(Photo Courtesy of NHL.Com)
31) Arizona Coyotes – With only two wins in their last 10 games, and the most goals given up in the entire NHL, things aren’t exactly looking up in Arizona.
30) Buffalo Sabres – New week, same spot for the Sabres. The real question now: who do they move at the trade deadline for picks/prospects?
29) Florida Panthers – A team with Aleksander Barkov shouldn’t be this bad.
28) Colorado Avalanche – At least the Avalanche are honest with themselves, having already dealt their biggest trade chip for future assets.
27) Detroit Red Wings – The Red Wings only have one win in their last ten games. Enough said.
26) Ottawa Senators – With Erik Karlsson now hinting he might leave town, what is there to be optimistic about in Ottawa?
25) Vancouver Canucks – As expected, the Canucks are starting to show their true colors, having won three games in their last 10.
24) Philadelphia Flyers – A team with this much top-end talent shouldn’t be this mediocre, should it?
23) Anaheim Ducks — The Ducks are hanging in there, yet just as Ryan Getzlaf makes his return to the lineup, Corey Perry suffers a week-to-week knee injury. Tough times for Anaheim.
22) Carolina Hurricanes – Scott Darling hasn’t been as expected, and the ‘Canes just can’t make good on their even strength. It’s getting frustrating to watch.
21) Washington Capitals – The Capitals have betrayed us so many times, it’s hard to get invested in them again. Consider this a bitter ranking decision.
20) Edmonton Oilers – Edmonton has been better as of late, but it’s going to be a fight for them to get into the playoffs.
19) Minnesota Wild – The Wild are in a playoff spot, and they’ve won seven of their last 10. Cleary, things are heating up. Even so, they remain in a six-team dogfight for a wild-card spot.
18) Montreal Canadiens – Consider this ranking for the Habs a vote of confidence in Carey Price. The power play looks decent, sort of.
17) Calgary Flames – Travis Hamonic has disappointed, but the Flames are still in the thick of the playoff hunt.
16) Dallas Stars – Don’t be fooled by the fact that the Stars hold the top wild-card spot in the Western Conference, they’re just as much involved in the aforementioned dogfight for a playoff spot. That being said, it’s hard to bet against their talent.
15) Chicago Blackhawks – Chicago is a legitimately good even strength team again, and their top-six looks fearsome. That’s not good news for anyone else in the West.
14) New York Rangers – It feels like the Rangers could be even better than what they’ve shown so far, especially if they eventually decide to pair Kevin Shattenkirk and Ryan McDonagh together.
13) Boston Bruins – People seem to have forgotten that Boston is actually very good. Charlie McCavoy has looked great, and the usual suspects have been excellent. Goaltending could be this team’s eventual Achilles’ heel, however.
12) New Jersey Devils – Give the Devils credit, they’ve managed to stick around this long. Even so, it feels like the roof will cave in at some point.
11) Vegas Golden Knights — Like the Devils, it feels like there’s a chance the roof caves in here. Time is running out for that to happen though, and the Golden Knights just keep on winning. What a story.
10) San Jose Sharks – The Sharks do many things well, scoring goals just isn’t one of them. Give them credit: in a season where many predicted their downfall, they’ve popped right back into playoff contention.
9) Los Angeles Kings – Los Angeles is another one of the great stories of this NHL season thanks to their transformed play-style. Jonathan Quick has been Vezina-worthy, but it remains to be seen if this can last. Either way, they can’t be ignored.
8) Pittsburgh Penguins – Pittsburgh currently isn’t in a playoff spot, but does anyone actually believe that’s real? Two consecutive Stanley Cups buys you a whole lot of rope with me these days.
7) New York Islanders – The NHL is a better place when the Islanders are good, and “good” might be selling them short.
6) Nashville Predators – This team looks great, and they’re going to look even better once Ryan Ellis returns. The reigning Western Conference champions don’t look like they’re going an anywhere anytime soon.
5) Toronto Maple Leafs – The Leafs get the slight nod over the Preds because of their weaker division, but even so, this a team that figures to be in the thick of things until the very end thanks to their outstanding speed and skill.
4) Winnipeg Jets – Here come the Jets, right? Despite some lackluster underlying numbers, I’m done betting against the Jets for the time being. This team is just packed with elite-level talent.
3. Columbus Blue Jackets – Columbus continues to do just about everything well (except the power play), and they’ve remained a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference.
2. St. Louis Blues – St. Louis has been written off many times due to their playoff failures, but “failure” just doesn’t seem like it’s a part of their vocabulary this season.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning – At this point in time, there isn’t a better hockey team in the NHL than the Lightning. End of story.
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