After a dismal debut NHL campaign, the Seattle Kraken are establishing themselves as a serious franchise.
The Kraken’s first campaign in the NHL was one to forget as they finished third last in the standings with a 27-49-6 record.
In one of the stories of the current season, however, the Kraken have totally turned their fortunes around and sit second in the Pacific Division with a 27-14-5 record and a far-improved .641 point-percentage, compared to .336 last season.
The Kraken’s upward trend appears for real as they recently became the first team in NHL history to sweep a road trip of at least seven games and are 7-2-1 in their last 10.
Andre Burakovsky’s addition from the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche has also been pivotal with the Swede leading the team for points with 38 (13 goals, 25 assists).
One point ahead of the Kraken in the Pacific Division are the Vegas Golden Knights (29-16-2), who have quickly re-established themselves as a contender after surprisingly missing the playoffs for the first time since entering the NHL in 2017/18.
With a 7-2-1 record in their past 10 games, the Edmonton Oilers have surged up the division and now hold the third automatic playoff spot with Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames pushed into the Western Conference Wild Card race.
Things are tight in the Western Conference's other Division, the Central, with a battle on between Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets to finish first and Minnesota Wild aiming to keep hold of the third automatic playoff position.
Dallas (28-13-7) are two points ahead of Winnipeg (30-16-1), having played one game more, and the Wild (25-16-4) are one point above the reigning Champions Colorado Avalanche (25-17-3).
Colorado, +600 to retain the Stanley Cup, have won five in a row and are on a surge to ensure they have the opportunity to defend their championship following an inconsistent first half of the season.
The improving St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators are also in the hunt for a playoff position but look likely to have to rely on a Wild Card position if they are to get in.
The Pacific's Kings (25-17-6) and the Avalanche currently hold the West's two spots with the Flames, Predators and Blues on the outside but all within four points.
The Eastern Conference’s Boston Bruins continue to be the hottest team in the NHL and with a 36-5-4 record lead the Atlantic Division and overall NHL standings.
The Bruins recently had a 22-home game winning run to start the season ended by the Kraken, but immediately bounced back with a crucial victory over their nearest rivals in the Atlantic, the Toronto Maple Leafs (28-11-8), who now find themselves 12 points behind.
Boston are -3000 to remain top of the NHL standings and and win the Presidents’ Trophy, which would guarantee home ice advantage through the playoffs and be of major significance given their dominance at TD Garden.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic Division, the Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning appear set to meet the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a second season running with neither likely to catch the Bruins or be caught by the likes of Florida Panthers or Ney York Islanders behind them.
The Lightning prevailed in a Game 7 season last term before going on to win the Eastern Conference title and appear in a third straight Stanley Cup Final.
Five teams from the Metropolitan Division currently hold the playoff positions in the Eastern Conference.
Carolina Hurricanes (29-9-8) top the Division with a four-point lead over New Jersey Devils (29-12-4), with New York Rangers (25-14-7) holding the third and automatic spot into the post-season.
The Hurricanes are -200 to hold on to top spot and the Devils +225 to overtake them and win the Division. The Rangers are +1100. Carolina are considered the most likely to win the Stanley Cup from the Division at +850.
Below them Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins have more points than the Panthers and Sabres in the Atlantic and so hold the two Wild Card places from the East.
The Capitals have 56 points, Penguins 53 with the Atlantic's Panthers and Islanders just behind on 51.
With six points separating third and sixth in the Metropolitan, there is plenty of opportunity for change, and the Wild Card positions set to be closely fought over.