NBA First Half Awards
With the season just over halfway done, let's look at the major awards. Feel free to disagree but it's James Hardens world right now and we're just living in it.
There are just three weeks to go until the All-Star Break. The NHL Trade Deadline is at the end of February. It is also crazy to think the NHL playoffs is a little bit over three months away. Who are the Top 10 teams in the NHL up to this point?
10. Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets have played consistent hockey as of late. They are currently in the third spot in the Metropolitan Division with a 23-13-3 record with 49 points. Cam Atkinson will be going to the All-Star Game. He has scored 24 goals and recorded 18 assists, in 38 games so far this season. His plus/minus is 12. Pierre-Luc Dubois scored two goals on New Years Eve at home against the Ottawa Senators in a 6-3. He has scored 16 goals and recorded 20 assists, in 38 games so far this season. His plus/minus is 10.
9. Nashville Predators: The Predators snapped a six-game losing streak on New Years Eve on the road against the Washington Capitals 6-3. Nashville won on New Years Day at home against the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0. Juuse Saros had a 32-save shutout and Viktor Arvidsson scored two goals in the game. This team has dealt with a ton of injuries this season. At some point, they will get healthy and string a bunch of wins together. Nashville's record so far this season is 24-15-2 with 50 points. They currently sit in second place in the Central Division. The Nashville Predators have a goal differential of 20 so far this season.
8. Vegas Golden Knights: After a slow start to the regular season, the Golden Knights have been quietly climbing up the Western Conference standings. They have won four straight games and Vegas sits in the second place in the Pacific Division with a 24-15-4 record with 52 points. The Vegas Golden Knights are fortunate they don't play in a strong division. They hope to get back to the playoffs again this season and make another run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Vegas is playing as a cohesive unit once again this season. At least five players on the team have at 10 goals or more.
7. San Jose Sharks: The Sharks could be a dark horse team in the west. They have the offensive fire power and goaltending to do it. San Jose sits in third place in Pacific Division with a 22-13-7 record with 51 points. Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns will be going to the All-Star Game. Burns has scored seven goals and recorded 37 assists, in 42 games so far this season. His plus/minus is 4. Erik Karlsson has played in 40 games and he has scored three goals and recorded 30 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is even. Joe Pavelski leads the team with 24 goals.
6. Winnipeg Jets: The Jets have a lot of talent. Winnipeg has won seven games in their last 10 games played. They have a goal differential of 23. The Winnipeg Jets sit in first place in the Central Division with a 25-12-2 record with 52 points. They have a big game on the road on Friday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Blake Wheeler has recorded 50 points and Mark Scheifele has recorded 49 points so far this season. Connor Hellebuyck has not been the same in net this season, but he is still very important for this team. His record is 17-11-1 with a .908 save percentage and a 2.88 GAA.
5. Calgary Flames: The Flames have the best record in the Western Conference at 25-12-4 with 54 points. They have a goal differential of 31 so far this season. Johnny Gaudreau continues to make an impact for this team. He has scored 22 goals and recorded 37 assists, in 41 games so far this season. His plus/minus is 17. Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk each have recorded 47 points so far this season. Bill Peters has been an interesting fit as head coach for this team. He didn't lead the Carolina Hurricanes at all to the playoffs when he was coaching over there. David Rittich and Mike Smith has played an equal amount of games between the pipes.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins have won seven straight games and they are playing like one of the best teams in the NHL right now. They sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with a 22-12-6 record with 50 points. Pittsburgh has a goal differential of 23. Matt Murray has been lights out ever since returning from injury. His overall record so far this season is 10-5-1 with a .908 save percentage and a 3.07 GAA, along with two shutouts. Sidney Crosby will be going to the All-Star Game. He has scored 19 goals and recorded 31 assists, in 37 games so far this season. His plus/minus is 18. Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin each have 29 assists so far this season. Jake Guentzel has scored 17 goals and recorded 19 assists, in 40 games so far this season. His plus/minus is 10. Kris Letang might be the favorite to win the Norris Trophy so far this season. In 38 games, he has scored nine goals and recorded 26 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 35. The depth is also starting to step up as well. The Pittsburgh Penguins have a big game at home on Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets. They also host the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night and they have lost nine straight games to them.
3. Washington Capitals: Alex Ovechkin was elected by NHL fans to be the captain for the Metropolitan Division in the NHL All-Star Game in San Jose at the end of the month. However, he has informed the NHL that he will not participate due to rest and because of that, Ovechkin will have to miss the game before the All-Star Break or the game after the All-Star Break. In 38 games so far this season, he has scored 29 goals and recorded 16 assists. His plus/minus is 13. John Carlson and Braden Holtby will be in the All-Star Game. In 37 games, Carlson has scored six goals and recorded 32 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 21. Holtby's record is 15-9-2 with a .912 save percentage and a 2.84 GAA, along with two shutouts. Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and others have been playing well. They lead the Metropolitan Division with a 24-11-3 record with 51 points. Washington has a goal differential of 26.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs will have a Thursday afternoon game against the Minnesota Wild. Toronto has one of the best offenses in the NHL. They have scored 144 goals so far this season. Their goal differential is 35. The defense and goaltending has been better than people give it credit for. Mitchell Marner was a total All-Star Snub. In 39 games played so far this season, he has scored 13 goals and recorded 40 assists. His plus/minus is 15. John Tavares and Auston Matthews will represent the Toronto Maple Leafs in the All-Star Game. Tavares has scored 26 goals and recorded 18 assists, in 39 games so far this season. His plus/minus is 12. Matthews has scored 19 goals and recorded 16 assists, in 25 games so far this season. Morgan Reilly is an All-Star snub at the moment, but the fans could vote him into the All-Star Game. In 39 games so far this season, he has scored 13 goals and recorded 31 assists. His plus/minus is 25.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning: It is very possible that the Lightning will sit in the number one spot in the NHL for the rest of the season. They are doing a lot of things right and Tampa Bay doesn't make a ton of mistakes. It will be very difficult to beat this team in a playoff series. They have a ton of speed and skill. Andrei Vasilevskiy is an excellent goaltender. He could win the Vezina Trophy this season. The Tampa Bay Lightning have scored 168 goals so far this season. Their goal differential is 51. Tampa Bay has won six straight games. Their record is 31-7-2 with 64 points. They continue their California road trip with a road game against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night and a big game on Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks. In 40 games so far this season, Nikita Kucherov has scored 19 goals and recorded 46 assists. His plus/minus is 12. To no surprise, he will be in the NHL All-Star Game once again this season.