The Vegas Golden Knights have come to winning the Stanley Cup in their short history, but they still haven’t reached the pinnacle of hockey just yet.
Could this be the year? It looks like it right now.
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The NHL can be a funny league at times. The Golden Knights tried to move on from goalie Marc-Andre Fleury during the off-season. Now, he’s back to being one of the greatest goalies in the league.
1 – Vegas Golden Knights 16-4-1:
The Golden Knights currently have the longest winning streak in the NHL (six games) and they haven’t lost an indoor hockey game since Feb. 16. Half of those victories have come in one-goal games. The duo of Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone are lighting it up, as they’ve combined to score a ridiculous 18 points in their last four games.
2 – Tampa Bay Lightning 17-4-2:
The Lightning came back to beat the Blackhawks on Sunday and they’ve won seven of their last eight games. Their only loss during that stretch came against Chicago and the game was decided in a shootout. The Bolts’ have the best goal-differential in the league at plus-35 this season.
3 – Carolina Hurricanes 17-6-1:
Since dropping three games in a row to the Tampa Bay Lightning in late February, the Hurricanes have rattled off five victories in a row. The ‘Canes should benefit from their upcoming schedule, as they’ll play Nashville and Detroit twice and Columbus four times. The ‘Canes have four 20-point scorers already in 2021.
4 – Toronto Maple Leafs 18-6-2:
Despite dropping back-to-back games against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday and Saturday, the Leafs are still the top team in the NHL, with 38 points. Mitch Marner has a ridiculous 31 points in 25 games and Auston Matthews has found the back of the net 16 times in 22 outings.
5 – New York Islanders 15-6-4:
The Islanders had some slow moments early on in the season, but Barry Trotz’s team is hitting their stride now. They’ve rattled off five wins in a row and they’ve gone eight games without a regulation loss. In typical Islanders fashion, they’ve allowed two goals or fewer in seven of their last eight contests. They’ve also scored five goals in three straight games.
6 – Winnipeg Jets 15-8-1:
The Jets were obliterated, 7-1, in Montreal on Saturday night but things have been going really well for them lately. Winnipeg has won six of their last eight outings and three of those came in overtime. Head coach Paul Maurice is clearly a trend-setter, as he’s been rolling three forwards in overtime. The addition of Pierre-Luc Dubois has been huge so far.
7 – Florida Panthers 15-5-4:
The Panthers have cooled off a bit after their hot start, but this team is still ranked fourth in the NHL, with 34 points. As you’d expect, Florida is being led by forwards Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. Barkov has 29 points and Huberdeau has 27 points in 24 games. Franchise goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is starting to play better. The Panthers need him to be great if they’re going to make a run in 2021.
8 – Washington Capitals 13-6-4:
The Capitals went through a four-game losing skid between Feb. 1 – Feb. 14. Since then, they’ve dropped just three of 11 decisions (one in overtime). Captain Alex Ovechkin has scored some goals this year, but he’s been quieter than usual. The 35-year-old scored against Philadelphia on Sunday, but he had just one in his previous six games and two in his previous 11. Once he starts heating up, the Caps should be even better.
9 – Colorado Avalanche 13-7-2:
The Avs are coming off a 5-4 OT loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday, but they’ve won two of their last three and four of six. Nathan MacKinnon has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury. He should be able to come back soon enough and that will make the Avalanche even more dangerous. He has 22 points in 19 games, while Mikko Rantanen leads the team with 12 goals and 24 points.
10 – St. Louis Blues – 14-8-3:
The Blues have gone through two different three-game losing skids, but their fortunes have changed recently. They dropped an OT decision to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, but they were riding a four-game winning streak and they’ve now collected at least one point in five straight. Veteran winger David Perron is leading the team with 27 points in 25 games.
11 – Boston Bruins 13-6-3:
The Bruins have dropped two of their last three games and six of their last nine. Despite this recent rough patch, they still own the seventh highest points percentage (.659) in the league. Boston has the best line in hockey with Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand so they should be able to get out of this slide. Marchand has 27 points in 22 games, Bergeron has 22 points in 22 games and Pastrnak has 20 points in 15 games.
12 – Chicago Blackhawks 13-8-5:
The Blackhawks have used good defensive zone coverage and a solid power play to surprise the hockey world. This was supposed to be a rebuild, but only eight teams have more points than Chicago right now. The Blackhawks have lost two of their last three games, but they have just two regulation defeats in their last seven. If you were wondering about Patrick Kane’s ability to produce at 32 years old, wonder no more. He has a ridiculous 38 points in 26 outings.
13 – Minnesota Wild 13-8-1:
Yes, the Wild have dropped three of their last four games, but they were bound to slow down after rattling off six consecutive victories. Veteran Zach Parise was made a healthy scratch last week, but Minnesota is being led by younger players like Kirill Kaprizov, Jordan Greenway and Joel Eriksson Ek.
14 – Pittsburgh Penguins 14-9-1
The Penguins played back-to-back games on Saturday against Philadelphia and on Sunday against the Rangers, and they managed to come away with two wins. They have three victories in their last four, but they’re currently fifth in the East Division. Sidney Crosby leads the team in scoring with 22 points in 23 games. Evgeni Malkin’s 18 points in 24 games aren’t terrible, but Pittsburgh is used to getting bigger contributions from their big Russian center.
15 – Edmonton Oilers 15-11-0:
The Oilers went on an incredible hot streak last month, as they won nine of 10 games. But they had an embarrassing stretch in three games against Toronto last week. Not only did they lose all three games to the Leafs on home ice, they were outscored 13-1 in the process. Edmonton got back on track by beating the struggling Flames on Saturday night.
16 – Philadelphia Flyers 12-7-3:
Despite the fact that they’re clinging onto a playoff spot in the East Division, the Flyers haven’t really played well. They’ve dropped three of four and the three-game winning streak that occurred late last month seems like a distant memory. James van Riemsdyk is having an awesome season, but he’s now gone three games without a point and four games without a goal. Is this a sign of things to come?
17 – Montreal Canadiens 11-6-6
The Canadiens were the first team to make a coaching change in 2021. Since taking over less than two weeks ago, interim head coach Dominique Ducharme has a 2-0-2 record. Even though they aren’t as good as their red-hot start would indicate, the Habs still look like they’re starting to turn things around. Carey Price has also won back-to-back starts and he’s given up just two goals during that stretch. That’s a big deal for this team.
18 – New York Rangers 10-10-3:
The Rangers’ three-game winning streak came to an end on Sunday, but this is still a positive stretch for them. Even though 2020 first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere hasn’t registered a point in back-to-back games, he still has five points in six games which is a big improvement from where he was before this recent stretch.
19 – Los Angeles Kings 10-8-5:
Believe it or not, this Kings team won six games in a row between Feb. 11-24. Their results have tailed off since then, as they’ve dropped four of their last five. They also have no regulation victories during their last five. Anze Kopitar has an impressive 28 points in 23 games in 2021. No one else has more than 19 points.
20 – Arizona Coyotes 11-10-3:
The Coyotes have two wins over Los Angeles and Minnesota (both teams are ahead of them on this list) in their last three games. The ‘Yotes have played more games than the Wild, but they’re still just two points away from tying them for the final playoff spot in the West Division. Conor Garland has been impressive for the Coyotes this season, as he has 22 points in 23 games.
21 – Ottawa Senators 9-17-1:
The Senators started the year with a 1-8-1 record, but they’ve battled hard in most of their games. Even though their record isn’t very good, this young Sens team plays hard for head coach D.J. Smith. They’re a tougher out than you think and although the results aren’t there right now, it looks like their future is very bright.
22 – Calgary Flames 11-12-3:
The Flames were the second team to make a coaching change in 2021. Geoff Ward is out, Darryl Sutter is in. Since the announcement was made late Thursday night, the Flames dropped back-to-back games. This team has plenty of talented players, but something isn’t right. Will they blow up the roster if they can’t get back on track? This is a crucial time for this franchise.
23 – Vancouver Canucks 11-15-2:
The Canucks have been one of the bigger disappointments in the league this year. They had a nice run in the bubble in August, but that hasn’t translated into anything positive in 2021. On a positive note, Vancouver has won three of their last four games and those have come against very good Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets teams.
24 – Columbus Blue Jackets 10-11-5:
The Jackets managed to win back-to-back games over Detroit and Dallas last week, but they were pummeled by the Stars, 5-0, on Saturday night and they have just two victories in their last eight. Since he was traded to Columbus, Patrik Laine has six goals and 10 points in 16 games.
25 – San Jose Sharks 8-11-3:
The Sharks started the season with an extended road trip and that didn’t go well. Unfortunately for San Jose, they just wrapped up a six-game homestand and they managed to win only once. Both Brent Burns (12 points in 22 games) and Erik Karlsson (seven points in 18 games) simply don’t look like the same players they once were. It’ll be interesting to see if they can up their production in the near future.
26 – New Jersey Devils 8-11-2:
The Devils snapped a long five-game losing skid by beating Boston, 1-0, on Sunday. It was their first regulation victory since Feb. 18 when they beat the Bruins again. New Jersey has just two victories in their last 10 games. Jack Hughes had 11 points in his first 13 games, but he’s picked up only two points in his last eight.
27 – Nashville Predators 11-14-0:
The Predators won a shootout decision on Sunday night against Dallas and that put their three-game losing skid to bed. Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi have produced at a solid clip, but the rest of this team hasn’t really impressed anybody offensively.
28 – Dallas Stars 7-8-5:
The start of the Stars’ season was postponed because many of their players had Covid-19 and they suffered through a second postponement when frigid temperatures hit Texas. They got off to a red-hot start, but this team has totally fallen apart. They have one win in their last six games and they have just two victories in 13.
29 – Anaheim Ducks 7-12-6:
The Ducks avoided going on a 10-game losing streak thanks to Saturday’s 5-4 OT win over the Colorado Avalanche. Still, things have gotten ugly for this rebuilding Anaheim team in 2021. They lose a lot of one-goal games which could be seen as encouraging, but this season is all about draft positioning.
30 – Detroit Red Wings 7-16-3:
The Wings aren’t a good team and that isn’t shocking news to anybody. They’ve lost three games in a row and they have just three victories in their last 10 outings. Dylan Larkin has missed the last four games with an upper-body injury and that’s a problem for a team with very little depth.
31 – Buffalo Sabres 6-14-3:
The Sabres made a splash in the free agency when they signed Taylor Hall, but that hasn’t worked out. Not only has Buffalo dropped six games in a row, they’re also in the basement of the NHL standings. Big changes probably aren’t too far away for this organization. Can they convince Jack Eichel to stick around long term?
Source: Yahoo Sports