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Stars, Capitals Lead The Way At The Top Of The NHL Power Rankings Heading In To The New Year

Posted by on 12/24/2015 3:06:31 AM

With the National Hockey League taking three days off for the holiday break now is the perfect time to look back at the first couple of months of the season and assess where all 30 teams are at this point in the season. There is little doubt that the Dallas Stars have been the class of the NHL to this point in the season but they certainly aren’t alone at the top of the pyramid. Here is a look at the top five teams in the NHL so far this season.

Dallas Stars (26-7-2; 54 Points)

Dallas was the first team to reach 50 points this season and while the elite tandem of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have led the way up front they certainly haven’t had to do it alone. Patrick Sharp and Jason Spezza have helped share the load while young star defenceman John Klingberg has stepped up with 32 points in 35 games so it’s no surprise the Stars lead the NHL with 3.5 goals per game this season. Dallas has run with the hot hand between Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen and their combined.913 save percentage isn’t bad at all behind a team with so much firepower up front. The Stars have been the best team in the NHL so far but the regular season is a marathon and not a sprint so all eyes will be on Dallas the rest of the way to see if they can finish as hot as they have started this season.

Washington Capitals (25-6-2; 52 Points)

While there is no doubt that the Stars have been the best in the West the Capitals can certainly stake their claim as the beasts of the east with an incredible 52 points through just 33 games. Washington has won six straight and from top to bottom they really don’t have a single weakness to point out. Trade addition TJ Oshie, free agent signing Justin Williams and rising star Evgeni Kuznetsov have stepped up to compliment Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom up front while John Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Dmitri Orlov lead an impressive cast on the back end. The key to the Capitals’ Stanley Cup chances could very well rest on the shoulders of No. 1 netminder Braden Holtby though, as he has been excellent to this point with a 21-4-1 record, 1.96 goals against average and .931 save percentage through 27 games played.

St. Louis Blues (21-11-4; 46 Points)

There appears to be a major drop off at least for now between the top two teams in the NHL and the rest of the league but the Blues definitely deserve some credit for how they have dealt with several significant injuries while building a 21-11-4 record through their first 36 games. Paul Stastny, Kevin Shattenkirk, Jaden Schwartz and Robby Fabbri have all missed significant time and despite some highs and lows so far this year St. Louis has for the most part been able to overcome. The Blues will need to be healthy when it matters the most come playoff time but they rank sixth in the NHL in goals allowed per game with goaltenders Jake Allen and Brian Elliott stepping up again to carry the load and as long as they continue to excel St. Louis should remain in the top-five with an eye on improving as they continue to get healthy bodies back in their lineup.

Chicago Blackhawks (20-12-4; 44 Points)

The Blackhawks are another team that has overcome injuries and some key offseason personnel changes in order to remain near the top of the Western Conference standings and while they have struggled to score goals at time they still have the league’s leading scorer Patrick Kane leading the way up front. Chicago’s management team had done an excellent job keeping its core players together while then plugging holes with impressive additions and it is definitely worth mentioning this team still hasn’t played to its peak potential as a unit. Developing that chemistry and staying healthy will be two keys for the Blackhawks since they might not be as deep as they were a year ago when they won the Stanley Cup but don’t sleep on Kane and company as a legitimate threat to repeat as champions.

Boston Bruins (19-10-4; 42 Points)

Boston is still a point back of the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference standings but they have three games in hand and will have plenty of opportunity to leapfrog them as they attempt to chase down second in their conference. It took some time for the Bruins to get going but they have certainly found their rhythm with a 6-2-2 record over their last 10 games and as long as they stay healthy they could be the team with the best chance to challenge Washington in the Eastern Conference. Montreal is that much better with a healthy Carey Price in their lineup and the New York Rangers have the potential to play a lot better than they have to this point but right now it is Boston that has the slight edge to round out our top-five in the NHL power rankings.



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