1 – Boston Bruins (13-1-3)
Boston is once again off to a fantastic start this year despite losing many key pieces in the offseason. The B’s have lost just one game in regulation through their first seventeen and have allowed a league-low 37 goals. Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark are still the best goaltending duo in the league by a sizeable margin, and clearly, this team is going to be just fine. They still may upgrade at centre before the trade deadline, but if they don’t, could you blame them for not wanting to shake things up?
2 – New York Rangers (12-3-1)
Winners of ten of their last twelve, the Rangers are another team in the East getting off to a very quick start. Artemi Panarin finally had his point streak snapped in Monday night’s loss to the Stars, but the Rangers winger has been one of the best in the entire league this year. As of November 21st, only the Bruins have more points than them in the Eastern Conference. Statistically, Igor Shesterkin is actually having a bit of a down year so far as well, so if he can get going, the Rangers should remain near the top of the conference all year.
3 – Vegas Golden Knights (13-4-2)
The Golden Knights have slowed down a bit with a record of 2-4-1 in their last seven, but I’d still consider them the team to beat in the West. As of November 21st, William Karlsson leads the team in points, but Jack Eichel, Mark Stone and Shea Thoedore are less than three behind him. In the crease, Adin Hill and Logan Thompson both have SVPs of at least .920 and are basically splitting the net. Despite the losses, there’s no reason to panic for the defending champs.
4 – Los Angeles Kings (11-3-3)
On the road, no team is better than the Kings, which could end up being a great thing for this squad come playoff time. They’re currently 8-0-0 away from home and just 3-3-3 in Los Angeles for an overall record of 11-3-3. Like the Knights, they don’t necessarily revolve around one or two players, but they’ll beat most teams in the league with their depth. No forwards are averaging more than twenty minutes a game, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty are continuing to get it done at a very high level, and Cam Talbot has been fantastic in net. The Kings are just a very good, well-rounded team.
5 – Vancouver Canucks (13-5-1)
Even with two losses in their last three games, the Canucks still hold the league’s best goal differential and have won eight of their last eleven tilts. Quinn Hughes leads the league in points with Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller right behind him, while Thatcher Demko is having quite the year himself. If you told Canucks fans that their team would be 2nd in the West on November 21st, I’m not sure if any of them would have believed you. Even with the regression possibly coming, you have to be excited as a fan of this team right now.
6 – Dallas Stars (12-4-1)
Their top players still haven’t really found their stride in the stat sheets and yet this team finds themselves at the top of the Central division with a record of 12-4-1. Honestly, the lack of dominant scoring from any one player is probably a good thing because it shows Dallas can get production from a lot of different players. None of their top forwards average more than 18:22 of ice time because with a team as deep as Dallas is, scoring can and has come from a variety of lines. With Jake Oettinger backing everyone up in the crease, Dallas is yet another team in the West that should have Cup aspirations.
7 – Florida Panthers (12-5-1)
Despite missing their top two defencemen for the first 16 games of the season, the Panthers are off to a great start. Sam Reinhart has been terrific on offence and leads the team with 25 points in 18 games, while Barkov and Tkachuk are tied for second with 17 each. Sergei Bobrovsky’s stats don’t jump off the page, but with a record of 9-4-1, he’s clearly doing enough to get the job done. With Montour and Ekblad now back in the lineup, this team should remain a large threat in the Eastern Conference.
8 – Toronto Maple Leafs (10-5-2)
The Leafs are winners of four straight games and have maybe the most electric player in the league right now in William Nylander. Nylander has registered a point in every game so far this season and is six points clear of Auston Matthews for the team lead. He may be playing himself right out of Toronto on this contract season, but for now at least, the fans can enjoy the terrific run he’s been on. Goaltending and defence remain an issue against top competition, but like usual, the Leafs should be one of the best teams in the regular season.
9 – Washington Capitals (9-4-2)
With 17 points in their last ten games, the Capitals are moving up the standings in a way that not many people thought was possible this year. Nicklas Backstrom stepped away after eight games, T.J. Oshie has just one assist in 15 contests, Alex Ovechkin only has five goals, and yet, this team is winning. It’s not the classic Capitals brand that we’re used to seeing, but give the veterans on this team credit for still finding ways to get it done. As of November 21st, the Caps are one point behind second place in the Metro division with three games in hand.
10 – Colorado Avalanche (11-6-0)
They’ve lost six of their last eleven games, but it’s certainly not time to panic in Colorado. Cale Makar is as terrific as ever and has scored 16 points in his last seven games, while Mikko Rantanen and Nathan Mackinnon are both over 20 points on the season as well. Goaltending has been a little spotty, but if Georgiev can find his early season form again, the Avs won’t be losing a lot. Don’t let the recent record fool you, this Avs team is still one of the very best in the league.
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