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
VANCOUVER CANUCKS: GRADE B+
We knew they were talented. We knew they were young, but these Canucks are playing very good hockey for a team we knew would fight for a playoff berth but did not think at anytime would be good enough to actually lead the Pacific. They have one of the best PP in the league and they are getting great goaltending from Jacob Markstrom. Here is the problem for the young Canucks, defensively they definitely are not there yet and Markstrom has single handily won at least 7 games on our count before the All-Star break. He will have to keep playing lights out and nothing says that he cannot. We see this club fighting during the last week for one of probably 2 or 3 spots that will probably be up for grabs come the end of March early April.
EDMONTON OILERS: GRADE B
This club has some great young talent in Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid however the reason why they are fighting for a playoff berth is special teams. The Oilers have the best PP in the league and they have the 10th best PK and are not that far from it being the 6th or 7th. We always talk about how special teams are so important in the NHL, but the Oilers may count on them more than most clubs for victories. As we have said earlier in this article, there are 10 teams for 6 spots and the Oilers will be one of those teams fighting to the bitter end for a playoff spot.
CALGARY FLAMES: GRADE D
This has been a rough year for a club that was supposed to be one of the top two teams in the Western Conference. However since the resignation of Bill Peters this club has believe it or not, won 14 out of 22 games. They had been playing horrific before the resignation. The reason we give this club a D is that we believe this club is much better than what they have shown. There is no excuse for the position they are in, and they should be battling the Avalanche and Blues for first place in the Conference. Not too sure what to make of this club but we do know they will be right there fighting at the end of the season. They should get one of the playoff spots but they must stop being lazy at times and not throw games away.
ARIZONA COYOTES: GRADE B
We gave Arizona a B as not too many people expected that this club would be as good as they are. We could be talking about a team that is leading the Pacific Division but they have fell on hard times of late. The Coyotes have now lost 5 out of their last 6 heading into the All-star break. The Coyotes made the deal of the NHL season so far getting Taylor Hall from New Jersey. It will be very interesting to see if this move is the one that gets the Coyotes to the playoffs. We believe that they will be a club fighting at the end for a playoff berth, but we are not sure if it will be enough. It would not surprise us however if they get real good like they did last season near the end of the year and make it.
LAS VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS: GRADE C
What a bit of a mess the Golden Knights have been this year and here we are and they still have a playoff spot at the All-Star break. They have now lost 6 out of their last 7 games heading into the break. The firing of Gerard Gallant still has us scratching our head. We do know that HC Peter DeBoer can get this club playing the type of hockey that Vegas fans expect. However, we have a real problem with the loyalty part of this. We really believe he should have had at least a chance for a few weeks after the All-Star break to get this team rolling. It will be interesting to see if G Marc-André Fleury can get his head back into the game. As many of us know, losing someone close can really play with your mind. This is something necessary for him to correct, as it is such a mental game for this position. Hopefully for Vegas, Fleury starts to play Fleury type of goaltending, if not they might have real trouble making the playoffs.
SAN JOSE SHARKS: GRADE D
It was not that long ago that the San Jose Sharks were in the Western Conference Finals. Now as we come out of the All-Star break they are a club in total disarray. The Sharks fired Peter DeBoer in December and now he is coaching their rival the Vegas Golden Knights. HC Bob Boughner has taken over but unfortunately, not much has changed. The Sharks have now lost 5 out of their last 7 and they just don’t seem to have that edge they carried last year. One positive is that they have the best PK in the league. However, we believe no matter how well they play in the second half of the season they just have way too many teams in front of them to make the playoffs.
ANAHEIM DUCKS: GRADE D
Although we did not expect much from the Ducks this season, we have to give them this grade, as they really have not been the best hockey club this year. They came into the All Star break winning two straight games but they have lost 8 out of their last 12. They are terrible on the PP and the PK, and that will get a team in trouble. They do play some D but at the end of the day, they do not score enough. They will play out the rest of the year being a spoiler for some clubs as when they give an all out effort, they can play with the best clubs. Unfortunately, for the Ducks they do not have enough talent compared to the rest of the Western Conference to do it on a consistent basis.
LA KINGS: GRADE D+
How can a last place club in the Conference get a better rating than others? Well we like how this club plays and they have really had some tough breaks, as they just cannot score goals. They rarely lose by more than 2 goals and seem right in a lot of games at home and on the road. In saying this, they have now won only 3 out of their last 14 games. This club will be spoiling the party for many clubs down the stretch, as they do have some top talented players. We will be interested to see where some of these guys end up at the trade deadline. Have a feeling if it is possible they will be gone. Let the rebuild start.
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