We are approaching the halfway point in the NHL season - based on the number of games played. This has been the season of parity. Any team can win or lose on any given night. The Western Conference has Dallas setting the pace to a tune of 60 points in 41 games played. They are eight points up on second-place Los Angeles and 21 points up on eighth-place Anaheim.
The Eastern Conference, on the other hand, is very tight, excluding conference leader Washington, who sits with 59 points in 38 games played. Teams ranked second through 11th are only eight points apart.
Heading into the back half of the season, let's take a look at who is riding the hot hand or killing their playoff chances by being ice cold!
Florida Panthers: Last 10 Games: 9-0-1 - Streak - W9
Like a fine wine, Jaromir Jagr gets better with age! The 43 year old is turning back the clock and playing father figure to a team full of young talent. He has helped the Florida Panthers to a nine-game winning streak that started on Dec. 15 against the New York Islanders and is currently ongoing after a two-goal performance by Jagr in a 2-1 win versus the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 3.
Another seasoned veteran helping the cause is Roberto Luongo, who, during the streak has been in net for 7 of 9 wins, posting one shutout and surrendering more than two goals only once.
The Panthers hit the road for a six-game road trip looking for win No. 10 on Tuesday, against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Centre.
Los Angeles Kings: Last 10 Games: 6-3-1 - Streak - W5 .
Heading into the three-day Christmas break, the Kings had lost four out of five games. The offense had gone missing, and the goaltending wouldn't have been good enough to play in the AHL. The Kings surrendered 17 goals in five games while scoring only 10 of their own. Santa must have been good to them this year!
Boxing Day saw the Kings embark on the start of a four-game road trip, which they finished a perfect 4-0 after beating Arizona, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary by a combined 18-6. They returned home to capture another win versus the Philadelphia Flyers, and with that win they moved into second place in the Western Conference. The Kings will shoot for six in a row tonight as they travel to Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche.Right now the Kings are -155 road favorites. All odds can be found on SportsbettingOnline.
Washington Capitals: Last 10 Games 8-1-1 - Streak - L1 OT.
The Washington Capitals are a successful regular-season team. Year after year they dominate and find themselves with lofty Stanley Cup aspirations. Then they proceed to blow it in the playoffs. Almost like the Cincinnati Bengals. This year is no different. The Capitals reeled of nine straight wins from Dec. 12-Dec. 30. However, after a New Years Eve loss to the Hurricanes snapped the winning streak, the team earned another point in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. They own a nine-point lead in the Eastern Conference and are slated to take on Boston Jan 5 at the TD Garden.
Ottawa Senators: Last 10 games 3-6-1 - Streak - L3
Panic bells are ringing in the Capital of Canada. The Senators are struggling mightily, to the tune of back-to-back shutout losses and losses in five of their last six games. The offense is slacking with a pedestrian nine goals for in six games, and the defending is a nightmare with a brutal 21 goals against. It doesn't get any easier for the Sens as they head to St. Louis for a date with the Blues. I'm sure St. Louis will be pissed off after getting out worked in a 4-1 loss to the lowly Maple Leafs. The Senators are currently +171 road underdogs, which seems rather low considering they've lost their last seven road games.
Buffalo Sabers: Last 10 Games - 4-5-1 - Streak -L4
Quick takes: The Sabres will be good. They are about two years away from being a playoff team. They have a couple of nice pieces, but the sum of their parts as a whole is not good enough. The Sabres have lost four straight and sit in second-to-last place, one point above Columbus. They've lost their last four games by a combined 13-6 total. If they had any help for Jack Eichel or Ryan O'Reilly, they might find themselves on the winning end of some of their one-goal losses. Stopping the bleeding might be hard over the next four games. They host the red-hot Florida Panthers then take to the road for three games, starting with the defending Cup champion Blackhawks followed by an always-raucous MTS Centre in Winnipeg and capped by a trip to St. Paul, Minnesota, to take on the defensively-sound Wild. The Sabres could find themselves dead last within a week.
Edmonton Oilers: Last 10 Games - 3-6-1 - Streak - W1
The NHL lottery gods have smiled on the Oilers franchise several times over the last five years. They've had four No. 1 overall picks (Taylor Hall 2010, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 2011, Nail Yakupov 2012 and Connor McDavid 2015) and a third overall pick (Leon Draisaitl 2014). For the amount of raw talent this team deploys game after game, they really do suck. Prior to beating Arizona 4-3 on Jan 2, the Oilers had lost four in a row, and seven of eight. They are averaging 1.9 goals for per game and giving up 3.2 goals against. The Oilers are pegged as +100 home underdogs against a lowly Carolina team. That just goes to show you how bad the Oilers are. Young teams go through rough patches, but this is a team with raw talent that can't seem to mature enough to contend for a playoff spot. The face of the franchise, McDavid, is due to return possibly in February, but at what cost? Experience is vital, but with the season already lost, making sure he's 100 percent ready for next season should be the only priority.
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