For many NHL groups, this present common season has been a blended bag, with a lot of them hovering across the pedestrian .500 to .600 factors proportion within the standings. Nevertheless, three groups have carried out themselves an amazing service thus far this 12 months, by separating themselves from the remainder of their divisional contenders with some unimaginable information.
These three groups – the New Jersey Devils within the Metropolitan Division, the Vegas Golden Knights within the Pacific Division and the Boston Bruins within the Atlantic Division – sit close to or over the .800 mark.
The Devils, as many know by now, are the league’s greatest shock, with a factors proportion of .842 and a file of 16-3-0. The subsequent-best Metro group is the Carolina Hurricanes, who’re six wins and eight factors behind them with a 10-5-4 mark.
The Bruins are the NHL’s finest group, with a factors proportion of .895 and a 17-2-0 file. The second-best Atlantic group, the Toronto Maple Leafs, have seven fewer victories and 9 fewer standings factors, with a 10-5-5 mark.
And the Vegas Golden Knights lead the Pacific Division by seven factors, with a 15-4-1 file and a .775 factors proportion in 20 video games. The Golden Knights have two video games in hand on the next-best Pacific group, the Los Angeles Kings (11-9-2 file, .545 factors proportion).
The Bruins, Devils and Kings have crafted themselves an vital cushion, and the way in which the league has been overcome by accidents this season, that cushion is essential to positioning a group as a virtually-definite playoff squad and performing as an insurance coverage of types to assist them make it by way of the punishing slog of the remainder of the 12 months.
When you don’t assume the recent begins by Boston, Vegas and New Jersey are going to chill off, check out the NHL standings from the previous few seasons. Final 12 months, the Florida Panthers have been the league’s high group, with a .744 factors proportion. The runner-up for the highest group within the league was the eventual Stanley Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche, with a .726 factors proportion that lead the Central Division. And the Carolina Hurricanes had a .707 factors proportion. Just one different franchise, the Toronto Maple Leafs, had a factors proportion of .700 or over, and even then, with a team-record 54-27-1 mark, the Leafs barely obtained there with a .701 factors proportion.
Final season wasn’t an aberration within the standings. Within the 2020-21 marketing campaign, solely 4 groups, the Avalanche and Golden Knights (each with .732 factors percentages), and Panthers (.705) and Canes (.714), had factors percentages higher than .700. And within the 2019-20 season, only one group – the Bruins, at a .714 factors proportion – had a greater factors proportion than .662.
A lot has been mentioned about NHL parity, as a result of it’s true – it’s tough to be a leviathan group within the wage cap period. And once more, because of this beginning the season with way more wins than losses is so vital, as a result of you understand there are going to be powerful instances forward, whether or not that’s on account of accidents or baffling slumps, and having the ability to deal with just a few losses in a row with out cause for elevated strain or out-and-out panic.
Distinction the Golden Knights, Bruins and Devils’ present conditions with that of the Central-leading Dallas Stars. Dallas has 25 standings factors and a .658 factors proportion, however that’s solely 5 factors forward of the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators, who’re tied for fourth spot with a .556 and .526 factors proportion, respectively.
The second-place Avs are simply two factors behind the Stars, and Colorado has two video games in hand on Dallas. The third-place Winnipeg Jets are additionally two factors behind the Stars with a pair of video games in hand. Consequently, the Stars can’t afford to have accidents or a notable hunch and count on to stay atop the Central.
The strain to win will at all times be there for each NHL group, however there needs to be a leisure of types within the dressing rooms of the Devils, Bruins and Golden Knights. They now know that, as long as they are not abysmal for a protracted stretch, they will exit and play each night time figuring out it isn’t the tip of the world in the event that they stumble into a 3 or four-game dropping streak.
In the meantime, the bottom-feeders of the 4 divisions – the Arizona Coyotes (.412), Anaheim Geese (.289), Columbus Blue Jackets (.417) and Ottawa Senators (.361) – all should carry out an act of magic simply to make the playoffs, not to mention get to the highest of their division.
For this reason NHL groups can’t afford to start the season poorly. We’re now greater than 20 % of the way in which by way of the 12 months, and it’s not nearly groups making an attempt to enhance their factors proportion – now, struggling groups should hope all of the groups above them of their division lose many video games in regulation. Opponents who can earn at the least one level per sport for essentially the most a part of the remainder of the way in which will assist hold backside feeders the place they’re at current. And the perfect groups within the league can afford to drop just a few video games in a row with out falling down the standings.
We’ve mentioned it earlier than, nevertheless it’s price repeating: you possibly can’t win the Cup within the first two months of the season, however you possibly can put your self out of the attain of the Cup match in that point. The Bruins, Devils and Golden Knights have carved out a cushty place for themselves up to now, they usually don’t should squeeze their sticks too onerous within the pressure-packed schedule that’s forward. That’s one vital feat in a season that may have its ups and downs for each group.