With less than three months left in the regular season, every Eastern Conference team in the NHL is either in a playoff spot or at most four points out. There are some surprising teams like Toronto (who has the hockey wunderkind Auston Matthews) and Columbus (who went on a 16-game winning streak at one point) that are holding onto playoff spots.
Even disappointing teams like Florida (50 points) and Tampa Bay (49 points) aren't out of contention and could easily have a playoff spot with a nice winning streak. In fact, every Eastern Conference team is at .500 or above with regards to their regulation records. What's more, every team in the Atlantic Division has at least five overtime losses, which constitutes for a good amount of points in the standings.
On the flip side, the Western Conference is just as competitive with only two teams (Colorado and Arizona) completely out of the playoff picture. The 11th-ranking teams, Dallas and Winnipeg, are only three points out of a playoff spot.
Going into the All-Star Break, almost every team will be in the hunt for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The question is this: Which team will rise up and seize a playoff spot? Can the Maple Leafs do it with their young lines? Can the Lightning turn things around? Can Jack Eichel and the Sabres sneak in? It'll be an interesting race down the stretch, but it'll be one that hockey fans will be delighted with.
Photo Courtesy of the Daily Hive