Hello hockey fans! We’re now sitting – more for some teams, less for others – at the halfway point of the season as the Avalanche, my yard marker team, has just played their 41st game. They beat the pants off the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues, BTW. A 7-3 iceberg crasher.
I’ll try to build upon the Tirty Tree and a Tird Percentage report and see where how our playoff teams would be set up if we were to end the season right now.
OK, let’s toss a wrench in this. Before we actually look at current playoff teams, let’s cut out the ones that – unless there’s a huge ice floe having never occurred before in this league – have no chance of making the playoffs. Buh-bye any teams under 40 points for the season: Ottawa, New Jersey and the team that, if there were such a thing as being bumped into a lesser league ought to be – the Detroit Red Wings. Good Lord of the two-line pass they are awful. Normally a team stands a chance of making the playoffs if they can get to 90 points. At the 50% mark, the Dead Wings are at 23 points. Historically awful.
On to the playoff-making teams. Last time we checked in, the Eastern Conference playoff teams at the third mark stood at: Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and the Buffalo Sabres.
Well, hockey fans, let me tell you, at the halfway point the Easter Conference leaders are:
Washington Capitals. Well looky who took over the points lead. They have a whopping 61 points at 42 games in. Tap them for a playoff spot right now!
Boston Bruins. Still a great team and only two points behind the Caps. What’s concerning? They choke in shoot-outs. 0-6. That’s a puck to the face ouch.
New York Islanders. Still in the third slot, and now 8 points behind the Caps for the Metropolitan Division title. Divisions, BTW, are just an excuse for teams to hang up a banner saying they won something. If you don’t hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup at the end of the season, you lost. Divisions are stupid. On to team 4…
Pittsburgh Penguins. They’ve gone from 6th to 4th (same points as the Islanders but the Islanders have played one less game, so they take 3rd). They’re not exactly burning up the league, but they have quietly amassed a goal differential of a +31, which is second in the conference. And they still have Crosby.
Toronto Maple Leafs. What you say? Did you not make fun of them at the 33% mark? Hell yes I did and they deserved it. Looks like their coaching change may have worked which is about as rare as finding a rude Canadian.
Tampa Bay. Where the hell did they come from? Did I not say they should be better? I did. Now they’ve risen like the Swamp Monster to terrorize the league… or not. They’re still not all they think they are. Prove me wrong Lightning.
Hey, you may ask – what about the Buffalo Sabres? What happened? LOL. For a while they could walk on water, now they can’t walk on frozen water. More on them momentarily.
Carolina Hurricanes. They have more points than Tampa Bay, but the NHL’s playoff system is as weird their marketing. The NHL takes the top three of each division, and then the top two of the rest of the conference to determine who makes the playoffs. Carolina is just in a tougher division, as is team Ocho…
Philadelphia Flyers. They were 4th and now they are 8th. Their biggest issue, besides being in Philadelphia, is they cannot close games. They have been in 9 shoot-outs this season which is over 20% of their games. Get your legs together, Flyers.
As for the rest of the Eastern Conference at point Fitty …
Florida Panthers. It’s as hard to find them playing a full good game of hockey as it is to find an actual panther.
Columbus Blue Jackets. As if we should expect any team from Columbus being able to navigate their way anywhere.
Buffalo Sabres. Hey look what I found! Man they have schussed down the playoff possibility slope. Perhaps they should try curling instead.
New York Rangers. They are seven points out of the final playoff spot are a slipping as bad as the disks in grandma’s back.
Montreal Canadians. The final team that has an iota of a chance of making the playoffs and that iota is becoming as small as a three layer cake being ‘saved’ by a fat kid.
Prediction time. The Eastern Conference at this hallowed halfway point really belongs to the Capitals and the Bruins. Yes, the Capitals have that Nation’s Capital mojo going for them especially with the Russki Alex Ovechkin (If you’re reading Vlad – Hi, I mean no disrespect), but my choice is still the Bruins. They took a few games off – even losing to the Blackhawks on Bruin home ice – yet still are the crème de la crème.
The Western Conference, even at the 50% mark, is still as all-out crazy as Tulsi Gabbard thinking she can win the Democratic nomination even if she’s clearly a prop for Putin. Three teams should just pick up their golf clubs and head south now – Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose. None of them are Dead Wing bad, but they all do have one thing in common. I know you know what I’m getting to and it ain’t geography: yep, they’re bad at hockey.
However, a few teams are behaving as if they actually belong in the hunt. At the third mark, our playoff teams were (in order) the Blues, Oilers, Avalanche, Coyotes, Jets, Knights, Stars, and Canucks. At the halfway mark, we have the Blues, Oilers, Avalanche, Coyotes, Jets, Knights, Stars, and Canucks. You may be asking “hey bud, those seem to be the same.” You are correct, but the order is different.
St. Louis Blues. Still on top, but just got their skates dulled by those snipers in Denver 7-3. Am I harping on that too much? Not even close. The Blues can KMA.
Colorado Avalanche. Looky looky, they are in second again, by virtue of playing three less games than the teams they are tied with, the Knights and the hated Stars. Also, if it has not been mentioned, they did beat the helmets off the Blues 7-3 in their 41st game.
Dallas Stars. They’ve moved up as well. Impressive for a bunch of guys wearing cowboy hats and spurs. Still can’t see them getting good enough to get to the conference final, but they finally got on that horse and are riding it hard enough to be tied with the Avalanche in points.
Vegas Golden Knights. Well we have quite a bit of upward movement for the Golden Showers. They have the same points as the ‘Lanche (who just beat the Blues 7-3), but have played in more games, so they take the fourth seed for now, but have graduated from 6th.
Arizona Coyotes. Holding pattern like a plane that can’t land aimlessly circling and going nowhere. Were 4th, now 5th. Acme productions is not helping them and neither is the super-genius Wile E. Coyote.
Vancouver Canucks. Did you know the Chinese population in Vancouver is the most on the Western continent? Not that it’s helping the Canucks. They eat the food, but it doesn’t seem to make them hungrier. They’re 6th and as dull as a chopstick.
Winnipeg Jets. Just a tad bit of slippage like a plane sliding off an O’Hare runway in a blizzard. They’ll be fine but they’re not equipped to make it to the Stanley Cup final.
Edmonton Oilers. Position 2 to Position 8. They are a whale hitting a sledding hill at full tilt, going out of control and sliding down faster and faster. Hopefully there isn’t a child in the way as they’ll just plow right over them. Not sure where that analogy was going, but then again neither are the Oilers at this point.
Who fell out of the playoff picture?
Calgary Flames. Technically tied for 7th and 8th in points, but they are sitting in 9th because… well no one likes them.
Minnesota Wild. Their hot streak is over… and they still remain in the same position. Not looking good for the Mild. There is no way they could ever beat the Blues 7-3 like the Avs did.
Nashville Predators. The Preds are too good to be this far down. I suggest they start eating more Nashville Hot chicken.
Chicago Blackhawks. The epitome of mediocrity. Home and away their records are identical: 9 wins, 9 losses, 3 ties. Yet they are the last team to have an outside chance, IMO, of making the playoffs and are just 5 points out.
Oh let’s do a prediction now, shall we? The Fitty winner from the Western Conference is a toughie, but your winner will be… the Colorado Avalanche. Did you know they just beat the Western Conference leading Blues 7-3?
As for the Stanley Cup Champion at this point in the season? Not sure I want to pick one, but I am going to have to stick with the Boston Bruins. They just took nearly the whole holiday season off and they’re still playing well.
See you at the 66 2/3 mark in mid-February after the All-Star week and bye week (yep, the NHL has a ridiculous two weeks off – bad marketing).