Welcome to another edition of NHL Insights as we look at some teams that remain red hot coming out of the holiday break and into the new year. Not to mention one team that is underperforming that we expected more out of. Those teams include the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings.
After a couple of weeks off for the holidays and the World Junior Championships, NHL Insights have returned. The Winter Classic has passed and the unofficial second half of the season is here as the NHL All-Star Game approaches. It was another successful Winter Classic for the NHL in Boston with the 2024 edition heading to Seattle. This year the playoff races are much more competitive in each conference thanks to a normal regular season. It will be interesting to see if one team eventually comes back to the pack or do they run away with it all. In this edition of NHL Insights, we look at the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings.
Time to dive into some NHL Insights for the past couple of weeks.
NHL Insights: Bruins, Hurricanes, Sabres, and Red Wings
How about those Boston Bruins? They are the best team in the NHL and it is not even close. If you look at all their numbers what is most impressive is the fact the Bruins just have four regulation losses at this point of the season. Everything is clicking for this Bruins team. From their first line to their fourth line and everything in between. Credit to head coach Jim Montgomery for having the players buy into the season. And each player on this team has found a role. You have to be impressed with guys like Taylor Hall and Trent Frederic. Especially Frederic, who knew he had the talent and skill to make it in the NHL. He is a pivotal piece of their third line.
Losing Jake DeBrusk for up to four weeks will hurt no doubt. But with David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak performing, they can survive. The Bruins have from the start of the year. Speaking of Pastrnak. His value only increases as he hits 30 goals once again. Both sides want to get a deal done, but you have to wonder how long it will take to make it happen. Might be a similar situation we saw in Nashville play out with Filip Forsberg.
Then there are the Carolina Hurricanes. What an impressive run they were on. A 17-game point streak that incorporated an 11-game winning streak. Carolina now sits atop the Metro Division where most expected them to be at the start of the year. Early on the offence was led by Martin Necas, Andrei Svechnikov, and Sebastian Aho. However, the Hurricanes are getting contributions from everyone in their lineup including the returning Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty has two goals in two games since returning from an injury that kept him out most of the season.
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Carolina is such a methodical team. The Hurricanes do not beat themselves. They wait for the other team to make a mistake similar to tennis player Rafael Nadal. But once they do capitalize the game is over. Though Carolina hit the skids with three straight losses, the Hurricanes players know it is an easy fix. Because they are beating themselves. However, one thing Carolina must do is be more aggressive offensively as that passive game plan hurt them in the playoffs. But defensively and goaltending wise with Pyotr Kochetkov playing the way he is.
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Here comes the Buffalo Sabres. Finally. Who would have thought the Sabres would be in playoff contention in January? It is about time. These Sabres are fun to watch. And good for the city of Buffalo with everything they have gone through this year. Prayers up for Damar Hamlin. Buffalo always starts off hot and then goes into a massive losing streak that takes them out of contention. That script was happening again this year. However, the Sabres have figured out how to turn the switch on before the games become meaningless.
Buffalo has a nice core with Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch, Dylan Cozens, Casey Middlestadt, Jeff Skinner, Rasmus Dahlin, and Owen Power. Thompson is becoming one of the best players in the league. A piece in the Ryan O’Reilly trade all those years ago is finally producing. It just takes time. Just think Buffalo wanted to give up on him. Give credit to the players but head coach Don Granato. He has done a fabulous job. Not to mention management for sticking with Granato and letting him develop these players and this team in his vision. Instead of changing coaches every couple of years.
Detroit Red Wings
Another interesting team from the Atlantic Division is the Detroit Red Wings. There is still work to do in Detroit. General manager Steve Yzerman still has work to do to make his team competitive. Too many losing streaks have got the Red Wings behind the eight-ball. It is going to be tough to make the playoffs, especially with the way the Sabres are playing. Not to mention right now five teams in the Metro Division are in the playoffs. Defence and goaltending have to be better for Detroit. One thing is clear, the Red Wings are playing with fire when it comes to Dylan Larkin. This kid is a cornerstone piece but Yzerman has a certain price will he want to go over it to keep Larkin?