Today I checked out the Standings and I saw a few surprises. The Nashville Predators are atop the standings with 70 points in 49 games beating the oh so strong Anaheim Ducks, who also have 70 points but in 50 games. The St. Louis Blues take the 3rd spot with 68 points in 49 games. The top three teams right now are all in the Western Conference. The Tampa Bay Lightning are in 4th spot with 68 points in 51 games. Why are teams with the same amount of points not tied you ask? I'll tell you, Nashville is 1st and Anaheim 2nd because Nashville has 'one game in hand' meaning they have played one less game (Nashville 49, Anaheim 50) and collected the same amount of points (higher "points per game"). That is how the tie is broken. Same thing with St. Louis and Tampa Bay. Both teams have 68 points but St. Louis has only played 49 games while Tampa Bay has laced up 51 times.
If the playoffs were to begin today it would look like this:
Atlantic Division: Tampa Bay Lightning, Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings
Metropolitan Division: New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers
Wild Card Teams: Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals
Central Division: Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks
Pacific Division: Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames
Wild Card Teams: Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks
What is the wild card team you wonder? It confused me as well when the conferences and division changed a few years ago. It breaks down like this: Eight teams from each conference make the playoffs. The top three teams from each division are automatically in. That leaves two spots open. Those spots go to the two teams remaining with the highest amount of points. They can be from the same division or one of each. Remember the NHL as a whole has 30 teams, two conferences and within the conferences there are four divisions.
Trade Deadline: this happens annually. Throughout the year including the off season you will hear players being traded from team to team. There is a small window during a season where NO PLAYER IS ALLOWED TO BE TRADED. This is after the Trade Deadline and lasts until the end of the playoffs. Trade Deadline cut off is always around the last day of February and the first couple days of March. This year the deadline is March 2nd. The theory goes like this: After Trade Dealine, teams with an actual shot at the Cup can focus on that. Mentally; players, coaches, trainers and owners can focus on their roster, buckle down and work. Everyone is staying and can breath a sigh of relief for roughly four months. Winning a Stanley Cup takes strength both physically and mentally.
The Run for the Playoffs is always exciting. As we get closer and closer to the end of the season we will see who will get a spot for sure. This starts to happen mid March when teams start solidifying a spot. But every year like clock work there are a few teams that battle it out til closing night. There is no time for dilly dallying, every point counts. It is really an exciting time.
After all this Hockey Talk I need a morning pick me up. Thought I would share my current favourite morning smoothie.
I shall call this one: The season is 1/2 over, must maintain energy smoothie!
What you need:
Yogurt. I use plain and unsweetened
Almond milk or regular mlik
Blueberries. Think one big hand full
Banana. One is usually enough
Hemp, Chia, Sunflower seeds. All, some or none.
Spoonful of honey. Big spoon, little spoon, doesn't matter. To taste.
Hemp Seed Oil. Just a dash.
Throw everything into a magic bullet or blender. Amounts of ingredients is up to you. Feel free to take out the banana and add strawberries. A splash of water can replace the milk products. Blend it up, pour into a cup and enjoy!