NHL Power Rankings: Bruins on the rise, but Lightning still on top entering 2018
Boston is as hot as it has been all year, but Tampa Bay still sits above the rest of the league
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:
|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.||4||3-4|
|3||Predators||What a great addition an improved Juuse Saros makes.||1||5-1|
|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.||2||3-2|
|6||Blues||They've sure handled the injury bug well.||3||1-3|
|7||Capitals||There's plenty of time for a collapse, but maybe we overestimated the Caps' offseason financial woes.||2||3-2|
|8||Bruins||Two things are true: The Senators are awful right now ... but the Bruins are also alive.||12||4-2|
|9||Maple Leafs||As expected: They're still tops in scoring outside of Tampa.||1||6-1|
|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.||4||3-3|
|12||Blue Jackets||If only they could take care of the lousy teams.||3||3-2|
|13||Rangers||It's 2027. Henrik Lundqvist is still fighting to stay perfect in outdoor games.||1||2-4|
|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.||2||2-3|
|16||Blackhawks||Jeff Glass, savior in net?||5||3-0|
|17||Wild||The injuries are a valid excuse, but they need to start finding consistency on offense.||1||2-2|
|18||Ducks||If we excuse the Wild for injuries, we have to do the same for Anaheim.||3||5-1|
|19||Avalanche||Nikita Zadorov might be the best thing -- trade-wise or not -- since Matt Duchene.||5||3-1|
|20||Flyers||The Flyers: Let's collapse and then, after all hope is lost, beat the best team in the league.||2||3-3|
|21||Hurricanes||It's Cam Ward, not Scott Darling, who's turning this ship around.||1||4-2|
|22||Penguins||Is it finally safe to say they aren't championship material? Never say never, but the inconsistencies are glaring.||5||2-1|
|23||Flames||Sam Bennett has been a bright spot, but they're still sub-.500 everywhere they play.||4||4-2|
|24||Panthers||Let's start talking about the lack of support they get at home.||5||0-2|
|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.||3||4-2|
|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.||2||4-1|
|29||Senators||What a drop-off from the playoffs. But we saw these goalie issues coming.||1||3-2|
|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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