The All-star break is over and January has quickly come and gone. We are heading into the last two months of the regular season and we have a good idea which teams are good enough to make a run down the homestretch.
Here are the top 10 teams in the league heading into week 18.
1. Washington Capitals (36-11-6): This could finally be their year, the Caps own the month of January, at times it seemed effortless scoring at will no matter the opponent. Washington had five players with 16 or more points last month, the rest of the league only produced six.
2. Minnesota Wild (34-12-5): The Wild win games with their top ranked defense and top notch goaltending, they seem to wear teams down enough to squeak in a couple of goals. In my opinion they are the most fundamentally sound team in the league right now.
3. Pittsburg Penguins (33-13-5): It was strange January for the Pens they had a 3 game losing streak were they gave up 5 goals per game, followed by a 4 game winning streak in which they netted 6 goals per game.
4. San Jose Sharks (33-17-3): The Sharks are 8-1-1 in their past 10 games as they embark on a four-game road trek through Buffalo, Boston, Philadelphia and New Jersey, their last extended road trip of the year.
5. Columbus Blue Jackets (33-15-5): Since a historic 16 game winning streak Columbus is just 6-8-1 since. The slump has led them to fall well back of the Capitals in the race for the division title. It has also allowed the Penguins to pull into a tie for second overall in the division.
6. Chicago Blackhawks (31-17-5): The Hawks are four points back of division-leading Minnesota but have played three more games, which is another reason why Wednesday’s road game against the Wild is a huge for playoff positioning going forward.
7. New York Rangers (33-18-1): While Henrik Lundqvist is still considered one of the best goalies in the league, there is cause for concern over his poor play this season. Lundqvist was pulled once again last week against the Blue Jackets and his .905 save percentage is a career low.
8. Montreal Canadians (30-16-8): The Habs are free failing down the power rankings showing some major warning signs. They have 10 wins in their last 20 games, and only four of those came against teams currently in a playoff spot: Anaheim, Nashville, New York Rangers and Calgary.
9. Anaheim Ducks (28-16-10): The Ducks are mediocre when it comes to 5-5 play this season, but are killing it on special teams. The power play unit converts on more than 21 percent of its chances and a penalty kill that stops 84 percent of the opposition’s, their combined special team’s efficiency of 105.5 ranks fifth in the league.
10. Edmonton Oilers (29-18-8): Connor McDavid became the first player to reach 60 points this season and if he leads Edmonton to the playoffs, he will not doubt be the top candidate for the Hart Trophy.