|Lynne Sladky - Associated Press|
This may be the easiest top five I've ever had to do!
(reminder that the list goes best to fifth best and worst to still bad but not quite the worst)
The Flyers won 10 straight games before losing to the Dallas Stars earlier today. They're getting phenomenal goaltending from Steve Mason and their stars in Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux, and Wayne Simmonds are firing on all cylinders. You do not want to be crossing paths with the Flyers right now.
Columbus Blue Jackets
I guess head coach John Tortorella figured out how to coach after getting absolutely embarrassed in the World Cup of Hockey coaching Team USA. He's got his men dominating their opponents. Columbus has won eight straight games and is 9-0-1 in its last 10 games. They're 13-3 in their last 16 games which has pushed a Flyers team that won 10 straight into the Wild Card. I'm highly impressed. You should be too.
Maybe the Pens haven't won as many straight games as the Blue Jackets and the Flyers but they just came off a seven game winning streak. Their only loss being an OT loss to the Los Angeles Kings last night. The Pens are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games but something of concern is they're being bit by the injury bug. Kris Letang and Trevor Daley who are crucial to the Penguins success on the blue line are going to be out for a few weeks. Luckily Sidney Crosby is on pace for 65 goals and Matt Murray is playing out of his mind posting a 12-2 record, a 1.88 GAA and a .937 save percentage. Rookie of The Year contender for sure.
While the attention is currently on the Metropolitan Division, the Minnesota Wild have quietly won seven straight games and are 7-1-2 in their last 10. Their goal differential is +29 so that's certainly not going to hurt. Devin Dubnyk has the highest save percentage in the NHL at .947 and currently has the most wins while leading his team to the lowest goals against average in the NHL as a team (1.93).
The Caps have won seven straight games and are going to be a big part of the reason the Metropolitan Division is likely to going to send five teams to the post season. FIVE! Alex Ovechkin isn't putting up the stats we normally see from the Great 8 but his teammates have picked up the slack quite a bit to help them win seven straight and go 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils have lost four straight games and gone 2-5-3 in their last 10 games. Their only hope is to play the rest of the season at home where they have only lost one game in regulation. Anywhere else they have just four wins.
The Avs are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games and are at the bottom of the Western Conference with just 23 points. Things are looking bleak in Colorado while they're sitting in the basement of the NHL by four points. They might want to start looking to the future and give some of their prospects some looks in the NHL.
Tampa Bay Lightning
What on earth happened to the Lightning? 2-7-1 in their last 10 games? Yikes. The injury to Steven Stamkos has really demoralized Jon Cooper's club and their goaltenders aren't giving them any help. Ben Bishop currently has a 2.87 GAA and Andrei Vasilevskiy isn't fairing any better with a 2.49 GAA.
Detroit Red Wings
That 27 straight years making the postseason is likely going to be broken come April. The Red Wings are playing poor and at it's best times, very mediocre hockey. Their top point getter is Henrik Zetterberg and he only has 20 points to his name in 31 games this season. Scoring has been a serious issue. Jimmy Howard has been performing admirably in net posting a 1.95 GAA and a .934 save percentage despite the team in front of him being a train wreck.
The Coyotes suck, plain and simple. If it weren't for Mike Smith they'd be the worst team on this list every time. In games where Smith faces 40 or more shots, he's 4-0-2 while going 3-4-2 when facing less than 40 shots. No other goaltender in the NHL has more than two wins when facing that many shots in a game. He's faced 46, 38, 45, 35, 27, 60, 33, 42, 42, 34, and 45 shots in his last 11 games while saving 93.6% of those shots faced. The Coyotes even won the game against the Maple Leafs in which he faced 60 shots. I'm exhausted thinking about this.