The NHL has returned from the all-star break, which means many teams are either pushing for a playoff spot or prepping their rosters for the future. The trade deadline is looming and with each passing day teams are looking at the playoff races more and more.
With rosters getting healthy, trades getting made, and games getting more crucial, here are the three teams to watch in the second half of the National Hockey League season.
The defending Stanley Cup champions had a slow start to the 2022-23 NHL season. They have begun to pick things up and find themselves in the mix for a Western Conference playoff spot.
The biggest issue that the Avs have fallen into is their lack of scoring in the first half of the season. They are currently averaging 3.02 goals per game this season which ranks 20th in the NHL. A big part of their lack of production is the injuries that have hit this team.
Currently, Colorado has center Darren Helm out with a lower-body injury, defenseman Josh Manson out with a lower-body injury on the injured reserve, defenseman Cale Makar out with an upper-body injury, and forward Gabriel Landeskog on IR with a knee injury.
When healthy this team has the ability to win the Stanley Cup. If this team can stay in the playoff mix while their roster is battling injuries, when they get 100 percent, the Avalanche will be a team to be feared. Keep an eye out for Colorado in the second half of the season.
New York Rangers
New York has been in the top three of the Metropolitan Division all year long. They have a consistent defensive core and stellar goaltending once again that is producing wins the majority of the time. What has been lacking at times in New York is the scoring depth.
The Rangers average 3.22 goals per game which is 13th in the NHL. However, with a recent trade, their luck might just turn around.
They have acquired forward Vladimir Tarasenko from the St. Louis Blues to bolster their offensive attack. Tarasenko has 29 points this season and will surely be excited for a fresh start in New York. Adding Tarasenko instantly gives the Rangers some juice in the second half of the season.
A team with the top two point leaders in the NHL is a team that should not be overlooked. While the Oilers are currently fighting for a playoff position they have the tools and star power to produce a deep playoff run.
Connor McDavid is once again having a career year and as a team they are averaging 3.77 goals per game which is first in the NHL. Their issue is that they can’t seem to slow down opponents.
Expect the Oilers to make some moves at the deadline and sure up their blue line before the regular season comes to a close. If the Oilers can improve on their 3.2 goals against average per game this season, they can immediately turn themselves into a cup contender.