NHL Midseason update
Beginning with the eastern conference and the Atlantic division we find the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightening, and Montreal Canadiens fill the top three spots in the NHL. Boston leads with 56 points, Tampa Bay is second with 54 points and Montreal is third with 52 points. Boston has been consistent up to the mid half of the season keeping near the top of the eastern conference all season. Tampa Bay despite losing their best player, Steven Stamkos, have found a way be successful in their division. Tampa Bay is a solid team; look for them to move up as the season goes on and Stamkos returns. Montreal had slow start to their season but since then have found a way to win games, much due to good goaltending by Carey Price.
Next we look at the Metropolitan division by the Pittsburgh Penguins with 61 points followed by Washington with 46 points and Philadelphia Flyers with 44 points. Pittsburgh has easily held the eastern conference and will continue to do so as long as they have the two best player in the NHL, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Washington been a bit weak lately, only going 3-3-4, but as the season goes on look for Alexander Ovechkin to get better and see the team do better as well. Philadelphia on the other hand has been very good lately going 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Much of Phillies’ success has come from the outstanding play of their top scorer Claude Giroux and look for them to make a move in the division as the season continues.
Currently in the wild card race in the Eastern conference are the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils, and New York Rangers. All the teams in the wild card have been consistent, with Detroit being the exception, but as the season goes on look for some of these teams to capitalize on poor play by teams in their divisions. All the teams’ mentioned are full of playmakers and look for some of them to come up big as we get in the late part of the season.
Now for the Western Conference who has been much stronger than the east; starting with the Central division we find Chicago in first with 66 points, St Louis with 61 points, and Colorado with 54 points. Chicago has had great goaltending this year, despite losing number one goalie Cory Crawford, and currently holds the title for best team in the NHL. With a number of games in hand on teams below them look for the game to close quickly. St Louis has also been a solid team this year, strong on the puck and on a current win streak of four games straight. Look for St. Louis to push for top spot as the season continues. Colorado, on the other hand, had a great start to the season but since has had a hard time. With a record of 4-2-4 in the last ten Colorado will need to rebound soon not to lose track on a spot in the playoffs.
In the Pacific division Anaheim leads with 65 points, San Jose is in second with 58 points, and Los Angeles is in third with 54 points. With a record of 9-1 Anaheim has been stellar of late and have been strong throughout the season. Look for them to be consistent throughout the rest of the season even if pressured by many teams in their division. San Jose is has also been a consistently strong team and look for them to continue to put pressure on Anaheim for the division lead. Los Angeles has also been a strong team but of late they have lost five straight and are on a bit of a cold streak. Do not expect them to be there long, as LA has a lot of players who can elevate their game and bring them back to winning form. In the wild card race Vancouver, Phoenix, Dallas, Minnesota, and Winnipeg are all in the running. All these teams have put consistent pressure on division leaders to keep their game up and as the season goes on look for teams most of these teams to find their groove and move into a divisional spot and push teams out of playoff contention.
At this point in the season the West has been the stronger conference and also been the harder conference to move up in. Vancouver has consistently played well but has done little to surpass divisional teams like LA, San Jose, and Anaheim. Look for the west to remain this way and see little change in the teams making the playoffs. In the east look for a lot of change in the standings as teams like Washington continue to exhibit poor play. The eastern conference playoff picture is hardly set so look for much to change in the months to come.