-- Dramatic team turnarounds, stellar individual performances, remarkable hot streaks and its hallmark competitive balance have lit up the 2010-11 NHL regular season, which reaches the midway point on Saturday. They all set the table for a thrilling stretch run of a season in which every game matters, every point counts.
Competitive First Half Sets Stage For Wild Finish
* Presidents' Trophy: Top seven clubs separated by five points
* Eastern Conference: One-point lead in each of the three divisions; top four point-earners separated by four points
* Western Conference: Five points separate the 10 teams occupying 4th through 13th place
* Back in the playoffs? Five teams who didn't make the playoffs last season are currently 'above the line', including the Southeast Division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning
and Pacific Divisionleading Dallas Stars
. They are joined by the Atlanta Thrashers
, New York Rangers
and St. Louis Blues
. Four other non-playoff clubs in 2009-10, the Anaheim Ducks
, Carolina Hurricanes
, Columbus Blue Jackets
and Minnesota Wild
, are within five points of a post-season berth.