As the second half of NHL season commences, here is a look at teams contending for the eight Eastern Conferences slots and who might slip and who could sneak in. Our breakdown will be by current division standings and wild-card teams.
1) Tampa Bay – The Lightning has been the best team in the NHL almost since the first whistle of the season. Tampa Bay is 1st in scoring and 3rd in goals allowed and has star power on both ends of the ice. Definite Play On team.
2) Boston – Since Nov. 16th, no team in the NHL has played better, with Boston 23-7 SU. The young players have blended with the veterans. Keeping up this torrid pace would seem challenging, yet the Bruins are 1st in fewest goals allowed and 4th in defense. Play On.
3) Toronto – The Maple Leafs are a better 5-on-5 team this season and they could still overtake Boston for second place and have home ice in the playoffs. In order to do this goalie Frederik Andersen will need more consistency in the second half. Play On hot streaks, fade when they cool.