The NHL season has reached the New Year and the All-Star break is inching its way closer, being just a few weeks away.
The year may have changed, yet the top dogs from last season remain at the summit of the NHL in the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.
Although it may seem like the season is trending towards a Stanley Cup rematch between the Bruins and Blues, there’s still a lot of hockey left to be played and plenty of teams in the hunt.
We take a look at some teams who are on the rise and others who have stumbled as of late:
Toronto Maple Leafs
Standings: 49 Points, 2nd Place, Atlantic Division
The Maples Leafs have been the hottest team in hockey over the last two weeks having won seven of the last eight and are 8-1-1 in the last 10 games.
Toronto stumbled at home and snapped a six-game winning streak, losing to the New York Rangers 5-4, but bounced back with a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
The Maple Leafs have been carried by the NHL’s second leading goal scorer Auston Matthews, who has totaled 27 goals this season and 48 points. Meanwhile, goalie Frederik Andersen ranks tied at the top of the league with 20 wins in net.
Despite the recent run, Toronto is still chasing Boston and trail the reigning Eastern Conference champions by nine points in the Atlantic Division.
Although it’ll be tough, the Maple Leafs are a great longshot play to win the Atlantic with strong odds at (+1200).
Looking Ahead - Toronto hits the road to face the Winnipeg Jets before a three-game homestand.
St. Louis Blues
Standings: 58 Points, 1st Place, Central Division
The reigning Stanley Cup champion are having the complete opposite of a championship hangover this season.
St. Louis had been red-hot winning eight in a row, and 11 of the last 15 games, before suffering a 3-1 defeat to the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.
Goalie Jordan Binnington has proven to be one of the top goalkeepers in the NHL, sitting second with the most wins (19) and ranks ninth allowing just 2.39 goals per game.
Looking Ahead - The Blues finish their three-game road trip against the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights. They are 13-5-3 on their travels this season.
Standings: 48 Points, 2nd Place, Pacific Division
The Coyotes began the season as one of the hottest teams in hockey but had lost three straight games before posting a 3-1 win over the Blues to leave them with a 4-6 record over the last 10 games.
Goaltender Antti Raanta impressed in net, making 38 saves, as the Coyotes won its 1,300th game in the franchise’s history. They had lost five of their last six at home before beating the defending champion.
The Coyotes are longshots to win the Stanley Cup, but remain tied with the best odds to win the Pacific Division at (+300).
Looking Ahead - The Coyotes finish their three-game homestand with games against the Anaheim Ducks and the Philadelphia Flyers.
Standings: 50 Points, 2nd Place, Central Division
The Colorado Avalanche are one of the top teams in the NHL, yet have hit a rough patch over the last two weeks posting a 4-5-1 record over the last 10 games.
Colorado was battling the Blues tightly for the Central Division, but have fallen eight points behind the reigning Stanley Cup champion. They lost 7-4 to the Jets last time out.
Colorado has been carried by one of the best players in the NHL this season, All-Star captain Nathan MacKinnon. He ranks fifth in points (58), fourth in goals scored (24) and sixth in assists (34).
Despite the recent struggles, Colorado is still not counted out by the sportsbooks, sitting with the second-best odds to win the Stanley Cup and the Central Division at (+170).
Looking Ahead - The Avalanche will look to bounce back at home against the Blues on Friday before hitting the road to face the New Jersey Devils.
By Dan Canova