By The Sport God | 06/19/18 09:48:25One of the biggest knocks against the 2017-18 NHL season was that the league had just a handful of teams competing for playoff berths.
But that’s changing with a handful more teams in the hunt for a playoff spot.
As we near the halfway mark of the regular season, we’re seeing teams like St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators making their way to the top of the standings.
And even though those teams are playing the same division, they have their own distinct personalities and personalities, and each has a different style of play.
With all that said, here are some of the top 10 teams vying for playoff spots:Nashville PredatorsHead coach Peter Laviolette, a former goaltender, took the reins as the Predators beat the Minnesota Wild 5-2 on Sunday to take the final playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.
The Predators have been on a tear this season, with a 20-7-4 record through the first six weeks.
They were also the first team in the NHL to win six straight games from Jan. 11 to Jan. 19.
With the team going 13-3-2 in that stretch, they’re only one game out of a playoff berth.
But with a division that has a lot of great teams, the Predators have to start winning more games to make the playoffs.
The playoffs are still a long shot, but if the Predators can start winning games, they should be able to get there.
Dallas Stars Head coach Ken Hitchcock, who is also a former goalie, led the Stars to a 3-0-0 record through seven games with a 2.54 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.
The Stars are riding a seven-game winning streak and are tied for the best record in the Central Division.
That’s a great start to the season for Dallas, and Hitchcock is a huge reason why.
Dallas has a pretty strong defensive corps, and this season they have been the only team in North America to be tied for first in the league in goals against average.
It should be a great year for the Stars, and it will be interesting to see how the goaltending plays out in Dallas, especially if Marc-Andre Fleury is healthy for the playoffs, since the goalie tandem of Antti Niemi and Jordie Benn has been one of the best in the world.
Pittsburgh PenguinsHead coach Mike Johnston, who has a reputation as one of hockey’s toughest coaches, took a team that has been in the playoff race for three straight seasons and turned it into a contender.
Pittsburgh has the second-best record in hockey at 8-5-1, and Johnston has a group that should be capable of being one of this season’s top teams.
They are also the only divisional-leading team to not have a division champion.
They won five of their first six games to get to 8-4-1.
Johnston has been able to do that because he uses his young core, and the Penguins have proven they can handle a tough schedule.
With a lot to play for this season and a couple of teams on the outside looking in, Johnston is going to have to make a concerted effort to keep this team in contention this season.