The NHL is now at its holiday break, and one of the more intriguing divisional races, with about 30 games in the books, is that in the Atlantic Division.
The defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning currently own the top spot in the Atlantic with a record of 20-6-4. Two points behind the Bolts are the Toronto Maple Leafs (20-8-2), and two points behind the Leafs, in third place, are the Florida Panthers (18-7-4). The Detroit Red Wings will enter Christmas in fourth place in the division and second place in the wild card race, while the Boston Bruins are the first team out, trailing the Wings by only three points.
It’s far too early to look at these standings and assume anything concrete, but it’s never too early to take what we’ve seen and project which teams are poised for success as the season progresses. Before the season began, I picked the Lightning to win the Atlantic Division in the regular season before being knocked out of the playoffs for the first time since 2019 by the Panthers.
Given the way those teams have played to this point, both of those outcomes are still very much on the table, but which team has the best opportunity to succeed this season? Here are the eight Atlantic Division teams ranked in order from least dangerous to most dangerous as the regular season approaches its second half with the postseason looming.