There were only a few games this past week in the NHL so instead of doing a Buster’s Top-10, we will do a report on all 31 NHL clubs giving them grades for the first half of the hockey season. Buster’s Top-10 will be back on February 10th as we are in Miami for the Super Bowl next week. Buster Sports dominated the NHL last year with a record of 166-126-9, making their clients a PROFIT OF 115.68%.
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Buster’s NHL Mid-Season Grades
ST LOUIS BLUES: GRADE A
The Blues have been a pleasant surprise considering we did not believe they would even be a Top 10 club this season. The returning Stanley Cup Champions have not missed a beat and they have done all of this without their best player Vladimir Tarasenko. We will give HUGE props to HC Craig Berbue as he has continued the excellent job from last season. They lead the Western Conference in points and they will be a very tough out come playoff time. At the end of the day, we still will not buy them winning another Stanley Cup this year.
COLORADO AVALANCHE: GRADE B+
Colorado has been up and down all year and they have had some key injuries that have set them back a bit. Good news though for the Avalanche, as they are now completely healthy and will make what we believe is a HUGE run for first place in the conference. They have the second largest goal differential at plus 36 and they are one of the more dangerous goal scoring teams in the league. The problem for Colorado like many clubs is defense. They need to get better in that department to have a chance at actually winning the Stanley Cup. We have seen signs of that happening already. They ride a 3 game winning streak to start the second half of the season and the sky is the limit in Denver.
DALLAS STARS: GRADE B
The Stars had a horrific start to the season but have gone on some HUGE winning streaks to get themselves right back in the thick of things at the break. The firing of Jim Montgomery has lit a fire under this club and they continue to play good hockey. They are currently on a 7-3 run and we see this club with a playoff position and making a run to the Western Conference Finals. There will be 10 clubs battling for six positions once this second half of the season gets going. It will be necessary for the Stars to keep playing the type of hockey that has brought them back to near the top of the West. Scoring goals is a big problem for this club and that will need to get better if they want to keep up with the Avalanche and Blues.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: GRADE C+
We almost gave the Blackhawks a B however they just have lost way too many home games and that is not what a Blackhawk team does. Chicago started slow and looked like they would not be vying for any playoff spot. Well what a difference a month makes. They have now won 9 out of their last 13 contests and are looking like a club that wants to play more hockey in April. The big problem for the Blackhawks is their defense. This means like many clubs in this league they have to outscore their opposition. This type of hockey is exciting and can get points, but it is a bad winning solution in April/May.
WINNIPEG JETS: GRADE C
We just cannot figure out this Jets club. One thing we know is that the Jets have now lost 11 out of their last 15 games. G Conner Hellebuyck is being way over used and its starting to show. Here is the catch they are only 4 points out of a playoff spot. They do definitely have the talent and we believe HC Paul Maurice has done a great job early with basically a no name defense. However now that D is starting to show their true colours. They are in the top 10 in goals allowed and if this defense does not get back to playing the way they had at the beginning of the year, the Jets will not make the playoffs, plain and simple. At the end of the day, we believe there are too many clubs that will step up and Winnipeg will be on the outside looking in.
MINNESOTA WILD: GRADE C
There are clubs that just go through the season who play good hockey and then for some reason who play just bad hockey. Well this is an example of a club that has this down pat. The Wild are now 4-7 in their last 11 games but they could have a chance for a playoff spot. They do play very well at home, so that is always a plus. This team, like the Jets and the Blackhawks, can be any type when they are playing their best. Unfortunately, for all of these clubs the Wild included, we are not sure if they can play enough good hockey to make the playoffs.
NASHVILLE PREDATORS: GRADE D
This is the most disappointing club in the NHL. Unless you are a Devils, Sharks or Leafs fan. Anyways they are the most disappointing to us. We will give them one more chance to go on a big streak and that starts with beating up on the Leafs tonight. The Predators had to fire HC Peter Laviolette just because they were losing games in the same fashion all year. Something was missing. Now we are not sure if HC John Hynes is the answer but it should light a fire under a team that has a ton of talent. The special teams are killing the Predators this year along with some bad goaltending that was supposed to be their strong suit. These things can change and for the better. If they do, look out for this club as they are one of the best 5 on 5 clubs in the NHL. We will predict that they get one of those last playoff clubs.
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