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Recapping the NHL Season

I haven't wrote an article for a long time, due to being busy with tennis, and hockey, and school, and everything else. So enjoy my recap! This might be a long article, describing the major events of the entire season.

Oh, and I describe my busted Stanley Cup pick!


 

Major Storylines- New York Islanders

Remember my last article about the New York Islanders before the season? It turned out to be a top notch disaster of a pick. At the time I wrote the article, the Islanders recently rolled right through the playoffs before they lost a heartbreaker to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who won the Stanley Cup. I believed they had the depth, the talent, the grit, the goaltending, and the coaching to succeed in the playoffs, and they consistently won rounds in the playoffs year in and year out. So I believed they could finally break through this year.

WRONG!

This year's Islanders won't even make the playoffs, and I picked them to win a championship. Looking at the NHL Standings, the Islanders are a whopping 15 points out of the second wild card with just 10 games to play. It is impossible for this team to get in the playoffs, and it has been impossible for several months. The playoff teams in the Metro Division simply refuse to lose.

The Islanders started off the season on a 13 game road trip, and had a terrible start, going 8-18 to begin the year. After that, pretty much the whole team got COVID and they had eight of their next ten games postponed. After the season reset, the Islanders started playing like the normal version of the Islanders, and now have a winning record. However, they were way too far behind the playoff race once they started playing well, and the playoff teams in the Metro did them no favors. The Islanders, after all of their struggles, have the best record of any non-playoff team in the Eastern Conference.

Ultimately, their star players Matt Barzal, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and their goalies, were major disappointments. The Islanders are a veteran heavy team and seemed to be too slow, too often.

Give the Islanders an influx of young talent to supplement the solid veterans, and I still believe this is a championship caliber team. But this year, the Islanders let me down and made me look incredibly foolish.

Major Storylines- New York Rangers

The Rangers have been in the Eastern Conference basement for a few years, despite having the superstars of Panarin, Zibenajad, Adam Fox, Chris Kreider, and Igor Shesterkin. This year, everything has clicked and every aspect of the season has gone perfectly for the Rangers, just like the season has gone horribly wrong for the Islanders.

The Rangers fired both their general manager Jeff Gorton and their head coach David Quinn after missing the playoffs last year, perfect moves in hindsight. They improved the toughness and the depth of their team over the offseason, and are now the NHL's breakout team.

Chris Kreider broke out this year to become a goal scoring machine, Panarin/Zibenajad/Fox have remained excellent, and goalie Igor Shesterkin has broke out to become the NHL's best goalie this year. I attribute a lion's share of the Rangers incredible success this year (2 points behind first in the Metro) to new head coach Gerard Gallant, who has given this team the spark they needed behind the superstars, and has led the incredible one year turn-around of a hockey team.

Other Major Storylines- The Pacific Division

The division was pummeled by experts before the season to be the weakest division in the NHL by a mile! And what a shocker, it is the weakest division in the NHL by a mile!

The Golden Knights were expected to run away with the division title. But they are in serious danger of missing the playoffs. The Golden Knights have been hit by horrible injury luck the whole year. But the Golden Knights despite their woes have in their recent stretch been playing great hockey, and are finally playing like a top five hockey team they were expected to be. An addition, their top two forwards Pacioretty and Stone are finally back from long injuries. In my opinion, the Knights still have a Stanley Cup Caliber team. Oh, and they traded for superstar Jack Eichel during the middle of the season from the Buffalo Sabres.

They are still three points away from the LA Kings for the playoff spot but do have two games in hand. However, the Kings have a much easier schedule than the Golden Knights, so the Kings would have to perform a choke job to let the Knights in the playoffs.

Honestly, as a hockey fan, I am rooting for the Kings to finish their choke job and to let the Knights in. The LA Kings are frauds, and they are a much worse hockey team than their record says they are. They have been comfortably sitting in a playoff spot the entire year, but they finally seem to be fading. The Kings are mediocre, and playoff teams would skate circles around them.

Congrats to the Calgary Flames on winning the division. They didn't make the playoffs last year, but due to a massive bounce-back season by Johnny Hockey and an improved defense, they have been the most consistent team in the division by far. I still think this squad is in line for an early playoff exit, but time will tell.

Oh, the Kraken, the NHL's newest expansion team, are not good. No miracle expansion success like the Golden Knights.

The Nashville Predators and the Pittsburgh Penguins are also surprisingly good hockey teams this year, and will comfortably make the playoffs

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