As we are a quarter of the way into the NHL season lets give each team a grade.
Anaheim Ducks: 10-10-3 23 points, 3 way tie for 5th in the Pacific Division.
Letter grade C
Not much was expected from the Ducks this year but they surprised many people out of the gate with their hot start as they won 6 of 8 and only gave up 14 goals in that span. Reality has now set in as they have now lost 7 of 8 including blowing a 4-0 lead in their last game to the Florida Panthers. In that span they have been given up 34 goals and goaltender John Gibson has come back to earth after carrying the Ducks early in the season. They have shown more scoring punch than expected as Richard Rakell, Jacob Silfverberg, Adam Henrique, and Ryan Getzlaf have combined for 32 goals and 32 assists. Probably not as bad their current form but the Ducks will still not be a playoff team.
Arizona Coyotes: 13-8-2 28 points, 2nd place in the Pacific Division.
Letter grade B+
The goaltending has carried the Coyotes this season as Darcy Kuemper is your early Vezina favorite posting a GAA of 1.93 with a .935 save percentage and 9 wins while the backup Antti Raanta has a GAA of 2.69, .922 save percentage and 4 wins. The Coyotes are tied for 2nd with the Boston Bruins in goals allowed with 52. The offense still struggles in stretches as they are tied for 22nd in goals scored and they need to get Phil Kessel going as he has struggled early in the season with only 4 goals. With a balanced Western Conference and the early struggles for the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks expect the Coyotes to be a playoff contender for the rest of the season and if things fall right they could possibly win the Pacific Division.
Boston Bruins 14-3-5 33 points, 1st place in the Atlantic Division.
Letter grade A
Except for a recent early November swoon where they lost 5 of 6 the Bruins have been one of the best teams in the NHL this season. Brad Marchand (15 goals, 22 assists), David Pastrnak (20 goals, 16 assists), and Patrice Bergeron (8 goals, 12 assists) have been the best line in the NHL this season and the Bruins are tied for 3rd in goals scored. Defensively they have been just as good tied for 2nd in goals allowed with 52 and arguably have the best goaltending tandem in Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak who have combined for a 2.36 GAA and .926 save percentage. The only real negative for the Bruins is the secondary scorers like Jake DeBrusk, Charlie Coyle, David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, and Danton Heinen have struggled early so any injuries to their top line could spell trouble offensively down the line for the Bruins. Expect this team to continue to be among the elite in the Eastern Conference and a Stanley Cup contender.
Buffalo Sabres 10-9-3 23 points, 5th in the Atlantic Division
Letter grade C
You have to hope as a Sabres fan that history is not repeating itself from last season with the hot start and huge fade. The Sabres started the season winning 9 of 12 but now have hit the skids losing their last 9 of 10. They averaged 3.25 goals per game and gave up 2 goals per game for the first 12 games of the season but in their last 10 the offense has dried up only scoring 2 goals per game and allowing 3.6 goals per game. Jack Eichel is staying healthy and has scored 13 goals with 13 assists but the lack of scoring depth behind Eichel, Jeff Skinner, Sam Reinhart, and Victor Olofsson is hurting the Sabres. If Marcus Johansson, Casey Mittelstadt, Conor Sheary, Kyle Okposo, Zemgus Girgensons, and Jonah Larsson don't contribute more this will be another year missing the playoffs. Until they show more consistency the Sabres are probably a year or two away from being a playoff contender.
Calgary Flames 10-12-3 23 points, 3 way tie for 5th in the Pacific Division
Letter grade D
So did the Flames overachieve last season with the most points in the Western Conference and now are showing their true form? The Flames in my book are the biggest disappointment this season. They have now lost 6 straight and if the playoffs started today they would not be in the tournament. The biggest mystery for the Flames is where has all of the goal scoring gone? They were tied for 2nd in goals scored last season and now are in the bottom five. 30 goal scorers from last season Johnny Gadreau and Sean Monahan have each only scored 5 goals this year and Milan Lucic has been a total bust coming over from the Edmonton Oilers with zero goals and 4 assists on the season. Making it more painful is James Neal's hot start for the Oilers with 13 goals. Lucic is performing the bust hat trick as he was horrible for the Los Angeles Kings, horrible for the Edmonton Oilers, and now stinking it up for the Flames. The Flames have also given up the 4th most amount of goals and the goaltending tandem of David Rittich and Cam Talbot have been below average with a combined 3.12 GAA and .900 save percentage. You never want to write off anybody this early in the season but the Flames will have to show a lot more soon if they want a return trip to the playoffs.
Carolina Hurricanes 13-8-1 27 points, 3rd in the Metropolitan Division
Letter grade B
The Hurricanes had themselves a mini early November swoon losing four straight but overall have lived up to their preseason expectations of being a playoff contender. They are tied for 5th in goals scored and defenseman Dougie Hamilton has had an all star start to the season with 9 goals and 14 assists. As long as starting goaltender Peter Mrazek gives them consistent starts they will be a playoff team and like last year could be in position for a Stanley Cup run.
Chicago Blackhawks 9-9-4 22 points, 5th in the Central Division
Letter grade C
The Blackhawks have not underachieved but haven't overachieved as well playing .500 hockey and right now on the fringe of the playoffs like most pundits projected them before the season started. They did have a nice stretch recently of winning 5 of 6 but have lost their last 2. The question for the Blackhawks is should they continue to platoon goaltenders Robin Lehner (2.52 GAA, .934 save percentage) and Corey Crawford (3.02 GAA, .914 save percentage) or give the job to Lehner full time per having the better numbers. The defense has improved this year as they are in the top 10 in least number of goals allowed after giving up the 2nd most goals last year. They will need more offense from Jonathan Toews (4 goals in 23 games) and Alex DeBrincat (5 goals in 22 games) after they combined to score 76 goals last season. Probably still not a playoff team but if Lehner can get hot and the scoring picks up they could sneak into one of the last 2 playoff spots.
Colorado Avalanche 13-7-2 28 points, tied for 2nd in the Central Division
Letter Grade B+
The Avalanche have survived some early season key injuries to top players like Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog to put themselves among the best teams in the Western Conference. Center Nathan MacKinnon is putting up early MVP numbers with 13 goals and 19 assists and Cale Makar is looking like the runaway winner for rookie of the year as the 21 year defenseman already has 7 goals and 18 assists. The off season acquisitions of Joonas Donskoi (9 goals, 6 assists) Nazem Kadri (7 goals, 8 assists), and Andrey Burakovsky (10 goals, 10 assists) have paid off handsomely for the Avs and even with Rantanen and Landeskog missing significant time they are 3rd overall in goals scored. Once they are relatively healthy this team will be a major factor in the Western Conference with their scoring depth.
Columbus Blue Jackets 9-8-4 22 points, 6th in the Metropolitan Division
Letter grade C+
The Blue Jackets have held their own this season after all of the major free agent departures from last season's playoff team. John Tortorella has gotten the most out of this team playing close to .500 hockey even with a roster most NHL pundits would say is one of the least talented. Goal scoring has been a problem for the Jackets as they have scored the 2nd fewest in the league. This will not be a playoff team but you will always get a good effort night in and night out and they will steal their share of wins by outworking and outhustling unprepared teams.
Dallas Stars 13-8-2 28 points, tied for 2nd in the Central Division.
Letter grade B
After a slow start the Dallas Stars have put it together and have now won 5 straight and 12 of their last 14. They started the season scoring only 17 goals in their first 9 games but during their latest run have scored 41 goals in their last 10 games. As good as goaltender Ben Bishop was last season he has been equally good this season with a 2.25 GAA and .926 save percentage. The veteran scorers like Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov, Tyler Seguin, and Radek Faksa have recovered from slow starts and once they get Roope Hintz back from injury the offense should be fine. With their defensive style and as long as the veteran scorers can avoid major slumps this team will be a major factor in the Western Conference.
Detroit Red Wings 7-14-3 17 points, Last in the Atlantic Division
Letter grade D
Not a big surprise that this team has struggled but I don't think most Red Wing fans thought this would be the worst team in the league with only 17 points. They have scored the 3rd fewest goals with 58 and have given up the most goals in the league with 90. Anthony Mantha has had a nice season with 12 goals and 11 assists but there is virtually no secondary scoring with the Wings and the goaltending tandem of Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Bernier has been a disaster with combined 3.75 GAA and .881 save percentage. This team will be trying to move veteran players once the trade deadline comes closer and it looks like General Manager Steve Yzerman might be in line for a long rebuild. No chance for the playoffs.
Edmonton Oilers 14-7-3 31 points, 1st in the Pacific Division
Letter grade A
Connor McDavid is proving again he is the best player in the NHL and is your early favorite for MVP. McDavid and his teammate Leon Draisaitl are running 1-2 in scoring each with 16 goals and 28 assists and are a big reason why the Oilers are leading the Pacific Division. They have also gotten great contributions from James Neal with 13 goals and Zach Kassian with 8 goals and 8 assists. The Oilers power play is ranked #1 converting at a sizzling 31.4 % and the power play penalty kill is ranked 2nd at 87.6%. The goaltending is improved as well with Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen splitting the duties 50-50 and combining for a 2.79 GAA and .910 save percentage. The Oilers have remained consistent through the early season with never having a losing streak of more than 2 games. I think the only thing that could slow down the Oilers would be a major injury to McDavid or Draisaitl and as long as Smith and Koskinen remain consistent the Oilers should be a playoff team and a possible contender for the Western Conference.
Florida Panthers 12-5-5 29 points, 2nd in the Atlantic Division
Letter grade B+
After a slow start losing their first 4 of 5 coach Joel Quenneville and the Florida Panthers are starting to finally blossom into an Eastern Conference contender. This team has been a goal scoring machine with the 2nd most goals in the league with 81, 4th most shots on goal per game, and the 5th highest rated power play at 25.0%. Jonathan Huberdeau (10 goals, 20 assists) is 7th overall in scoring and Aleksander Barkov (7 goals, 22 assists) is right behind him in 9th. The Panthers have to feel good where they are at considering the major struggles of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Their big free agent signing in the off season has a GAA of 3.47 and save percentage of .886. I think Bobrovsky will eventually come around and if they can get Bobrovsky straight this should be a playoff team and like Carolina last year could be a sleeper team to make a run in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Los Angeles Kings 9-12-1 19 points, last in the Pacific Division
Letter grade D
This was not projected as a playoff team and not a big surprise this team is currently last in the Pacific Division. They are tied for 3rd in fewest goals scored and have given up the 6th most goals. They more or less told veteran Ilya Kovalchuk to take a hike as they promised him no more playing time so the question for the Kings is when will they start to unload more veterans like Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, or Jeff Carter if they continue to struggle. It looks like goaltender Jonathan Quick is on his last legs as he has struggled mightily with a 3.54 GAA and .883 save percentage. It will always be a losing formula when your core players are all in their 30's with hefty contracts. No chance for the playoffs and should be a major seller at the trade deadline.
Minnesota Wild 9-11-2 20 points, last in the Central Division
Letter grade D
Like the Kings the Wild were not projected to be a playoff team and losing 9 of 13 to open the season didn't help the cause. They have played better of late winning 3 of 4 but it will be an uphill climb to get themselves in playoff contention. This team is in the bottom 10 in goals scored (tied for 26th) and goals allowed (tied for 7th) and don't have enough young play makers to help veteran scorers Zach Parise and Eric Staal. One bright spot for the Wild has been the play of back up goaltender Alex Stalock who sports a 2.56 GAA and .913 save percentage. A big longshot for the playoffs and will probably be in the market to unload veteran players near the trade deadline.
Montreal Canadiens 11-6-5 27 points, 3rd in the Atlantic Division
Letter grade B
The Habs overall have to be pleased where they are standing at this point of the season but there are concerns of late with a 3 game losing streak and some recent injuries. The biggest loss is center Jonathan Drouin who will be out 8 weeks after wrist surgery. They have to hope Max Domi, who is off to a slow start with only 4 goals, Nick Suzuki and Phillip Danault can pick up the scoring load. Defenseman Shea Weber has bounced back nicely from his recent injuries and is playing at an all star level. Carey Price hasn't been spectacular but has been consistent this season with a 2.71 GAA and .912 save percentage. This team should be in the mix for a playoff spot but hard to predict which way this team will go. As long as Weber and Price stay healthy they have a shot.
Nashville Predators 9-9-3 6th in the Central Division
Letter grade D
This team has been in a major free fall of late losing 6 straight and 8 of 9. The most alarming part of this skid has been the major struggles of goaltender Pekka Rinne. After starting the season with an 8-0-2 record with a .923 save percentage in his last 4 starts he has given up 18 goals on 78 shots and has been pulled in 2 of his 3 last starts. Back up goaltender Juuse Saros has struggled as well with a 3.35 GAA and .888 save percentage and the Predators are dead last in penalty kill percentage. The offense has been fine as they are tied for 8th in goals scored. The question going into the season was how the Preds were going to compensate losing all star defenseman P.K. Subban and unfortunately that is where they have shown their vulnerabilities. You expected this team to be a contender for the Western Conference but until they get Rinne right at age 36 you have to be concerned. I would wait until we are halfway through the season to really assess this team since I think they can turn it around. There is to much talent on this team to flounder this badly for this long.
New Jersey Devils 7-10-4 Last Place in the Metropolitan Division
Letter grade F
There were expectations that this team would have a major turn around and contend for the playoffs with their off season acquisitions of P.K.Subban and Wayne Simmonds, the addition of the 1st overall draft pick in Jack Hughes and the return from injury of 2017-2018 league MVP Taylor Hall. However this season has been an unmitigated disaster as the Devils lost their first 6 games, have not had a winning streak of more than 2 games, and are dead last in goals scored with 51. Hall has struggled mightily with only 3 goals in 21 games, Simmonds 4 goals in 21 games and Hughes having a difficult start to his rookie season with only 4 goals and 6 assists in 21 games. They already waived goaltender Cory Schneider who had a 4+ GAA and now will rely on 22 year old goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood for the rest of the season. It looks like this will not be quick fix for the Devils so it will be interesting once we get near the trade deadline if they will be sellers. In a deep Eastern Conference and to many questions on defense the Devils will not be a playoff team
New York Islanders 16-3-1 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division
Letter grade A+
The Islanders are proving last years regular season run was no fluke as they are tied for the 2nd most points in the Eastern Conference and are right now on a 16 game point streak as they have won 15 of their last 16 and their only loss was in overtime after they blew a 3-0 3rd period lead to the Pittsburgh Penguins. After giving up the fewest goals last season they again have given up the fewest goals this season and allowed the lowest number of shots on goal per game even with losing goaltender Robin Lehner to free agency. Goaltenders Semyon Varalamov and Thomas Greiss are splitting the goaltending duties evenly and have combined for a 2.45 GAA and .922 save percentage. The big surprise offensively has been 22 year old left wing Anthony Beauvillier who has 8 goals and 8 assists after only have 28 total points all last season. Coach Barry Trotz is working his magic again and this team has to be considered a top contender in the Eastern Conference.
New York Rangers 9-9-2 6th place in the Atlantic Division
Letter grade C
The Rangers have been one of the more unpredictable teams this season with some really good wins and some head scratching losses. This Wednesday they beat the team with the most points in the NHL the Washington Capitals 4-1 but then followed that up with a 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators. The goaltending has been inconsistent as Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev have combined for a 3.47 GAA and .903 save percentage. 2nd overall draft pick rookie Kaapo Kakko struggled early in the season but is starting to come around as he has 6 goals in 17 games. The Rangers have really missed center Mika Zibanejad who has missed the last 11 games with an upper body injury and had 11 points in his first 9 games. The Rangers don't look like a playoff team and the only chance they would have is if Lundqvist or Georgiev get super hot, they get Zibanejad back in the lineup, and Artemi Panerin and Kakko start producing more.
Ottawa Senators 11-11-1 5th place in the Atlantic Division
Letter grade B
Would you ever think at this point in the season that the Senators would have more points than the Tampa Bay Lightning? I know the Sens have played 4 more games than the Lightning but it is a tribute to the Sens for their A+ effort night in and night out when most pundits thought this team would easily be the worst team in the league. John-Gabriel Pageau is tied for 7th in goals scored with 13 and Brady Tkachuk and Anthony DuClair have combined for 17 goals on the season. This will not be a playoff team but with such a young roster you have to be optimistic about the future.
Philadelphia Flyers 11-7-4 5th place in the Metropolitan Division
Letter grade B-
No real surprises from the Flyers as they were projected to be a fringe playoff team and are sitting mid-pack in the Eastern Conference. It looks like goaltender Carter Hart has come back from a miserable early season slump and him and Brian Elliott have finally given some needed stability in net combining for a 2.91 GAA and .900 save percentage. The Flyers have given up the 7th fewest goals this season and have the 6th best power play kill percentage at 84.8%. Young forwards Travis Kocecny (8 goals, 15 assists) and Oskar Lindblom (9 goals, 7 assists) have been nice early season surprises but the Flyers will need to get more production from veterans like Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, James van Riemsdyk, and Kevin Hayes. The Flyers are a hard team to predict. I don't expect a total free fall during the season but wouldn't expect them to be near the top of the Eastern Conference and will remain on the fringes of the playoffs.
Pittsburgh Penguins 12-7-4 28 points, 3rd in the Metropolitan Division
Letter grade B
The Penguins have shown strong resiliency as they have battled early season injuries to many of their key players in Evgeni Malkin (missed 11 games), Sidney Crosby (out until late December or early January), Bryan Rust (missed 11 games), and Kris Letang (currently out with a lower body injury). Even with all the injuries the Penguins are still scoring as they are ranked 5th in goals scored with 77. The main reason the Penguins keep winning is on the defensive side. They have given up the 5th least number of goals and have the 3rd best penalty kill percentage at 86.7%. Starting goalie Matt Murray has been a consistent presence with a 2.60 GAA and .907 save percentage but the real story is the emergence of back up goalie Tristan Jarry who in 6 starts has a 1.80 GAA and .945 save percentage. If the Pens can survive while Crosby is out and they continue to excel on the defensive side this will be a mid level playoff team.
San Jose Sharks 11-11-1, tied for 5th in the Pacific Division
Letter grade C-
It looked like this team was going into severe decline losing 11 of their first 15 games but have rallied nicely in November winning 7 of 8 and putting themselves near the playoff cut line. Scoring goals was a big problem early in the season as they scored only 36 goals in their first 15 games but the offense has come alive of late scoring 31 goals in their last 8 games. Forwards Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture, Timo Maier, Kevin Labanc, and except for Evander Kane, who carried the offense early in the season, have all come alive offensively to spark the Sharks. The usual problem with the Sharks is the continued sub par goaltending from Martin Jones (3.34 GAA, .883 save percentage) and Aaron Dell (3.33 GAA .895 save percentage) but it looks like they will continue to ride them out this season. The surprising statistic for the Sharks is they have the #1 power play penalty kill at 90.2%. A bigger question for the Sharks is when are they going to pull the plug on Joe Thornton who at age 40 has 0 goals and 6 assists with a plus/minus of -9. Unless their goaltending improves dramatically it looks like the best the Sharks will be able to do would be to squeak into one of the last 2 playoff spots.
St Louis Blues 14-4-5 33 points, 1st place in the Central Division
Letter grade A
The Blues have come out strong to start the regular season trying to prove last years Stanley Cup run was not a one year fluke. The number one question for the Blues was if goaltender Jordan Binnington was a flash in the pan and if could bring his A game for an entire regular season. Binnington has answered his critics early posting a stellar 2.19 GAA and .926 save percentage with 11 wins. Also the Blues have given up the 5th least number of goals with 60. Offensively the Blues have survived the injury absence of Vladimir Tarasenko (likely out until the playoffs) as David Perron (10 goals, 11 assists) and Brayden Schenn (11 goals, 9 assists) are off to good starts and the Blues have the 7th highest power play conversion rate at 24.3%. As long as Craig Berube is behind the bench and they play his system and Binnington continues to shine the Blues will be one of the favorites in the Western Conference.
Toronto Maple Leafs 10-10-4 24 points, 4th in the Atlantic Division
Letter grade D
The Leafs have been one of the biggest underachievers this year and it eventually cost coach Mike Babcock his job as he was fired early in the week. The biggest area of slippage has been on the defensive side as they have given up the 2nd most goals in the league with 80. Tyson Barrie who came over in a trade from Colorado has been the biggest scapegoat as he has struggled both defensively and offensively with only 1 goal and 7 assists and a plus/minus of -10. Goaltender Frederik Andersen has been a steady presence in net with a 2.69 GAA and .915 save percentage but the back up goalie position has been a disaster as they have no wins from the back up this year as Michael Hutchinson was winless in 6 starts with a 4.44 GAA and in his NHL debut Kasimir Kaskisuo was shelled by the Penguins losing 6-1. Offensively they are still scoring goals standing 8th in goals scored this season and the offense should pick it up with a healthy John Tavares and Mitch Marner back in the lineup. We'll see if the new coaching change to Sheldon Keefe will spark the Leafs who I think can turn it around but if Andersen gets injured this could turn into a lost non playoff season.
Tampa Bay Lightning 10-7-2 22 points, 7th in the Atlantic Division
Letter grade F
The Lightning have played the least number of games this season with only 19 but for arguably the most talented team to be sitting a point behind the Ottawa Senators and almost dead last in the Atlantic Division is inexcusable. The offense has yet to really get untracked as the Lightning do not have a player even ranked in the top 25 in scoring (Steven Stamkos tied for 29th with 20 points) and they are only 14th in goals scored. Last year's league MVP Nikita Kucherov is off to a very slow start with only 6 goals and 12 assists. Projected over a full season on that pace would put him at 24 goals and 48 assists compared to his MVP season of last year of 41 goals and 87 assists. Brayden Point also has started slowly with only 5 goals and 8 assists after tallying 41 goals and 51 assists last season. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has been just average after signing his long term contract with a 2.95 GAA and .904 save percentage. I expect this team to snap out of it and go on a run and make the playoffs but they are far from a lock from being a favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference.
Vancouver Canucks 12-8-4 27 points, 3rd in the Pacific Division
Letter grade B
The Canucks have won 2 straight after a rough stretch in early November where they lost 7 of 8. The improved offense has propelled the Canucks into being a playoff contender as they are tied for 9th in goals scored after finishing 26th overall in goals scored last season. Elias Petersson has shown no signs of a sophomore slump with 10 goals and 19 assists and the Canucks are getting nice contributions from Brock Boeser (10 goals, 13 assists), J.T. Miller (9 goals, 14 assists), and Bo Horvat (8 goals, 10 assists). Quinn Hughes (2 goals, 16 assists), and Alexander Edler (4 goals and 11 assists) are in the top 20 in scoring for defensemen. Also the Canucks have the 4th highest rated power play conversion rate at 27.1%. As long as goaltenders Jacob Markstrom (2.85 GAA and .905 save percentage) and Thatcher Demko (2.50 GAA, .916 save percentage) give the Canucks consistency in net they should continue to lurk near playoff contention and could possibly grab one of the last playoff spots toward the end of the year.
Vegas Golden Knights 11-9-4 26 points, 4th in the Pacific Division
Letter grade C-
The Golden Knights before the season looked like one of the favorites in the Western Conference but have struggled in stretches as they lost 7 of 8 in early November and are hovering around the playoff cut line. The big question for the Golden Knights is their back up goaltender position as they have yet to get a win from the back up. In 7 starts the back up goaltenders (Malcolm Subban, Oscar Dansk, and Garret Sparks) have given up 23 goals on 185 shots for a .875 save percentage. Starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury at age 34 has shown no signs of regression with a 2.45 GAA and .922 save percentage but if he goes down with a major injury Vegas could go from contender to a non playoff team. The offense is 12th in goals scored and they have enough firepower and depth to put the puck in the net night in and night out. I expect the Golden Knights to be a playoff team and have a talented enough roster to make a major playoff run but they have shown some vulnerabilities this year and are by no means a lock for the playoffs.
Washington Capitals 16-4-5 37 points, 1st in the Atlantic Division
Letter grade A
You might have thought a regression was coming for the Caps but they have shown no signs of a drop off and sit atop the Atlantic Division. They are first in goals scored and tied for 10th in fewest goals allowed. Defenseman John Carlson is having a spectacular start to the season leading blue line scorers with 8 goals and 28 assists, is tied for 4th in overall in scoring and tied for 2nd in plus/minus with a rating of +15. Alex Ovechkin has shown no signs of regression with 15 goals and 3 other Caps have reached the double digit mark in goals scored with Jakub Vrana (11 goals), Evgeny Kuznetsov (10 goals), and T.J. Oshie (10 goals). Tom Wilson has also sparked the offense with 9 goals and 9 assists. Goaltender Braden Holtby hasn't had a great season posting some mediocre numbers (2.98 GAA and .904 save percentage) but the Caps have had a nice surprise with back up goalie Ilya Samsonov playing well with a 2.65 GAA, .912 save percentage and 5 wins. It looks like the Caps are prepared again to make another Stanley Cup run and should be a factor the rest of the way in the Eastern Conference.
Winnipeg Jets 13-9-1 27 points, 4th in the Central Division
Letter grade C
The Jets are on a nice run winning their last 7 of 10 and it looks like they will be one of many teams right in the middle of the playoff chase. The surprise for the Jets is that their supposed strength for scoring goals has not been as prolific this year as they are only ranked 24th in goals scored after finishing 7th last year in goals scored. They do however possess the 4th ranked power play with a conversion rate of 24.8%. The Jets need to get Blake Wheeler going as he has struggled this season with only 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists) after posting 91 points (20 goals, 71 assists) in the previous season. Their supposed achilles heel on defense hasn't been that bad as they are mid-table ranked 15th in goals allowed. Connor Hellebuyck has had close to an all star season in goal posting a 2.45 GAA with a .928 save percentage. Back up goaltender Laurent Brossoit has been downright awful this season with a 3.92 GAA and .871 save percentage but does have 3 wins. The Jets have to think their offense will eventually pick up but if it doesn't the defense is still vulnerable and not sure if Hellebuyck can hold up for the entire regular season. This team could go either way.