The NHL season officially passed its halfway point on Wednesday, and with plenty still to play for, there was no shortage of action and excitement in the past seven days.
Connor McDavid has shown no signs of slowing down, as he became the fastest player to reach 80 points in a season since 1995-96. McDavid celebrated his 26th birthday in style on Friday, leading the Oilers to a 7-1 thrashing of the San Jose Sharks, scoring twice and assisting once.
The Seattle Kraken continue their push to their first ever playoffs, picking up seven consecutive wins, including a 3-0 shutout against the league-leading Boston Bruins. There are still some attractive Stanley Cup odds available out there for the Kraken, so make sure you check out the latest odds on our NHL betting sites.
The schedule for the next two weeks is a busy one, as the league builds up towards the All-Star break in early February. Most teams are scheduled to play at least seven games in the next fortnight, meaning that a good run of form can make a massive difference to a team's playoff prospects.
Let’s take a look at each team's report card, through the first half of the season.
The Blackhawks were taken right back down to earth on Saturday night, having won three straight games for the first time since October. The Kraken weren't prepared to allow that run to continue, however, scoring six goals on their first seven shots in the opening quarter-hour. Patrick Kane returned to the line-up after missing that three-game win streak through injury.
The Blue Jackets sit firmly anchored to the bottom of the Eastern Conference at the midway point of the season. The Jackets are 3-7-0 in their last ten games, which is roughly in keeping with their form all season. The only Columbus player who has a positive plus-minus rating in 2022-23 is Kirill Marchenko, who also has four goals in his last five games.
Three consecutive heavy defeats leave this team floundering near the bottom of the league standings. Allowing 19 goals in just three games illustrates perfectly just how out of their depth the Ducks have been this season. No team has allowed more goals or shots per game, and it isn't even remotely close. Troy Terry and Mason McTavish have both impressed, in flashes.
Eight straight losses for the Coyotes and any memory of some reasonable form in November and December has been banished. Karel Vejmelka has carried the bulk of the load in goals for the Yotes this season, posting a .902 save percentage from 31 games played. Only Juuse Saros at Nashville has faced more shots and made more saves than Vejmelka, this season.
If it wasn't for their atrocious attempt at defensive play, this Sharks team might be pretty useful. Only Anaheim have allowed more goals than San Jose this season, with this contributing to the Sharks awful home record in 2022-23. They have only managed to win four of their 22 games at home so far, losing a league-high six games in overtime or a shootout.
The Habs occupy the bottom spot in the Atlantic Division, with a sorry record of 114 goals scored and 161 allowed. You would have to go all the way back to late November, a run of 23 games, to find the last time the Canadiens won two consecutive games. Even then, the two victories were against the bottom two teams in these rankings.
Four straight losses this week, three of which were by the narrowest of margins in regulation, mean that the Canucks have said farewell to their playoff chances according to many Canada sports betting sites. Only three Canucks have played in all every game this season. Among them is Bo Horvat, who reached the 30-goal mark on Saturday night. He is having a career year, in a contract year.
A banged-up Blues team are doing their best to keep the ship afloat during a particularly difficult spell of injuries. The team are 5-4-1 since the league resumed in late December, but are without the services of Tarasenko, Krug and O'Reilly, among others. It will take a monumental effort in the second half of the season to get this team into the postseason.
Perhaps the Senators should start a petition to avoid having to work Saturdays. For the third consecutive week, the Sens suffered a heavy defeat on a Saturday, this time losing 7-0 on the road against Colorado. It was the second time in five days that Ottawa were shut out, having lost 3-0 to Nashville on Monday.
It's hard to know what to expect from the Red Wings on any given night, and this week gave three perfect examples of that. Consecutive victories over the contending Jets and Maple Leafs were followed by a 4-3 home loss against the struggling Blue Jackets, this week. USA sports betting sites might be seeing increased activity on the underdogs in Wings games, going forward.
The Flyers have the best win percentage in the entire NHL since Christmas, going 7-1-0 in that time, scoring 32 goals and allowing only 18. With close to 250 man-games lost to injury already this season, it is an achievement in itself that this team finds itself with a .500 record after 43 games played. The playoffs may be a step too far, however.
It probably isn't wise to write a team off, so long as they have a reasonable mathematical chance, but the playoffs seem like a real stretch for the Predators now. They sit eight points adrift of the automatic berths, and with the Pacific Division team’s stranglehold on the Wild Card spots, it just seems like too much ground to make up.
The Sabres lost three straight home games this week, allowing four goals each time but struggling to maintain the rampant offensive threat that has characterized this team so far this season. A road win over Nashville on Saturday put a positive spin on the week, at least. Buffalo has four players at a point-per-game pace, through the first half of the season.
The Islanders occupy the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, despite a recent dip in form. Two wins from their last seven games mean that the Islanders will need to improve if they are to stay in the playoff race. Were it not for the form of Linus Ullmark in Boston, Ilya Sorokin would at the top of the Vezina Trophy odds on NHL betting apps .
It is going to take a massive second half of the season if the Panthers are to make the playoffs in 2023. Already, the top three spots in the Atlantic Division look to be going to Boston, Toronto and Tampa Bay, leaving a Wild Card spot the most likely route for Florida to take. There is stiff competition for those two spaces, however.
Whilst across the state, the Flyers have been flying since Christmas, the Penguins have very much been flightless over that time. With just two wins, the Penguins have gone from a bona-fide playoff team, to more of a "will-they, won't-they" outfit. The form of Jake Guentzel has dropped notably, he has only managed points in two of the nine games since Christmas.
A 3-1-0 week for the Oilers, who have made the Wild Card spots their own lately. No team scored more than the Oilers this week, who put 20 goals on the board in their four games. McDavid and Draisaitl continue to dominate the scoring charts, already surpassing 150 combined points this season. Canada sports betting sites have McDavid as the runaway favorite in the Hart Trophy betting.
The returns of Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom were welcome sights for Caps fans this week. Whilst not having a major impact on the scoreboard just yet, the Capitals have been so depleted through injury this season that healthy players are a rare commodity of late. Connor Brown and John Carlson remain on the long-term injured reserve.
Not only are the Flames battling the Oilers for bragging rights in Alberta, but the two sides are inseparable in the race for the playoffs too. Both sides occupy a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, and will hope to hold them or improve upon them in the second half of the season. The Flames have already had 13 different goalscorers in 2023.
Whilst Marc-Andre Fleury is still the number one goalie for the Wild, Filip Gustavsson has impressed during his 17 games this season. The Swede's numbers are actually favorable when compared to Fleury, which bodes well for the Wild's future. Although they hold a seven-point lead over the Avalanche in the automatic playoff spots, a second-half resurgence by the Avs could well change that.
For the fourth successive week, the Kings recorded two victories and a defeat. Their longest win streak this season stands at just four, but without being streaky, this team continues to accumulate wins at a steady rate. The Kings remain the only team in a playoff spot to have a negative goal differential, their 157 goals allowed is still a concern.
The Avs exploded for seven unanswered goals against the Sens on Saturday, finally showing some of the dominance that they displayed during last season's cup run. The Avs have a losing record since December 1st, and currently sit six points outside the Wild Card spots in the Western Conference. A huge second half of the season is required.
This week, the Kraken became the first team in the history of the NHL to sweep a seven-game road trip. They clinched the record in impressive style, putting up six goals in their first seven shots against Chicago on Saturday. Defensive pairing Vince Dunn and Adam Larsson both tied the league record for plus-minus in a period, at +6.
It was a case of too little, too late, for the Stars on Saturday, as they fell just short of a huge comeback against the Flames. Four straight goals pulled things back to 6-5, but Dallas just couldn't find a tying goal. The Stars remain one of the league’s top sides, leading the Central Division ahead of the Winnipeg Jets.
The Rangers are beginning to hit their stride now, recording points in 8 of their last 10 games. Although Igor Shesterkin's save percentage has dropped noticeably from last season, he remains a solid and reliable netminder and gives this team a chance to win every night. Adam Fox continues to be a game-changing defenseman, leading the Rangers in both ice-time and assists.
So far, so good, for the Winnipeg Jets. Outstanding individual seasons by Kyle Connor, Josh Morrissey and Pierre-Luc Dubois have helped to garner a winning mentality in Manitoba. Behind them, the ever-reliable Connor Hellebuyck continues to defy expectations, trailing only Linus Ullmark in the all-important Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA) metric. The recent return of Nikolaj Ehlers only makes this team stronger still.
There was more history made by this Devils team this week, as they became the first team in NHL history to win 17 of their first 20 road games in a season. It has been a brilliant first half of the season for the Devils, who looks set to continue to push the Hurricanes all the way for the top spot in the Metro Division.
Year-in, year-out, this Tampa Bay team just manage to get it done. Over the past five seasons, the Lightning lead the NHL in wins, points and goals, three statistics that correlate nicely to success. Steven Stamkos is on the verge of scoring his 500th career goal, a feat that only two other active NHL players, Crosby and Ovechkin, have achieved.
It was a week of two halves for the Leafs, who defeated the in-form Flyers and Predators, before losing to the Red Wings and Bruins. Never mind, this team have earned the second spot in the Atlantic Division, over the first half of the season. Auston Matthews is scoring at his lowest rate since his debut season, watch out for a second-half surge from him.
A quiet week for the Golden Knights, who managed a win and a loss in their two games. The recent form of the Seattle Kraken has put some pressure on Vegas for the top spot in the Pacific Division. The pedigree of the Golden Knights, however, has them placed firmly in the top three, in the Stanley Cup odds.
It was a winning return to action for Frederik Andersen, although not a perfect one, as the Canes beat the Blue Jackets 6-2 on Thursday, and then defeated the Penguins 2-1 on Saturday night. When fully healthy, this team marries a scary offensive threat with a solid defensive core, and are fully capable of mounting a significant cup run this year.
The B’s were shut out for the first time in 2022-23 this week, by the in-form Seattle Kraken. That brought an end to the 22-game home point streak to start the Bruins' season. It was a temporary loss of attacking form, however, and that result came between a 7-1 thrashing of the Ducks last Sunday, and a 4-3 win over the Leafs on Saturday.