Since we’re about halfway through the NHL season (well, just over) I thought I would take a look at what has occurred so far. It’s been an odd season so far, but what season hasn’t been? Some surprising performances both good and bad, both individual and by teams. And yes, I will be pumping my own tires a bit, because why not?
THE EASTERN CONFERENCE
There’s surprises in the standings every season, in every sport. Although, this year there seems to be a lot. Just starting in the Eastern Conference the Senators and Leafs are second and third respectively in the Atlantic Division. Everyone thought the Leafs were still a couple seasons away from being better, but it looks like they are ahead of schedule. Ottawa has been looking good this season as well.
As for the bottom of the division, there’s no way I would believe the Tampa Bay Lightning would be at the bottom. Now they are currently tied with Buffalo and only one point away from Detroit, but it’s still pretty damn bad. Now Stamkos is out, but they are kind of used to that by now, and have performed well without him in the past. It appears their issues are keeping the puck out of their own net though.
The biggest shock in the Metro Division has been the Blue Jackets. For awhile Columbus was top of the league and on a Hell of a streak. While the team has looked improved over last year, which was fairly easy comparatively, no one expected this. Especially with the much maligned John Tortorella at the helm. Weird, he had a bad first season then turned them around, guess he shouldn’t be judged based off one season…
As for the shocking, downside turn the Islanders have looked like their off-season moves were not so great. Not to brag, but I totally will, I mentioned this in my season preview. You can’t replace the seasons Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Martin had with Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera. While they haven’t gotten great goaltending, the puck just hasn’t been going in the net either.
THE WESTERN CONFERENCE
More changes out west at the top of the standings. The Wild are at the top of the Central Division, tied in points with Chicago, but also have three games in hand. They’ve been on a tear recently, and with good reason. They complimented their already solid roster with some great additions.
On the converse the Dallas Stars have not been having the best year. They aren’t out of it yet, and only a point behind Winnipeg with two games in hand, but they’ve been underachieving and once again goaltending is the culprit. If they don’t get it figured out at the deadline, it might be time to take a different approach.
As for the Pacific Division it’s not a shock to see the Ducks at the top, however, it is when they’ve given up the third fewest goals in the division. However, they also have the most OT Losses, but it just means when they haven’t played well, they’re finding a way to get points. The other is of course, Edmonton. Much like the Leafs, they’re ahead of schedule. It’ll be interesting to see how they finish.
Not too many huge shocks at the bottom of the division, although the Kings appear to be underachieving considering their roster. I don’t think anyone expected them to be running away with it, but they have a lot of big contracts and not a lot of points.
It’s nothing new, but it will be interesting to see where it goes to finish up the season. The Oilers and Leafs are ahead of their rebuild plans, and that can go either way. While I believe Shanahan and co in Toronto will play the long game, the Oilers might make a push at the deadline. No shortage of excitement.