The 2018-2019 season is half over and the standings look quite different in comparison to after the first month. There have been teams who have cooled off after their hot start and there have been teams who have risen to their expected position in the standings after beginning the year in a slump. Here are the top 10 NHL squads in the league as of now.
10: Pittsburgh Penguins (23-13-6)
Before the season began, the Pittsburgh Penguins were constantly ranked as one of the NHL’s top five teams. However, for nearly the first 30 games of the season they struggled to find consistency. During the height of their slump, the Penguins were the worst team in the Eastern Conference for a day or two.
The Penguins have finally found success recently as they have gone 8-2-0 in their last 10 games. During this stretch, the Penguins have mounted an eight-game winning streak that was recently snapped after a 5-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night. The winning streak has propelled the Penguins to second in the Metropolitan Division with 52 points.
Offensively, the Penguins have been led by forwards Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel. Crosby’s 51 points in 38 games is tied for eleventh in the league while Kessel’s 47 tallies in 42 contests is tied for eighteenth.
Team wise, the Penguins have been dominant in the special teams category as their power play is ranked sixth in the NHL at 26.5 percent while their penalty kill sits at fifth at 83.6 percent. The Penguins also have an impressive plus 25 goal differential which is the fourth highest in the league.
9: Boston Bruins (24-14-4)
Despite undergoing a solid amount of adversity, the Boston Bruins have been consistently successful all season long. With the return of forward Patrice Bergeron, who missed 16 games with an upper body injury according to CBS Sports. The Bruins have been able to rise up even further in the standings.
The Bruin’s 52 points in good for third best in a talented Atlantic Division. They are also 7-3-0 in their last 10 contests and have mounted a four-game winning streak after a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.
Right winger David Pastrnak is having a career year as his 25 goals is tied for fourth the NHL. The 2014 first-round pick also leads the league in power play goals with 12. In addition, 22-year-old’s 52 points in 42 games is tied for ninth best among all players.
Pastrnak’s power play goals has propelled the Bruins to fourth in the league with a 27.4 percent success rate with the man advantage. With Bergeron back in the lineup, the Bruin’s offense will be even more lethal.
8: Nashville Predators (25-15-3)
The Nashville Predators were atop the Central Division for the majority of the season, but a recent slump has caused them to fall in the standings. Injuries to key players such as Filip Forsberg, P.K. Subban and Viktor Arvidsson finally caught up to them as they have gone 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. During this stretch, the Predators also lost a surprising five regulation games in a row.
Despite the recent struggles, the Predators still sit at second in the Central Division with 53 points. The recent return of Subban and Arvidsson has allowed the Predators to return to their winning ways as they have gone 3-0-1 in their last four contests.
Similar to last season, the Predators offense has been widely spread throughout the roster. Their leading goal scorer is Craig Smith with only 14 and their top point getter is Ryan Johansen with merely 36 points in 43 games.
Without much star power, the Predators have had to rely heavily on their stellar defense. At the moment, the Predators have only allowed 109 goals this season which is merely two more than the New York Islanders who lead the league with 107 goals allowed. The Predators’ stingy defense has also elevated the team to fifth least in shots allowed per game with 28.7
7: San Jose Sharks (23-13-7)
The San Jose Sharks have had an up and down season with only recently being able to string together a series of wins. The Sharks have recorded a solid 6-2-2 record in their last 10 games and have won four of their last five contests. Their 53 points ranks them at third best in the Pacific Division.
In addition, the team handed the Tampa Bay Lightning their first regulation loss in over a month after a 5-2 victory on Saturday night.
Brent Burns has been a workhorse for the Sharks as the blue liner leads the team with 47 points in 43 games. The 33-year-old also leads all defensemen in points. The Canadian native is on track to winning his second Norris Trophy in a row.
Captain Joe Pavelski has been finding twine yet again this year as his 25 goals in tied for fourth in the league. After a slow start, newly added defenseman Erik Karlsson has been a huge part of the Sharks’ offense. The 28-year-old currently has 35 points in 42 games.
6: Las Vegas Golden Knights (26-15-4)
For the first 20 games of the season, the Las Vegas Golden Knights were on the outside looking in. It seemed as if the phenomenal inaugural season was but a mere fluke. However, the Golden Knights have looked similar to last year’s Stanley Cup Finalist team these past 20 games.
The Golden Knights are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games. Their 56 points is currently tied for best in not only the Pacific Division, but also the entire Western Conference. In addition, with a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night, the Golden Knights have extended their winning streak to six games.
Although the Golden Knights have not been as offensively dangerous as last season, their defensive play has made up for the decline in goals. Team wise, the Golden Knights are seventh in the NHL on the penalty kill at 83.3 percent. On top of that, they have also allowed the fourth least amount of shots per game with 28.6.
Steady goaltending has also played a huge factor in the Golden Knights’ success. Marc-Andre Fleury is first in the league in both wins at 24 and shutouts with six.
5: Washington Capitals (25-12-4)
After winning the Stanley Cup, the Washington Capitals have not shown any signs of a hangover during the 2018-2019 season. At the moment, the Capitals are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and lead the Metropolitan Division once again with 54 points.
Captain Alex Ovechkin is having himself yet another elite season. The 33-year-old currently leads the league in goals with 30. Ovechkin is only the second player in NHL history to record 30 or more goals in each of their first 14 seasons according to NHL Discussion.
Forward Nicklas Backstrom has also been contributing to the Capitals’ offense this season. The 31-year-old has registered 44 tallies in 41 contests.
4: Winnipeg Jets (26-13-2)
With the offensive firepower that the Winnipeg Jets contain, it’s no surprise that they are having another dominant season. The Jets are currently atop the Central Division with 54 points.
Forwards Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele are again having spectacular seasons. Wheeler is tied for twelfth in the league in points with 51 in 41 games and ranked third in assists with 45. As for Scheifele, his 50 tallies in the same amount of games is good for fourteenth best in the NHL.
Right Winger Patrik Laine is also on pace for another terrific year. The 2016 second-overall pick is tied for eighth in the league in goals with 24.
The Jet’s lethal offense has translated to top-notch team statistics. They currently hold the second best power play with a 28 percent success rate with the man advantage.
3: Calgary Flames (26-13-4)
The Calgary Flames have exceeded expectations. The Flames are currently atop the Pacific Division with 56 points.
The Flames are also the only team to have four different players ranked in the top 20 for scoring. Left winger Johnny Gaudreau is tied for fourth with 62 points in 43 games. Sean Monahan is tied for ninth with 52 tallies. Matthew Tkachuk is tied for fifteenth with 49 points. While newly acquired Elias Lindholm is ranked seventeenth with 48 tallies.
The defense has also stepped up offensively for the Flames as captain Mark Giordano has notched an impressive 39 points in 41 games.
Consistent offense from multiple players has left a positive result for the Flames statistically. At the moment, the Flames have the second most amount of total goals with 153. They also contain the third best goal differential with a plus 30.
2: Toronto Maple Leafs (27-12-2)
Before the season began, the Toronto Maple Leafs were predicted to be one of the league’s best teams, and they have been. The Leaf’s 56 points is good for second best in the Atlantic Division.
As expected, the Leafs have received a tone of offensive from several different players. Newly acquired John Tavares leads the team in goals with 27 which is also ranked third best in the NHL. Mitch Marner has been the Leafs’ best point getter as his 55 tallies is ranked sixth best in the league.
Despite missing 14 games with a shoulder separation injury according to CBS Sports. 2016 first-overall pick Auston Matthews has still been able to notch 39 tallies in only 27 contests. In addition, defenseman Morgan Rielly is having a career year. His 45 points in 41 games is ranked second among all defensemen.
Statistics wise, the Leafs contain the eighth best power play with a 22.9 percent success rate with the man advantage. Their 152 total goals is ranked third best in the league while their plus 39 goal differential comes in at second best.
1: Tampa Bay Lightning (32-8-2)
The Tampa Bay Lightning are the only team in the NHL that have separated themselves from everyone else. Their ability to win night after night undoubtedly puts them at first place in the power rankings.
Before the 5-2 loss to the Sharks on Saturday night, the Lightning had not lost a regulation game since November and were 15-0-1 in their last 16 matches. This near perfect stretch is what propelled them into a category of their own.
Right winger Nikita Kucherov has been on an absolute tear as of late. Before being held off the score sheet in the game against the Sharks, the 25-year-old was on a 12-game point streak, had multiple points in seven straight games and registered four points in three of his last five games according to NHL.com. The Russian native currently leads the NHL in scoring with 69 tallies in 42 contests.
Centers Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos have also been huge offensively for the Lightning this season. Point is currently tied for seventh in the league in scoring with 54 points 42 games, tied for eighth in the league in goals with 24 and tied for second in the league in power play goals with 11. Stamkos is tied for eighteenth in scoring with 47 tallies in the same amount of games.
Statistics wise, the Lightning dominate almost every category. They are first in the NHL in power play percentage with a 30.1 percent success rate with the man advantage, first in the NHL in total goals with 176 and first in the NHL in-goal differential with a whopping plus 52. There is no doubt that the Lightning are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup at the halfway point of the 2018-2019 season.