The NHL year is technically already over a half-seaon old, but the first "half" doesn't officially end Wednesday as teams enter the All-Star break. Thus, this a good time to look back at what's gone on and see what the hockey experts think about the New York-area local teams. In general, things are looking up for the local squads.
After defeating former No. 1, the Boston Bruins, on Saturday, the New York Rangers have grabbed the top spot in the Real Clear Sports power rankings. RCS averages the rankings of six media sites into a single streamlined one. The New Jersey Devils have slowly crept up past the middle of the pack and have claimed No. 13. The New York Islanders have also slowly improved, grabbing 23rd.
The Blueshirts began January with a four-game winning streak (as part of a five-game span). But then they alternated losses and wins from that point forward and are 3-3-0 in that timeframe. However, they did put together one of their most uplifting performances with the 3-2 overtime win against the Bruins -- and that made some believers out of some skeptics. The Devils have had an up-and-down month, going 5-4-1, with two straight 4-1 loss against the Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers in their last games. The Islanders have put together one of their stronger months so far with a 6-5-0 record, the latest decision a 3-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.
Each team has one more game before the break. Currently, the Rangers are tied with the Bruins for the Eastern Conference lead with 64 points. That point total also puts them at second in the league. The Devils, meanwhile, have 54 points and are seventh in the conference. The Isles will have an uphill battle to move into a playoff spot, but by being only nine points out (44 total), they still have a chance.
All the area teams finish their first "half" on Tuesday. The Rangers host the Winnipeg Jets; the Devils host Boston and the Islanders welcome the Maple Leafs. All the games are at 7:00 p.m.