After recording an 8-0-2 record in their last 10 games, the Chicago Blackhawks will continue their hot streak into this week.
Five teams in the NHL have proven to be the most consistent thus far in the season: the Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. Each of these teams stand out from the competition after stringing together a strong set of performances to date. However, other teams are starting to creep up and threaten the current status of the top five. The Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils and San Jose Sharks have all played well as of late. These teams have not marked a record to be considered deserving members of the top five, but have at the very least positioned themselves as early contenders for spots in the postseason. The following rankings are based on play to date.
- Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks have been the most consistent team thus far in the Western Conference. As they currently stand, the Blackhawks are five points ahead of the second-place team in the West, the Edmonton Oilers. A loss to the Washington Capitals during overtime Nov. 11 snapped a seven-game win streak. Despite the loss, the Blackhawks won against two formidable opponents during this week’s play, the Montreal Canadiens and the St. Louis Blues. Blackhawks rookie defenseman Gustav Forsling put together a memorable week tallying his first NHL goal and recording two assists. Linemates, forwards Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane, also made their mark on the action. Panarin scored the game-winning goal against the St. Louis Blues Nov. 9, and Kane helped the Blackhawks take the lead against the Canadiens Nov. 13, as Kane’s diving effort made him an early candidate for the goal of the year. Goalie Corey Crawford has also proved a force in net, making flashy saves with his glove and pads.
- Montreal Canadiens
For the first time in franchise history, the Canadiens started off their season 10-0-0 at home. The Canadiens’ prowess in the Centre Bell was proven this week, as they beat the Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings on home ice. The new addition to the Canadiens’ defensive corps, Shea Weber, set himself apart by leading the defensemen with seven goals. Multiple Montreal forwards have been able to score timely goals and help separate themselves early from their opponents. Goalie Carey Price has continued his dominance as he currently leads the league in save percentage and wins.
- New York Rangers
The Rangers’ Nov. 8 slip up against the Vancouver Canucks has has been insufficient to deter the Rangers’ playing style, as they went on to face-off against a trio of teams in Western Canada. In consecutive nights, the Rangers defeated the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers. Speed has proved an asset to the Rangers’ offense. Forward Michael Grabner has led the Rangers in goals, with his ability to swoop in quickly for rebounds and create distance from defenders in transition. Rangers rookie forwards Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich have also helped add much needed goal scoring.
- Pittsburgh Penguins
With only nine games under his belt, Penguins captain and center iceman Sidney Crosby has been among the most dangerous forwards in the NHL. Already, Crosby has tallied ten goals, one fewer than the league leader, Winnipeg Jet forward Patrik Laine, who has played in eight more games than Crosby. Crosby’s ability to make his teammates better on the ice has elevated the play of the Penguins. In the net, goalie Matt Murray has outperformed his veteran teammate Marc-Andre Fleury. Murray has been using his pads to his advantage, making him seem like a big presence in goal.
- Washington Capitals
The Capitals have had a few slip-ups thus far this season, but still have exhibited strong team play making them worthy of a top five ranking. The highlight of the week for the Capitals was traveling to No. 1 Chicago to edge the Blackhawks by one goal. Two goals by forward Jay Beagle was met with a game winning goal in overtime by forward Marcus Johansson. Johansson deposited a one-time pass by defenseman Dmitry Orlov to beat goalie Crawford for a 3-2 victory. An impressive showing against Chicago was met by an underwhelming performance against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Capitals’ plethora of scoring talent in players like forwards Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie have been able to keep the Capitals on track thus far in the season.