NHL Power Rankings: Bruins on the rise, but Lightning still on top entering 2018

Welcome to 2018.

It's a new year, and the NHL season is moving right along, but nothing has changed atop our hockey pecking order.

Plenty has changed below the No. 1 spot. The Boston Bruins, for example, decided they didn't want to end 2017 on a sour note and turned up the heat when the weather got cold. And there might not be a more balanced winter contender than the Vegas Golden Knights, an expansion team for the ages that has figured out how to endure just about every kind of goalie injury and is now in the driver's seat for a playoff spot -- yes, a real, live playoff spot -- in the Western Conference.

But we would be remiss to open the new year without crowning (again) the team of the year in the Tampa Bay Lightning, who still reign supreme in our latest edition of NHL Power Rankings thanks to a goal differential that just can't be overstated:

Biggest Movers
12 Bruins
5 Blackhawks
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Lightning Even in their rare missteps, they light up the scoreboard. (No pun intended.) --3-1
2 Golden Knights The balance on this team is incredible. No injury has ravaged them, either. 43-4
3 Predators What a great addition an improved Juuse Saros makes. 15-1
4 Kings Turns out the grizzled vets were the key to the Kings' season, not the problem. --2-3
5 Jets Another reminder that Paul Maurice's club is peaking at least a year ahead of schedule. 23-2
6 Blues They've sure handled the injury bug well. 31-3
7 Capitals There's plenty of time for a collapse, but maybe we overestimated the Caps' offseason financial woes. 23-2
8 Bruins Two things are true: The Senators are awful right now ... but the Bruins are also alive. 124-2
9 Maple Leafs As expected: They're still tops in scoring outside of Tampa. 16-1
10 Devils It's going to be interesting to see how they fare against teams like the Caps come playoff time. (Playoff time?!) --4-0
11 Stars Maybe this apparent Jamie Benn leadership is what they needed. 43-3
12 Blue Jackets If only they could take care of the lousy teams. 33-2
13 Rangers It's 2027. Henrik Lundqvist is still fighting to stay perfect in outdoor games. 12-4
14 Sharks Peter DeBoer has a good problem with an excess of defensemen. --2-3
15 Islanders They need a third line or they need a defenseman. Trade deadline, here we come. 22-3
16 Blackhawks Jeff Glass, savior in net? 53-0
17 Wild The injuries are a valid excuse, but they need to start finding consistency on offense. 12-2
18 Ducks If we excuse the Wild for injuries, we have to do the same for Anaheim. 35-1
19 Avalanche Nikita Zadorov might be the best thing -- trade-wise or not -- since Matt Duchene. 53-1
20 Flyers The Flyers: Let's collapse and then, after all hope is lost, beat the best team in the league. 23-3
21 Hurricanes It's Cam Ward, not Scott Darling, who's turning this ship around. 14-2
22 Penguins Is it finally safe to say they aren't championship material? Never say never, but the inconsistencies are glaring. 52-1
23 Flames Sam Bennett has been a bright spot, but they're still sub-.500 everywhere they play. 44-2
24 Panthers Let's start talking about the lack of support they get at home. 50-2
25 Oilers They're looking better, but how late is too late to pull off some remarkable winning streak? --2-2
26 Canucks Some of the foundation is laid, but the puck isn't bouncing their way. 34-2
27 Red Wings Sell, sell, sell. And then maybe this club can return to full form. --0-4
28 Canadiens Go figure. Carey Price dominates, but he can't get help. 24-1
29 Senators What a drop-off from the playoffs. But we saw these goalie issues coming. 13-2
30 Sabres At least they get to 'host' a Winter Classic. Right? --3-3
31 Coyotes They'll be in Arizona at least one more year. Hooray? --1-4
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