NHL begins second half of season
Liz Levey, ‘Doah Staff Writer
February 26, 2014
The calendar has flipped to 2014, and the NHL’s regular season has moved just past the halfway point. Since we have an Olympic break, it’s time to reflect on the stories that were in the headlines of the preliminary part of the 2013-14 season.
The first storyline of the first half is that six of the top eight in the league standings were from the Western Conference. Entering play in January, 11 of the bottom 15 teams were from the Eastern Conference. Western Conference teams were a combined 139-72-31 in games played against Eastern Conference teams before play started Sunday. The only West teams with sub .500 records against the East teams were the Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers (7-11-2). Ten of the 16 teams in the East were at or below .500 against their West opponents.
The second storyline is the Washington Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin, who scored his 31 goal of the season in Washington’s 41 game of the season. He’s on pace for his second career 60-goal season. He’s already won the Hart Trophy three times since 2007-08. Last season, when he scored 32 goals in 48 games. This season, he has been as dynamic as he was from 2007-09, when he scored a combined 121 goals. Ovechkin entered January with League-best 12 power play goals. The power play is, in fact, the biggest reason why the Capitals are still in the race for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. More than 31 percent of Washington’s goals have come on the power play, by far the highest of any team in the League.
Jaromir Jagr takes home the third storyline. Jagr has found new life in his legs and stick in New Jersey. The 41-year-old right wing is turning back the clock. Jagr is leading the Devils in scoring with 34 points in 43 games. Jagr’s remarkable first half also moved him up the NHL’s all-time scoring charts. His four game-winning goals this season lifted him over Gordie Howe and into first place on the NHL’s all-time list for most game-winning goals in a career (122). His 13 goals has pushed him into a tie with Mark Messier for seventh place on the NHL’s all-time goals list (694) and he has already passed Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman on that list this season. Jagr’s next goal will tie him with Lemieux for seventh on the NHL’s all-time points list (1,723).
The Olympic break ends and everyone has head home to their NHL team, they are ready to make the push to the playoffs. More stories will unfold as the races get tighter and every win becomes more valuable.