The Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers sit atop the leaderboard as we depend down all 31 NHL groups.
There’s a distinctive tinge of retro to the NHL – and it isn’t simply because preventing appears to be on the incline once more. As a substitute, we flip to the main contenders within the league proper now, the Colorado Avalanche and the Florida Panthers. These two franchises have not had a number of playoff luck in recent times, however harken again to 1996 and people have been your Stanley Cup finalists, with Colorado sweeping the ‘Rat Trick’ Cats in 4 video games. Joe Sakic is now operating the Avs and little doubt he’d like to earn one other ring as a builder. The highway to that championship sequence in 2021 will not be straightforward, however these two groups – and a handful of others – have put themselves in an excellent place. Let’s depend down all 31 franchises and the way they give the impression of being proper now.
1. Colorado Avalanche: The Avs are flying round like Conor Garland’s helmet and having simply as a lot of a visceral impression. Nathan MacKinnon leads the cost and he is sizzling with eight factors in his previous 5 outings.
2. Florida Panthers: Even with out Aaron Ekblad, the Panthers proceed to hack a path by way of the Central and Sunday night time’s victory over Columbus gave them sole possession of first place within the division. Carter Verhaeghe continues to be top-of-the-line tales of the yr.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning: You do not wish to get the Bolts riled up as a result of they’re nonetheless an extremely potent squad. However Florida and Carolina are difficult their proper to be referred to as the category of the division.
4. Carolina Hurricanes: Petr Mrazek returns to the lineup and posts a shutout. Alex Nedeljkovic has a .924 save proportion on the season and performed superb when Mrazek was out. What else do the Canes want at this level?
5. Washington Capitals: Alex Ovechkin is starting to warmth up just like the unstoppable Russian shark that he’s. Humorous sufficient, “Unstoppable Russian Shark” can be an unimaginable B-movie that I now have to see occur.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs: The goaltending depth chart now goes Campbell-Hutchinson-Andersen and Jason Spezza is placing up his finest numbers in 5 years, on the age of 37. Do not attempt to determine it out, simply benefit from the trip.
7. Vegas Golden Knights: The Knights are scuffling oh-so-slightly, however the excellent news is they do not must play Minnesota once more for an additional month. Getting Alex Pietrangelo again as much as full velocity ought to assist, too.
8. New York Islanders: You’ll be able to rag on the Isles for being a defensive workforce, however they’re now tied for third in objectives within the division and Matt Barzal was the NHL participant of the week due to his seven factors and a shootout winner in three video games.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins: One of many groups forward of the Isles in East Division offense is Pittsburgh, the place the Penguins proceed to insert new gamers into the lineup as wanted. They’ve already used 31 completely different skaters this season.
10. Minnesota Wild: That Minnesota has develop into probably the most enjoyable groups within the NHL this season is really a beautiful storyline. From Kirill Kaprizov to Joel Eriksson Ek, the endurance is admittedly paying off for the Wild.
11. Boston Bruins: Outdoors of the Massive Three, Nick Ritchie is the one member of the Bruins with at the very least 10 objectives. That does not sound preferrred, and but Boston nonetheless looks like a scary workforce to fulfill within the playoffs. Possibly as a result of bears are scary.
12. Edmonton Oilers: It is good to see Tyson Barrie again to his previous, productive self now that he is a member of the Oilers, however that low season pic of him barefoot within the woods remains to be bizarre. What in case you step on one thing Tyson? You want your wheels!
13. Winnipeg Jets: Andrew Copp is placing up extra factors per sport and logging extra ice time than Pierre-Luc Dubois proper now. I do not know if that is factor for the Jets or a nasty factor. Possibly it is only a factor.
14. Arizona Coyotes: Defenseman Jakob Chychrun scored a hat trick the opposite night time, with the third aim coming because the additional time winner. He is now as much as 25 factors in 38 video games and I want I might provide you with a Pavel Datsyuk commerce joke however it’s simply not there.
15. Nashville Predators: The Preds have climbed right into a playoff spot and gone 8-2-0 of their previous 10 video games. That type of redemptive arc would make a terrific plot on the Grand Previous Opera, besides it isn’t that sort of an opera home and it isn’t truly referred to as the Grand Previous Opera, is it?
16. New York Rangers: Using the likes of Adam Fox, Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome, the Rangers are actually within the combine for a playoff spot. Will they make it? Possibly not. Can they end forward of the Flyers and lord it over Philly followers? That is at all times the dream – and sure.
17. San Jose Sharks: The “Indictment Group of the Week,” the Sharks climb the rankings as a result of the Blues have fully fallen aside. So congratulations, St. Louis – you are worse than one of many California groups proper now.
18. Philadelphia Flyers: At this level, Philadelphia’s solely precedence is to assist Carter Hart discover his sport once more. If it prices the Flyers a playoff spot this yr, so be it. The long-term takes precedent.
19. Montreal Canadiens: After Shea Weber fought Brady Tkachuk, I actually needed to know if Weber had ever fought Keith Tkachuk. Alas, it seems he didn’t. He nonetheless might; however it must be in a parking zone and that is simply unlawful.
20. St. Louis Blues: It has been a horrible struggling slide for the Blues, who’ve received simply two of their previous 10 video games. Jordan Binnington is flailing and Ville Husso would not appear to be the reply both.
21. Dallas Stars: The Stars have nonetheless performed the fewest video games within the Central Division and are due to this fact nonetheless within the playoff image, however they should choose up some momentum. As a minimum, Jason Robertson has been a terrific rookie addition.
22. Chicago Blackhawks: Will the return of Kirby Dach give the Hawks the enhance they should bounce again right into a playoff spot? Thus far, the reply is “no,” however you’ll be able to’t blame the teenager for that. Maybe that early season rush was merely a mirage.
23. Vancouver Canucks: Proper now, the primary and solely precedence in Vancouver is to get everybody affected by Covid-19 wholesome. The Canucks have been hit exhausting and it is a fairly scary time on the market.
24. Los Angeles Kings: The Kings are beginning to crater they usually’re not precisely out of the playoff race, however issues aren’t moving into the best path, both. When it is all mentioned and performed, can we at the very least get a Quinton Byfield look?
25. Calgary Flames: After hitting the mark pretty persistently this season, Matthew Tkachuk hasn’t performed 20 minutes in a sport since Darryl Sutter took over as coach. The Flames have additionally been in a tailspin, profitable simply two of their previous 10. Coincidence?
26. New Jersey Devils: With 20 video games to go, the Devils are virtually locked into seventh place within the East Division. Within the short-term, dealing Kyle Palmieri is probably going the primary domino to fall, however what number of strikes come after that?
27. Ottawa Senators: Simply as somewhat sneak peek, we closed Future Watch final week and I had an opportunity to do a deep dive on the Senators rebuild. If you happen to aren’t excited already about Ottawa’s future, I might advise you get very excited now.
28. Columbus Blue Jackets: Florida’s Alexander Wennberg scored extra objectives towards Columbus on Saturday (three) than he tallied all season lengthy as a member of the Blue Jackets in 2018-19 (two). That is a particular sort of ouch.
29. Detroit Purple Wings: The Purple Wings are on tempo to have extra factors on this yr’s 56-game season than they did in final yr’s 71-game marketing campaign. Shout-out to defenseman Filip Hronek, one way or the other main the workforce in scoring.
30. Anaheim Geese: It is exhausting to burn Anaheim as a result of the franchise has a Stanley Cup, it is situated in sunny California and their AHL workforce is in San Diego. Plus, Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale are super-fun.
31. Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres have not misplaced a sport in regulation in additional than per week. It’s, fairly presumably, the very best information surrounding the workforce all yr.