The league standings couldn’t be closer. As of Thursday, there was a four-way tie for first in the NHL. The four teams with the best record were the Colorado Avalanche, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, and Florida Panthers. With that said, let’s count down the top ten.
10. Winnepeg Jets
The Jets’ offense is a force to be reckoned with. Led by Mark Scheifele, any forward on their top two lines can have an MVP-caliber season. This scoring depth allows the Jets to push tough games past regulation. Nearly 30% of their wins came in overtime or the shootout. Their ability to outscore their opponents is a major factor in their success. The scoring depth they have has allowed them to cruise into a top-two spot in the North.
9. New York Islanders
It is no question that the Islanders benefit from home-ice advantage. In seventeen home games, they are 14-1-2. However, their recent road trip weakened their record a bit and the Penguins seem to be in an optimal position to win the East. If the Islanders secure home advantage in the playoffs, they have a great chance of skating with Lord Stanley. Additionally, Mathew Barzal broke out of his slump in fashion on Thursday night with a hat-trick.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs
The big contracts in Toronto seem to be paying dividends. Currently, Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews are taking the North by storm. The duo leads the Leafs in points both reaching the forty-point mark. However, outside of their first line, the production has not been as consistent. Consequently, the Leafs slid out of first in goals scored down to sixth in the NHL. Still, their offense is elite. It is also noteworthy that their starting goalie, Frederik Andersen, is dealing with a lower-body injury.
7. Las Vegas Golden Knights
A common theme that is discussed in Vegas is defense. They rank second in goals against in the NHL. Although Marc-Andre Fleury cooled off a bit in this recent stretch, the Knights’ skaters are overall elite defenders. Their talent in their own end rivals teams notorious for defense such as the Islanders. The Knights can and will easily shutdown top-notch offenses resulting in their division-best record.
6. Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina has one of the best-rounded rosters in the NHL. They have scoring depth, a formidable defense, and their goalie tandem is better than most expected. The Canes are ninth in goals for and 6th in goals against. Their performance in both ends has propelled them to a top-three spot in the tightly packed Central. They have three forward lines with potent scoring potential.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pens are the hottest team in the East. They have won five straight and are 7-2-1 in their last ten. Sidney Crosby is having one of the healthiest seasons of his career. Crosby has suited up for all but two games. So, the Pens have been having consistent production from their generational talent. Crosby may have enough in the tank to make a run for his fourth cup. This feat would undoubtedly make this Pens core a dynasty.
4. Florida Panthers
The Panthers’ offseason moves have paid dividends. Carter Verhaeghe has 30 points following his signing with the Panthers. Surprisingly, he has had more success in Sunrise, Florida than in Tampa Bay. Additionally, Florida acquired Patric Hornqvist who has had plenty of success playing alongside Jonathan Huberdeau. Finally, the goalie situation in Sunrise has been significantly approved. Chris Driedger and Sergei Bobrovsky have been a solid tandem.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
Like Carolina, Tampa is a well-rounded team. They are second in goals for and fifth in goals-against. With the caliber of talent they have, it would not be a shock if they repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Although Nikita Kucherov is out the entire season due to injury, the Bolts have been firing on all cylinders. Additionally, they have been able to maintain their division lead despite Florida and Carolina lurking behind.
2. Washington Capitals
The Capitals are first in the East by the skin of their teeth. The Isles and Pens are within striking distance as witnessed tonight. The Isles’ 8-4 win over the Caps propelled them to a tie for first in the East. However, the Caps have been more battle-tested with notable players such as Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, and Ilya Samsonov missing time over the course of the season. Their depth is so good they were able to keep pace with the beasts of the East.
1. Colorado Avalanche
That’s right folks, the Avalanche have seized the number one spot on Uncut’s power rankings. The Avs have been streaking recently. They have a twelve-game point streak allowing them to surge to a top-two spot in the West. Two players have creaked the forty-point mark in Colorado. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen lead the Avs in scoring. Additionally, they are one if not the best two-way team in the NHL. They are first in goals for and third in goals against. Anyone who picked the Avs as Stanley Cup Champs should be confident regarding their play.