The NHL has hit the halfway mark of the 2022-23 season as the All-Star break is in full swing. Many franchises have taken steps toward winning a Stanley Cup while others have struggled to find any rhythm in the regular season. Here are the two biggest surprises and disappointments of the first half of the NHL season thus far.
Surprise: Boston Bruins Hot First Half
The Boston Bruins had the pieces to be a cup-contending team when healthy. No one could have predicted that they would have started off as the first-place team with their stars injured and then continued that trend.
The Bruins currently lead the NHL with 83 points in the standings. They also lead the NHL with a +81 goal differential which is helped by their stellar goaltending from Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman. Their first-half start was a major surprise and it will be even more surprising if they can continue this trend.
Surprise: Seattle Kraken Leading the Pacific Division
While it isn’t much of a surprise that the Seattle Kraken have improved from their inaugural season which felt like a building block, the newest member of the NHL has quickly risen to the top of their respective division. Currently, the Kraken have 63 points on the year and are tied with the LA Kings for first place in the Pacific Division.
Their 177 goals for are first in the Western Conference and are powered by Jared McCann and Jordan Eberle’s play. Seattle’s offense is one of the best in the NHL this season and is forcing fans of the game to start respecting the Kraken as a formidable NHL franchise.
Disappointment: Panthers Out of Wild Card Spot
The Florida Panthers were one of the most feared teams in the NHL last season. That notion has quickly changed as the Cats sit with 54 points at the break and are three spots out of a wild card playoff spot. While their offense has been steady, their defense and goaltending have been suspect at best.
Florida has 183 goals against which ranks third worst in the Eastern Conference. This team must right the ship fast if they want to build on their success from the 2021-22 season.
Disappointment: St. Louis Blues Lackluster Start
St. Louis was expected to be a contending team this NHL season. Unfortunately due to horrific goaltending and defense, this team has 49 points and is third worst in the Central Division standings.
Jordan Binnington has a 3.27 goals-against average that leads the team. If the Blues want to get back to contending for a Stanley Cup they must improve the back end and provide consistent defense play. Only time will tell if the Blues become buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.