NHL Power Rankings: Golden Knights unseat Lightning at No. 1, Stars on the rise
The expansion Golden Knights officially moved into first place in the NHL on Sunday
The throne has been stolen.
After months of the Tampa Bay Lightning drawing consensus acclaim atop the NHL with both a league-leading goal differential and win total, a new team has worked its way to the top of our latest hockey power rankings -- and it's literally a new team.
The Vegas Golden Knights, maybe the best expansion team in NHL history thanks to its run of records through January, officially moved into first place atop the league standings with its win on Sunday, but their shift to No. 1 in our pecking order comes with more in mind. Tampa Bay may very well boast the better headliners and is probably still the top team in the long haul, but no one has exemplified grit -- and thrived with balance -- better than the Golden Knights, so the only reason it sounds weird to crown them the NHL's best of late January is that, well, the team just didn't exist even a year ago.
Vegas isn't the only team on the move in our latest rundown of the NHL, either. The Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins remain top-five contenders a few weeks into the new year, while the Dallas Stars are among a handful of clubs, including the red-hot Colorado Avalanche, on the rise:
|1||Golden Knights||This is real life, and it includes an expansion team in first place atop the NHL.||1||51-24|
|2||Lightning||Andrei Vasilevskiy needs rest or something. This group is ultra talented but out of sync.||1||54-23|
|3||Predators||Pekka Rinne and Kevin Fiala symbolize Nashville's perfect blend of depth, youth and experience.||1||53-18|
|4||Bruins||Another week, another reminder that Patrice Bergeron is very much alive and well.||2||50-20|
|5||Jets||Connor Hellebuyck still has this thing rolling.||2||52-20|
|6||Capitals||Tough week for their offense, and maybe they really should be concerned about the Flyers.||1||49-26|
|7||Stars||Just when you think they're best as defensive game managers, they go score seven goals.||4||42-32|
|8||Maple Leafs||Big, big week for them with matchups against Colorado, Dallas and Chicago.||1||49-26|
|9||Blues||Still looking for more consistency here. They've got the scorers to beat the best.||1||44-32|
|10||Avalanche||Nathan MacKinnon: Hart Trophy candidate.||2||43-30|
|11||Sharks||It's a good problem to have if Aaron Dell keeps pushing Martin Jones for goalie time.||4||45-27|
|12||Flames||Mike Smith has been a true asset in his age-35 season.||3||37-35|
|13||Wild||After beating the Lightning, they're probably due for a letdown vs. Ottawa or the defending champs.||--||45-26|
|14||Devils||Another team that should have its eyes on the Flyers.||--||44-29|
|15||Flyers||They know how to upset contenders, and now they're in playoff position.||2||42-26|
|16||Kings||Jonathan Quick has been hit lately, but the Kings' offense finally offered some support to enter the new week.||6||45-29|
|17||Blue Jackets||If they can stop stooping to their competition, they'll be OK.||2||45-30|
|18||Penguins||At least we know one thing: They're rather proven as an overtime team.||2||47-29|
|19||Rangers||The Kevin Shattenkirk injury just fits right in with their defensive roller coaster.||1||34-39|
|20||Islanders||Get them in the postseason, and they'll give you at least one explosive offensive showcase.||1||35-37|
|21||Blackhawks||And now we see, again, that their blue line is a concern.||3||33-39|
|22||Ducks||Remember when they were eyeing a Stanley Cup Final bid?||--||44-25|
|23||Hurricanes||Some are more than ready for Scott Darling to take a seat.||--||36-35|
|24||Oilers||Adding a skills coach wasn't odd as much as the timing of it was.||1||36-40|
|25||Red Wings||All eyes are on 2018-19, but even then, this team will need to be amid a major overhaul.||1||30-39|
|26||Panthers||If effort were graded as wins are, they'd be far higher.||--||44-30|
|27||Canadiens||Chronic fatigue makes sense now as an explanation for Carey Price's awful start.||--||29-40|
|28||Canucks||You simply can't win games if you cannot score. At least they've had some nice goalie play.||1||31-40|
|29||Senators||So what happens to Erik Karlsson?||1||28-43|
|30||Coyotes||Beating the Blues by three is something to build on.||--||29-41|
|31||Sabres||Sorry, but they're on a worse stretch, and no one fears them. Just look at the numbers.||--||25-45|
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