NHL Power Rankings: Maple Leafs climb into top five, but Lightning stay at No. 1

While you're busy enjoying the 2018 Winter Olympics without any NHL-fueled men's hockey, the NHL is busy sorting itself out for the playoff race.

And we are busy sorting out who's who in the mid-February push for postseason contention.

If you've been riding the Tampa Bay Lightning bandwagon since they took the league by storm in October, you don't have to hop off just yet, because they're back to a winning streak thanks to some superb saves in net. That's one of the reasons they remain atop our latest edition of NHL Power Rankings, although their continued supremacy doesn't mean the rest of hockey's best is far behind.

Take the Boston Bruins, for example. They were upset by the Buffalo Sabres and almost coughed up a weekend game against the slumping New Jersey Devils, and yet there's also an argument to be made that no one has been better since December kicked off, especially since Bruce Cassidy's bunch is still an admirable 8-2 in its past 10.

Throw in the Vegas Golden Knights, who have endured some goaltending issues; the Nashville Predators, who are still getting elite work from Pekka Rinne; and even the Toronto Maple Leafs, who climbed into the top five this week on the heels of three straight wins and Mitchell Marner production, and you have yourself a tight crop of front-runners:

Biggest Movers
4 Maple Leafs
8 Devils
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Lightning Andrei Vasilevskiy has kept them afloat lately, but they'll be fine with plenty of home games to close the season. --40-17
2 Bruins Even with that slip-up vs. Buffalo, their goal differential is second only to Tampa. --37-13
3 Golden Knights We just can't wait for playoff time to see what they're really about. --39-16
4 Predators Not the greatest week for them, but holy smokes, Pekka Rinne is still the man. --36-14
5 Maple Leafs Dallas could've been here if not for a late stinker. No one's on a hotter 10-game stretch than Toronto. 437-20
6 Jets As Mark Scheifele re-adjusts to the lineup, they should be fine down the stretch. 135-16
7 Stars They were guaranteed a top-five spot before their 6-0 embarrassment vs. Vancouver. 134-21
8 Blues Don't let their drop fool you. They're still good against their own division. 234-23
9 Capitals It's still hard to believe just how bad most of us thought they would be this season. 234-19
10 Penguins The big boys are back to play. 435-22
11 Wild Finally, post-break, we're seeing some consistency. Devan Dubnyk is still that dude, too. 432-20
12 Sharks Still not sold on what they can do long-term without Joe Thornton, but maybe the deadline changes that. 233-19
13 Kings They're awesome in the third period and their goal differential is still killer, but the pressure is on. 133-22
14 Flyers Get them in the playoffs and look out, because they're golden against their superiors. 431-19
15 Flames They can't afford a big blow to Mike Smith at this point. 130-21
16 Ducks Hats off to them for at least being in the playoff picture after so many injuries. 130-20
17 Avalanche No Nathan MacKinnon? No problem against no Jack Eichel. 432-23
18 Blue Jackets Even before their Devils rout, they were outshooting teams regularly. 130-25
19 Devils They needed more than a wakeup call to best Boston. October seems like so long ago. 831-21
20 Hurricanes Here comes their annual late-season spoiler run. 327-23
21 Islanders At the end of the season, we might wonder how they allowed so many goals and finished so well. 129-26
22 Rangers The upset of Winnipeg is nice, but this team just told its fans it's entering rebuild mode. --27-28
23 Blackhawks Speaking of rebuild, someone needs one ASAP. 225-27
24 Panthers The offseason is going to be a lot of fun with this young club. --26-25
25 Red Wings Somehow, there is still some fight left in this team. --24-26
26 Oilers These four-goal Connor McDavid nights were supposed to be previews of the playoffs! --24-31
27 Canadiens If you're a Habs fan, you can at least take solace in the youthful emergence of late. --22-29
28 Canucks So who saw them beating Dallas 6-0? I didn't think so. --23-30
29 Senators Ugly, ugly, ugly. Their conference finals bout with the Pens seems distant now. --21-28
30 Sabres Worst news ever: Jack Eichel is out indefinitely. --17-32
31 Coyotes Going toe to toe with Philly at least made another loss less lackadaisical. --17-32
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