The year of 2021 in hockey was weird. At first there were no fans and a shortened season, then there was hope, and now no one knows what’s going on again.
It’s impossible to predict tomorrow, not to mention what 2022 will be like, in the NHL. The players won’t go to the Olympics, but they plan to have the All-Star Game. Nobody knows what the schedule looks like in February.
It’s going to be tougher for teams not currently in the playoff race to climb back into it with all the schedule inconsistencies.
Here’s where things stand in the NHL as the calendar turns to 2022.
1. Carolina Hurricanes
The team with the best point percentage of the entire 2021 calendar year. They don’t lose much.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning
The defending Stanley Cup champs don’t have many flaws, and should be considered the scariest threat in the league heading into the new year.
3. Vegas Golden Knights
It’s really funny how concerned everyone was, as if this team wasn’t going to climb all the way back up to the top.
4. Washington Capitals
The Alex Ovechkin Watch every time the Capitals play is one of the more enjoyable parts of this season.
5. Toronto Maple Leaf
Auston Matthews reached the 20-goal mark, and the Leafs are having a good year.
6. Florida Panthers
They put up nine goals on the Lightning on Thursday. Now, it wasn’t against Andrei Vasilevskiy, but sheesh.
7. Anaheim Ducks
I’m giving in, the Ducks are good, fine. Reality is bending every which way.
8. Minnesota Wild
The Wild played the coldest Winter Classic ever, which is a fitting way to begin 2022 in hockey.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins
They’ve won seven in a row and are making their traditional second-half surge a little early this year.
10. New York Rangers
The standings say the Rangers are good. It might be time to buy in on them. But they’re a frustrating team sometimes.
11. Colorado Avalanche
The Avs, like everyone else, were decimated by COVID. For a rough start to the season, though, they’ve climbed back well and will be a dangerous team down the stretch.
12. St. Louis Blues
There’s something about the Blues that won’t let me buy in all the way.
13. Nashville Predators
The Preds have just hung around the top of the standings all year. Maybe they’re good?
14. Calgary Flames
Calgary has a chance to make a legitimate run and has a lot of good, but being decimated by COVID and losing four in a row is a tough time. They got back on track in Seattle, though.
15. Edmonton Oilers
Been a rough stretch for the Oilers, 3-7-0 in their last 10 games.
16. Vancouver Canucks
Sometimes all it takes is exactly one move. For the Canucks just hiring Bruce Boudreau was that, apparently.
17. Winnipeg Jets
It always feels like the Jets are a few wins or a few losses away from going either way in the playoff race, and yet they always remain right in the middle.
18. Columbus Blue Jackets
The Jackets are 10-3-1 at home. They’ve also lost seven of their last 10. Could not tell you what the vibe of this team is.
19. Detroit Red Wings
The thing about the Red Wings is, they’re not good, but they’re actually kind of fun to watch now — which has not been the case in past years where they weren’t good.
20. Boston Bruins
They haven’t played a game in a couple decades but it seems like they’ll get Tuukka Rask back, at least.
21. San Jose Sharks
Their 8-7 shootout game with Arizona earlier this week was as insane a game as has happened in the NHL this season.
22. Los Angeles Kings
Alex Iafallo is having a nice little quiet breakout season.
23. Philadelphia Flyers
It feels like, in the past three seasons, every time the Flyers have some momentum, circumstances make it impossible for them to stay consistent.
24. Dallas Stars
Things are bad in Dallas.
25. New Jersey Devils
Every time it seems like the Devils might be worth watching, they win two of their next 10 games.
26. New York Islanders
The hole they dug themselves early between the long road trip and COVID has stalled any sort of momentum. They just can’t seem to break out.
27. Buffalo Sabres
They actually have played kind of well lately, but it’s tough to feel positive about anything going on there.
28. Chicago Blackhawks
Confusing team. Maybe not as bad as earlier this year — they beat some good teams two weeks ago — but they drop a lot of winnable games.
29. Seattle Kraken
It’s getting difficult to sugarcoat the first season of NHL hockey in Seattle. The results aren’t happening.
30. Ottawa Senators
Tim Stützle is one of the most fun players to watch. The Senators are a fun team to watch.
31. Montreal Canadiens
A lost season, and it doesn’t feel like it’ll get better.
32. Arizona Coyotes
This team has a negative-54 goal differential.