NHL Power Rankings: Lightning And Golden Knights Surge

There is simply no stopping the Tampa Bay Lightning, who remain far and away the top team in the NHL. There was quite a shift in the top 10 this week, however, as some teams are getting hot in the new year.

Here is where all 31 teams stand as we finish up the first week of the new year.

31. Los Angeles Kings (16-23-3)

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The only positive is that the Kings might have the best odds to win the Jack Hughes sweepstakes. It's long overdue for the front office to tear this thing down and begin a full-on rebuild.

30. Ottawa Senators (15-21-5)

What a disaster the month of December was. The reeling Sens have now lost six straight games. The only good news is that owner Eugene Melnyk will let GM Pierre Dorion try to re-sign Matt Duchene and Mark Stone as free agency looms for both stars.

29. Philadelphia Flyers (15-20-5)

That's now five straight losses for the Flyers, who have been one of the biggest disappointments this season. GM and coaching changes haven't changed their fortunes. Expect major changes this offseason.

28. Arizona Coyotes (17-21-3)

The Coyotes have been free-falling over the past month. At this point, you just wonder if the NHL will ever take the hint and relocate them. It's long overdue.

27. Chicago Blackhawks (15-21-7)

The Blackhawks were starting to find their form again, then they dropped two straight - including a sloppy Winter classic bout to the Boston Bruins. This disastrous season can't end soon enough.

26.New Jersey Devils (16-17-7)

Despite a disappointing first half, New Jersey gave head coach John Hynes a multi-year extension. Clearly, they like the job he's done with an otherwise extremely flawed roster. It's all about landing another high pick in the upcoming draft lottery.

25. St. Louis Blues (16-18-4)

Well, the Blues have been playing around .500 hockey over the past couple of weeks. But it's probably too little too late. Expect Doug Armstrong to be a seller once again at the upcoming deadline.

24. Carolina Hurricanes (18-17-5)

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Three straight wins for the Hurricanes, but is it just a mirage? The fans better hope not, because a lengthy winning streak is their only hope at ending a 10-year playoff streak at this point. Carolina has a lot of catching up to do.

23. Detroit Red Wings (16-20-7)

It's been another long and frustrating year of rebuilding in Detroit, but there is one major positive: Dylan Larkin is reaching superstar status and looks ready to take over as captain. Here's Detroit's franchise cornerstone to build around.

22. New York Rangers (17-16-7)

The Blueshirts have gone a mere 3-3-4 over their last 10 games and have dropped their last two. It's hard to see this rebuilding team hanging in the playoff race much longer, especially considering they're bound to sell at the deadline.

21. Edmonton Oilers (19-18-3)

The Oilers snapped a six-game losing streak to Arizona on Wednesday, but another losing streak will end their minimal playoff hopes. The pressure is on GM Peter Chiarelli to find reinforcements between now and the deadline, or else he will be out of a job.

20. Florida Panthers (17-16-6)

With five players already scoring 30-plus points, you'd think Florida would be in a playoff spot. But it's been a very frustrating first half for Bob Boughner's team. Might they replicate last year and go on a hot run in the second half? That's what they need.

19. Vancouver Canucks (20-20-4)

They've played more games than anybody else, which doesn't bode well for their playoff chances. Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat have kept this team in the postseason race, but you do wonder how much longer they can carry this flawed team on their own.

18. Minnesota Wild (19-17-3)

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That was a huge comeback win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. It'll be interesting to see if GM Paul Fenton is a buyer or seller at the deadline. It depends entirely on how the hot-and-cold Wild play throughout the rest of the month.

17. Anaheim Ducks (19-16-7)

Yikes. Seven straight losses for the Ducks, who have been fighting consistency woes all season long. GM Bob Murray has to decide if he wants to make another push, or if it's time to sell off at the deadline.

16.Colorado Avalanche (20-14-8)

That 6-1 drubbing of the Rangers at home was a much-needed victory for the slumping Avs. The front office has to find some secondary scoring to complement the league's top line. The playoffs are not a gimme at this time.

15. New York Islanders (22-13-4)

Mathew Barzal is performing at torrid pace again (38 points in 39 games), and the Isles are using a high-powered offense to stick in the playoff race. Barry Trotz deserves Jack Adams Trophy votes if he gets this John Tavares-less team into the postseason.

14.Dallas Stars (22-16-4)

It's as though Jim Lites' harsh criticism of his star players has lit a fire in the Stars' bellies. The Stars have gone 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, and they're climbing the ladder in the Central Division standings.

13. Montreal Canadiens (22-14-5)

Look out, NHL. After a frustrating first half, Carey Price is back to playing like his old self. If this continues, the Habs will have no problem earning a playoff spot. This will be a fun team to watch in the second half.

12. Nashville Predators (24-15-3)

Good thing the Preds were the top team in the West for a while, otherwise they'd be a playoff bubble team. This group has lost seven of its last 10, but you can attribute the struggles to injuries. The Predators will be fine once their star players return to full health.

11. Columbus Blue Jackets (23-14-3)

Few players have been flying under the radar like Seth Jones, who is up to 24 points on the season. He's keeping a flawed Blue Jackets team in the race for the Metropolitan Division title, amid a frustrating season for goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

10. Buffalo Sabres (22-13-6)

It's going to be quite a battle for the the second and third spots in the Atlantic between Buffalo, Boston and Toronto. The Sabres need to bust out of this recent slide if they want to catch up to the top teams in the division.

9. San Jose Sharks (22-13-7)

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The Sharks have been playing like the Stanley Cup contender we all expected to see now. Erik Karlsson is up to 33 points on the season, and the Sharks are making a run for the top seed in the Western Conference.

8. Boston Bruins (23-14-4)

The Bruins have now won six of their last eight games and are quickly gaining ground on the other Atlantic Division teams. It helps when you have the best line in hockey, and a resurgent year from Jaroslav Halak.

7. Calgary Flames (25-13-4)

The Flames have all the pieces in place to win their first division title since 2006. They're scoring in bunches and feature a championship caliber defensive corpse. Johnny Gaudreau (61 points), and Sean Monahan (51 points), give this team every reason to be optimistic about a deep run in the playoffs.

6. Winnipeg Jets (25-13-2)

That was one embarrassing road loss to the Penguins on Friday. But the Jets remain the second-best team in the West. Reigning Vezina Trophy finalist Connor Hellebuyck hasn't even found his form yet. Once he does, the surging Jets will be even more dangerous.

5. Washington Capitals (24-12-4)

The Capitals have dropped their last three games, but they're still sitting pretty in the Metropolitan Division. Amazing that Alexander Ovechkin (30 goals) is in line to win the 'Rocket' Richard Trophy again - at age 33.

4. Vegas Golden Knights (25-15-4)

They've been one of the hottest teams for a month now, having won five in a row. The Golden Knights look every bit like the team that reached the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. They're going to be dangerous again come playoff time.

3. Pittsburgh Penguins (23-12-6)

Eight straight wins - and victories in nine of their last 10 - have cooled down any stress in the Steel City. The Penguins are just getting hot after an up-and-down first half. The usual. Nothing else to see here.

2. Toronto Maple Leafs (26-12-2)

The Maple Leafs might want to find a reliable backup goalie to complement Frederik Andersen. On a side note, John Tavares (26 goals), is on pace to set a career high. Mitch Marner (55 points in 40 games), has every right to be upset about not being selected to the All-Star Game.

1.Tampa Bay Lightning (32-7-2)

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Seven straight wins for the best team in the NHL, and they're already running away with the Presidents' Trophy in January. At this point, it's safe to say that nobody is going to steal the top spot from Tampa. They're miles ahead of everybody else now.


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