It's a season like no other, so we want to do something different. Each Friday we'll be taking a look at the all-Canadian North Division.
Based on the current standings we’ll look at each team’s record, how they got to where they are, and preview their upcoming week.
You can always check out the updated odds to win the North Division on the NHL Futures page.
- Toronto Maple Leafs
Position last week: 1 (13-3-2)
Leading scorers: Mitch Marner (27 points); Auston Matthews (16 goals)
Upcoming games: @ MTL (Feb. 20); vs. CGY (Feb. 22); vs. CGY (Feb. 24)
Odds to win North Division: Opening line +120; Last week +105; Current odds -132
Toronto is quickly running away with the North Division and is the league’s favourite to win the Stanley Cup at +576. They have an eight-point cushion over second place Montreal and it’s largely due to Auston Matthews. The Leafs’ superstar is on a 15 game point streak and leads the NHL with 16 goals. Adjusted over an 82 game season, Matthews would be on pace for a 71 goal season, which would be the most goals in a single season since Alexander Mogilny’s 76-goal campaign in the 1992-93. With a game in Montreal before a two-game homestand against Calgary this week, the Leafs could get a lot closer to being nearly uncatchable in the North.
- Montreal Canadiens
Position last week: 2 (9-4-2)
Key injuries: none
Upcoming games: vs. TOR (Feb. 20); @ OTT (Feb. 21); @ OTT (Feb. 23); @ WPG (Feb. 25)
Odds to win North Division: Opening line +415; Last week +135; Current odds +140
Statistically, it was a tough week for the Canadiens as they only had one scheduled game, so they didn’t really have an opportunity to gain any ground on Toronto. The plus side for Montreal is, that one game they played turned into a regulation win over the Leafs. With three games in hand over Toronto, preventing the Leafs from getting that extra point could legitimately benefit the Habs come playoff time. With key roster pieces like Jeff Petry, Nick Suzuki and Carey Price returning from last year, it’s actually been the new faces that have been making the difference for Montreal. Two of the Canadiens’ top four scoring leaders are first-year Habs players and 40 per cent of Montreal’s goals have come from newcomers. And, with Jake Allen also providing Carey Price with more rest than he’s ever had in his career, things are looking up in la belle province.
- Edmonton Oilers
Position last week: 3 (10-8-0)
Upcoming games: @ CGY (Feb. 19); vs. CGY (Feb. 20); @ VAN (Feb. 23); @ VAN (Feb. 25)
Odds to win North Division: Opening line +450; Last week +1,400; Current odds +1,200
The Oilers are tied in points with Montreal, but they have played three more games so it’s safer to group them as a middle-of-the-pack team, rather than a top contender. After a stretch of six wins in seven games things have gone more or less back to mediocrity for Edmonton over the last week. They have the leagues top two point leaders in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but they’re still not getting much traction either way when it comes to winning and losing. In their only action of the week, the Oilers split a two-game home stand against the Jets with each game decided by a single goal. There are eight points at stake for Edmonton this week and they’re up for grabs against two of the bottom three teams in the division. It’s time for the Oilers to prove they’ve grown and can be a contender in the North. Put up or shut up Edmonton.
- Winnipeg Jets
Position last week: 4 (9-6-1)
Upcoming games: @ VAN (Feb. 19); @ VAN (Feb. 21); vs. MTL (Feb. 25)
Odds to win North Division: Opening line +800; Last week+700; Current odds +1,100
You’ve got to think it was a fairly disappointing week for Winnipeg. With a chance to hop the Oilers in the standings, the Jets split a two-game set with Edmonton and lost to the NHL-worst Ottawa Senators. If you want to look at the positive side, however, look at Winnipeg’s offence. They average 3.53 goals scored per game, which is fifth in the NHL. Look no further than a couple of veterans when you’re evaluating the Jets’ offence. Mark Scheifele is fifth in league scoring with 22 points in 16 games and Nikolaj Ehlers has put up 10 goals in 15 games, despite not always getting top-line minutes. Bottom line for the Jets, they can’t afford to to drop two of three games again this week.
- Calgary Flames
Position last week: 5 (8-7-1)
Notable injuries: Derek Ryan (out indefinitely – finger)
Upcoming games: vs. EDM (Feb. 19); @ EDM (Feb. 20); @ TOR (Feb. 22); @ TOR (Feb. 24); @ OTT (Feb. 25)
Odds to win North Division: Opening line +496; Last week +1,400; Current odds +1,400
GM Brad Treliving has got to be breathing a sigh of relief after not trading Johnny Gaudreau in the offseason like a lot of people were calling for. Gaudreau has, by far, been Calgary’s best player, leading the team in goals (T-5 in NHL) and tied for the team lead in points. The Flames are barely keeping their head above water when it comes to staying above .500. It won’t be an easy week for them as only one of their four games is at home and they play in Toronto twice. They only trail the Jets by two points in the standings, so this week should give us a good idea on where Calgary stands in terms of playoff positioning.
- Vancouver Canucks
Position last week: 6 (8-11-1)
Leading scorers: Brock Boeser (21 points); Brock Boeser (12 goals)
Upcoming games: vs. WPG (Feb. 19); vs. WPG (Feb. 21); vs. EDM (Feb. 23); vs. EDM (Feb. 25)
Odds to win North Division: Opening line +800; Last week +1,600; Current odds +4,000
Having a middle-of-the-pack ranking in average goals per game isn’t necessarily a death sentence for a team’s playoff hopes, but when you combine that with one of the worst defences in the league, you find yourself where Vancouver sits. The Canucks average 3.10 goals scored per game, which is 15th in the NHL, but they rank 29th in shots per game allowed (33.15) and 30th in goals per game allowed (3.60). We’ll give it to the Canucks though, they did manage to pull out five of six points against Calgary last week. We’re not quite ready to say this team can really compete in the North Division, but if they can find a way to lock things down defensively, who knows?
- Ottawa Senators
Position last week: 7 (4-14-1)
Notable injuries: None
Upcoming games: vs. MTL (Feb. 21); vs. MTL (Feb. 23); vs. CGY (Feb. 25)
Odds to win North Division: Opening line +3,500; Last week +20,000; Current odds +25,000
It was the modern day Miracle on Ice for the Sens on Monday. After trailing 5-1 to the Leafs, Ottawa stormed back to win 6-5 in overtime thanks to a tying goal and a game-winning goal from Evgenii Dadonov. Why talk about a specific game? Because unfortunately it will probably be the Senators’ highlight of the year. We’ll give it to Ottawa though, they pulled out two wins in their four games last week, including a two-game split with the North Division leading Leafs. The only problem is, real contenders aren’t happy winning half their games. There’s nothing to say this season is going to get any better in Ottawa. Sorry.