#1 Boston Bruins
After a couple of weeks not being on the top spot, the Bruins return here. The consistent power play and excellent core have to lead this team to be the best team in the League. With all that has been going on for both the Bruins and the Blues, it is within the realm of possibility that we could see a rematch of last years Stanley Cup Final.
#2 Washington Capitals
Even a slight slip up at the top of a league can and often will kick you off the number 1 spot. It only took losing two games back to back to do this for the Capitals. For all the Caps fans out there be happy with your team, they too are cup contenders. Losing to the Rangers by a score of 4-1 on Wednesday night hockey was a little surprising, although not a big deal.
#3 New York Islanders
The Islanders are still going strong and are still hunting for that division title. It’s all been done by way of the defense. The team is simply lockdown. It is hard to score on them. What happens when the other team has a power play? Well, the Isles have that taken care of too with a top-notch penalty kill. I would like to see a few areas of the team develop but as the old saying goes, don’t fix what’s not broken.
#4 Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers are great. There is no disputing that. I do have one massive concern with Edmonton. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are carrying the team at this point. If the Oilers can’t keep up depth scoring there is no way the team can stay on top of the Pacific. Honestly, the Oilers are getting carried by three-four guys depending on how you look at it. The playoffs are coming and this is a great bunch of players. Not a great team. If you can’t fix that, you will be in and out of the playoffs before you know it.
#5 Carolina Hurricanes
Good special teams, good offense, good defense, well-rounded team as of now. Not much more to say except keep doing what you’re doing.
#6 Dallas Stars
Now, this was the kind of team we were expecting coming into this year. Ben Bishop Returned to form and the team found it’s identity in defense again. It had looked as though the Stars would miss the playoffs entirely but then the Stars rose to their expectations. In short, they are 9-0-1 in their last ten games and Dallas has rattled off 7 straight wins. The cup may be within reach, they just need to keep pushing forward.
#7 Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes are an elite team. Specifically in the back end. With Darcy Kuemper proving himself worthy of the Vezina Trophy and a stud defense, Arizona will likely end their playoff drought. Anything is a step forward for them after so many years at the bottom.
#8 St. Louis Blues
St. Louis’s special teams have done well, moving the team forward. More importantly than the special teams has been Jordan Binnington. He has returned to playoff form. The Blues are back to what the were. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that they could repeat. As difficult as this would be it is possible.
#9 Winnipeg Jets
If you looked at team statistics alone you might think the Jets are a bad team. Look beyond stats and you will see that this team is good. Winnipeg is going to do everything in their power to avoid being the new Minnesota Wild. To do this they need to win another playoff series. In their division, this will be very tough although still possible.
#10 Tampa Bay Lightning
It took you much, much longer than it should have to be on this list but better late than never. The power play is something to behold and your offense is currently the best in the league. After a 7-3-0 stretch, the Lightning has begun to dig themselves out of a slow start.
#11 Vancouver Canucks
All around a good team. That is if you were to eliminate the defense. Two 3-0s and now 8 goals against in one game. I am not really concerned about this fact because this squad has some good points despite its bad one. Plus the defense isn’t always this bad
Even still Vancouver needs to find either a way to play around their D’s bad moments or get one-two defensemen before the trade deadline.
#12 Florida Panthers
I know what people are going to say, “but the Panthers are second in the Atlantic.” Here is why they are not higher, they have played more games than anyone in the top 4 of the Atlantic, there the only team in that same top 4 with a negative difference in goals and finally, their backend has sucked as of late. With that aside, there is one really good point this team has, offense. The team is number 3 in that category right now. So they aren’t doing half bad, just not as good as others.
#13 Pittsburgh Penguins
So you lost your best player to injury in Sidney Crosby. It’s over right? That is yet to be determined. The Pens have won their last two games. These were against weak opponents so it is hard to say if Pittsburgh is still ok. If there is any hope for this squad they have to go.500 at least until Crosby comes back. They are doing this now so if they keep it up there shouldn’t be a problem. It will be hard to sustain that without Sidney though.
#14 Colorado Avalanche
With a potent attack leading the way, the Avs have life. The only problem, injuries. Injuries have plagued the team to the point at which a Stanley Cup may be out of reach. I do still fully expect them to make the playoffs but there are no more guarantees to anything. To survive long term Colorado must get healthy. otherwise, a first-round playoff loss is almost inevitable.
#15 Montreal Canadiens
Losing 8-1? 6-5? 5-2? Do you even know what defense means? Recently, the defense has been a disaster. The penalty kill could also use some significant help. Montreal has lost four games straight and the Lightning is one point away from tying them for third place in the Atlantic. If you want to keep that playoff spot you will have to fight for it. You have a hard schedule coming here soon so the odds are against you. All things considered, it’s not looking so good for this original six team.
#16 Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers penalty kill and defense are getting it done in Philly. The team does have it’s own issues. Even with this, it hasn’t stopped them. It’s not like the Flyers are great or anything, however, you can’t ignore the fact that they are a decent team. Whether they are playoff-bound at this point is uncertain. No matter which way it goes this is nice progress from last year.
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