The NHL regular season exploded back into action after some fun and games at the All-Star Game in Florida. Somewhat unsurprisingly, given the strength of the Eastern Conference this year, it was an Eastern team who were successful, as the Atlantic Division defeated the Central Division by a score of 7-5 in the final.
There were some landmark occasions in the league over the last week or so, as Evgeni Malkin picked up his 1,200th point, and Dustin Brown's number 23 jersey was retired to the rafters in Los Angeles. Brown won two Stanley Cups in LA, in 2012 and 2014, and played just shy of 1,300 games for the Kings. Both Brown and Malkin played significant roles in their teams’ Stanley Cup success over the past two decades and will go down in history as two of the all-time greats.
Three of the league's top players remain sidelined, with Auston Matthews, Jack Hughes and Cale Makar all missing significant time lately. With plenty of time before the playoffs, their respective teams will hope that they return to full health soon. NHL betting sites will be closely monitoring their returns to health, as each player has that X-factor that can turn a game on its head.
Three straight losses before the All-Star break for Columbus were followed by a 3-0 shutout loss against the Maple Leafs on Friday. It didn't take long for the Blue Jackets to get their revenge, however, as they went to Toronto the very next day and earned a 4-3 regulation victory. That win shows that on any given night, any team can win in the NHL.
Seth and Caleb Jones became the first brothers to score in the same game since the Sedins back in 2017 when they both tallied against Arizona on Friday night. That game was to be Chicago's only win of the fortnight, leaving them firmly rooted to the bottom of the Western Conference, just a point ahead of Columbus at the bottom of the league standings.
There have been some tight games for the Coyotes lately, with their previous straight contests being decided by a single goal before a 4-2 win over the Predators Monday night. Three of those games were overtime losses, meaning the Coyotes are actually on their longest points streak of the season, standing at six games. The Yotes are also the only side in the bottom eight in the league standings with a winning record at home.
Anaheim returned to action with back-to-back overtime games, losing 3-2 to Dallas in OT on Monday before defeating Chicago by the same scoreline, in a shootout, on Tuesday. They were then blown out by the Penguins and Golden Knights. Only the Blackhawks and Blue Jackets have fewer points than the Ducks this season, but no team has fewer regulation wins. The Ducks have managed to win in sixty minutes on just seven occasions, from 53 attempts.
The Canadiens recorded their first win in exactly three weeks on Saturday afternoon, defeating the New York Islanders through a Mike Matheson winner in overtime. They then repeated the trick by beating the Oilers Sunday. There hasn't been much to cheer about in Montreal this year, so those victories will at least put a smile on the faces of Habs fans for a few days.
Erik Karlsson was the sole Sharks representative at the 2023 All-Star Game in Florida. Karlsson was back in the sunshine state for the Sharks' next two games, as they defeated the Lightning but fell to the Panthers before a win against the Capitals Sunday. Timo Meier's name continues to be mentioned in trade rumors, with the New Jersey Devils apparently interested in acquiring his services.
The Canucks lost their captain to the New York Islanders, before suffering the indignity of watching him score in his first game against his former teammates. As Bo Horvat continues to thrive, now in his new home on Long Island, the Canucks are facing into a bleak end of season. Four defeats from five games in their life after Bo are a sign of things to come.
The Blues have all but accepted that their playoff aspirations have come to an end for this season, trading Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola to the New York Rangers in exchange for Sammy Blais, Hunter Skinner and two picks. They currently sit nine points outside the Wild Card spots in the west but seem unlikely to be able to bridge that gap given their recent form. It would be wise to fade them when making your NHL picks.
The Senators entered the All-Star break with a four-game win streak, tied for their longest of the season. Facing the in-form Oilers, however, they resumed their season with a 6-3 home loss before a win against the Flames Monday. It would take a miraculous final 30 games of the season for this team to even get into playoff contention. Claude Giroux has been in outstanding form of late.
The Red Wings had a three-game homestand against the three Canadian teams from the Pacific Division. A defeat against Edmonton was followed by wins over Calgary and Vancouver, as Detroit continues to stay just about relevant in the Wild-Card hunt. Although their chances are slim, they aren't quite zero, which gives the slightest glimmer of hope, particularly after defeating the Canucks again Monday.
It was a week of one-score scorelines for the Flyers, who went 1-2-1 in their three games. A 2-1 regulation loss against the Islanders was followed by a 2-1 shootout win over the in-form Oilers. On Saturday night, it was the Predators who claimed victory with a 2-1 overtime win in Philadelphia before the Kraken defeated them Sunday. The Flyers' Stanley Cup odds remain high with most USA sports betting sites, given their position in the standings.
Not only did the New York Islanders go out and trade for Bo Horvat, but they followed that up with a new eight-year, $68 million contract for the 27-year-old center. Horvat made an early impression, scoring in just his second game for the Isles, as they shut out the Seattle Kraken in a 4-0 victory but have since dropped two in a row.
After a terrible start to the season, the Predators have, objectively, been much better since the Christmas break. At 11-7-1 in their games since that point, they have been winning games despite being routinely outshot. Nashville sits outside the Wild-Card spots at the present time, and it seems hard to imagine them bridging that gap without becoming more dominant in creating chances.
Buffalo signed young center Dylan Cozens to a seven-year, $49.7 million contract this week. Cozens, who was drafted seventh overall in 2019, has been tracking close to a point-per-game pace this season, and is set to become one of the keystones of the Sabres team for many years to come. On the ice, Buffalo played three games, losing heavily in each.
Evgeni Malkin became the 51st player in league history to record 1,200 points this week. Malkin is the third Penguin to reach that milestone, alongside teammate Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux. The Penguins are in real danger of missing the playoffs, as they sit perilously close to the edge of the Wild-Card spots. A bigger effort is needed.
Slowly but surely, the Panthers have crept their way back into the Wild-Card picture in the East. The biggest thing that is counting against them at the current time is that they have played more games than most teams around them. Buffalo and Detroit both have four games in hand and are within four points.
The Flames managed to salvage their week by putting seven goals past the helpless Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon, having previously lost to the Red Wings and Rangers. The Flames sit perilously at the edge of the Wild-Card spots in the Western Conference and will need more performances like Saturday to keep themselves there.
The Wild are tied with the Flames on 61 points, with both teams right on the periphery of the playoff picture. The Flames are in marginally better form, but Minnesota will be concerned about their lack of regulation wins of late. They've won just once inside 60 minutes, in their last 10 games.
The Capitals returned to action on Saturday, well rested after their 10-day break. They carried on where they left off, with a victory over the league-leading Boston Bruins. That victory was just the second time this season that the Bruins have been beaten at home in regulation. NHL betting apps have some generous cup odds on the Caps, relative to the teams around them in the standings.
With just two wins in 10 games before the All-Star break, the Golden Knights were in desperate need of a reset. So far, so good, for Bruce Cassidy's men, as they recorded consecutive 5-1 victories and a 7-2 win in their three games since returning to action. The scoring action in those games was well spread, with plenty of different goalscorers and players picking up points.
The Kings continue to maintain a steady, if not spectacular, course towards the playoffs. What was spectacular, however, was the manner in which LA discarded of Pittsburgh on Saturday night. Six unanswered goals against Crosby and Malkin gave the Kings their biggest win of the season, with Adrian Kempe recording four goals, taking him to 26 on the season, meaning he is a great NHL player props option at present.
Earlier in the season, the Kraken became the first team in NHL history to sweep a seven-game road trip. Since the resumption of play after the All-Star Break, the Kraken have played four games on the road, losing to the Islanders, Devils and Rangers and beating the Flyers. With one more game on this road trip, points will be required to keep Seattle in their automatic playoff berth.
As it stands, the Winnipeg Jets should be quite keen to reel in the Dallas Stars at the top of the Central Division. Doing so will improve their chances of avoiding the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the playoffs. Canada sports betting sites have cooled on the Jets somewhat lately, as they are 5-5-0 in their last 10 games.
Over the past month, no team has scored more goals per game than the Edmonton Oilers. With 48 goals scored in their last 11 games, and 29 allowed, the Oilers are pushing hard to maximise their playoff chances. Connor McDavid had a 17-game road point streak, and a 15-game point streak overall before the Oilders’ 6-2 loss to the Canadiens.
There was a clear statement of intent from the Rangers this week, as they traded for Russian right winger Vladimir Tarasenko. US betting apps have begun to cut the cup odds on the Rangers, who look laser-focused on a deep playoff run in 2023. Tarasenko scored within three minutes of his debut, in his first shot for his new team.
Despite a 3-1 loss at home to Tampa Bay on Saturday afternoon, the Dallas Stars sit comfortably atop the Western Conference standings. Victories over Anaheim and Minnesota earlier in the week mean that the Stars can be relatively confident of their chances of progressing to the postseason this year. Jake Oettinger was key in both of this week's victories.
An injury to Jack Hughes has put the young superstar week-to-week, which is not the news that Devils fans wanted to hear this week. Thankfully, Hughes and the Devils have enough credit in the bank to ride this out and still maintain their form in his absence. Rumors continue to fly about potential trade options, with Timo Meier a name that is frequently appearing.
It took them some time to hit their stride this season, but the Avs are very much back in the picture now. At 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, Colorado is near the top of the form tables recently. Cale Makar has featured in just four of those games due to a combination of injuries; they'll want him back soon as they look to consolidate their playoff place.
The Lightning shipped their heaviest defeat of the season this week, losing 7-1 on the road against their state rivals, the Florida Panthers. It was the second time in under 14 months that Tampa has been defeated by a six-goal deficit against the Sunrise, after they lost 9-3 there on New Year’s Eve in 2021. They bounced back with big wins over Colorado and Dallas.
The sight of Auston Matthews returning to the ice this week was a welcome one for Leafs fans. The superstar center has not played since January 27, and the Leafs are 2-3-0 in his absence. Although their playoff chances aren't in danger, they will want to secure home advantage in their series, likely to be against Tampa Bay once again.
Carolina was the busiest team in the league in the run-up to the All-Star break, with three games in four days before the recess. The Hurricanes took it all in stride, as they defeated the Bruins, Kings and Sabres in those games, narrowing the gap on the league-leading Bruins. A loss to the Rangers on Saturday ended their point streak at 10 games.
Some of the shine has come off the Boston Bruins' season in the past couple of weeks, and four defeats in their last five games probably counts as a crisis by their high standards. The next game for Boston is on the road against the best team in the Western Conference, the Dallas Stars. That could prove a worthy test of this team's mettle.