Today is March 1. It just happens to be the first day of a new month. That doesn't have much relevance to the NHL season. However, it still serves as a justification to take a look at how the season has played out thus far. Also, we are pretty close to the midway point of the season, so there's that. As such, I decided I'd take a look at how things stand right now, in terms of team performance and individual performance.
The year got off to a late start due to the miserable lockout, but now things are starting to percolate, even with all the injuries and what have you. Two teams have played 22 games, Toronto and Philadelphia. Boston has played 17 games, the lowest number. So, obviously, making comparisons is tricky, but I'll do it anyway. Try and stop me. You can't. By the time you read this, I will already have completed my task.
In the East, Montreal is the top seed with 29 points. Pittsburgh leads their division and has 26 points. That puts them behind Boston and Ottawa in points. If not for the Blackhawks, we might be talking about how good the Bruins have been this season. Carolina leads their division, but with a mere 21 points. That would leave them as the eight seed otherwise.
Washington is at the bottom of the East with 15 points, but they've only played 19 games. They also have seven regulation wins, which ties them with the Islanders, who have played two more games, for 13th. Boston and Montreal are tied for the conference lead in goal differential at plus-15. Florida, who only has five regulation wins in 20 games, are the worst at minus-22. They are not good.
The Blackhawks have been outstanding. You may be aware of this. They have played 20 games, and are 17-0-3. They have a plus-27 goal differential. Anaheim is strongly second with 29 points in 18 games and with a plus-16 goal differential. Then, there are a bunch of close teams. Eight teams are between 24 and 22 points, and the next four teams are between 21 and 18. Then, there's Columbus, who has 13 points in 20 games and a league low four regulation wins.
So, unless you are the Jackets, you have playoff hopes out West. I'd say Columbus is the only team I consider a lock to miss the postseason, and Chicago is the one team locked in to make it. If you want a team to consider a potential riser, and one to consider a potential faller, Nashville is a minus-7 in goal differential despite being fifth in the West, while Tampa Bay is a plus-7 although they sit in 11th.
In terms of players, Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby are tied for the league lead in points with 31, although Crosby has played one more game. Stamkos also leads the league in goals with 14. Yeah, he's very good at hockey. In net, before getting injured Craig Anderson posted an amazing .953 save percentage in 15 games. That's not sustainable, and neither is Corey Crawford's .943 SV%. Speaking of Crawford, his fellow Blackhawk netminder Ray Emery has a .931 SV%. That's a nice duo.
There is a lot of hockey left, but not as much as usual at around the halfway point. Teams have less time to dig themselves out of holes. Surprise performances can last for a longer portion of the season. The NHL season has been interesting so far, and that will just get ratcheted up as the year continues.