NHL Power Rankings: Avalanche, Penguins and red-hot Flames rise up the board
Tampa Bay is still No. 1 and Vegas is still up there, but a few others are finally catching fire
Another week, another shrug-of-the-shoulders acknowledgement that the Tampa Bay Lightning are No. 1 in the NHL.
It's not that Florida's top hockey team is a slouch of a front-runner, but much of the Lightning's clout as a longtime headliner for the Presidents' Trophy came as a result of a killer first three months. Put them up against anyone in a seven-game postseason series and there's no doubt that Nikita Kucherov and Co. would be the favorites, but there's still a nonchalant attitude that comes with crowning the Lightning (again) in the middle of January, mainly because they've been an obvious superpower for so long now.
In this week's edition of NHL Power Rankings, Tampa Bay still gets its due as the class of the 2017-18 campaign. But bigger movers include the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, who have finally awakened the big names that got them back-to-back titles; the Calgary Flames, who have turned Jaromir Jagr's unceremonious move to irrelevance into an improbable winning streak; and the Colorado Avalanche, who continue to power through dominant stretches long after they were believed to have forfeited this season.
|1||Lightning||They fell victim to the surging Flames, but who else is going to outscore them on the regular?||--||13-5|
|2||Golden Knights||How is it that an expansion team can be so insanely clutch?||--||8-11|
|3||Jets||Their break couldn't have come at a better time.||--||11-5|
|4||Predators||Their scrap is going to make them a tough out in the playoffs once again.||--||13-5|
|5||Capitals||Somehow this whole T.J. Oshie thing -- paying him big bucks, then putting him on the third line -- is working.||1||9-7|
|6||Bruins||This is the year we remember that Brad Marchand and Co. still have tantalizing potential.||1||10-6|
|7||Maple Leafs||There's absolutely no way Auston Matthews gets moved for defensemen, right? Right?||2||14-6|
|8||Blues||Get this team some center help, and maybe all that Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko talk will equate to more wins.||--||7-7|
|9||Flames||Who needs Jaromir Jagr?||10||10-8|
|10||Kings||Any missteps are big ones in the wake of Vegas' performance.||3||6-11|
|11||Stars||If they could figure it out on the road, they would be playoff favorites.||1||10-7|
|12||Avalanche||Past three games, vs. the formidable Wild, Stars and Blue Jackets: Avs 13, everyone else 3.||1||9-6|
|13||Wild||Stefon Diggs' magic transcended even their OT loss to Vancouver.||5||12-5|
|14||Devils||Special teams remain a concern after their loss to Philadelphia.||3||8-8|
|15||Sharks||Let's see if a roster shakeup is truly in store.||--||10-7|
|16||Penguins||Finally, the household names are back in the spotlight.||5||7-7|
|17||Flyers||Sean Couturier, have a hot stretch, why don't you!||1||9-9|
|18||Blackhawks||Corey Crawford, Chicago needs you back.||2||7-8|
|19||Blue Jackets||If anyone entered their break on a cold streak, it was Columbus.||5||11-6|
|20||Rangers||This defensive nightmare scene looks awfully familiar.||8||9-8|
|21||Islanders||It feels like we're in for another last-minute push for the playoffs.||4||10-6|
|22||Ducks||Funny how quickly this group became an afterthought in a season with high hopes.||--||8-9|
|23||Hurricanes||Injuries wreaked havoc just before their break, so the arrow is pointing down.||--||8-7|
|24||Red Wings||It has to be nice to see some promise from the younger part of the roster.||--||8-9|
|25||Oilers||Another tease of what should've been an amazing season: They've beaten Vegas twice.||2||9-8|
|26||Panthers||When the moves start flowing, they'll have Florida eyeing long-term improvement, not an immediate turnaround.||1||7-6|
|27||Canadiens||Who guessed they would be just 7-12-1 on the road by this point?||1||10-6|
|28||Senators||If anyone needs a killer deal at the deadline, it's them.||--||8-8|
|29||Canucks||Brandon Sutter is this week's hero.||--||10-9|
|30||Coyotes||It's these five-goal outings like the one vs. San Jose that give them more life than Buffalo.||--||9-8|
|31||Sabres||It's hard to have fun when you're never, ever scoring goals.||--||11-6|
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