With just three weeks away from the trade deadline, it is now time to separate the contenders from the pretenders. The NHL playoffs will be starting in a little bit in over two months. It is going to be an interesting race from now until April.
Here are this week's top 10 teams in the NHL.
#10 Pittsburgh Penguins
Despite beating the San Jose Sharks 5-2 (Tuesday) and the Washington Capitals 7-4 (Friday) after the all-star break, they lost 3-1 to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday Night. Pittsburgh's 27 out of 29 wins this season have come when they have scored three goals or more in a game. Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Sidney Crosby are on fire right now. Pittsburgh's record so far this season is 29-22-3 with 61 points.
Last week's ranking: 9
#9 New Jersey Devils
The Devils have won three straight games out of the break including Saturday Night's 3-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Keith Kinkaid has done a solid job between the pipes with Cory Schneider sidelined. Kinkaid's save percentage since the break is .928. They are getting contributions from different players night in and night out. New Jersey's record so far this season is 27-16-8 with 62 points.
Last week's ranking: not ranked
#8 Washington Capitals
The Capitals defense has given up 14 goals in the first three games in the second half of the season. It doesn't look promising and they need to fix that up. Washington has scored 12 goals since the break, but they lost two out of three games (W vs Philadelphia 5-3 on Wednesday, L at Pittsburgh 7-4 on Friday, and L vs Vegas 4-3 on Sunday).
The Capitals lead in the Metropolitan Division isn't large. They are only up three points on the Devils and four on the Penguins. Washington's record so far this season is 30-17-5 with 65 points.
Last week's ranking: 7
#7 Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto was shutdown in Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins. The Maple Leafs are still playing well and rookie defenseman Justin Holl scored a goal in his first two career games against the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers. He was scratched against the Boston Bruins.
Frederik Andersen had a 28-save shutout in a 5-0 win against the New York Islanders on Wednesday and Curtis McElhinney had a 25-save shutout in a 4-0 win against the New York Rangers on Thursday. Toronto's record so far this season is 30-19-5 with 65 points.
Last week's ranking: 8
#6 St. Louis Blues
The Blues seem to be more comfortable as of late. They shutout the Buffalo Sabres 1-0 on Saturday Night and the goaltending has been a lot better. Hutton had 27 saves in that game and that was his third shutout of the season. St. Louis has only given up 134 goals so far this season. The Blues record so far this season is 32-19-3 with 67 points.
Last week's ranking: 5
#5 Nashville Predators
Nashville is 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and they are on a mission to possibly win it all. Pekka Rinne continues to be a stud between the pipes. They are grinding away and there style continues to work. Nashville's record so far this season is 31-12-7 with 69 points.
Last week's ranking: 3
#4 Boston Bruins
The Bruins continue to be one of the best teams in the NHL. Boston has scored 164 times this season and they have only given up 121 goals. Brad Marchand will return from his suspension this week most likely against the New York Rangers on the road on Wednesday. Rask is playing lights out as of late.
In his last five games, his save percentage is .951. His record so far this season is 21-8-4 with a .925 save percentage and a 2.09 GAA, along with two shutouts. Boston's record so far this season is 31-11-8 with 70 points.
Last week's ranking: 4
#3 Winnipeg Jets
The Jets are continuing to fly high and they play in one of the toughest divisions in the NHL. Blake Wheeler continues to lead by example. Winnipeg won a rare game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday 3-1 without Connor Hellebuyck starting.
Michael Hutchinson started that game and he made 23 saves in that game. Maybe Hutchinson could be a good backup to Hellebuyck for the rest of the season. Winnipeg's record so far this season is 31-13-9 with 71 points.
Last week's ranking: 2
#2 Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights continue to make headlines for the right reasons in their inaugural season. Different players continue to chip in every night and they play with a ton of speed. Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 390th career win in Vegas's 4-3 victory on Sunday against the Washington Capitals. William Karlsson leads the Golden Knights in goals scored with 27 and Jonathan Marchessault leads the Golden Knights in points with 50.
Last week's ranking: 6
#1 Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay is currently 2-1 on there Western Canadian road trip. They scored seven goals against the Calgary Flames on Thursday and Tampa Bay scored four goals against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. Tampa Bay has scored 187 goals so far this season which is the most in the league.
They have given up 134 goals so far this season. Tampa Bay's goal differential is 53 which is still the best in the league. Kucherov has 66 points so far this season (first in league) and Stamkos has 60 points (fifth in league) so far this season. The Lightning's record so far this season 36-13-8 with 75.
Last week's ranking: 1Published 06 Feb 2018, 01:08 IST