NHL: Top Three Western Conference Teams Heading into the Second Half
The NHL is about half away through the season as the All-Star game is happening this weekend. The Eastern Conference now is being ruled by the Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. The other side of the league, in the Western Conference, is where many believe that the better hockey is being played. This writer believes the league is about half. The Western Conference doesn’t have the same teams on top of it. The Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, and Anaheim Ducks are all the bottom of the conference. Which is good for the NHL that the same teams aren’t always on top. So, I was given the assignment to pick the top three teams in the Western Conference going into the second half of the season. So, out of the three teams I chose two of them are sure and one is a shot in the dark.
Here is a team that had a Cinderella season last year. The Blues were dead last on January 1st and many wrote them off. After they fired their head coach and promoted Craig Berube to head coach things changed. Berube made a change at goaltender bringing in Jordan Binnington and he took the Blues to the finals and eventually the Stanley Cup. So far this year the Blues have played 49 games their record is 30-11-8. That equates to 68 points and in their last 10, they stand at 5-3-2. One of the big reasons is they are a plus 24 in goal differential. That all comes with one of their top players being out. That player would be Vladimir Tarasenko who is out with a shoulder injury. The Blues continue to play well as they make a run at a second straight Stanley Cup.
Many believe this is the team that will be in Stanley Cup Finals as the Western Conference team. Like the Blues, they have also played 49 games their record is 28-15-6. They have 62 points and are just six points behind the Blues. They are the last team to beat the Blues and the Avs have a plus 36 in goal differential. This is the second-best in the NHL they only trail the Tampa Bay Lightning. They also have the same record in their last 10 games at 5-3-2. Why I picked them is because they score goals and keep the puck out of their net. They, like the Blues, were also in the playoffs last year. Going into the All-Star break they are on a three-game winning streak. Look for them to continue to score goals and make a run at a Stanley Cup.
Here is my team that I said was a shot in the dark. This team was not in the playoffs last season. They have played 51 games their record 26-20-5. The Coyotes goal differential is a plus 8 not as good as the Blues and Avalanche. If the playoffs started, they would be playing the Avalanche. In their last 10 games, they are 5-4-1. After the All-Star break, the Coyotes will look to get out of a three-game losing streak. They picked up Taylor Hall, but the offense could be better. Where they are struggling is that Darcy Kuemper needs to get back on track. I think that both can happen. This team has shown signs of improvement and will make a run at a playoff spot.
Which three teams are the strength of the Western Conference? Leave a comment below.
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