The best part about the new Puck Show Top 20 is the pure turnover that can lead to a team not even cracking our rankings. While the turnover can be high, so is the parity in this league. Any team can beat anyone on any given night, which makes for very interesting watching on a nightly basis. What a game this is.
Furthermore, an expansion team is the best team in the NHL right now… seriously. Let’s take a look at how our Top 20 shakes down this week!
1. Vegas Golden Knights (32-1-4) (2)
Wow. The Golden Knights continue to shock the hockey world. Tampa Bay has dropped five of its last eight games while the Golden Knights have won three of their last four, so move over, Tampa. Vegas is a wild 19-2-2 at home and have not lost a regulation game at T-Mobile Arena since November 28th against Dallas.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (33-12-3) (1)
The Lightning hang onto a top two spot, but just barely. Tampa has looked human for the first time this season as of late, dropping those aforementioned five of their last eight. That said, they notched a tough road in Nashville last night and still remain the NHL’s most lethal offense at 3.50 goals per game.
3. Boston Bruins (28-10-8) (5)
Somehow, some way, the Bruins are looking like the cream of the Eastern Conference crop. Boston is on an insane run, grabbing victories in 13 of their last 16 games, and earned a point in all three of those losses. The Bruins also now own the NHL’s best defense at just 2.43 goals against per game.
4. Winnipeg Jets (29-13-7) (3)
No Mark Scheifele, no problem. The Winnipeg Jets are the real deal and are deadly at home. They own a 17-3-1 record at the Bell MTS Centre where Connor Hellebuyck owns a 17-1-1 record, 2.06 GAA and a .932 Sv% for the campaign.
5. Nashville Predators (28-11-7) (6)
The Predators are looking like they enjoyed last season’s run to the finals so much that they want to do it again this year. Their goaltending has been dynamite this season as Pekka Rinne owns a .925 Sv% and Juuse Saros owns a .926 mark with two shutouts over his last four starts.
6. Washington Capitals (28-15-5) (4)
The Caps have been cooled. After rattling off ten straight wins at home, Washington has lost each of its last three home games, two of them to non-playoff teams in Montreal and Carolina. Still, this team showed us just how good they can still be.
7. St. Louis Blues (29-18-3) (12)
After a sluggish stretch, the Blues have won three of their last four games while allowing one goal or less in three of those four. All of the sudden Carter Hutton is top dog in the Blues’ crease as he sports a league-leading 1.79 GAA and .941 Sv% after shutting out the Senators 3-0 last night.
8. Dallas Stars (28-17-4) (11)
The Stars are in business. After a very mediocre start to the season, Dallas is threatening to make a run in the super-competitive Central Division. They have won four of their last five and have scored 13 goals over their last two games. They own the NHL’s sixth best offense and third best defense at home where they have now gone 17-6-1 for the season.
9. Colorado Avalanche (27-17-3) (15)
The Avalanche are the third team in the Central to make a big jump up the rankings. A ten-game win streak will do that. Colorado was cooled last night in Montreal, but now sit in the mix to take a run into the top three of that crowded Central Division. Nathan MacKinnon is a serious Hart Trophy threat with 60 points on the season, just one behind league leader Nikita Kucherov.
10. San Jose Sharks (26-14-7) (13)
It hasn’t been the smoothest of rides, but the Sharks are doing a nice job keeping pace in the Pacific. Aaron Dell has been the saving grace this season with a 2.32 GAA and a .923 Sv% in place of the struggling Martin Jones who owns a 2.68 GAA and .910 Sv%.
11. Philadelphia Flyers (24-16-8) (20)
The Flyers have been consistently streaky this season. They lost ten straight, followed by six straight wins, and have now won four straight and eight of their last nine. They have overtaken the Blue Jackets for third spot in the crowded Metropolitan Division and can make up some ground on the teams ahead of them as they face both the Capitals and Devils over their next three games.
12. Toronto Maple Leafs (26-18-5) (10)
The Maple Leafs are mirroring the team from last year who couldn’t hold a third period lead to save their lives. Toronto has blown late third period leads in three of their last five games, but have also nabbed points in six of their last eight. Two tough road matchups await pre-All-Star break against the Blackhawks and Stars.
13. Calgary Flames (25-16-6) (17)
The Flames rattled off seven straight wins to surge up the Western Conference standings, but back-to-back home losses to the Jets and Sabres have tempered the excitement. That said, the Flames have allowed one regulation goal in four of their last five games and have allowed two goals or less in seven straight. This is the rock-solid defensive team we expected prior to the season.
14. New Jersey Devils (24-15-8) (8)
The Devils plummet six spots thanks to an uninspiring stretch that has seen them lose three straight and nine of their last 11. Goaltending has been an issue as Corey Schneider and Keith Kinkaid have combined to allow 3.55 goals per game during those 11 games.
15. Pittsburgh Penguins (26-11-3) (NR)
The Penguins make their way into the Top 20 thanks to a stretch that has seen them go 7-3-0 over their last ten. Pittsburgh has been getting reliable goaltending from surprising sources. Tristan Jarry sports a 2.44 GAA and a .919 Sv% while Casey DeSmith owns a 1.86 GAA and a .935 Sv% in three starts and five appearances.
16. Los Angeles Kings (25-18-5) (7)
L.A. has lost seven of their last eight games to fall right out of a playoff spot in the west. Once going neck-and-neck with Vegas for Pacific Division supremacy, the Kings now trail the upstart Golden Knights by a whopping 13 points with Vegas holding a game in hand.
17. Minnesota Wild (26-17-5) (16)
The Wild just can’t seem to get over the hump. They are hanging around the Central Division and the Wild Card spots though, and getting Zach Parise back is a good thing. They’ve won four of their last five and have allowed just eight goals over their last five games.
18. Columbus Blue Jackets (26-19-3) (9)
The Blue Jackets, like the Kings, have fallen nine spots in our rankings. They have lost three of their last four to fall out of a top three spot in the Metropolitan Division while maintaining a Wild Card spot. After a light schedule in the second half of January, the Jackets will play 13 games from February 1st-26th.
19. Anaheim Ducks (23-17-9) (18)
The Ducks are 6-3-1 over their last ten games, good enough to stay within arms length of the Wild Card spots in west. However, their eyes are likely on their division where they sit just one point behind the Flames for third place in the Pacific, although the Flames have two games in hand. They play one more at home before hitting the east coast for a five-game roady.
20. New York Islanders (24-20-5) (NR)
The Islanders barely crack the Top 20, and to be honest they don’t fully deserve it. The Islanders and Rangers sit with identical records through 49 games, but the Rangers are 3-7-0 over their last ten to the Islanders’ 4-5-1 mark, so there you go. They are still a lethal offense as they displayed in Chicago on Saturday, but Garth Snow needs to shore up his back end in a big way as we approach the February 26th NHL Trade Deadline.