5 NHL Teams to Bet on In Second Half of 2018-19 Season
by Rick Bouch Scores & Statson
The first half of the 2018-19 NHL season is in the bag and now the real season begins. It has been said that the good NHL teams really start to play after Christmas. Take the 2014-15 Chicago Blackhawks as an example. Chicago was just 21-16-4 after the first 41 games of the season. The Blackhawks were written off, for the most part. Then, they went 27-12-2 in the second half and won a third Stanley Cup in five years.
Which 2018-19 teams are poised for a great second half? Here’s a look at five teams to bet on during the NHL’s ‘real’ season.
What Happens in Vegas… What Vegas did last season was truly historic. Many thought it was a fluke and there was no way the Golden Knights could repeat. When last year’s Western Conference champs started the 2018-19 season 1-4, there was a collective ‘told you so’ from many. Fast forward and Vegas is just two points behind Calgary in the Pacific Division and second in the Western Conference with 56 points. The Knights are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games, including six straight wins heading into a Tuesday night clash with the New York Rangers.
It’s That Silly Penguin Again Remember when the Pittsburgh Penguins were languishing near the bottom of the Metropolitan Division earlier this season? Yeah, well a recent eight-game win streak has put the Penguins right back in the thick of the division race. Pittsburgh is just two points behind defending Stanley Cup champion Washington in the division. Matt Murray has recaptured some of his mojo in goal and the Penguins still have one of the best groups of forwards in the league.
Please Come to Boston The Boston Bruins struggled earlier this season plagued by injuries to Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron. Defenseman Charlie McAvoy has been limited to just 18 games but should be back to full strength. Boston is still third in the Atlantic Division and is 7-3 in its last ten games. The Bruins played 22 of their first 40 games on the road. That means more home games during the second half of the season and guess what? The Bruins are 15-5 at home this season. Look for a big second half.
Cue the Music City Even after a recent six-game losing streak, the Nashville Predators are still one of the best teams in the NHL. They are only 4-5-1 in their last ten games but still lead the Central Division. They have dropped to third place in the Western Conference point standings behind Calgary and Vegas. The Predators are too talented to not have a great second half. They have won their last two games – a 4-0 shutout of Toronto and a 4-1 win over Montreal – and are primed to capture the Western Conference’s top seed heading into the postseason.
Another Cup? The Washington Capitals started their Stanley Cup defense 5-5. They won seven in a row to close November. They lost three straight to bring in the New Year. Still, the Caps remain at the top of the Metropolitan Division and Alex Ovechkin leads the NHL with 30 goals. Washington is 8-2 in its last 10 games and appears ready to make a strong second-half run and defend its Stanley Cup.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.