NHL Top 10 Teams

by Glenn Kaplan
by Glenn Kaplan

There is just two weeks to go until the NHL All-Star Break. Teams will look to end the first-half of the season on a high note before the second-half of the season begins. Who are the Top 10 teams in the NHL?

10. Boston Bruins: The Bruins have won five straight games and they are looking like a legit Stanley Cup contender once again. Boston is currently the number three seed in the Atlantic Division. Their record so far this season is 25-14-4 with 54 points. They are just two points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the number two seed in the Atlantic. The Boston Bruins have a goal differential of 16. The first line of Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak continues to play well, but the roles players have started to step up. Tuukka Rask is playing much better in net. His record is 12-8-2 with a .920 save percentage and a 2.43 GAA, along with one shutout. The Boston Bruins have a big game at home on Thursday night against the Washington Capitals.

9. Washington Capitals: The Capitals have won two in a row, but they have a big game on the road against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. Washington is only two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Washington Capitals record so far this season is 26-12-4 with 56 points. They have a goal differential of 25. Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie each scored two goals for Washington in a 5-3 win at home on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. In 31 games so far this season, Oshie has scored 13 goals and recorded five assists. His plus/minus is 9.

8. Vegas Golden Knights: The Golden Knights have won seven consecutive games. During their winning streak, most of their wins have been against non-playoff teams. Vegas has taken advantage of a weak schedule as of late. They sit in second place in the Pacific Division with a 27-15-4 record with 58 points. Marc-Andre Fleury is the backbone of this hockey team. His record so far this season is 25-10-4 with a .912 save percentage and a 2.46 GAA, along with six shutouts.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs are starting to feel the heat. Toronto all of a sudden only has a two point lead on the Boston Bruins for second place in the Atlantic Division and they will play each other on Saturday night in Toronto. The Toronto Maple Leafs record so far this season is 27-13-2 with 56 points. Even though they have one of the best goal differentials in the NHL at 35 so far this season, they are only seventh on this ranking because of how good other teams have been up to this point.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins eight-game winning streak was snapped at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night at home 5-3. They have lost 10 straight games to Chicago and Pittsburgh has not beaten them since March 30, 2014. The Pittsburgh Penguins got back in the win column on Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers (5-1). Tanner Pearson scored another goal for them in that game and he continues to play well for them ever since being traded from the Los Angeles Kings. Pearson has scored six goals and recorded five assists, in 44 games so far this season. His plus/minus is -12. Pittsburgh will have a five-game road trip before the All-Star Break. They sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with a 24-13-6 record and 54 points. The Pittsburgh Penguins are just two points behind the Washington Capitals. Pittsburgh's goal differential is 29.

5. San Jose Sharks: The Sharks are starting to become a lethal team as they have won four in a row. San Jose has scored 20 goals in the past four games. One of their wins was against the Tampa Bay Lightning at home 5-2 on Saturday night. Evander Kane and Joonas Donskoi each scored two goals in that game. The San Jose Sharks have excellent depth and they are tough to play against. When Martin Jones is on his game in net, San Jose is even more difficult to beat. The Sharks will be tested on the road on Thursday night against the Vegas Golden Knights. They are just one point back of them and the San Jose Sharks are just three points back of the Calgary Flames for first in the Pacific Division. San Jose's record so far this season is 25-13-7 with 57 points. Their goal differential is 22.

4. Nashville Predators: The Predators have won three consecutive games, including a 4-3 win on the road in overtime on Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Filip Forsberg scored twice in that game, including the game winner and it shows Nashville is a much different team on the ice with him. Even though he won't have the stats to win the Hart Trophy, Forsberg should be considered for the award because of how valuable he is to this team. They would be a playoff team without him, but the Nashville Predators are a serious Stanley Cup contender when he is healthy. Pekka Rinne continues to be on and off. Juuse Saros continues to be a reliable backup and this team is starting to get healthy. Nashville sits in first place in the Central Division with a 27-15-3 record with 57 points. They have played three more games than second place Winnipeg Jets. The Predators have a goal differential of 27.

3. Winnipeg Jets: The Jets sit in second place in the Central Division with a 27-13-2 record with 56 points and they are one point behind the Nashville Predators, but Winnipeg has three games in hand. They have a goal differential of 26. The Winnipeg Jets have a big game at home this upcoming Tuesday night against the Vegas Golden Knights. Winnipeg has depth all over the ice. Connor Hellebuyck still gives this team the best chance to win between the pipes.

2. Calgary Flames: The Flames have the best record in the Western Conference at 28-13-4 with 60 points, but the Vegas Golden Knights and the San Jose Sharks are right behind them in the standings. Calgary being good isn't a surprise, but having the best record in the west up to this point is. They didn't make it to the playoffs last season and the Calgary Flames are looking like a serious Stanley Cup contender. They have not been to the finals since the 2003-2004 season and Calgary lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games that season. The Flames are a very balanced team and Bill Peters could be one of the favorites to win coach of the year in the NHL.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning are the best team by far in the NHL. Their record is 33-8-2 with 68 points. Tampa Bay has a goal differential of 56. Nikita Kucherov has been playing at a ridiculous rate this season. In 43 games, he has scored 21 goals and recorded 50 assists. His plus/minus is 12. Kucherov could possibly run away with the scoring title, Hart Trophy, and Ted Lindsay Award. At the rate he is going right now, Nikita Kucherov could easily reach 130 points this season and that hasn't been done in a long time. He is the most important player on this team and Kucherov is only 25 years old. The rest of the team is benefiting from his elite play.