We’re already four months deep into the 2018-2019 NHL season. So how’s the Stanley Cup picture shaping up? It’s too soon to know for sure, but here’s a quick look at the NHL teams at the top of their divisions right now as we inch toward the postseason! If you’re a hockey fan, be sure to get cheap NHL tickets from Razorgator and go see some of the best teams on ice!
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Atlantic Division – Tampa Bay Lightning
We knew the Lightning would be good this season, but with a record of 39-11-2 at the moment, they look like they might be the best in the NHL! It’s no secret that they’ve got Stanley Cup hopes this season after falling just short of reaching the final round last year. The Lightning are looking dominant at the top of the Eastern Conference with a comfortable seven-point lead for number-one in the whole NHL. Speaking of number ones, right winger Nikita Kucherov leads the entire league with 80 points, while centerman Brayden Point has 30 goals – sixth in the NHL – and captain Steven Stamkos has had 59 points in the past 52 games.
One of their most impressive stats? The Lightning leads the league in goals differentials with +59… which is 20 more goals than the Maple Leafs who have the next highest differential. Yeah, no one even comes close. With the NHL trade deadline coming up at the end of the month, it’s unlikely that this already tough and deep team will add anyone else. It looks like they’ll continue trying to harness their excellent chemistry and stay healthy for the postseason.
Metropolitan Division – New York Islanders
At 30-16 and having won 16 of their last 20 games, the New York Islanders are pretty hot right now. Leading their division and four points ahead of the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, the Isles know their roles and execute their objectives in order to win. The team has gone 15-10 on the road this year and their recent loss to the Bruins was their first loss in regulation time in over three weeks. Centerman Mathew Barzal leads the team with 15 goals and 47 points while left winger Josh Bailey isn’t far behind with 11 goals and 38 points.
The Islanders’ performance is impressive, especially considering their limited playoff success last year and the big loss of star player John Tavares, who left to join the Toronto Maple Leafs in the offseason. Despite being on top of the Metro Division, the team as a whole still has some issues to address. Left winger Anthony Beauvillier isn’t producing as much as he should be, and some are urging the Isles to replace him with Michael Dal Colle or perhaps even make a trade…
Central Division – Winnipeg Jets
Just shy of number one in the Western Conference, the Winnipeg Jets have a record of 34-16, trailing the Calgary Flames by just two points currently. Key players like right winger Blake Wheeler and centerman Mark Scheifele lead the team with 65 and 62 points, respectively.
A couple of Jets players are coming into their own right now and their timing couldn’t be better. Forward Jack Roslovic just scored his first hat trick in their game against the Anaheim Ducks, and former bad boy Brendan Lemieux has turned his behavior around after a cheap shot garnered him a two-game suspension earlier in this season. Now the 22-year-old left winger is proving himself to his team and coach with seven goals in the past 27 games. Dustin Byfuglien has just returned from a lower-body injury after missing 14 games and Patrik Laine looks like he might make his way out of a slump. As for trades, the Jets could be in the market for a new center, but rumor has it they might be looking for a new winger too, potentially even a big-time player like Mark Stone or Artemi Panarin.
Pacific Division – Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames lead the West and their division with a record of 34-14-5. Goaltender David Rittich has made a surprisingly huge impact on the team. The Flames haven’t lost in regulation at home when he’s started, not to mention his road record is 11-4-0. This bodes well for Calgary who are working their way toward home-field advantage in the postseason and scheduled to play a lot more home games before that!
The Flames have got themselves a deadly trio of starters on offense. Left winger Johnny Gaudreau leads the team in points with 74 – that’s 29 goals and 45 assists – and centerman Sean Monahan isn’t too far behind with 27 goals and 35 assists. Right winger Elias Lindholm has 23 goals and 37 assists this season, while backup forward Matthew Tkachuk is only three points behind him! With numbers like that, it’s hard not to be good. As for trades, we’re not sure the Flames need a lot of help on the ice, but word on the street is that they’ve looked at right winger Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers. To be continued…