NHL 2021-2022 Midseason Report Cards: Atlantic Division

Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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Boston Bruins: B

The Bruins are having a good season, yet it somehow feels as though they aren’t really in the mix. Boston is in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, though the team is comfortably situated ahead of the next closest team.

The defense, including the penalty kill, has been as stout as you might expect for the Bruins, while the offense has been good in a complementary role. I suppose that the Bruins being in fourth place in the Atlantic is the reason that things don’t seem exciting for Boston, but it has nevertheless been a successful first half of the year.

I’m not sure that Boston will challenge for the Eastern Conference title, but they are in a prime position to qualify for the postseason, and from there, a team with as much playoff experience as the Bruins can always be a tough out.

Buffalo Sabres: D

Some things never change. The Sabres started quick, then cooled off in a hurry, ultimately reclaiming their position near the bottom of the NHL’s standings.

Buffalo has seen improvements in play from some of its veterans this season, which is a positive, but there aren’t really young superstars to get excited about now that Jack Eichel is gone. Things in western New York aren’t as bad as things are in some other NHL cities, but in terms of the team on the ice, I’m not sure what the direction or the fix is for Buffalo.

Until this team takes a step forward or management makes a significant change, it’s hard to view the Sabres in a positive light.

Detroit Red Wings: A

The Red Wings are the first team out of a playoff position in the Eastern Conference right now, which is a huge win for this team. The Wings are one win shy of last season’s win total, demonstrating how much they’ve improved this season.

Detroit finished 27th in the NHL a season ago, so this step in the rebuild process is a large one that has been somewhat unexpected. It does feel like the Red Wings are at least a year away from actually reaching the postseason, but you have to start somewhere, and for Detroit, this is a good place.

I think it will be important for this team to have a respectable end to the season so that it doesn’t lose the momentum it gained early in the year. So far, they’ve positioned themselves well to do so.