Your weekly shot of hockey to go with your afternoon coffee
Things are heating up across the NHL. The buyers and sellers are starting to emerge with less than two weeks until the trade deadline. Time to look at who’s hot and who’s not.
Hottest Team: Dallas Stars (79 Pts, #1 Central, 8-2 in Last 10 Games)
Dallas has had a great season. However, the Stars squandered the commanding lead they had jumped out to and at one point could have fallen into third in the division. However the 8-2 in their last ten and a four-game winning streak has Dallas in gear for a thrilling second half race with the Blackhawks for the Western Conference’s top seed.
Runner Up: Anaheim Ducks (64 Pts) – Last week’s hottest team hasn’t cooled off and now sits in 2nd in the Pacific. With the way the Kings have been playing recently (see below), the Ducks are in a great spot to be in contention for the division title.
Coldest Team: Minnesota Wild (58 Pts, #6 Central, 2-6-2 in Last 10 Games)
They’ve at least gained three points since the last Roundup. If those three points are the sign of bottoming-out, Minnesota isn’t in the worst spot. The Wild only sit four points out of the playoffs but they’ll have to go through divisional opponents to get there. No rush to sell out, but I wouldn’t be shipping off future assets for this playoff push.
Runner Up: Los Angeles Kings (69 Pts) – I feel like I misrepresented the Kings before. LA lost its Conn Smythe Trophy winning goalie Jonathan Quick, who is now listed as day-to-day, which just shows how important excellent goaltending is to a team. A top ten scoring team that is 4-6 in their last ten games, LA is probably begging for a medical miracle for Quick to return ASAP.
What to Watch For This Week:
Tonight the Stars visit the Blues (which you can catch on NBCSN). As I mentioned before, the Central Division race is the playoff chase to watch in the second half and St. Louis will do everything it can to be a part of that conversation (slap the “BUYER” label on them now). Dallas is a good road team but has yet to win at the Scottrade Center: Blues over Stars. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday features a three-team round robin between Metropolitan Division foes: Caps at Islanders on Thursday, Islanders at Devils on Friday, and Devils at Caps on Saturday. The Devils are riding a winning streak right now as they sit a point behind the Isles for 3rd in the division while the Caps still sit atop the league. The Capitals are the only team with 20 wins both at home and on the road and NJ has been surprising good at home recently (as well as NYI not being much to write home about on the road): Caps over Isles, Devils over Isles, Caps over Devils.
The Flyers are in a strange spot right now. Dropping all of their games last week leaves them in 7th in the Metropolitan. Taking on the Devils in NJ tonight could be a great opportunity for a point swing in the standings but mentioned above, New Jersey has been great at home recently. The loss of Sean Couturier has been a huge blow to the team as they’ve looked lost. They’ll close out the week in Canada going to Montreal and Toronto on Friday and Saturday. If the Flyers can will both of those games, it could be a much need confidence boost.
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