NHL Power Rankings: Bruins crack top five as Flyers, Avalanche also step up
Boston has gone from early-season afterthought to Atlantic Division contender
January hockey is well underway, but there's still no change at the top of the NHL.
The Tampa Bay Lightning suffered one of their worst weeks of the 2017-18 campaign thanks to rare back-to-back losses, but their work over the course of the season has solidified them as Presidents' Trophy favorites for the time being. Even if one of the league's hottest clubs, the Vegas Golden Knights, somehow eclipsed the Nikita Kucherov Show in the standings, there's no telling just if/when the Lightning's ridiculous goal differential will be bested.
Vegas, however, is standing pat as a top-five contender early in the new year. And so, too, are the Boston Bruins, whose recent surge has made their early-season slog a distant memory. Quite a few teams have caught fire as of late, actually. There's Philadelphia, which continues to find ways to run up the scoreboard despite stretches of incompetence. There's Calgary, which opens the new week on a three-game streak. There's even Detroit, which has plenty of concerns moving forward but at least proved this week it isn't entirely irrelevant. But no one has exploded quite like the Bruins, either, and that's even considering their Sunday night overtime loss to the defending Stanley Cup champions.
They cracked the top five in this week's edition of our NHL Power Rankings, which also gives major props to the Winnipeg Jets, Washington Capitals and Colorado Avalanche:
|1||Lightning||It should tell you something that they can suffer back-to-back losses and still be insanely ahead of the rest of the pack.||--||62-16|
|2||Golden Knights||Not only are they incredibly balanced, but now they're outscoring everyone but the Lightning.||--||43-32|
|3||Jets||Get this group a veteran center, and you're talking about a championship run way ahead of schedule.||2||47-30|
|4||Predators||It's time for Ryan Johansen to step up and shoot more in Filip Forsberg's absence.||1||47-29|
|5||Bruins||Hey, we remember this Bruce Cassidy-led inspiration from last season!||3||49-24|
|6||Capitals||Can we keep talking about the season Alex Ovechkin is having?||1||48-26|
|7||Kings||Jonathan Quick has been awesome, but maybe the Kings are leaning on that a little too much.||3||31-42|
|8||Blues||Finally, some life on the power play.||2||45-28|
|9||Maple Leafs||Suddenly their every move is magnified because of Boston's improbable surge.||--||46-28|
|10||Stars||When Alex Radulov and the top line are in sync, this team is dangerous.||1||43-32|
|11||Devils||Forcing Cory Schneider to shoulder the entire defense isn't going to last for long.||1||31-41|
|12||Rangers||We're not going to stop mentioning Henrik Lundqvist until he stops pulling out wins like the one he got vs. Arizona.||1||32-36|
|13||Avalanche||Someone forgot to tell the Avs they're supposed to be done.||6||38-30|
|14||Blue Jackets||Their seasoned vets are either hurt or underwhelming.||2||47-31|
|15||Sharks||They could probably stand to drop farther down. Uncharacteristic or not, they've laid some eggs lately.||1||46-27|
|16||Flyers||Defeating Buffalo is no big feat, but somehow these guys are finding new life on offense.||4||37-37|
|17||Islanders||The shootout grit against the Devils showed why they're not to be overlooked just yet.||2||48-27|
|18||Wild||Par for the course in Minnesota, where the Wild can't help but follow up some convincing wins with a blowout loss.||1||37-36|
|19||Flames||Is the Jaromir Jagr saga already coming to a close? It probably doesn't matter for Calgary.||4||50-25|
|20||Blackhawks||All of a sudden, they seem worlds behind Vegas.||4||36-34|
|21||Penguins||It's about time they figure things out at home.||1||44-26|
|22||Ducks||Simply staying afloat isn't going to get this team back in the title hunt.||4||35-37|
|23||Hurricanes||We've seen it before this season, but when things get ugly, they really get ugly for the Canes.||2||46-29|
|24||Red Wings||Not the best time for Jimmy Howard to go down.||3||32-40|
|25||Panthers||If they had more depth, we might actually be talking about a late-season sleeper.||1||36-32|
|26||Canadiens||Just when Carey Price returns to form, something else goes awry with him.||2||44-30|
|27||Oilers||Talk of poor management and questionable coaching is only going to get more rampant if things don't change in a hurry.||2||35-38|
|28||Senators||Too little, too late? Not in the third period of their past two.||1||29-47|
|29||Canucks||Shootouts have not been kind to them this season.||3||35-36|
|30||Coyotes||A monumental move up from the cellar comes courtesy of, well, the Sabres just looking worse.||1||39-35|
|31||Sabres||At least the Coyotes' losses have been a little closer and against some better teams. (What an endorsement, right?)||1||33-39|
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