NHL Top 10 Teams Entering the Second Half of the Season

by Glenn Kaplan
by Glenn Kaplan

The first-half of the NHL season is officially over. A lot of teams need this break to recuperate and get ready for the second-half. The NHL All-Star Skills Competition will be on Friday night in San Jose. The All-Star Game will be on Saturday night. The NHL second-half will begin on Monday night. Who are the Top 10 teams entering the second-half of the NHL season?

10. Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins have been off since Saturday night. They lost to the Vegas Golden Knights 7-3 on the road last weekend and they beat the Arizona Coyotes on the road 3-2 last Friday night. Phil Kessel scored the game-winning overtime goal in that game. He has scored 20 goals and recorded 33 assists, in 48 games so far this season. His plus/minus is -14.

Pittsburgh hasn't lost much ground in the standings being off over the past week. They sit in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division with a 26-16-6 record with 58 points. The Pittsburgh Penguins are only two points behind the Washington Capitals for second in the Metro. They are five points back of the New York Islanders for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh will have four games next week and two of those games will be against the Tampa Bay Lightning next Wednesday night at home and the Toronto Maples Leafs next Saturday night on the road.

9. Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets will be in an interesting spot heading into the second-half of the season. Will Sergei Bobrovsky get dealt? Joonas Korpisalo has played in net a little bit more often and his teammates are starting to trust him. Columbus has one of the most underrated offenses in the entire league. They have scored seven goals in several games this season. The Columbus Blue Jackets sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division with a 28-17-3 record with 59 points.

8. Vegas Golden Knights: The Golden **Knights continue to struggle against teams who are legitimate contenders. Vegas lost 2-1 at home on Wednesday night against the Nashville Predators. The Vegas Golden Knights need to make a trade. If they continue to stay pat, Vegas could very well not get out of the first round. The west is weak and if they were to go on a slump, it wouldn't be a big deal. The Golden Knights sit in third place in the Pacific Division with a 29-19-4 record with 62 points. They have a goal differential of 17.

Marc-Andre Fleury recorded 25 saves on Wednesday night and Max Pacioretty scored the lone goal for Vegas. He has scored 15 goals and recorded 13 assists, in 39 games so far this season. His plus/minus is -4. Alex Tuch leads the team in scoring with 40 points. Fleury's record so far this season is 27-14-4 with a .911 save percentage and a 2.49 GAA, along with six shutouts.

7. New York Islanders: The Islanders might be the biggest surprise of the first-half. Barry Trotz has done a tremendous job coaching this team. New York doesn't have a lot of great players, but Trotz is getting the most out of them. Mathew Barzal leads the team in points with 45. Anders Lee and Josh Bailey each have 37 points. Robin Lehner has been impressive between the pipes for the New York Islanders so far this season. His record is 15-7-4 with a .931 save percentage and a 2.02 GAA, along with three shutouts.

New York sits in first place in the Metropolitan Division. Their record is 29-15-5 with 63 points. They have a goal differential of 25. This is the first time in the past few years that the Islanders look organized and structured. The Islanders will be tested out of the break against the Tampa Bay Lightning next Friday night at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island.

6. San Jose Sharks: The Sharks won a crazy game on the road on Tuesday night against the Washington Capitals in overtime 7-6. Tomas Hertl recorded a hat trick and Evander Kane scored another two goals in that contest. The defense and goaltending continue to be shaky. It will be a major question mark heading into the second-half of the season. Will San Jose be the team that trades for Sergei Bobrovsky? It seems like Martin Jones has lost his edge. Jones did record 33 saves against Washington, but he also gave up six goals. His record is 23-10-4 with a .895 save percentage and a 2.98 GAA, along with one shutout.

Tomas Hertl has scored 22 goals and recorded 23 assists, in 47 games so far this season. His plus/minus is 4. Brent Burns has recorded 46 assists and Erik Karlsson has recorded 40 assists so far this season. Burns has scored nine goals and Karlsson has only scored three goals. Brent Burns's plus/minus is 8 and Erik Karlsson's plus/minus is 5. The San Jose Sharks sit in second place in the Pacific Division with a 29-16-7 record with 65 points. They have a goal differential of 20.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs took down a struggling Washington Capitals team at home on Wednesday night 6-3. Nazem Kadri scored a hat trick. Mitchell Marner and Auston Matthews scored again. Marner not being in the All-Star Game is absurd. He has scored 20 goals and recorded 42 assists, in 49 games so far this season. His plus/minus is 17. John Tavares has scored 30 goals and recorded 24 assists, in 49 games so far this season. His plus/minus is 13. Morgan Reilly has scored 13 goals and recorded 37 assists, in 49 games so far this season. His plus/minus is 23. Auston Matthews has scored 21 goals and recorded 22 assists, in 35 games so far this season.His plus/minus rating is even.

Kadri has scored 13 goals and recorded 19 assists, in 49 games so far this season. His plus/minus rating is even. The point is that Toronto is loaded with offensive talent and they can score at any moment. If the season ended right now, the Toronto Maple Leafs would play the Montreal Canadiens in the postseason. Toronto sits in second place in the Atlantic Division with a 30-17-2 record with 62 points. They have a goal differential of 34. The Maple Leafs have scored the fourth most goals in the NHL at 174. They have given up 140 goals so far this season. Frederik Andersen made 41 saves on Wednesday night. He is one of the favorites to win the Vezina Trophy right now. His record is 22-11-1 with a .923 save percentage and a 2.56 GAA, along with one shutout. Toronto begins the second half of the season with games against the Detroit Red Wings on the road next Friday night and the Pittsburgh Penguins at home next Saturday night.

4. Nashville Predators: The Predators won two key games on the road on Monday night against the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 and on Wednesday night against the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1. Pekka Rinne made 35 saves against Colorado and Juuse Saros made 47 saves against Vegas. Goaltending and defense is the backbone of this team. They don't rely on offense to win games but when Nashville scores a lot, they are usually in good hands. The Nashville Predators basically have everyone back from injury. It wouldn't be a surprise to see this team go on a second-half run. Nashville has played four more games than the Winnipeg Jets have. The Predators are currently in second place in the Central Division with a 30-18-4 record with 64 points. They have a goal differential of 26.

3. Winnipeg Jets: The Jets have played four less games than the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg has the best record in the Central Division. The Winnipeg Jets record is 31-15-2 with 64 points so far this season. They have a goal differential of 33. Winnipeg will have four games the week after the All-Star Break and two of them will be on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers this upcoming Monday night and the Boston Bruins this upcoming Tuesday night. The Jets have a really good supporting cast. This team is ready for another deep playoff run. Blake Wheeler leads the team with 52 assists. He has also scored nine goals in 48 games and his plus/minus is 9.

2. Calgary Flames: The Flames were the best team in the Western Conference for the first-half of the season. Not a lot of people thought that was going to happen. Calgary's record so far this season is 33-13-5 with 71 points. They are six points ahead of the San Jose Sharks in the Pacific Division. The Calgary Flames have the second best offense in the NHL and they have scored 190 goals so far this season. Calgary has given up 145 goals so far this season. Johnny Gaudreau might be the favorite to win the Hart Trophy. In 51 games so far this season, he has scored 29 goals and recorded 44 assists. His plus/minus is 20. The Flames will start the second-half of the season on the road next Friday night against the Washington Capitals and then they will face the Carolina Hurricanes on the road on Super Bowl Sunday.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning finished the first-half of the regular season with the best record in the NHL at 37-10-2 with 76 points. Tampa Bay cooled off after the All-Star Break last season and they can't afford to do that again this season. Nikita Kucherov leads the league with 78 points. He has also scored 22 goals in 49 games played. His plus/minus is 15. They have a ton of depth and their defense is also very underrated. The Tampa Bay Lightning have scored 199 goals so far this season. They have given up 140 goals. Steven Stamkos is quietly having a very good season with 26 goals and 31 assists, in 49 games so far this season. His plus/minus is -1. Brayden Point continues to be sharp for Tampa Bay. He has scored 30 goals and recorded 35 assists, in 49 games so far this season. His plus/minus is 17. Point is having a breakout season at 22 years old. Andrei Vasilevskiy might be on pace to win his first Vezina Trophy at 24 years old. His record so far this season is 20-6-2 with a .925 save percentage and a 2.50 GAA, along with three shutouts.