NHL Power Rankings: Golden Knights storm into top 10; Bruins right behind Lightning

When the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets are borderline top-10 teams, you know the top half of the NHL is stacked.

It's astounding to be talking about a whole group of eye-opening contenders during a season in which the Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning are far and away -- very far and away -- the best club in hockey. You'd think that if a team had a near-plus-100 goal differential, with just barely double-digit losses on the season, that we wouldn't even bother talking about the rest of the league.

And yet here we are.

The Lightning may rightfully be everyone's favorite entering the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but yet another week of NHL action has shown us that maybe a dozen other teams behind Tampa Bay are capable of a deep run.

The defending Western Conference champion Vegas Golden Knights have stormed their way into the top 10 of this week's power rankings, using a 9-1 run -- and plenty of Mark Stone defensive prowess -- to prove their 2017-18 campaign wasn't a fluke. The Boston Bruins have won two straight and sit right behind Tampa Bay -- not literally, of course, since the Lightning own the standings, but in every other sense. The defending champion Washington Capitals are still warming up, with Alex Ovechkin on another tear. The Carolina Hurricanes just bested the Pittsburgh Penguins, and both of those teams are dangerous as well.

Look beyond the top 10, and you've got even more potential, such as the Dallas Stars riding Ben Bishop's dominance to a 7-2-1 run.

All of it's documented right here, in our NHL pecking order:

Biggest Movers
5 Golden Knights
2 Sharks
1 Lightning Plus-96 goal differential. Just sit with that for a minute. --62-16
2 Bruins When Tuukka Rask is on and their big names are clicking, these guys just might be the NHL's best. 149-24
3 Flames Can Mike Smith stand strong? Can Johnny Gaudreau light up the playoffs? It'd be fun. 150-25
4 Sharks Maybe they're just trying to keep things interesting. Talent-wise, again, this group is off the charts. 246-27
5 Capitals They're benefiting from the schedule, but who cares? Alex Ovechkin is rolling at the right time and they look like a team on a mission. --48-26
6 Maple Leafs There might not be a team with a more impressive offense -- and the ability to be inexplicably shut out. --46-28
7 Golden Knights Your future (repeat) Western Conference champs? Sure doesn't seem out of the question now. 543-32
8 Hurricanes It's still hard to believe that this team -- this team! -- is ranked this high so late in the year. 146-29
9 Penguins Have they arrived, or not? They need a healthy Evgeni Malkin to take it to the next level regardless. 244-26
10 Islanders Let's see how Robin Lehner's return affects them as he settles in. But the rest of this top 10 is scary. 248-27
11 Predators They have the depth to beat anyone, really, but we've still got questions about their consistency. 147-29
12 Jets The fact that they are outside the top 10 should tell you how stacked this upper group is. 147-30
13 Stars Time to start talking about Ben Bishop even more. This defense can be killer. 343-32
14 Blues If Jordan Binnington keeps sliding, their offense better keep piling on like it did vs. Edmonton. --45-28
15 Blue Jackets Yeah, this is already shaping up to be a major disappointment. Their deadline moves had them set up for an epic finish. 247-31
16 Canadiens Maybe Carey Price will carry them in. You just wonder if the wild-card race will get too tight. 144-30
17 Coyotes Let's give Rick Tocchet some props, right? As Sports Illustrated says, he might be Jack Adams material. 139-35
18 Flyers The playoff dreams are fading. But they did a whole lot more damage this year than they were supposed to. 137-37
19 Avalanche This feels just about right. Not reliable enough to be in the top 16, but talented enough to be right on the brink. 138-30
20 Wild We can't buy into them yet. The upside is there, though. 137-36
21 Panthers If only they had a few copies of Aleksander Barkov. --36-32
22 Blackhawks It's nice to at least have Corey Crawford playing up to par. 136-34
23 Oilers Will the coaching staff and front office be on the same page to fix this after the season? 135-38
24 Canucks Bring on Quinn Hughes! And bring him on now! 235-36
25 Sabres At least they have Rasmus Dahlin to look forward to. --33-39
26 Rangers And now we see the repercussions of a total deadline selloff. 232-36
27 Ducks If we're talking about the last two weeks, they'd be a little higher. But yikes, this year was still a disaster. --35-37
28 Red Wings Ride the prospects until this thing is over. Then get serious (and we mean serious) in the offseason. 232-40
29 Devils They have to be among the most disappointing teams of this season. --31-41
30 Kings If you like to watch paint dry, this team is definitely for you. 231-42
31 Senators We're almost in April, and they still have a single-digit away win total. --29-47
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