.

San Jose Sharks
6. San Jose Sharks

  • 2017-18
    45-27-10
  • Playoff Record
    2-0
  • LAST WEEK
    12

After 574 regular-season games, Evander Kane finally made it to the playoffs and made the most of it, scoring twice in his debut. At the opposite end of the ice, Martin Jones has a .964 SV%.

Columbus Blue Jackets
7. Columbus Blue Jackets

  • 2017-18
    45-30-7
  • Playoff Record
    2-0
  • LAST WEEK
    11

The Blue Jackets trailed by at least two goals in each of the first two games, but still managed to win both of them in overtime (and on the road), giving them their first series lead in team history.

Pittsburgh Penguins
8. Pittsburgh Penguins

  • 2017-18
    47-29-6
  • Playoff Record
    2-1
  • LAST WEEK
    8

Somebody finally scored on Matt Murray. His playoff shutout streak, extending back to Game 4 of the 2017 Stanley Cup final, ended at 225:49 on a Shayne Gostisbehere goal in Game 2.

Minnesota Wild
9. Minnesota Wild

  • 2017-18
    45-26-11
  • Playoff Record
    1-2
  • LAST WEEK
    10

For the third straight year, the Wild lost Round 1’s first two games. They fared poorly in 2016 and 2017, losing both series. On the plus side, oft-injured Zach Parise leads the team with three goals.

Washington Capitals
10. Washington Capitals

  • 2017-18
    49-26-7
  • Playoff Record
    0-2
  • LAST WEEK
    6

The Caps blew two leads in both the opener and Game 2 to lose twice in OT. They started Philipp Grubauer, who has one career playoff win, not Braden Holtby, who has 29, both times.

Philadelphia Flyers
11. Philadelphia Flyers

  • 2017-18
    42-26-14
  • Playoff Record
    1-2
  • LAST WEEK
    13

The 5-1 Game 2 win was an impressive rebound for the Flyers after losing the opener 7-0. It was only the third time a team has won Game 2 after losing a series opener by seven or more goals.

Anaheim Ducks
12. Anaheim Ducks

  • 2017-18
    44-25-13
  • Playoff Record
    0-2
  • LAST WEEK
    9

After being shut out in Game 1, the Ducks scored early in Game 2, but still lost. Teams that lose the first two games at home in a best-of-seven end up losing the series 78.7 per cent of the time.

Colorado Avalanche
13. Colorado Avalanche

  • 2017-18
    43-30-9
  • Playoff Record
    0-2
  • LAST WEEK
    16

The Avalanche, who really miss Semyon Varlamov, have allowed five goals in each of their first two games. They allowed five goals in regulation just twice in their final 22 regular-season games.

Toronto Maple Leafs
14. Toronto Maple Leafs

  • 2017-18
    49-26-7
  • Playoff Record
    0-2
  • LAST WEEK
    5

The last series in which the Leafs allowed as many as 12 goals in their first two games, losing 6-3 and 6-2 to Detroit, was in 1993. Toronto won that opening-round series in seven games.

New Jersey Devils
15. New Jersey Devils

  • 2017-18
    44-29-9
  • Playoff Record
    0-2
  • LAST WEEK
    15

Regular-season results are meaningless in the playoffs – just ask the Devils. They played the Bolts three times and beat them each time. Marcus Johansson (concussion) is back Monday for Game 3.

Los Angeles Kings
16. Los Angeles Kings

  • 2017-18
    45-29-8
  • Playoff Record
    0-3
  • LAST WEEK
    14

It took until 15:55 of the second period in Game 2 before the Kings scored their first goal of the series, a game they lost in OT. In Game 3, surrendering two goals in 21 seconds in the third did them in.