The 2017-18 NHL season has not gone to plan. Ask any prognosticator from the preseason where their projected standings compare to those today and you’ll get grim looks and uninterested shrugs. The Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild and Montreal Canadiens are all far underachieving, while Vegas, Detroit, Winnipeg, Los Angeles and New Jersey are all showing that they shouldn’t be counted out so soon.
Tampa Bay of course, leads the entire league with 32 points and a whopping +28 goal differential through 20 games. Their dominance this year has led to just three regulation losses, and two early favorites for the Hart Trophy (three, if you think Andrei Vasilevskiy has a shot). Right now most would call them the class of the Eastern Conference, and who would disagree? With the best line in hockey, a stud defenseman entering his prime and an up-and-coming Vezina candidate they’re poised to compete for the Stanley Cup for at least the next few years.
But who does that leave in the second slot? Several teams have claims to stake on the silver podium, but each have their warts. Toronto had a struggling goaltender through the first month of the season, while Columbus can’t get their powerplay working properly. The Penguins have been blown out several times while the Devils have won just three of their last nine games.
Vote below on who you think is the second best team in the east, and make sure to leave a comment if you disagree with the original premise of Tampa Bay as the class of the conference. We’ve included all of the teams within 10 points of the Lightning.
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