Halfway Point: A Look Around the NHL
As the B's hit this season's halfway point, we take a look at other story lines around the NHL
BostonBruins.com – As the Bruins sit at the halfway point of their 48-game schedule, and have today off following a back-to-back in Ottawa and Pittsburgh, it’s a good time to take a look around the rest of the league. With the frenzied pace of games and limited down time this season, it can be tough to keep up with what is going on elsewhere in the NHL, let alone, outside the Conference. So, here’s a look at some of the biggest story lines from around the league:
This is a story you may have heard about...
The Chicago Blackhawks took the sports world by storm with a historic points streak to open the shortened 2012-13 campaign. The Hawks made their way into the forefront of the daily sports conversation, from leading off ESPN’s SportCenter to appearing on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated. The B's may have had their own franchise historic start, but he Hawks' dazzling streak of 24 straight games with a point to begin the season was a new NHL record.
The previous record of 16 straight games with a point to start a season was held by the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks, who eventually went on to win the Stanley Cup.
“How can it not be impressive?” B’s Head Coach Claude Julien had told reporters last week, when asked about the Blackhawks' run. “It’s amazing what they’ve accomplished, and then you look at how they’ve accomplished it, too. Some in the last seconds of the game just to tie it up or win it. They’re a real good team.
“I’ve always said their back end has always been very good. They defend well, but also they move the puck well, and up front when you’ve got the [Marian] Hossa’s and the [Jonathan] Toew’s and all of those guys, [Patrick] Kane, etcetera. They’ve got a lot of skill, and their goaltending has been really solid where a lot of people questioned it.
“So, I’m not surprised, in a way, that they’re having success, but no doubt it’s pretty impressive when you haven’t got a regulation loss at this time.”
Since running the streak to 24 games, however, the Blackhawks have lost two straight games in regulation. The historic point streak came to an end against the Colorado Avalanche on March 10, when the Hawks lost a 6-2 decision in Denver. Chicago surrendered six goals again in their next game, during a 6-5 loss to Edmonton.
The Blackhawks, who lead the Central Division with 45 points (15 more than the second place St. Louis Blues) play again on Thursday in Columbus.
OTHER HOT STARTS
The Anaheim Ducks, who lead the Pacific Division have quietly gotten off to a blazing start of their own. Chicago’s run took the attention away from the Ducks, who have opened up with a 19-3-3 record, good for 41 points, just four behind the Blackhawks in the Western Conference. The Ducks have scored the most goals in the West (87), two more than Chicago.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, on the other hand, got off to a bit of a slow start, but have turned it on of late and are now fourth in the West. LA is 11-4-0 over their last 15 games, and sits in second place in the Pacific Division behind Anaheim.
Vancouver is in first place in the Northwest Division with 30 points, two ahead of Minnesota.
In the East, Montreal (17-5-4) leads the Northeast by one point over the B’s. Carolina (15-9-1) leads the Southeast Division and Pittsburgh, who is first in the league in goals-per-game (3.63) and goals for (100), sits atop the Atlantic Division.
The Penguins’ Sidney Crosby leads the league in points (45) and assists (33), while Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos is first in the NHL with 20 goals.
The Bruins could be playing in a new division in 2013-14, as the NHL is in the final stages of completing a realignment plan. The NHLPA has signed off on the proposal that could be finalized, depending on a vote by the league’s Board of Governors this week.
The plan would maintain the Eastern and Western Conferences, but instead of having three divisions in each, there would be two. The East would be broken down into the Central and Atlantic Divisions, with each boasting eight teams. The West would be made up of the Pacific and Mid-West Divisions, with seven teams in each. Here is the Bruins' division if the proposal is approved: Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto.