At the half-way mark of the NHL regular season, the Vancouver Canucks are the hottest team in the league.

The Canucks 6th consecutive victory was an impressive come-from-behind effort, erasing a 4-2 deficit to knock off the Chicago Blackhawks 7-5.

With 48 points out of their first 41 games, the Canucks have put themselves in a position where they have a realistic shot at the playoffs for the first time in five years.

However, even with a 22-15-4 record, they don’t have a lot of breathing room.

Vancouver is sitting third in the Pacific Division, but only a point ahead of Edmonton and Calgary with the Flames technically not sitting in a post-season berth.

Whether the Canucks make it or not, they have become fun to watch, in part because they have some firepower.

Vancouver’s 139 goals are second-best in the Western Conference, only behind Colorado’s 151.

They also have one of the best home records at 13-5-3.

The (26-10-6) St. Louis Blues have proven their Stanley Cup in 2019 was no fluke.

The Blues recently had an 8-game win streak snapped and sport the best record in the Western Conference by 6-points.

St. Louis is part of the Central Division, which is stronger than the Pacific.

In fact, the three Californa teams, all part of the Pacific, sit 13th, 14th and 15th out of 15.

It does not seem that long ago, teams dreaded the California road trip but San Jose is eight points out of a playoff spot, LA is nine back and Anaheim brings up the rear, already 10 points.

There is a big discrepancy in the Eastern Conference where the Metropolitan Division appears significantly stronger than the Atlantic.

For example, Tampa Bay is third in the Atlantic, but based on points would only be 6th in the Metropolitan.

Here are the halfway standings.

The Sharks, who finished 46-27-9 in 2018-19, are arguably the most under-achieving team (18-21-3), while the Canucks are among the biggest first-half surprises along with the (23-16-4) Arizona Coyotes.

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The WHL is also at its midway point.

The next week will be carefully monitored with the league’s trade deadline on January 10th.

The (9-21-2-3) Prince George Cougars have completed 35 of 68 games.

They are eight points out of a playoff spot largely because of their lack of goal scoring.

The Cougars have just 73 goals while the next lowest total in the Western Conference is 90 (Vancouver, Victoria and Tri-City).

The US Division is considerably stronger than the BC Division.

Portland, Everett and Spokane join BC Division-leading Kamloops as the top four teams in the Western Conference.

The (17-16-1-1) Vancouver Giants are easily the most under-achieving first-half team.

They were an overtime goal away from winning the WHL title in May of 2019, yet with many veteran players on the team, only sit 4th in their division.

The WHL team that has been the biggest surprise has to be the Winnipeg Ice.

The Ice, last season in Cranbrook was 13-45-7-3 for 36 points and a whopping 36 points out of a
playoff spot.

Today, they are first in the East Division and with a record of 23-13-1, they already have 11 more points than last season with 31 games left.

The WHL mid-season standings are right here.

Whether it be the NHL or WHL, the bottom feeders may still convince themselves that the second-half can bring them back into contention.

Yes, it was early January 2019 and the Blues were last in the overall NHL standings.

Well, history will not repeat itself, at least not this season.

The (10-28-3) Detroit Red Wings are 31st out of 31 teams, a whopping 26 points out of a playoff spot.

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This is season two of Hartley’s Cat Scan, a weekly podcast show that primarily features the Prince George Cougars.

My guest on the 16th Cat Scan in year two is former PG Cougars forward Jonathan Filewich.

Jonathan talks about getting drafted by the Cougars, his relationship with Winnipeg Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien, his marriage to a sister of a former PG Cougar, marvelling over Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin while with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.

 

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:  

“An awesome experience … I saw more middle fingers today than I have my whole life.”

Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew, after he helped ruin the Raiders final home game (20-16 Jacksonville win) in Oakland.

Former New Orleans Saint Joe Horn has pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud. So that’s who he was calling when he hid his cellphone inside the goalposts.

*Comedy writer Jim Barach http://jokesbyjim.blogspot.ca/

GM Ryan Pace says Chicago Bears are committed to Mitchell Trubisky as their starting QB for 2020.  Translation, they don’t have any better options.

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

Fitting the New England Patriots should suffer an embarrassing home loss to the lowly Miami
Dolphins—many now feel that their chances to repeat now sleep with the fishes.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Major League Baseball is tinkering with using computer plate umpires within the next five years, but there’s still a few bugs to work out.

Every time there’s a pop-up ad, the laptop calls the infield fly rule.

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/


IN CASE YOU MISS
ED IT:

Police in China has used an unusual method to try to slow down speeders — cardboard cut-outs of squad cars. They were inspired by the Cincinnati Bengals defence.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

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Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97.
He also is the 94.3 radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to [email protected]