Hockey

NHL Divisional Races Heat up for Home Stretch: Capitals vs Flyers

NHL Divisional Races Heat up for Home Stretch: Capitals vs Flyers

NHL Divisional Races Heat up for Home Stretch Capitals vs Flyers 2016 imagesWith the All-Star break well behind us now, the NHL is ready for an interesting home-stretch run for the 2015/16 regular season. With one exception, the divisional races are all fairly close, meaning that there will be a lot at stake for playoff seeding over the next couple of months.

The one team that is a runaway division leader at the moment is Washington. The Capitals overtook the lead in the Metropolitan Division in December, and they have built up a very comfortable margin. Currently, the Caps are 15 points up on second-placed New York. Such a lead will surely prove safe – even if Washington started to play below their normal form, the Rangers would still have to play incredibly well to retake the top spot. By most measures, the race in the Metro is practically over.

However, the race in the Atlantic Division is hardly over at this point. Florida and Tampa Bay are currently ensconced on top of the division, with the former holding a six-point lead over the latter. Florida seized the division’s top spot a few weeks back following a huge winning streak that spanned the holiday season and more.

However, Tampa Bay, the pre-season favorite for the division, have re-emerged recently following a mediocre first half of the season. The Lightning are 9-1-0 in their last ten games and it seems like any blip in form by Florida could be punished. Both Boston and Detroit are still within striking range as well while Montreal is now way out in fifth place.

In the Pacific Division, the Los Angeles Kings have not been doing themselves any favors lately. They used to have a very safe lead, but it’s one that has been chipped away at recently. In their most recent outing, the Kings lost to the Anaheim Ducks, a team that has now won six in a row. The San Jose Sharks have also been hot of late and currently the Kings are just 7 points up on them. However, with Anaheim having solved their offensive problems, the Ducks appear to be the team most likely to challenge Los Angeles. It will be interesting to see if the Kings can hang on and if Anaheim waited too long to start playing their best hockey.

The Central Division has the Chicago Blackhawks five points up on Dallas. However, the race is much tighter than it might originally look. Dallas have three games at hand, and they appear to have gotten over the bad slide of form they had in January. Considered long shots preseason for the Central, the Stars have already proven that they are a better team than originally presumed. However, after holding the lead in the division for such long parts of the season, anything less than a title would surely be a major disappointment now.

The NHL regular season ends on April 9th, so there’s still plenty of time and games remaining. At this point, only Washington seems to be a lock for a No. 1 seed and guaranteed home-ice advantage through at least two rounds. The Caps are the current betting favorite to win the Cup. However, they will need to follow up what appears to be a great regular season with playoff victories – something they haven’t done a lot of in the past.

Hockey
@GrandSlambert77

Shane is a sports writer with a big interest in tennis, but he's also a noted writer about travel and fiction. Plus he can handle long walks in the cold Canadian tundra!

More in Hockey

Will Montreal Canadiens or Toronto Maple Leafs end 'The Canadian Slump' 2017 images

Will Montreal Canadiens or Toronto Maple Leafs end ‘The Canadian Slump’?

Shane LambertMarch 26, 2017
Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby   NHL Hart Memorial MVP Race Heats Up 2017 images

Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby – NHL Hart Memorial MVP Race Heats Up

Shane LambertMarch 25, 2017
edmonton oilers looking to bite into san jose sharks slump 2017 images

Edmonton Oilers looking to bite into San Jose Sharks slump

Shane LambertMarch 22, 2017
Edmonton Oilers 2017 NHL Playoff Scenarios images

Edmonton Oilers 2017 NHL Playoff Scenarios

Shane LambertMarch 13, 2017
San Jose Sharks in Best Shape in NHL Races 2017 images

San Jose Sharks in Best Shape in NHL Races

Shane LambertMarch 11, 2017
Calgary Flames Creeping up on Edmonton, Anaheim 2017 images

Calgary Flames Creeping up on Edmonton, Anaheim

Shane LambertMarch 6, 2017
Chicago Blackhawks Sounding Off Alarms Bells in NHL 2017 images

Chicago Blackhawks Sounding Off Alarms Bells in NHL

Shane LambertMarch 4, 2017
Steve Yzerman, Avs, School LA Kings in Trades 2017 images

Steve Yzerman, Avs, School LA Kings in Trades

Shane LambertMarch 2, 2017
Top 5 NHL underachievers so far in 2016 17 images

Top 5 NHL Underachievers so far for 2016-17 season

Shane LambertFebruary 17, 2017

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter

You will only receive one per day. You'll also get a free THE WALKING DEAD graphic novel with your subscription