In this week’s NHL Power Rankings the Vegas Golden Knights remain in the top spot, followed closely by Carolina, Colorado, and Tampa Bay.
All four of those teams should be considered legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, but there is another contender that is kind of lurking underneath the radar that should not be taken lightly.
That team is the Bruins.
They have been one of the league’s best teams since the trade deadline, putting together a 9-2-0 record since acquiring Taylor Hall, Curtis Lazar, and Mike Reilly. Those additions have helped solve some of the Bruins’ biggest concerns. Specifically, the addition of Hall and what it has done to their second line alongside David Krejci and Craig Smith. Since that line has been put together it has instantly become one of the league’s best trios, controlling the pace of games and outscoring teams by an 11-1 margin during 5-on-5 play. It has given Boston a much-needed second scoring line to complement the Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak line, and given the team some real balance.
Add in a Norris level defender in Charlie McAvoy and outstanding goaltending depth, and you have a team that is going to be a nightmare for anybody in a best-of-seven series.
They currently sit in the seventh spot in this week’s NHL Power Rankings, but are definitely on the rise.
Where does your team sit this week?
To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!
1. Vegas Golden Knights. Marc-Andre Fleury is going to take over sole possession of third place on the all-time wins list. Patrick Roy in second spot is within sight.
2. Carolina Hurricanes. The play of Alex Nedeljkovic in goal has been a significant development this season.
3. Colorado Avalanche. The biggest question for them right now is getting a healthy lineup for the playoffs.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning. Giving Andrei Vasilevskiy some games off here at the end is smart. He has played a ton of hockey over the past year and they will need him in the playoffs.
[Related: In competitive Central, Lightning are not only heavyweight anymore]
5. Pittsburgh Penguins. Jeff Carter has proven to be an incredible fit so far.
6. Florida Panthers. Is it an overreaction to suggest that Sergei Bobrovsky might be the third best goalie on the roster going into the playoffs? Chris Driedger has been better for two years and Spencer Knight looks really good so far.
7. Boston Bruins. The rest of the East Division can not be happy that they were able to find a second scoring line.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs. They have three games against Montreal this week in what should be a fascinating first round preview.
9. Washington Capitals. The big question here is which goalie do they open the playoffs with. Would you have imagined at the start of the season that Vitek Vanecek could have been the answer to that question?
10. Minnesota Wild. They keep winning, so I feel like I am underrating them, but I also do not know how they stack up with the elite teams in the league. They are really good. But are they Stanley Cup good?
11. Edmonton Oilers. Connor McDavid needs 13 points in six games to reach the 100-point mark in a 56-game season. He can do it.
12. New York Islanders. You never want to bet against a Barry Trotz team with great goaltending in the playoffs, but their struggles against the top-three teams in the division (only nine wins in 23 games against Pittsburgh, Washington, and Boston) should be some concern.
13. Nashville Predators. They are in the driver’s seat for the fourth playoff spot in the Central Division and they have Juuse Saros to thank for it.
[Your 2020-21 NHL on NBC TV schedule]
14. St. Louis Blues. With nine out of a possible 10 points over their past five games they have finally taken control of the race for the fourth playoff spot in the West Division.
15. New York Rangers. A good young team with great talent that is stuck in the wrong division this season.
16. Dallas Stars. They are just 5-13 in games this season that go beyond regulation. Imagine how much different their season looks with just a little bit more luck in overtime and the shootout. If even just two of those games go a different way they would still be in control for a playoff spot.
17. Montreal Canadiens. Tyler Toffoli has been one of the best offseason pickups of the year. He might score 30 goals in a shortened season.
18. Winnipeg Jets. They have won just five of their past 14 games and enter the week on a six-game losing streak.
19. Calgary Flames. Curious to see what changes get made in Calgary after this season. Disappointing offense, big money in a goalie that has not entirely solved the problem.
20. Chicago Blackhawks. They have some interesting pieces at the top of the lineup, including some intriguing young players, but there are still a lot of holes here long-term.
21. Ottawa Senators. Their start was awful, winning just two of their first 15 games. Since then they have been a very respectable 17-15-4 in the 36 games that followed. There is young talent here. They have not quit on this season. You can see something building here.
22. Arizona Coyotes. They are only three points behind St. Louis, but the Coyotes only have three games remaining on their schedule. The Blues have six. Even if Arizona wins all three it would need St. Louis to go 1-5 the rest of the way. Probably not going to happen.
23. New Jersey Devils. They have some impressive young talent here and are swimming in salary cap space this offseason. Could be a team to watch here very shortly.
[Related: What went wrong this season for Devils]
24. Philadelphia Flyers. With a big addition on defense and a reset Carter Hart they could be really good next season.
25. Vancouver Canucks. Do not read too much into how they finish the season with this schedule. Do read into how top heavy the team is and how tight the salary cap situation is.
26. Los Angeles Kings. Quinton Byfield is going to be the player to watch the rest of the way. Nice glimpse of the Kings’ future.
27. San Jose Sharks. This team seems to be a long way from contending again.
28. Detroit Red Wings. Jakub Vrana has brought some excitement to the roster, but the rest of the roster still has some real weaknesses. They have four goals in their past five games.
[Related: Jakub Vrana adding excitement to Red Wings lineup]
29. Anaheim Ducks. Sending Ryan Miller out with a win in his final home start is a nice highlight for the season.
30. Buffalo Sabres. They are better since the coaching change, but still not very good.
31. Columbus Blue Jackets. Just two regulation wins in their most recent 27 games.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.