Halfway through the NHL season, we look at how things stand

Boston Bruins
Mandatory Credit: Chris Tanouye-Freestyle Photography-Getty Images

The NHL season has reached the All-Star Game with the bye weeks on the horizon for the teams. Things are really starting to take shape now with about 60% of the regular season behind us. 

At this stage, all teams are mathematically in contention for the playoffs, though there are a few who would create a serious shock on the betting sites if they were to come out on top and win the Stanley Cup. Strange things happen in the NHL and it was only in the 2018-19 season when the St Louis Blues lifted the trophy having been stone-cold last in the league in points in January. 

Let’s take a look at how things have gone through the first half of the season and see what might happen in the second half.

Atlantic Division - NHL standings

This has been the most competitive in the NHL with five teams all above the 58-point mark. None of the other divisions have more than three at this level so whoever comes out of the Atlantic as the winner is going to take all the beating in the playoffs.

Boston Bruins – 31-9-9 – 71 points

The President’s Trophy winners last season with a record-setting 135 points, they are not on that same pace this year but they are the top points getters in the East. Four home losses in regulation are the fewest in the league with David Pastrnak leading the way for them with 72 points which is 3rd most in the league. Still the team to beat in the East.

Florida Panthers – 31-14-4 – 66 points 

Sam Reinhart has been a revelation for the Panthers this season. 37 goals, including 20 on the powerplay, is already a career-high number. The beaten Stanley Cup finalists had a bit of a hangover to kick off the campaign but went 13-2-2 in their final 17 before the break. With the 4th fewest goals conceded, they are in a good place entering the second half.

Tampa Bay Lightning – 27-18-5 – 59 points

It was a slow start for the Lightning with Andrei Vasilevskiy missing the first 20 games of the season and then taking a while to get back up to speed. Nikita Kucherov has notched 85 points which is the most in the league for a team who won seven of their last eight before the break. The Lightning have long been a juggernaut and that looks like continuing.

Toronto Maple Leafs – 25-14-8 – 58 points

Although Auston Matthews’ 40 goals lead the league, it has not been a super first half for the Leafs. A 6-7-2 run from mid-December to mid-January has them only in a wildcard spot despite four wins from their last five games. Fighting some long-term injuries to John Klingberg and Jake Muzzin on the blue line plus some less-than-stellar netminding from Ilya Samsonov has left some work on.

Detroit Red Wings – 26-18-6 – 58 points

It has been a big step forward for the Red Wings this season, in a playoff spot as things stand. Only three teams have scored more goals than they have with Dylan Larkin having a career year and Alex DeBrincat proving to be a great fit. Their defence has let them down and that could be an issue in the second half.

Buffalo Sabres – 22-23-4 – 48 points

It’s been a big step backwards from the Sabres this year, under .500 at this point. Five of their first six games after the All-Star Game will be at home but at this stage from a position 10 points out of a playoff spot, they look set to struggle. 

Montreal Canadiens – 20-21-8 – 48 points

Another struggle in Montreal, 28th of the 32 teams in goals scored and 29th in most conceded, they have probably done well to get as many points on the board as they have. There has been the occasional spark from their young core but not enough to think they can make a run. 

Ottawa Senators – 20-25-2 – 42 points

It’s become a regular story with the Sens that they finish a season strongly but can’t recover from an awful start. They had points in seven out of eight games leading into the break so it could be the same old story once more.

Metropolitan Division - NHL standings

The fight any wildcard spots in the Met looks like being a dogfight with a single point separating four teams who will all have an eye on the postseason. 

New York Rangers – 30-16-3 – 63 points

15-3-1 in their first 19 games, they looked like they would run away with the Metropolitan. Things have gone badly downhill since then, barely above .500 in their next 30 games. Artemi Panarin is having a monster season with 66 points, the 6th most in the NHL. Their Stanley Cup hopes have been massively dented, needing to get back on the right path.

Carolina Hurricanes – 28-15-5 – 61 points

Were terrible defensively early on this season but in 14 of their last 21 games they have conceded two or fewer. Now top 10 in most goals scored and fewest conceded, it has been a team effort with only Sebastian Aho above 40 points. That should take them on a deep run into the postseason.

Philadelphia Flyers – 25-19-6 – 56 points

It’s been a massive improvement from the Flyers this season with the break coming at the right time. 5-10 in their last 15 before the All-Star Game, they enter off a five-game losing streak so this can refresh them. Hard to see them winning a Stanley Cup but they are an improving franchise that needs watching.

New York Islanders – 20-17-12 – 52 points

The busiest netminder in the league is Ilya Sorokin who has faced 1203 shots, also leading with 1094 saves. Bottom 10 in goals scored and conceded, it’s remarkable they are over .500. Not sure that Patrick Roy back behind an NHL bench for the first time in eight years is the answer. 

Pittsburgh Penguins – 22-17-7 – 51 points

Games in hand over the teams around them will give Pens fans some hope ahead of the second half but the ageing team have lacked consistency. Sidney Crosby is having another excellent year and Tristan Jarry leads the league in shutouts but it doesn’t feel like enough.

New Jersey Devils – 24-20-3 – 51 points

One of the biggest disappointments of the season so far given they had 112 points last time around. Injuries are costing them dearly with Jack Hughes on injured reserve along with three experienced D-men in Dougie Hamilton, Jonas Siegenthaler and Michael Hughes. Looks a long way back from here even if they recover quickly.

Washington Capitals – 22-18-7 – 51 points

Alex Ovechkin seems to have hit a wall this season now he does not have Nicklas Backstrom to assist him. Just nine goals and 31 points through 44 games is a poor return and with everything still flowing through him, the Caps will struggle to make any impact in the second half.

Columbus Blue Jackets – 16-24-10 – 42 points

It’s been another poor season for the Blue Jackets, bottom of the East with only three teams behind them in the whole NHL. There is little to look forward to in the second half in Ohio.

Central Division - NHL standings

Three very good teams are starting to move clear in the Central with too much ground to make up for most. 

Colorado Avalanche – 32-14-3 – 67 points

Nathan MacKinnon is enjoying another exceptional season with 84 points, just one off the league lead. They have leaned heavily on Alexandar Georgiev in net, his 41 starts are the most in the NHL and subsequently so are his 26 wins. Boast the most goals in the NHL but a 17th-best defence will need improving on. 20 wins at home leads the league.

Dallas Stars – 30-13-6- 66 points

Similar makeup to the Avs, they score a lot of goals but concede more than is ideal. Jason Robertson leads the team in points with 50, some way short of the 109 pace he put up last year. There has been plenty of secondary scoring but to lift a Stanley Cup they will need better goaltending.

Winnipeg Jets – 30-12-5 – 65 points

Defensively excellent, no team has conceded fewer, but they enter the All-Star Game with three straight losses. Top scorer Kyle Connor missed a number of games with injury and now Mark Scheifele is out injured. A continued lack of offensive output will hurt them in the long run.

St Louis Blues – 26-21-2 – 54 points

Only seven teams have scored fewer goals than the Blues, bottom half in goals conceded as well. Their record at this stage of the season is impressive as a result but it will make things harder in the second half. Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou continue their growth but it would take an exceptional second half to make them a genuine Stanley Cup contender.

Nashville Predators – 26-23-2 – 54 points

It has been a frustrating season so far, one step forward and two steps back. They have been horrible on home ice leading into the All-Star Game and no team has played more games. Still in wildcard contention but need to play much better at Bridgestone Arena to contend.

Arizona Coyotes – 23-22-3  – 49 points

The intimate 4600-seat Mullett Arena has helped the Yotes to a 15-9 home standing. They have been terrible on the road and that has to be improved if they are to sneak a playoff spot. Clayton Keller leads the way with 45 points but no one else has more than 32.

Minnesota Wild – 21-23-5 – 47 points

A poor start to the season was briefly turned around when John Hynes replaced Dean Evason, going 11-3 through Hynes’ first 14 games in charge. 5-10-1 since, the .894 save percentage from their netminders will have to improve massively to have any hope of a playoff berth. 

Chicago Blackhawks – 14-34-2 – 30 points

While Connor Bedard has brought some hope to the Windy City, suffering a broken jaw against the Devils has sunk a season that was already a struggle. They had five wins in their first 12 games but have only won nine of 38 since. Shutout in four of their last six, roll on next season.

Pacific Division - NHL standings

It’s been a strange season in the Pacific so far with some of the biggest streaks (both winning and losing) in the NHL this season.

Vancouver Canucks – 33-11-5 – 71 points

We said in our season preview that we felt the Canucks would improve but no one would have predicted they would lead the Western Conference at the All-Star Game. Everything runs through Quinn Hughes who with 62 points leads all defencemen. J.T. Miller with 67 and Elias Pettersson with 64 makes them the only team to have three players north of 60 points.   

Vegas Golden Knights – 29-15-6 – 64 points

The defending Stanley Cup champions got off to an electric 11-0-1 start. They hit a rough patch when Adin Hill got injured, the netminder who led them to the cup last season is now back and leads the league with a .936 save percentage and a 1.96 goals against average. If they stay healthy they have strong claims of back-to-back Stanley Cup wins. 

Edmonton Oilers – 29-15-1 – 59 points

The All-Star Game could not be coming at a worse time for the Oilers. The winners of 16 games straight, they will not want that momentum halted by the enforced time off. 26-6 since Kris Knoblauch took over, they are helped once more in huge part by 67 points from Connor McDavid. The 27-year-old passed 900 career points earlier this season but still seeks a ring.

Los Angeles Kings – 23-15-10 – 56 points

A tale of two halves in the first half, 16-4-4 in their first 24 but then only 7-11-6 in their last 24. They do at least enter the All-Star Game off a win in Nashville to improve to 15-6-4 on the road. Trevor Moore leads the team with 21 goals but they need to start winning at home.

Seattle Kraken – 21-19-10 – 52 points

The Kraken were excellent last season but only six teams have scored fewer goals, a big difference from last year when only five teams scored more. Jared McCann has 20 goals to lead the team but only Oliver Bjorkstrand has hit the 40-point plateau. Still in with a shout of a postseason berth but they need to start scoring goals.

Calgary Flames – 22-22-5 – 49 points

Just two playoff series wins in 14 seasons, it has been a lean time of late for Flames fans and this season is no better. 11 points in 13 games before the All-Star Game from Jonathan Huberdeau will give fans hope that the ex-Panthers star might finally have found his groove in Calgary but they have a lot to do in the second half.

Anaheim Ducks – 18-30-2 – 38 points

The 30th anniversary season of the Anaheim Ducks has been anything but a celebration so far. Frank Vatrano has already equalled his 22 goals from last season while Troy Terry is well on track for his third 60+ point season in a row but they are slim pickings from a poor campaign with them already out of contention.

San Jose Sharks – 14-32-5 – 33 points

Despite the second-worst record in the NHL, the Sharks have enjoyed excellent netminding, far better than the .897 save percentage and 3.62 GAA suggest. Buoyed by the return from injury of their captain Logan Couture, they are 4-1-1 in his six games played but they are well out of contention already.

Who lifts the Stanley Cup?

LeoVegas Free Bet

At the start of the season we had Boston and Vegas as the teams to beat in their respective divisions and this is still the way that we feel the conferences are going. No team has won more games at home than the Avs so they will be tough to beat if they gain the #1 seed in the West.

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