Who would have thought the Washington Capitals would play both Conference Champions from a season ago and beat both. Including a playoff atmosphere game in Pittsburgh. But that is just the start of some of the surprises around the league.
Following a 5-1 drubbing from the worst team in the league, the Bruins have fallen out of a playoff spot and seem to be spinning their wheels. Not that the Eastern Conference standings leader from last season is out of the playoffs all together, but they have lost their offensive punch. One of their top offensive producers, Blake Wheeler, had a spectacular season a year ago. But now he a -8 with only 29 points on the season. They have had injury problems and did trade a huge offensive threat to Toronto in Phil Kessel. The Bruins have only managed a league worst 2.37 goals per game. Their defense can only win so many games.
The Log Jam in the East
There are seven teams in the Eastern Conference near the last playoff spot that are with in a 4 point window. We are used to seeing that kind of jam for 8th place in the West, but the jam has some good teams in danger of missing the post season. What may not be a surprise is that every Southeast Division team besides the Capitals are not in the top 8. Florida, Tampa and Atlanta are still in the race and are three of the seven teams locked up in the jam at the cut off line.
The Western Conference Gap
San Jose and Chicago seem to be on a different level these days. Both teams have opened up at least a 6 point jump from their nearest foe Colorado in their Conference standings. The pair face each other on Thursday night for the last time this season. The Blackhawks lead the season series 2-1.
A Lot of Shots
You are probably thinking that the Capitals are leading the league in shots with their high powered (and league leading) offense, right? Wrong. In fact the Caps are fifth in the league in shots per game. Who is first? Struggling Toronto. The Maple Leafs have are peppering 33.8 shots a game on their opposistion, but are 16th in the league in goals for. Phil Kessel leads the Leafs with 186 shots on net. Impressive considering he has only been playing in 41 games.