The first half of the NHL season has produced the unexpected rises of the Columbus Blue jackets and the Minnesota Wild, serval hot stretches from Sidney Crosby, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid leading the league in points, Impressive rookie season from Auston Mattews and Patrick Laine, as well as a recent red hot surge to the top of the east by the Washington Capitals.
Now that the first half is in the books and with only 12 more weeks of regular season play left, here is a look at the top 10 teams in the league.
1. Washington Capitals (27-12-5): The Capitals have won nine in a row to close the gap on Columbus at the top of the NHL standings. The Caps are firing on all cylinders heading in to the All-Star break and it will be very interesting to see if they can catch the Blue Jackets in the standings before the break, which is rapidly approaching.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets (28-12-5): The Blue Jackets finally had their win streak stopped at 16 games and while they have lost three of four overall they still own the best record in the NHL with games in hand.
3. Minnesota Wild (27-12-5): The Wild are playing tremendous hockey, and they capped off another excellent week with a road win in Chicago in a Central Division battle for first place. The most impressive part of the Wild’s season is that they are getting it done no matter where they play with a 14-4-0 home record and at 13-5-5 on the road.
4. Chicago Blackhawks (27-14-5): The Blackhawks have managed to compile the 2nd best record in the Eastern Conference thanks in large part to the play of their star players like Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews so the fact that they will have the potential to improve their depth at the trade deadline could make them that much more dangerous down the stretch.
5. Montreal Canadiens (27-11-6): Habs went 2-2-0 this week thanks to a flurry of goals. They scored seven goals in one win over Winnipeg and five in another against the Rangers. The one true stinker of the week came in Minnesota, where the Wild laid a 7-1 whipping on the Habs.
6. Pittsburg Penguins (26-11-5): The Penguins had a rough week finishing it off over the weekend with three straight losses. Pittsburgh will get goalie Matt Murray back from injury and that will reignite the goaltender debate. Murray is the franchise goaltender and it will be interesting to see what the Penguins do with Marc-Andre Fleury.
7. Anaheim Ducks (24-13-9): The Ducks are rolling with a 6-1-1 record in the month of January. Jakob Silfverberg is leading the charge with five goals in his last 11 games.
8. New York Rangers (28-15-7): For the first time in team history, the Rangers have five American-born players with at least 10 goals: Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, Jimmy Vesey, Derek Stepan and J.T. Miller.
9. San Jose Sharks (25-16-2): Brent Burns is now tied for fifth in scoring. That’s not among defensemen, that’s fifth in the league.
10. Boston Bruins (23-18-5): Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand are starting to heat up offensively, and that’s good news for a team that is hanging tough in a wide open Atlantic Division. After a quiet first half Marchand has posted 12 points in the last 6 games.