No. 1 Boston Bruins: After a brief slump, the Bruins are back on top of the NHL with 90 points. Despite Saturday’s ugly loss to Vancouver, this team is clicking and the addition of Ondrej Kase is only going to help.
No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning: Their 11-game win streak was finally halted, a winning streak in that saw them outscored their opponents 38-19. Their analytics have always been there but the question is still if they can finish the job and win a Cup.
No. 3 Pittsburgh Penguins: Just when we thought they were dead after last year’s sweep by the Islanders, they have come roaring back. Jason Zucker has fit in nicely with four points in five games.
No. 4 Washington Capitals: Alex Ovechkin scored his 700th career goal Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils to become only the eighth player in NHL history to hit that mark. The Capitals have seen their massive division lead evaporate though and need to get things rolling again before the playoffs.
No. 5 St. Louis Blues: The Blues are back with three dominant performances this past week including two shutouts by Jordan Binnington. Binnington only had to make 31 saves combined in those two games as the defense has gone back to an elite core.
No. 6 Colorado Avalanche: This team just keeps being able to overcome injuries. Mikko Rantanen is the latest to join the injury list with Philipp Grubauer and Nazem Kadri. The race between the Blues and Avs for the top spot in the west will be entertaining.
No. 7 Philadelphia Flyers: They are 7-3 in their last 10 and are only three points out of the top spot in the division. They are getting scoring from all over the lineup and the tandem of Brian Elliott and Carter Hart are finally starting to stop pucks.
No. 8 Dallas Stars: First place was on the line on Friday night at home and they got absolutely shelled by the Blues. They play outstanding defense and get great goaltending but that offense is going to keep them in the second tier of contenders unless they make a move.
No. 9 New York Islanders: That massive win streak earlier in the year has kept them afloat in this lastest stretch. The east is a grind and a good team is going to miss the playoffs. The Islanders might be that team unless they can find some scoring.
No. 10 Columbus Blue: Jackets: Still in a playoff despite injuries to basically everyone that is important to their roster. The injuries just keep coming and they still are managing to win games and get points in tough matchups.
No. 11 Carolina Hurricanes: One of these last three teams is not going to make the playoffs. That is how outstanding the Metro division is. What a win, though, Saturday night in Toronto with an emergency goalie in net. That’s the kind of win that could spark a team and get them on a roll.
No. 12 Vegas Golden Knights: Don’t look now, but the Knights are 7-2-1 in their last 10 and have taken the top spot in the Pacific division. Their underlying numbers have been outstanding all season and if Marc-Andre Fleury can start playing like we know he can, Vegas could shoot up these rankings quickly.
No. 13 Edmonton Oilers: No McDavid? No problem, the Oilers keep finding ways to win games. Leon Draisaitl has 97 points in 61 games, while Ryan Nugent- Hopkins has picked the pace in McDavid’s absence. The Oilers aren’t going to be an easy out in the playoffs.
No. 14 Vancouver Canucks: While trading for Tyler Toffoli was a nice move, losing Brock Boeser for the rest of the year is going to hurt. Still though, if Jacob Markstrom continues to play like a Vezina candidate there’s no telling where they could end up in the playoff picture.
No. 15 Toronto Maple Leafs: After an impressive showing against the Penguins, this model team of inconsistency gets doubled up in shots and loses at home to a team playing an emergency goalie that, get this, works for the Leafs. David Ayers is a zamboni driver for the Toronto Marlies, the Leafs AHL team.
No. 16 New York Rangers: The Rangers now sit four points out of a playoff spot and have won their last three games. Rookie goalie Igor Shesterkin is 8-1 as a starter with a .938 save percentage. Artemi Panarin is also a leader in the MVP conversation with 81 points in 59 games.
No. 17 Florida Panthers: They will be battling the Leafs for this last quarter of the season for that three seed in the Atlantic division. The offense is fine, but they could use an upgrade on defense especially the left side, or they could simply have their $10 million goalie in Sergei Bobvrosky play like a $10 million goalie. He currently has a .898 save percentage among the worst in the league for a starter.
No. 18 Winnipeg Jets: With all the injuries and the Dustin Byfuglien situation, it is a miracle this team sits this high. All credit goes to Paul Maurice and Connor Hellebuyck for keeping them afloat along with six skaters with more than 40 points.
No. 19 Nashville Predators: When the Preds added Matt Duchene, it was thought of like a big move that would take them to the elite of the league. It clearly hasn’t, depth has been an issue all year while the Ryan Ellis injury hasn’t helped. They are going to need to get hot quickly if they want a chance at the playoffs.
No. 20 Arizona Coyotes: What do the Coyotes do?They added Phil Kessel and Taylor Hall to improve scoring. Hall has been fine but Kessel only has 13 goals and the young guns like Clayton Keller have not taken that next step like Arizona had hoped. Getting Darcy Keumper back is going to help for the playoff push and after all the moves they made missing the playoffs is not an option.
No. 21 Calgary Flames: They are one of the teams in the Pacific battling for the three seed or a wild card spot. The talent is there to get to the playoffs and make a run but until they show that they can on the ice, there is no point in believing the Flames are anything more than a first round exit.
No. 22 Minnesota Wild: All the chaos and turmoil and yet the Wild only sit a few points outside a playoff spot. A big win against Edmonton led by a Jared Spurgeon hat trick has them only four points behind Winnipeg in the playoff picture. Monday’s trade deadline is going to bring about some interesting decisions from the state of hockey.
No. 23 Montreal Canadiens: Luck has really bitten Montreal all season long and it appears this might be another lost season. There is hope though, as the kids have been improving and the assets they are going to get through some trades are only going to help. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see this franchise take a big leap next year.
No. 24 Buffalo Sabres: General Manager Jason Botterill is putting up a sign in the Sabres press box saying everything must go. After what was thought of as a good summer for the Sabres, they haven’t been able to get a save and the pieces they acquired like Colin Miller have not lived up to the billing. Jeff Skinner has been a disaster after signing a $9 million a year contract.
No. 25 Chicago Blackhawks: Another team that will be selling at the deadline, it will be interesting to see what Stan Bowman does with the two goalies in Robin Lehner and Corey Crawford. Both are free agents after this year and reportedly contract discussions with Lehner have not gone well.
No. 26 San Jose Sharks: Joe Thornton has been quoted as saying he might be open to a trade to a contender. The thought of Thornton going back to the team that traded him in the Bruins and winning the Cup is actually quite sickening so we will leave it at that.
No. 27 New Jersey Devils: Losing Blake Coleman hurts, but the haul they got for him was impressive, as was the assets gotten for Andy Greene. Might we see more from the Devils at the deadline? Damon Severson or Kyle Palmieri perhaps?
No. 28 Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks made the weird decision of helping out the Boston Bruins in a big way. Giving the Bruins what they needed, a winger for David Krejci, and took on the 75 percent of the David Backes contract, while only getting a middling prospect and a low end first round pick. The Josh Manson for a million things trade is still around so maybe that will help in these bleak times.
No. 29 Ottawa Senators: Pierre Dorian and the Senator’s front office seem to have a pattern with their upcoming free agents. Wait until right before the deadline to extend them, fail to do so and then have to trade said player for a less then they could have gotten if they had planned things out so they can at least get some kind of prospect or draft pick. This year’s player is Jean-Gabriel Pageau who is going to make another team very happy.
No. 30 Los Angeles Kings: Yes, the Kings are bad, but they have acquired a lot of good players and picks from their recent trades. Trading away Toffoli, Alex Martinez, Kyle Clifford and Jack Campbell was what was best for the franchise. The additions from these moves and what is already a top farm system and the Kings aren’t going to be bad for much longer.
No. 31 Detroit Red Wings: They have 34 points in 63 games with only 15 wins. They have been outscored by 108 goals on the season. They are easily the worst team of the last five years or so and Steve Yzerman has a lot of work to do before this franchise is close to relevant