NHL Storylines: 5 Headlines to Follow Over the Final Month
NHL Storylines are abundant with most teams having roughly 10 to 12 games remaining on the 2015-16 regular season schedule. With little over a month until the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s about that time of year where teams begin to write their ticket to the postseason.
Washington Capitals were the first to clinch on Tuesday night, winning their 50th game of the season. The top six teams in each conference are virtual locks to make the playoffs, while a handful of teams battle for the final Wild-Card spots.
Below are five NHL storylines to follow over the final month of the season:
With 13 goals, 60 assists (73 points) in 71 games so far, Karlsson is on pace to produce 82 points – the most since Brian Leetch‘s total of 85 back in 1995-96.
Heading into the final month of play, Erik Karlsson is the runaway favorite for the Norris Trophy.
Battle of Pennsylvania
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers are in a heated battle to capture a playoff spot. These rivals are scheduled to play each other three more times over the next month (Mar.19, Apr.3 Apr.9). Philly is playing great hockey of late, while Pittsburgh attempts to clinch without their superstar forward Evgeni Malkin.
Washington Capitals Individual Performers
At no time in NHL history has a goaltender won 50 games in a single season. Braden Holtby earned his 42nd on Tuesday night, surpassing Olaf Kolzig for the Caps franchise record. With 13 games remaining, Holtby has an outside chance of becoming the first to 50 wins.
Speaking of the magic number, Alex Ovechkin is looking to become a seven-time 50-goal scorer in 2015-16. He has 42 on the campaign so far, and should have no problem exceeding it for a third year in a row.
Patrick Kane: 100 Points?
He ran away with the NHL scoring race early in the season. Kane was on pace for nearly 125 points halfway through 2015-16. His totals have since slowed in the second half, including one point in his last five games. Patrick Kane has 89 points, with 12 games remaining.
Based on the number of multi-point performances, Kane has a legitimate chance to join the 100-point club for the first time in his career.
Can Islanders Win with Thomas Greiss?
Greiss has won 19 games in 2015-16 with a 2.25gaa and .928 save percentage. Since Jaroslav Halak‘s injury, Thomas Greiss has three wins in five starts with a 2.52gaa and .917 save percentage over that span.
Before losing their starter, the New York Islanders were not considered serious Stanley Cup threats. A younger team on the cusp of being contenders – the Isles face a difficult hurdle. Tied with the NY Rangers at 85 points, both teams have Pittsburgh hot on their tails, with others quickly approaching.
Even if the New York Islanders can hold on to their current position, it’s difficult to imagine Thomas Greiss carrying the New York Islanders into the second round.