NHL Quarter Season Review

Matthew Barzal has helped fuel the Islanders' early-season charge. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Matthew Barzal has helped fuel the Islanders' early-season charge. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

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By Chris Hennessy

Every NHL team has played about 20 games now, meaning the quarter-season mark is upon us and it is time to look at the surprises and disappointments by division this year.

The Metropolitan has been easily the most surprising division this season. The Islanders and Rangers were expected to be in rebuilding mode, yet find themselves near the top of the division thanks to coaching changes and hot goaltending. On the contrary, two playoff teams last year, the Devils and Penguins, find themselves in the basement. The Blue Jackets and Capitals bring some sturdiness, fixed atop the division once again.

As for the future of the Metro, I do not believe that the Rangers and Islanders will keep up their current hot streaks, and the Penguins are too talented and too well-coached to continue this downfall.

The Atlantic has been full of goals this season from both expected and unexpected teams. Tampa Bay, with Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, Toronto, with the addition of John Tavares, and Boston with potentially the best line in hockey with David Pasternak, Patrice Burgeron and Brad Marchand, have all impressed this season. However, Montreal, who was not expected to do well this year, finds itself in the middle of the pack. Buffalo was a popular pick for the eight seed in the East going into the season as an up-and-coming team, but they have exceeded expectations this year, riding an eight-game win streak.

Boston better wake up soon, because they currently sit on the edge of the playoffs and could very well miss it if teams like Buffalo and Montreal continue to excel.

The Central division is the best in all of hockey. I picked Winnipeg to win the West going into the season, and they are in fourth place despite being five games over .500. Colorado and the “Rocky Mountain Line” of Nate Mackinnon, Gabe Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen has surprised many with its high scoring start to the season. Nashville has the best record in the league, getting solid all-around play for the third straight season. The Dallas Stars have had a good start to the season and have some pieces that could feasibly make a playoff run. This division is not used to seeing Chicago and St. Louis at the bottom, but here we are.

All hockey fans should be tuned in to the Central over the next 60 games. The Western Conference Champion, and potentially the Stanley Cup Champion, will come out of this division.

The Pacific has been underwhelming this season, especially contrasted with the Central. With a seven-game losing streak from Vancouver, fired coaches in LA and Edmonton, and lackluster play from the Golden Knights, the Pacific has been boring. Don’t just look at the standings points when grading these teams; Anaheim has 25 points in third in the Pacific, while Colorado has 28 points in third in the Central. The Ducks have scored 54 goals in 24 games compared to 83 goals in 22 games for the Avalanche. Yikes.

San Jose, Calgary and Anaheim to the playoffs I guess; don’t expect much noise from them though.