It’s the All-Star break, the unofficial halfway point of the season.
For this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday SUNDAY EDITION question, let’s take a look ahead at the second half of the season and make some predictions…
Connor McDavid’s output
At one point, it looked like Connor McDavid reaching the 150-point plateau was inevitable.
After 21 games this season, Edmonton’s captain had 40 points, putting him on pace to score 156 points over the course of the season. Since then, McDavid’s production has cooled off quite a bit, as he’s scored 20 points over his last 20 games. (Side note, it’s hilarious impressive that scoring at a point-per-game pace is ‘cooling off’ for this guy).
All told, last year’s Art Ross and Hart Trophy winner has 60 points over 41 games. His 1.46 points-per-game is the fourth-highest figure of his seven seasons in the league and it has him on pace to score 118 points over 81 games (he missed one game while in COVID-19 protocol).
How many points will McDavid score? I’m guessing 131. It’s the first time a player breaks the 130-plateau since Mario Lemieux.
Leon Draisaitl’s output
Leon Draisaitl picked up right where he left off last season.
In 2021, he scored 84 points over the course of 56 games, good for a 1.50 points-per-game pace. So far in 2021-22, he has 63 points over the course of 42 games, good for… Yes, you guessed it — a 1.50 points-per-game pace.
Draisaitl scored at a 1.55 point-per-game pace in his Hart Trophy-winning season in 2019-20. That year was cut short because of the pandemic and he wound up with 110 points in 71 games. Draisaitl’s 1.50 points-per-game this season has him on pace to score 123 points over 82 games. He’s also on pace to score 62 goals, which would shatter the career-high of 50 that he set back in 2018-19.
How many points will Draisaitl score? How many goals? I’m guessing 60 goals and 123 points.
The Art Ross and Rocket Richard races
As of right now, neither McDavid nor Draisaitl are leading the way in the Art Ross or Rocket Richard Trophy races but that’s due in part to the Oilers having played fewer games than some other teams.
Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau is leading the league in points with 64 while Draisaitl is right on his tail with 63. Draisaitl also has five games in hand on Huberdeau. It’s the same thing in the Rocket race, as New York’s Chris Kreider has come out of nowhere and leads the way with 33 goals while Draisaitl is right behind with 32. Kreider has also played five more games than Draisaitl has.
Another surprising name in this conversation is Nazem Kadri, who’s tied with McDavid in the Art Ross race with 60 points with the same amount of games played at 41.
Alex Ovechkin is in the mix in both races, as he has 29 goals and 58 points through 46 games. Auston Matthews has also entered the Rocket conversation despite missing the start of the season after undergoing wrist surgery. Matthews, who won the Rocket in 2021, has 29 goals in 39 games.
Who will win the Art Ross and Rocket Richard Trophies? I’m guessing McDavid takes home the Art Ross with 131 points and Draisaitl and Matthews share the rocket with 60 goals.
The Presidents’ Trophy winner
The Panthers have the most points in the league right now with 69 but the Avalanche boast the top points percentage as they have 68 points with three games in hand on Florida.
Colorado is on pace to finish the season with a 60-15-7 record and 127 points in the standings, which would give them their second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy. That record would also top the 2005-06 Detroit Red Wings who went 58-16-8 for the best record in an 82-game season in the salary cap era. Surely the Avs are hoping their playoff run goes better.
Who will win the Presidents’ Trophy? I’m going with the Avs, the safe pick.
The Oilers’ record
The Oilers started off hot, hit a wall and went ice cold, and started to heat up again before the All-Star break. All told, this rollercoaster ride of a season has them at 23-16-3 through 42 games, ninth in the Western Conference in terms of points but eighth in points percentage.
If the Oilers have the exact same results in the second half as they did in the first half of the season, they’ll finish off with a 44-32-6 record. That’s good for 94 points, which is right on the cusp of what usually gets a team into the playoffs.
The schedule in the second half is busy and features quite a few tough opponents, so the Oilers doing better than they did in the first half is no guarantee.
What will Edmonton’s record be at the end of the season? I’m guessing 46-31-5 and the 97 points are enough.
The playoff picture
Barring some kind of implosion, there isn’t going to be any drama at all in the Eastern Conference beyond teams competing with each other for home-ice advantage. The Western Conference is where the excitement is at, as 13 of the 16 teams are reasonably within the conversation to earn a playoff spot.
Right now, the Avs, Predators, and Wild are the three teams in playoff spots from the Central Division, the Golden Knights, Kings, and Ducks are the three from the Pacific Division, and the Blues and Flames are the two wild-card teams. There’s still a lot of hockey left to be played and many four-point games on the horizon, so the West is far from a sure thing like the East is.
Who are the playoff teams in the West? I’m taking…
Pacific: Vegas, Calgary, Edmonton
Central: Colorado, Minnesota, St. Louis
Wild-card: Nashville, Los Angeles
Who are your playoff teams? Do you have any other predictions for the second half? Let us know!
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