Now officially at the halfway point of the 2020-21 NHL season, we discuss the NHL’s major talking points.
The first half of the 2020-21 NHL season is officially complete, and the attention is turned to the second half of the league.
There has been a selection of winners and losers (sorry Sabres) of the current NHL season, and a lot of entertainment for fans watching on their screens.
With the halfway mark reached, NHL teams will now look to build momentum for the 2021 playoffs in the hope of a Stanley Cup triumph.
Current Division Standings
The Florida Panthers currently lead the central division, and are looking to build on their four-game winning streak. Close behind the Panthers are the Carolina Hurricanes, who boast an eight-game winning streak and are only a point behind first place.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars and Detroit Red Wings are struggling in the division, with both teams only having single-digit wins for the season.
Despite two losses on the bounce, the Toronto Maple Leafs hold a four-point lead in the North division. However, fellow Canadian side the Winnipeg Jets have two games in hand and will look to claim the number one spot in the division.
At the other end of the division, the Ottawa Senators are slumped at the bottom, eight points adrift from the closest team to them – the Vancouver Canucks.
The Islanders are having a great 20/21 season, leading an extremely competitive NHL East division. With a nine-game winning streak (leading the league), they’re not the only team on a winning run. Both the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins are on a good run of form, consecutively winning 5 and 6 of their last games, respectively.
The Buffalo Sabres can forget about this season, with only 16 points to their name and an 11-game losing streak.
With a four-point lead of the division, the Las Vegas Golden Knights are maintaining a strong position in the division to eventually progress to the playoffs. The Minnesota Wild will be looking to close the gap in the second half of the season, and are on track with a four-game winning streak currently to their name
It’s been a tough season for the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks, who find themselves bottom of the West division.
Some Major Talking Points
- The New York Islanders top the power rankings at the halfway stage, with a current nine-game winning streak.
- Alexander Ovechkin continues to break records, currently tied-sixth in NHL history for all-time highest goal scorers. The Russian is also now second of all-time in shots.
- The Buffalo News outlet actually placed the Sabres 32nd in the NHL rankings – there’s 31 teams…it’s safe to say that the Sabres are not having the best season ever.
Who’s Projected for Playoffs?
The regular season will be completed on May 8, and from here the Stanley Cup playoffs will be formed.
With a rearranged format for the season, the top four teams of each division will progress to the playoffs. From here, the league will return to a 16-team, best-of-seven, four-round playoff format.
Obviously, a lot can change between now and the last games of the regular season, but the leaders of all the divisions you can expect to feature in the playoffs. Meanwhile, teams looking to qualify will be hoping to build momentum for the run-in, in an attempt to make their way to the last 16.
Are Fans Back in NHL Arenas?
With the coronavirus pandemic still at the forefront of public health, fans have not been able to attend NHL games in full capacity. However, some teams have been able to open the stands up to fans to watch in their arenas.
Some teams have announced that fans will be able to return to arenas on a certain date (with upcoming dates at the end of March) whilst others have been able to operate with a low percentage of spectators in the arenas.
At the time of writing, 15 NHL teams have fans, or have announced the return of fans between now and the end of March. The Dallas Stars have the highest percentage of capacity available to fans, with 27.5% of their full capacity allowed to attend whilst still following guidelines.
However, the remaining 16 teams have yet to allow the fans’ return, and have not yet publicly announced if/when this possibility will be.
Michael McKean is an experienced writer with a portfolio that includes work on the subjects of sport, gambling, travel and finance. With a background rooted in journalism, Michael first ventured into the professional writing world based in Switzerland, where he wrote for a number of language and travel sites and magazines before moving into the world of sports writing and gambling sites.
As an avid soccer fan, who follows everything from the Scottish lower leagues to the European elites, he has earned himself a solid reputation as a reliable football betting tipster and predictor. Outside of work, Michael has always gotten involved with grassroutes football everywhere he has worked and lived - UK, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Brazil - and still isn’t shy when it comes to pulling the boots on himself. As well as soccer, he has also developed a love of North American sports, particularly ice hockey - a love which began in Switzerland and saw him venture across the pond to follow the NHL. Moving away from dry land, he’s also a keen longboard surfer and is happiest when writing with a view of the ocean.