With a little less than two months left in the regular season, here’s the 10 best of the NHL, ranked in order.
1. Nashville Predators (38–12–6, 82 points): The Predators have won five straight games and seven out of eight overall en route to the highest point total in the league. In addition they are outscoring their opponents by 39 goals on the season—the third-biggest scoring differential in the league.
This week: vs. San Jose (Tuesday), at NY Islanders (Thursday), at Philadelphia (Saturday), at Buffalo (Sunday).
2. St. Louis Blues (37–15–4, 78 points): The red-hot Blues have won three straight games, 10 out of 12, and 15 of 18 games overall and have gone from having the ninth-most points in the league, in early January, to being runner-up now to Nashville.
This week: vs. Dallas (Tuesday), vs. Boston (Friday), vs. Pittsburgh (Saturday).
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (35–18–6, 76 points): The Lightning are in a bit of a funk, losing five out of eight. They still have more regulation and overtime wins (33) than anyone else as their offense, which boasts a league-leading 3.22 goals per game, has kept them in the race.
This week: at Anaheim (Wednesday), at Arizona (Saturday), at Colorado (Sunday).
4. Chicago Blackhawks (35–18–4, 74 points): The Patrick Kane-led Blackhawks, who are looking for their third Stanley Cup title in six years, are this high on the list not only out of respect for their recent playoff success, but the fact that they have the highest scoring-differential (plus 41) in the league.
This week: vs. Detroit (Wednesday), vs. Colorado (Friday), vs. Boston (Sunday).
5. Montreal Canadiens (37–15–4, 78 points): The Canadiens lead the league in fewest goals allowed per game (2.22) and goalie Carey Price is clearly a big reason why. The 27-year-old is having, statistically, his best season ever with a save percentage of 93.5 percent (tops in the league) while maintaining a 1.93 goals against average.
This week: at Ottawa (Wednesday), vs. Florida (Saturday), vs. Columbus (Sunday).
6. New York Islanders (37–19–1, 75 points): With 25 games left, the Islanders are just five wins away from equaling their most victories in a season since their glory days of the early 80s. Should they win a playoff series it would be their first since 1993.
This week: at Carolina (Tuesday), vs. Nashville (Thursday), at Washington (Saturday), vs. Vancouver (Sunday).
7. Anaheim Ducks (35–15–7, 77 points): Just a few weeks ago (January 27) the Ducks had won eight of nine games and led everyone with 70 points. Since then they’ve lost six of nine, and have dropped to third in points.
This week: vs. Tampa Bay (Wednesday), at Calgary (Friday), at Edmonton (Saturday).
8. Detroit Red Wings (31–14–10, 72 points): The Red Wings, who have made the playoffs every season since 1990–91 are in prime position to keep their streak going. Goalie Jimmy Howard is a big reason why, with a 2.14 goals against average—good for fourth in the NHL.
This week: at Chicago (Wednesday), at Dallas (Saturday).
9. Pittsburgh Penguins (32–15–9, 73 points): Sidney Crosby, who led the league in points last year with 104, is going to have to up his pace to top the NHL this season. The 27-year-old is fifth in points with 58, trailing Patrick Kane by five.
This week: vs. Washington (Tuesday), vs. Columbus (Thursday), at St. Louis (Saturday), vs. Florida (Sunday).
10. New York Rangers (34–16–5, 73 points): The Rangers have been keeping it together without goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist has missed the last seven games with a neck injury, yet New York is 5–1–1 during that time to keep pace in the Eastern Conference.
This week: vs. Vancouver (Thursday), at Buffalo (Friday), vs. Columbus (Sunday).