NHL Power Rankings: Bruins Back Alone on Top as Lightning Rise Up

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured Columnist IIIJanuary 5, 2023

NHL Power Rankings: Bruins Back Alone on Top as Lightning Rise Up

0 of 6

    BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 29: Boston Bruins right defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) shoots during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning on November 29, 2022, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    This just in: The Boston Bruins are good at hockey.

    The league's northeastern-most U.S. team has copped points at an 80-plus percent clip for nearly half a season and another successful stretch—2-0-1 this week against three Eastern Conference rivals—has yielded an eighth straight perch atop B/R's power rankings.

    But the three-time reigning conference champs are making a move.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning were 10-3 in December and opened 2023 with a victory at Chicago to pull within four points of second-place Toronto in the Atlantic Division.

    The Lightning also pulled into fourth place in the power rankings on the strength of two third-place votes and three fourth-place votes from the six-person B/R panel. Boston got five first-place votes and a second from the panel, and the remainder of the top five is composed of Carolina in second, the Maple Leafs in third and the Vegas Golden Knights in fifth.

    Our panel awarded 32 points for first place and one point for 32nd in coming up with the weekly list. A team's ranking from last week and its subsequent move are listed alongside each updated placement. Scroll through to see where your favorites landed, and drop a thought or two of your own in the comments.

Nos. 32-26: Blackhawks, Ducks, Blue Jackets, Sharks, Coyotes, Canadiens, Flyers

1 of 6

    EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 29: San Jose Sharks Defenceman Ryan Merkley (6) in action in the first period during the Edmonton Oilers game versus the San Jose Sharks on April 29, 2022 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, AB. (Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    32. Chicago Blackhawks (Last Week: 32 / Move: 0)

    A Tuesday loss to Tampa Bay was Chicago's fifth straight and 13th in 15 games since the start of December. It didn't help that Patrick Kane left after two periods with a lower-body injury.

    31. Anaheim Ducks (Last Week: 30 / Move: -1)

    The Ducks lost three of four (one in OT) to begin a 10-game homestand that'll run through mid-January. Anaheim won't leave Southern California until a six-game trip begins in Pittsburgh on January 16.

    30. Columbus Blue Jackets (Last Week: 31 / Move: +1)

    A Tuesday loss to Ottawa was the Blue Jackets' eighth straight on the road, dropping their away record to a league-worst 2-12-1. "You don't give yourself a chance; that's the problem," coach Brad Larsen said.

    29. San Jose Sharks (Last Week: 29 / Move: 0)

    Former first-round pick Ryan Merkley, selected 21st overall in 2018, made Sharks news by going public with a trade request. The 22-year-old defenseman has six points in 39 career games on the NHL level.

    28. Arizona Coyotes (Last Week: 27 / Move: -1)

    A trip to Florida to begin a four-game road swing yielded matching 5-3 losses to the Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Coyotes have won six of 24 road games compared to seven of 12 at home.

    27. Montréal Canadiens (Last Week: 26 / Move: -1)

    The Canadiens' brief flirtation with the .500 mark is long gone thanks to a six-game skid in which they've been outscored 32-11. Also, Montréal has killed just 12 of 24 power plays in their last seven games.

    26. Philadelphia Flyers (Last Week: 28 / Move: +2)

    Three wins in California matched the Flyers' longest streak of 2022-23—a 3-0 start to the season. "I feel like we're getting back to how we were playing at the start of the year," forward Travis Konecny said.

Nos. 25-21: Canucks, Panthers, Senators, Blues, Predators

2 of 6

    OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 03: Ottawa Senators Goalie Anton Forsberg (31) hangs onto a glove save during first period National Hockey League action between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators on January 3, 2023, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    25. Vancouver Canucks (Last Week: 21 / Move: -4)

    A Tuesday loss to the visiting New York Islanders was the third in a row for the Canucks, who are below .500 (7-10-1) at home but 9-8-2 on the road. They'll begin a five-game trip on Sunday in Winnipeg.

    24. Florida Panthers (Last Week: 24 / Move: 0)

    It's not been the smoothest of sailing for Matthew Tkachuk in his initial season with the Panthers, but the winger spiked with his first 2022-23 hat trick—and fourth of his career—on Tuesday at Arizona.

    23. Ottawa Senators (Last Week: 25 / Move: +2)

    Anton Forsberg's shutout of Columbus on Tuesday was the second of his NHL career and made him the second Ottawa goalie of the season to record one after Cam Talbot did so on December 12.

    22. St. Louis Blues (Last Week: 22 / Move: 0)

    The Blues were without stalwarts Ryan O'Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko because of injury but still managed to kick off a four-game road trip with a 6-5 defeat of the red-hot Maple Leafs in Toronto.

    21. Nashville Predators (Last Week: 23 / Move: +2)

    The Predators got goals from six different players for the second time in a week in a Tuesday defeat of Montréal. "When you have that," coach John Hynes said, "it's a recipe to be able to win regularly."

Nos. 20-16: Oilers, Red Wings, Flames, Sabres, Penguins

3 of 6

    WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 3: Tage Thompson #72 of the Buffalo Sabres celebrates a goal in the second period of a game against the Buffalo Sabres at Capital One Arena on January 3, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images)
    John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images

    20. Edmonton Oilers (Last Week: 16 / Move: -4)

    A loss to Seattle was the fifth in a row at home for the Oilers, who scored twice before giving up five. Stuart Skinner was pulled in the second period and has allowed four goals in three of his last six starts.

    19. Detroit Red Wings (Last Week: 20 / Move: +1)

    Detroit won three of four heading into Wednesday night after a 2-5-2 skid from Dec. 3-19. Meanwhile, forward Jakub Vrána was waived Tuesday after playing just two of the team's first 35 games.

    18. Calgary Flames (Last Week: 19 / Move: +1)

    A 5-1-1 stretch for the Flames was at least temporarily snuffed out by a loss at Winnipeg on Tuesday, and Calgary will play once at home before a five-game trip that'll run from Jan. 8-16.

    17. Buffalo Sabres (Last Week 18 / Move: +1)

    On Tuesday, the Sabres wore "Love for 3" shirts to support Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who remains in critical condition after he suffered a cardiac arrest after collapsing during the game Monday night. In the Sabres' win over Washington, Tage Thompson climbed into second in the league's goal-scoring race (30) while scoring a hat trick.

    16. Pittsburgh Penguins (Last Week: 8 / Move: -8)

    A loss to Boston in the Winter Classic was the fifth in a row for the Penguins, who've plunged to sixth in the Metropolitan Division and two points behind the Islanders for the second Eastern wild-card spot.

Nos. 15-11: Islanders, Avalanche, Capitals, Kraken, Wild

4 of 6

    WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 03: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals cannot control a loose puck against the Buffalo Sabres during the third period at Capital One Arena on January 3, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    15. New York Islanders (Last Week: 17 / Move: +2)

    Coach Lane Lambert's line-juggling paid off with a six-goal performance in a win at Vancouver on Tuesday that made it four victories in five games and a split of the first two games of four-game road trip.

    14. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 10 / Move: -4)

    Nathan MacKinnon's goal against Vegas on Monday was his first since December 1. He'd played just three games in the meantime because of injury and has 36 points in 25 games this season.

    13. Washington Capitals (Last Week: 12 / Move: -1)

    Alex Ovechkin's two goals on Tuesday made Buffalo's Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen his 167th goaltending victim, but the 5-4 loss was Washington's fourth in seven OT games alongside an 0-2 shootout mark.

    12. Seattle Kraken (Last Week: 13 / Move: +1)

    The Kraken's rally for a win in Edmonton on Tuesday not only came in the first game of a seven-game road trip but also gave them 10 road wins on the season, just one off their total in 2021-22.

    11. Minnesota Wild (Last Week: 9 / Move: -2)

    An 8-2 run over 10 games got the Wild back into the Central Division mix and within eight points of first-place Dallas heading into Wednesday's games. They've allowed two goals or fewer in each of the wins.

Nos. 10-6: Kings, Devils, Rangers, Jets, Stars

5 of 6

    WINNIPEG, CANADA - JANUARY 3: Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck #37 of the Winnipeg Jets keeps an eye on the play as he guards the net during first period action against the Calgary Flames at the Canada Life Centre on January 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

    10. Los Angeles Kings (Last Week: 15 / Move: +5)

    Pheonix Copley continued to be among the league's biggest surprises of 2022-23, making 28 saves to defeat Dallas and become the fifth goalie in Kings history to win seven straight games.

    9. New Jersey Devils (Last Week: 5 / Move: -4)

    The Devils lost their first January game after a 4-7-2 run in December cost them first place in the Metropolitan Division. They entered Wednesday's games a point ahead of the third-place Rangers.

    8. New York Rangers (Last Week: 14 / Move: +6)

    Four players had two points for the Rangers in a defeat of Carolina that ended the Hurricanes' win streak. "To get a win against these guys," forward Vincent Trocheck said, "it means a lot for our club."

    7. Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 11 / Move: +4)

    A 33-save performance from Connor Hellebuyck not only helped the Jets to a third straight win Tuesday against Calgary but also lifted him to second in the league with a .928 save percentage.

    6. Dallas Stars (Last Week: 4 / Move: -2)

    The Stars will host Florida on Sunday before five of six on the road that'll take them to New York, Vegas, San Jose and Los Angeles. Their 12-6-3 road record was fourth-best in the league before Wednesday.

Nos. 5-1: Golden Knights, Lightning, Maple Leafs, Hurricanes, Bruins

6 of 6

    TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 3: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his goal against the St. Louis Blues during the second period at the Scotiabank Arena on January 3, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

    5. Vegas Golden Knights (Last Week: 7 / Move: +2)

    No formal announcement has been made, but Jack Eichel is no longer among players on injured reserve, according to the league's media site. He has 29 points in 27 games but hasn't played since December 9.

    4. Tampa Bay Lightning (Last Week: 6 / Move: +2)

    A victory in Chicago on Tuesday was not only the fourth straight for the streaking Lightning, now tied for seventh overall, but also their 12th comeback in 2022-23—tied for the league lead with Edmonton.

    3. Toronto Maple Leafs (Last Week: 3 / Move: 0)

    Auston Matthews' setup of a William Nylander goal on Tuesday against St. Louis got him to 500 career points and made him the fastest in franchise history—445 games—to reach the milestone.

    2. Carolina Hurricanes (Last Week: 1 / Move: -1)

    A 5-3 loss to the Rangers finally ended things for the Hurricanes, who'd won 11 in a row and earned at least a standings point in 17 straight. They'll try to restart things during a Thursday visit by Nashville.

    1. Boston Bruins (Last Week: 1 / Move: 0)

    It's 11 straight games with at least a standings point in the latest hot streak for the Bruins, who defeated Pittsburgh in the Winter Classic at Fenway Park to get their home record to a remarkable 19-0-3.

    Statistics accurate through Tuesday, January 3.