We're almost two full months into the NHL season and there are some surprises both at the top and the bottom of the league standings. Here's a quick look around the league at some areas of interest as you navigate your weekly hockey handicapping.
The Capitals are somewhat surprisingly tied atop the NHL standings with 33 points and a 14-3-5 overall record. I say surprising because many expected the Caps to perhaps take a step back with an aging veteran core, note to mention the fact that they've have had to deal with some adversity, playing without the likes of Nick Backstrom and T.J. Oshie for much of the campaign. Instead we've seen Washington lean heavily on Alex Ovechkin and what has been a rock solid blue line and goaltending tandem of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek. The Caps wrap up a quick two-game road trip with a stop in Florida on Tuesday before opening a four-game homestand.
Singing the Blues
Saturday's lopsided win over Columbus notwithstanding, the Blues have had a tough go lately, failing to register consecutive wins since opening the season with five straight victories. It's been a case of 'feast-or-famine' offensively while St. Louis has had a tough time keeping the puck out of its own net, allowing 25 goals over its last eight games alone. Backup goaltender Ville Husso has actually outperformed starter Jordan Binnington to this point, posting a .936 save percentage in delivering three wins in four starts. Unfortunately for the Blues, their next four games come against two of the league's best teams in the Lightning and Panthers.
Only the Covid-ravaged Islanders sit lower than the Flyers in the Metropolitan Division. They haven't won a game since November 16th. Their last victory by more than a single goal came way back on November 2nd against the lowly Coyotes. A punchless offense has been the main culprit as Philadelphia has scored two goals or less in 12 of its last 15 games. Next up is a road date against the Rangers before returning home for two difficult games against the Lightning (who they've already lost twice to this season) and the Avalanche.
Release the Kraken
Don't look now but the expansion Kraken have won four of their last five games and after a winnable game in Detroit on Wednesday (the Red Wings will be on the back half of a back-to-back) they'll return to the Pacific Northwest for a four-game homestand. Still concerning is the fact that Seattle can't seem to sort things out in goal where Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger have both struggled to the tune of .890 and .876 save percentages, respectively. As well as the Kraken have played lately, they're still just a point ahead of the last-place Canucks in the Pacific Division. Note entering Wednesday's contest that the 'over' is a perfect 10-0 with Seattle coming off a game in which it gave up four or more goals this season (they defeated Buffalo 7-4 on Monday).