(All statistics updated the morning of 12/17/19)
#1 Washington Capitals
24 wins, a number 3 offense and a top-10 defense are what makes the Capitals so unstoppable. Not to mention an always outstanding power play and a solid penalty kill. The only real competitor for first place is the Boston Bruins and the Caps beat them last week 3-2. There is no questioning who is number 1 in the NHL coming into Christmas.
#2 Boston Bruins
Great in nearly every single category, the Bruins are the team to beat in the Atlantic division. With their top line producing in spades and a solid goaltending-defense combination the Bruins are looking to make it back to the finals this year with a very different result.
#3 St. Louis Blues
The Blues and Bruins are now side by side in the power rankings and we continue to get closer to the possibility of a Stanley Cup rematch. The Bruins should have an easier road to the Finals than they did last year while the Blues may have a harder one, at least in their division. Regardless of the circumstances, the Blues have a serious chance of another deep playoff run, Cup or not.
#4 New York Islanders
What good coaching and some effort can do to a team is just unreal. For the Islanders this has helped them become a top-5 team in the NHL and minus needing some offensive improvement, this is an outstanding team with a chance for a long playoff run.
#5 Carolina Hurricanes
All around solid. Again, not much to say here but good job. The only question remaining is, are they all around good enough for a Stanley Cup? If not, as long as they can keep their main core around they should be able to try for a Stanley Cup for a while. Even if that doesn’t work out they could always try to additionally bolster a part of the team.
#6 Colorado Avalanche
Colorado has one heck of an offense and their defense has been improving, although it still has its shortcomings. If the Avs could get healthy the may be able to take the number 1 spot in the division away from the Blues. That is if and only if they get healthy. Then they will have a shot at it.
#7 Arizona Coyotes
As if an incredible defensive core and goaltender wasn’t enough the Coyotes are going to work on their only really weak area in the offense by trading for Taylor Hall. The former Hart Trophy winner will be an excellent addition to a struggling offense and although he won’t solve all their problems, it is still a step in the right direction.
#8 Dallas Stars
The fight for playoff positioning has begun. The Stars are a good team, the only problem is they are currently losing that playoff positioning battle. If they want a good chance at a deep playoff run they will need to win some more games and at least get 3rd place in their division. Although, the Stars even when ranked low, have found a way to rise to the occasion. Perhaps they will find a way again.
#9 Winnipeg Jets
This team has the unfortunate issue of being in the hardest division in the NHL. They are in the thick of the playoff seeding battle. The Jets have a Vezina caliber goalie and a very solid defense. I would like to see more from the offense, especially if the Jets want home ice advantage come playoff time.
#10 Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins are proving yet again, they don’t need (Sidney) Crosby to succeed. This is really impressive from the team that has had him for so many years. Crosby started skating by himself recently so we may see a return to play soon but it is still up in the air. On a different note the Pens have more than likely found their new long term starting goaltender in Tristan Jarry. With a .937 save percentage and a 1.92 goals against average he is proving he is one of the best goalies in the league.
#11 Edmonton Oilers
Some Oilers fans were angry that the organization didn’t acquire their former player Taylor Hall by trade. Before you get too upset though, I would take a closer look at what your team really needs. If you really want to know what’s wrong with Edmonton look at the goals per game average. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisitle have done their best to keep the Oilers afloat and they have done very well considering there are only two of them, however, the depth scoring is so bad that the Oilers offense is actually 18th place in the league. What you need is multiple depth scorers, not another star player. If you had gotten Hall your team would have been better but it wouldn’t have solved your problems. You really want to do better, get some depth on the lineup.
#12 Golden Knights
The Golden Knights are truly underachieving with all the talent that is on this roster, they should be doing better. Both the offense and the defense could use some improvement. On a good note the goaltending from Fleury has been sound and your special teams have been a success as well.
The Flames have had a resurgence since firing head coach Bill Peters. This may be short term or long term success we just don’t know yet but it is certainly interesting to see this go down. The Flames still have several issues and a long, tough road yet to go but there is life again in Calgary.
#14 Florida Panthers
The Panthers are lead by the number 4 offense in the league. That and the special teams are the only things keeping Florida alive because their D and their goaltending has been an utter mess. Turns out Bobrovsky hasn’t held up his end of that massive contract. Just goes to show you, not every good player can be good on multiple teams.
This is that awkward point in a franchise where you have just enough talent to compete but not enough to really go anywhere. The Flyers are 5th in their division right now and battling for a wild card spot. There is a decent chance they could get one. I am not sure what good this would really do though, I don’t see them beating Washington or Boston. Hey though, it’s the NHL, you never know!
#16 Buffalo Sabres
Don’t let the division rankings fool you. Despite Buffalo being 2nd place in their division, the Sabres are only a decent squad, not a good or great one. The moment Buffalo plays a real team in the playoffs they will be exposed and it will be all over for them. They are an intriguing squad nonetheless. They are not ready for any sort of extended playoff run.