1. St. Louis Blues
I honestly thought Alex Steen would slow down by now. But he's second in the league in goals, second in points and third in plus-minus and has already more than doubled his goals from last season. He's the best player on the league's best team right now.
2. Chicago Blackhawks
The Hawks have four different skaters with at least 20 points, led by the dynamic duo of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. And that's without Marian Hossa, who has 17 points despite missing five games. They can't afford to lose Crawford though, as backup goaltender remains a huge question mark.
3. San Jose Sharks
15 of their 16 skaters that have appeared in at least 15 games have a plus-minus of 0 or better. The only one that doesn't? James Sheppard with a -1. Pretty impressive if you ask me.
4. Los Angeles Kings
Out of nowhere, the Kings are the hottest team in the league. Los Angeles hasn't lost in regulation since November 2nd, going 7-0-3 in their ten games since. With the Sharks, Blues and Ducks looming in the near future, we'll find out just how good the Kings really are.
5. Colorado Avalanche
I can't help but love the Avs. Patrick Roy brings an unmatched fire behind the bench and they're an offensive juggernaut. A three game winning streak launches them right back into the top five.
6. Boston Bruins
Wow, what a game against Pittsburgh! Torey Krug’s overtime snipe was the icing on the cake for the B’s, who desperately needed the win in overtime after allowing the tying goal to Sidney Crosby with 0.5 seconds left in regulation. They’re the early favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup.
7. Anaheim Ducks
As I said last week, the Ducks aren’t as good as they look on paper. 9-0-1 at home is outstanding, but elite teams find a way to win on the road. Anaheim has now lost more than they’ve won when playing as the visitor, sitting at 8-7-2.
8. Phoenix Coyotes
At 32 points, the Coyotes would rank second in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately for them, they play in the West, where they sit in eighth. What has me worried with the Yotes is their +2 goal differential for the season.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby leads the league in points, Evegeni Malkin leads the league in assists and Pittsburgh leads the Metropolitan Division. They’re not as talented as years past, but they’re still a force to be reckoned with.
10. Minnesota Wild
Zack Parise is out for the next 2-3 weeks. Will the Wild thrive in the absence of their offensive leader or will this sink them back into mediocrity?
11. Tampa Bay Lightning
It took seven games, but Steven Stamkos finally got bumped to second on the Lightning in points. The Bolts are doing everything they can to stay afloat without Stamkos but they are surely counting down the days until he returns.
12. Montreal Canadiens
Winners of three straight and four of their last five, the Habs are finally performing how everyone expected them to. Carey Price has been fantastic in net, holding opponents to just 2.05 goals per game.
13. Washington Capitals
The NHL has its first 20-goal scorer of the season: Alex Ovechkin. While that might not be a surprise, the emergence of MMikhail Grabovski and Marcus Johansson has been. After relatively slow starts, the Caps look like they just might be for real.
14. Nashville Predators
After stopping a four-game skid, the Preds are back rolling. With eight straight games against teams ranked outside the top ten, this is Nashville's chance to make a move in the Western Conference.
15. Dallas Stars
3 goals in 53 seconds against the Ducks is absurd! Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are playing well enough to make just about any National Team in the world…But have they done enough to make Team Canada?
16. Toronto Maple Leafs
Stats are funny. Jonathan Bernier has more starts and a lower GAA, but James Reimer has a better winning percentage. Both have a .934 save percentage. Bernier is getting all the number-one love, but Reimer has a case.
17. Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver is great at killing penalties. They're the only team in the league that has yet to allow double-digit powerplay goals. Unfortunately, they're almost as bad at capitalizing on other teams' penalties. They're third-worst in the league in powerplay percentage.
18. Detroit Red Wings
There hasn’t been much to cheer about in Hockey Town lately, and Pavel Datsyuk missing a second straight game isn’t going to help that. Bruiser Todd Bertuzzi will also miss the upcoming game against the Bruins, giving Detroit little hope against the beasts of the East.
19. New York Rangers
Rick Nash is finally back, but will he be able to stay healthy the rest of the season? He has two goals in five games since his return, but he hasn't had an assist since recording two on October 7th.
20. Carolina Hurricanes
Just a total lack of offensive firepower. With a few forwards seemingly available on the market, Carolina needs to do whatever it takes to acquire one as they are only one offensive threat away from a playoff team.
21. New Jersey Devils
Off-season signings Michael Ryder and Ryan Clowe have been disappointing, while Jaromir Jagr and Eric Gelinas are far exceeding expectations. They’re a fringe team right now, but the Devils are no strangers to overachieving.
22. Winnipeg Jets
Dustin Byfuglien is an extremely talented offensive defenseman but his -8 rating worries me. It likely worries Team USA too, as Buff is no lock to make the Olympic roster.
23. Philadelphia Flyers
Heading to Florida with a seven game point streak, a match-up with the Panthers seemed like a guaranteed win. Not so fast, Philly. An uninspiring 3-1 loss to the Panthers was probably just a trap game, but the Flyguys will need to bounce right back before they lose all their momentum.
24. Ottawa Senators
Erik Karlsson is giving P.K. Subban a run for his money for best defenseman in the league. The 23 year-old leads the Senators in scoring with 26 points. The Sens are finally playing some better hockey, going 5-5-0 over their last ten.
25. Columbus Blue Jackets
Marian Gaborik's Achilles heel has always been his vulnerability to injuries. This year is no different, as Gabby has already missed one-third of his team's games. I doubt many people thought James Wisniewski would be leading the team in points at the quarter mark of the season.
26. Edmonton Oilers
Before a 5-1 loss to Chicago, it looked like the Oilers finally figured it out. They won three straight, scoring 15 goals while only allowing three over that span. With games against the Preds and Blue Jackets coming up, how will the Oilers respond?
27. Florida Panthers
For the first time in a long time, Tim Thomas stood on his head when the Panthers downed the Flyers. He's 6-8-1 in net for the Panthers, while his backups are a combined 1-6-4. Maybe there's a little magic left in him after all.
28. New York Islanders
I've said before how great a core the Islanders have, but after their 'big four', the talent simply isn't there. After Tavares, Nielsen, Okposo and Vanek, the Isles leading scorer has 10 points. Last place in the Metropolitan isn’t a good look for the Islanders.
29. Calgary Flames
They're 2-6-2 over their last ten and at risk of getting leapfrogged by the Oilers, who are only four points back. Jiri Hudler is having a nice season, but their defense and goaltending are atrocious.
30. Buffalo Sabres
When you have five fewer points than anyone else in hockey, it's hard to make a case for any spot other than 30th. I'm not even going to try. The Sabres are the worst.