Normally, I would wait until every team had played their 60th game of the season to take an overview of the NHL. However, right now the league is on an extended break for the Winter Olympics, and some teams have played their 60th game, and right now it feels like a good time to take a step back and assess where everybody stands. We really know what is going on now in the league. Some teams are all but in. Some teams are all but out. A lot of others are in the middle. Here's where things currently stand as Anze Kopitar plans to take Slovenia to glory.
Out East, here is what seems clear to me. Pittsburgh and Boston are both definitely in, and the Penguins will win the Metro. Buffalo, Florida, and the Islanders are all out. The rest are up in the air. I feel comfortable Tampa Bay will make it. They currently have the third most points in the East, they have a plus-23 goal differential, and Steven Stamkos will be back eventually. If they fall out of the top three in the Atlantic, I feel confident they will at least get a wild card.
I like the Rangers' chances, as they are currently second in the East and on an upswing, with Henrik Lundqvist having found his form. Right now, the other playoff teams would be the Montreal, Toronto, Detroit, and Philly. However, Ottawa, Columbus, and Washington are all very much in the race. Carolina and New Jersey are on the outside looking in too, but they are still in the race. As a Wings fan, I am concerned they won't make it. They've had a ton on injuries, they are old, and they have a minus-12 goal differential. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets are getting healthier, are only one point behind, and are a plus-9. I am also not super confident about the Leafs, what with their possession issues.
The West is much tougher, much better, and has five teams pretty much locked in: St. Louis, Chicago, Colorado, Anaheim and San Jose. The Ducks have the most points in the league. The Blues have the best point differential. Calgary and Edmonton are out of it. I'm close to knocking out the Predators too. They have 60 points, which is within shouting distance, but they are also a minus-34.
The Kings have really struggled lately, but they are still a plus-11, and I think they will be safe. Right now Minnesota is actually the top wild card team, and has more points than the Kings too. Dallas, Phoenix, Vancouver, and Winnipeg are all in a close race. The Canucks are in a nose dive. The Stars are the only one without a negative goal differential.
As for individual stuff, Sidney Crosby has the most points with 78. Ryan Getzlaf is second with 67. I think it is safe to say the Art Ross is Crosby's barring injury. The same goes for the Maurice Richard and Alex Ovechkin. He has 40 points. Phil Kessel is next with 31. Corey Perry also has 30. Ben Scrivens has the best save percentage, but it is too late for him to save Edmonton. Ben Bishop is next. He is having a great year. The Vezina is his at the moment.
That's all. There should definitely be some playoff races down to the wire in both conferences. After some Olympic hockey, we'll get back to NHL action, see the trade deadline, and have some good times.