NHL teams have passed the twenty-game mark this season. So as the playoff race continues to take shape, who is number one? Let’s count down to the best NHL team this season.
The NHL’s Worst: Ottawa Senators
The Senators are bottom-three in the league in points and have the lowest point percentage in the NHL. They also have the worst goal differential. While scoring has not necessarily been problematic, Ottawa needs to keep the puck out of their net to compete on a nightly basis. They have the most goals in the league with middle-of-the-pack scoring.
30. Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres have played poor hockey recently. They have lost thirteen of their last fifteen contests. While their power-play has been exceptional, the Sabres cannot compete with the East at even strength. Over thirty-five percent of their goals came on the power-play. The lack of five-on-five production is a big reason why they are 30th in the league for scoring.
29. New Jersey Devils
The Devils, like the Sabres, have been dominated by the contenders of the East. They have dropped nine of their last twelve contests. While their goaltending tandem of Mackenzie Blackwood and Scott Wedgewood have been decent, they have had the most trouble finding the back of the net. They rank 31st in the league in scoring which explains their horrible performance of late.
28. Detroit Red Wings
Detroit has dropped their last four matchups digging themselves into a deeper hole. They have a significant hill to climb to get out of last place. Although only three points separate Detroit and Dallas, the Red Wings have played six more games. They have had trouble on both offense and defense. They have given up the third-most goals while also being 29th in scoring.
27. Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks are one of the worst teams in the weakest division this year. They have the lowest point percentage in the West. The Ducks have struggled recently. They lost ten of their last twelve matchups. Max Comtois has been their best player so far. He is tied first in points, first in goals, and leads the plus-minus totals by a significant margin.
26. San Jose Sharks
The Sharks have had another down year. Like most teams at the bottom of this list, San Jose has had trouble keeping the puck out of the net. Their defense and goalie tandem are both below average. For instance, thirty-one-year-old Marc-Edouard Vlasic has four points this season and a plus-minus ratio of negative six. They can’t even move him out of San Jose with a hefty contract where he averages seven million dollars a year until 2026.
25. Columbus Blue Jackets
Ever since Jack Roslovc cooled off, the Jackets have not been the same. Roslovic had nine points through his first eight games. In his last twelve, he has five points. This stretch without a lot of production from Roslovic has been reflective of their record. They won three of their last twelve. Columbus obviously needs Roslovic to be consistent because their performance has been poor during his cold stretch.
24. Calgary Flames
The Flames are sliding out of the division race as they dropped nine of thirteen games. Two of those four wins came against the struggling Senators. Their goaltending tandem had been very hit or miss. In this stretch, they allowed five-plus goals four times. Both members of their goalie tandem have had shaky starts recently. Additionally, scoring has been a major issue of late, in this same stretch, they only had five three-or-more-goal-games.
23. Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks have not found any chemistry this season. While they have made up some ground in the North, they still sit on the outside of the playoff picture with more games played than any team in the NHL. It will be difficult for the Canucks to get into the playoffs at this point in the season because they are already halfway through their season and haven’t figured out how to stop the puck from going in their own net.
22. Nashville Predators
Health has been a concern for Nashville. Matt Duchene, Roman Josi, and Ryan Ellis are all expected to miss a couple of weeks. Ellis and Josi were amazing defensemen at both ends of the ice for Nashville and their absence will only add to their scoring problems. They are 26th in goals scored this season and will probably fall into the bottom-three in the absence of these stars.
21. New York Rangers
The Rangers have been playing better of late with a six and four record in their last ten. Things should improve as reigning hart trophy finalist Artemi Panarin came back into the lineup Thursday night. Goal scoring has been problematic all season for the Rangers. They sit in 23rd on the goals scored leaderboard. Additionally, their starting goaltender, Igor Shesterkin, has been out of the lineup since March fourth.
20. Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars find themselves seventh in the Central, however, they have the least amount of games played. The Stars dropped thirteen of their last seventeen yet a good stretch can spring them right back into the race. They have the fifth-best point percentage in the division and the most time to gain ground after a shaky stretch. Some of their star power is still absent so it will be difficult to contend against a surprisingly good top-four Central. If they get healthy quickly they have a chance to contend in this top-heavy Central division.
19. Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes have been playing well enough to stay in the playoff push. They currently sit just outside the playoff picture as a win would have them tied for fourth. The Coyotes certainly have scoring depth since nine players have hit the ten-point mark this season. Additionally, their goalie tandem has been solid, so they can compete on a nightly basis. However, the injury to starting goaltender, Darcy Kuemper, may hurt Arizona. So, Arizona’s goalie depth must shine which has been the case so far.
18. Los Angeles Kings
The Kings have cooled off in recent play. After winning six straight, they have only won two of their last seven. This bad stretch has allowed other teams to push them out of a playoff spot. Like Arizona, the Kings are a win away from a tie for fourth and thus a playoff spot. Their veteran players from their Stanley Cup run look rejuvenated. Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and Dustin Brown have led the Kings in points respectively. This will ensure a good future as their prospect pool is developing on a team in the hunt to contend.
17. Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago is in a great spot right now. They are currently in the playoff picture and have created such a gap from the bottom-four central teams. However, they have gone on a small skid as they lost three of their last four games. They went 1-1-1 in that span in a three-game set again Tampa Bay so they can likely turn the corner soon and get back to their winning ways.
Note: All stats for teams 31 to 17 were before Thursday night games