We’re over 30 games into the NHL season and it’s fair to say it’s already been hugely exciting couple of months.
It’s tight at the top with the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers and the Arizona Coyotes all in contention at the top of the standings. The Coyotes and the Oilers are tied at the top of the Pacific Division with the former exceeding all expectations so far. The signing of Nick Schmaltz appeared to be a risky move, however the gamble may just have paid off.
Their 18-10-4 record is hugely eye-catching and although there is still plenty of hockey still to be played, fans are quietly confident that their side can reach the Stanley Cup Play-Offs for the first time since 2012.
The Blues may lead the way, however injuries are hitting them hard and they suffered an embarrassing 5-2 defeat to the Maple Leafs at the beginning of December. They have lost a number of forwards in recent weeks and their patched-up side is still desperately clinging onto top spot.
The Los Angeles Kings prop up the Western Conference and are joined by an incredibly disappointing Chicago Blackhawks side. The pressure is mounting on general manager Stan Bowman as his side have struggled to find form in recent months. They are no longer Stanley Cup contenders, although there have been a few positives to pick out from their ruinous campaign. When the Blackhawks got Robin Lehner, they bolstered their goaltending options, and although it’s taken a while for him to seize his opportunity, he’s been very impressive in recent weeks and was absolutely superb against the Coyotes, saving 44 of 47 shots.
The Blackhawks are also joined at the bottom by the Ducks and the Predators.
Atlantic Division leaders Boston Bruins are riding high in the Eastern Conference, although they’ve struggled to maintain their early-season momentum going into the holiday season. Their narrow OT defeat to the Blackhawks was the first of three consecutive defeats and they can’t afford too many more losses. They are a long way ahead of the Panthers in the Atlantic, however they have some tricky road games on the horizon.
The Bruins remain second favourites in the Stanley Cup betting alongside the Capitals, who find themselves clear of the Islanders at the summit of the Metropolitan Division. The New York side have overcome their injury crisis although a number of changes to their roster haven’t helped matters. The Flyers and the Penguins are also still in contention, although a little more consistency is required.
At the bottom of the standings, The Detroit Red Wings can’t buy a win. Their defensive issues show very few signs of abating and Steve Yzerman has been chopping and changing his roster in order to try and rectify the issue. They’re joined by the Devils and the Senators, although the latter have started to show some signs of life in recent weeks.