This is an edition called around the boards, essentially giving you the top five headlines from the last weekend of play. This will be playoff talk, individual team talk, player talk, whatever is the most important news.
Here Come The Penguins…
First off, the Penguins, people do not look now. But, they are going to probably win the Metropolitan division, ok maybe not the Metro but the Penguins have propelled from below .500 to 18-12-6 now with 42 points and five points behind Washington. The Penguins are 7-2-1 in their last ten games and on a three-game win streak. This short break could be detrimental or monumental for the Penguins. Looking at their schedule up until the All-Star break, of their 11 remaining games they play three playoff teams, one Metropolitan division team and two Eastern Conference teams. The Penguins can very easily head into the All-Star break a top of the Metropolitan division. The Penguins are back, great.
Is this Calgary’s year? The Flames have been consistently a top the Pacific division for about two months now. Even with a two-goalie tandem the Flames have made it work and a lot of it comes because of their tremendous scoring and great play of Art Ross nominee Johnny Gaudreau. The Flames are a top the Pacific by two points with one game in hand on San Jose. The Flames have won six of their last ten games and top-four team in the NHL right now. The Flames have the fourth most goals scored in the NHL (127) and score around 3.43 goals per game. Over their last week of six wins even though the Flames only out scored their opponent’s 20 to 19 of their six wins four of them they scored 5+ goals in. the Flames are coming into what everyone expected them to be. If Mike Smith can be more consistent and the Flames can continue this scoring surge they will have a nice first round opponent come April.
There Have Been WILD Struggles
What happened to Minnesota? This is not good news for the Wild, after starting out the year on the right foot and being one of the best teams in the NHL, the Wild have fell drastically out of a playoff spot now. They have just 37 points on the year, have dropped 6 of their last ten games and have a slim chance of even making a divisional top-three finish. The Wild are two games above .500 luckily they are still within a Wild Card spot but it has been a slow and painful slump for the Wild. They have seen very little depth scoring the Wild have seven of their top 9 forwards with 20 points or less, five with 15 points or less. Players like Eric Staal, Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker and Nino Niederreiter have 12 goals or less, with just one player with 15 goals on the year the Wild have struggled greatly on the offensive side of things. I would not be surprised if Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter get moved before the deadline this year.
Put The Fork In Them…
The Devils are probably done right? The surprising playoff team from last year seem to be the complete opposite of what they were. The Devils are ranked 30th in the NHL, last in the Metropolitan division and last in the Eastern Conference. They have a -23 goal differential, have dropped five of their ten games, only picking up three wins in their last ten games. During the month of November the Devils won just three of their 15 games during that month. the Devils have been so bad this year for multiple reasons. (1) They score just 102 goals on the year (21st) while allowing 123 goals (4th). They score 2.91 goals per game while allowing 3.51 goals per game. (2) The players like Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier are not the same players as they were last year. Bratt has 13 points in 21 games (2 goals), Hischier has 23 points in 31 games (9 goals), other players though like Will Butcher have 11 points in 34 games (2 goals). Aside from Taylor Hall (37 points) and Kyle Palmieri (33 points) the next top scorer is Hischier with 23 points. Their has been no depth on the Devils line up and those role guys are just not performing like they were last season. The Devils will at least get a good draft pick because they are not turning this around anytime soon.