Let’s start in the East. The Tampa Bay Lightning are leading the East with 54 points at the time of this writing. If they stay healthy, they’ll be tough to beat. But there are a few hungry teams right on their heels. The New Jersey Devils (49 pts) are one of the surprise teams this season. Right behind them lurk the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets. Both are sitting at 47 points. The Caps have the guns to make a run at any time. CBJ came into their own last season and are looking to grow from that run they had. And never count out the 2-time defending champs, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Further down the line, you have both New York teams, the Islanders and Rangers, just looking to have a strong second half. A healthy Auston Matthews will do wonders for the Maple Leafs. Perennial (until last season) playoff attendees, the Detroit Red Wings, are still rebuilding. I hope they get back because when they’re relevant, hockey is better for it.
So we head to the West. Who saw the Vegas Golden Knights as your 1st place team this late into the season? No one? Ok, at least we’re all being honest. What a story this is. A healthy MAF can keep this team in a playoff spot down the stretch. Neal and Karlsson can continue to bolster the rest. The Nashville Predators are sitting in 2nd with 49 points. Three teams are currently at 48 points; the Kings, Jets, and Blues. The West is shaping up into a great battle. As for the others? The Blackhawks are hurting. Their defense has been spotty for 2 seasons now. And Crawford just went on IR again. The Sharks, Ducks, and Oilers will be fighting for spots, or so it seems at this moment. Connor McDavid can be the ‘it’ factor for Edmonton. But he needs help. The Western Conference seems to be wide open at the midway point.
I love hockey. It is such a beautiful sport. I’m really looking forward to the 2nd half of the season. We will probably see some new blood in the postseason. No pun intended, of course. I know my NHL Center Ice package will get a workout over the next few months. In the meantime, enjoy the games. #DropThePuck