This season has been one of the better ones the NHL has had in recent years. Yes, there aren’t a lot of 90+ point teams with a few weeks left to go, but there’s a bastion of competition and second half stories to focus on.
What we know now is that the first year franchise Vegas Golden Knights will make the playoffs and unless collapse within the last 4 weeks, win their division. They’ve won an impressive number of home games and have yet to show signs of a slump.
Elsewhere in the Western Conference the Nashville Predators have won 10 straight as of when this was posted and lead the Central Division with no signs of slowing down. Right behind them is the improved, bullish and disciplined Winnipeg Jets, who seem to give anyone they’ll face in the playoffs chills and nightmares. Their physicality and loyal fanbase will make playing at Winnipeg a challenge.
The rest of the conference is up for grabs but Minnesota has finally clicked and the Dallas Stars are a potent team that can give anyone a challenge. There’s also the Ducks who’ll have their main stars Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, for example, back by the time the playoffs start, and the Ducks have stuck in the race longer than expected.
In the East Tampa Bay and Boston look to be the best teams, although the Bruins have had some injuries of late. Tampa looks to be the best team in the NHL, although when Pittsburgh gets in, they’ll be tested. Speaking of Pittsburgh, they’re heating up right now, and nothing proved they’re ready as when they beat the competent Philadelphia Flyers, who’ll be pesky when they get in. The Leafs and Devils, barring a meltdown seem to be ready for battle in the postseason as well.