While most of the league is either battling for the bottom playoff seeds or already looking toward the offseason, a handful of teams have begun to separate themselves from the pack. And while it's always possible that we'll see a Cinderella run from an underdog, history tells us that when the Stanley Cup is eventually handed out in a few months it will go to a team from the top of the regular season standings.
So let's get to know a few of those teams. Here's a closer look at the eight teams that look like they'll be heading into the postseason as the Stanley Cup favorites.
Greatest strength: The returning Sidney Crosby won't need to worry about being reinjured by an opponent's body check this time, says Gary Bettman while sitting calmly in the rafters holding a sniper rifle.
Potential weakness: Opposing penalty killers can expect an easy time of it when facing the combination of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, since the powerplay will only ever last six or seven seconds max.
Greatest strength: Lead the league in goal differential with a +58, although in fairness that does go down to +3 if you take away their five games against the Maple Leafs.
Potential weakness: Are starting to get a bad feeling that they misunderstood Tim Thomas when he personally assured them that he'd make sure the whole "refuse to go to the White House after winning a championship" incident would never happen again.
Greatest strength: Have recently been putting a real emphasis on closing things out properly, although so far those things are just Nicklas Grossmann's nameplates.
Potential weakness: Teammates report that they'd feel a lot better about Ilya Bryzgalov's three recent shutouts if he didn't always respond to their post-game compliments by looking around in confusion and asking "Wait, did we play tonight?"
St. Louis Blues
Greatest strength: Often have the benefit of facing demoralized opponents who hear the start of the sentence "Tonight we play the Blue…" and get all excited thinking it's going to be Columbus.
Potential weakness: While Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak have been almost unbeatable since Ken Hitchcock took over, at some point somebody might notice that the rulebook says they're not technically allowed to both play at the same time like that.
Greatest strength: Every player on the roster believes with absolute certainty that they have a chance of beating out all these other teams, which experts agree is just completely adorable.
Potential weakness: While occasional distractions on the road are just part of the job for superstar players, it's still not cool how all the owners of every big market team the Predators visit keep "accidentally" leaving giant bags full of money in Ryan Suter's locker.
Detroit Red Wings
Greatest strength: The injury-plagued team has recently received several moving sympathy cards from around the league reading "So sorry to hear about all your all-stars being hurt" although come to think of it some of those may have been sarcastic.
Potential weakness: Opponents continue to demand suspensions whenever Niklas Kronwall launches himself into any player he catches with their head down, but maybe those cry-babies should just find a different way to listen to the national anthem.
New York Rangers
Greatest strength: Their forwards and defencemen are known for fearlessly hurling their bodies in front of any shots directed at Henrik Lundqvist, although opponents admit it's kind of creepy how they always do it while yelling "Protect his beautiful face!"
Potential weakness: While players getting hurt is a fact of life and should be expected during the stretch drive and playoffs, it's got to be nerve-wracking knowing you're only 15 or 16 injured forwards away from Sean Avery getting called up.
Greatest strength: Gained invaluable experience during last year's playoff run, and should also be well-rested thanks to the three days of offseason they got afterwards.
Potential weakness: Roberto Luongo admits that while it's nice to hear coaches and teammates say they have full confidence in him and aren't looking to bring in a goalie with a better reputation for coming through in the clutch, he'd still like to know why this Connor Crisp kid is suddenly hanging around.