The New Jersey Devils are on a hot streak and sit atop the Eastern Conference standings. Who joins them?
Heading into the weekend, 10 different teams were on streaks of three games or more. Some teams were trending up—some down. Not all of the streaks were maintained, but some teams have made strong claims as the team to beat in their respective divisions.
Nearly 25 percent through the NHL season, the playoff races are starting to take shape. In the Eastern Conference, six points separate the top spot from the last playoff spot. The Western Conference has a seven-point gap from top to last.
Here is who is hot and who’s not for Week 3.
Cory Schneider is back and the Canucks are climbing.
Hockey fans to the north rejoice this week with the hottest team in the land. Led by a top-level goaltending duo, the Vancouver Canucks are the hottest team in the NHL.
The Canucks have won five straight contests, including a dominant 5-1 decision over Canadian foe Calgary in Saturday. Vancouver is outscoring opponents in 17-5 during that stretch.
It appears the Chicago Blackhawks aren’t the only dominant team in the West anymore.
Phil Kessel is warming up and so are the Leafs.
Canada has two of the hottest teams in the league this week with the Toronto Maple Leafs joining the Vancouver Canucks. In a condensed season, successful road trips are crucial, and the Leafs just finished a three-game trip undefeated.
Toronto knocked off the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets and put on a dominating performance against the Montreal Canadiens, 6-0, on Saturday. It has been a while for Toronto fans, but the Leafs are currently in a playoff spot.
Marty was just being Marty and the Devils sit alone atop the Eastern Conference.
Last week the New Jersey Devils were part of the “cooling off” section. It was mentioned that they shouldn’t be overlooked, though. Sure enough, the Devils are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference.
After a disappointing loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last weekend, the Devils have rattled off four straight wins by taming the high-flying Tampa Bay Lightning offense and avenging the loss to the Penguins.
Martin Brodeur has been brilliant again, and the Devils are No. 1 in the East. Who is Zach Parise, anyway?
The Bolts offense is out of sync. That's not good for a team built to outscore opponents.
The Toronto Maple Leafs dominated their road trip, and the Tampa Bay Lightning have been dominated on theirs. This shouldn’t be a surprise for Lightning fans since they went 13-22-6 on the road last season.
After a hot start, the Bolts have struggled, largely due to their road woes. Tampa is 1-3-0 away from home this season and has another tough contest against the New York Rangers Sunday night.
They still boast the league’s best offense (4.20 goals per game) but have scored just five goals in the last three games.
The Isles are getting run over currently.
The Western Conference teams have snapped out of their cold streaks with Minnesota and St. Louis picking up points yesterday, so the other cold team this week comes from the East. The New York Islanders have dropped a league-high four straight.
The worst part of this slide is that the Isles have lost each of their last three home contests. It has been a difficult stretch against the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils, but a 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday was a heartbreaker.
The Islanders outshot the Sabres 43-15 but lost 3-2. If the Isles can’t outscore teams when they record 43 shots on goal, can they ever outscore anyone?
Jimmy Howard has the Red Wings back on track.
The Detroit Red Wings struggled out of the gate but appear to have righted the ship. The Red Wings destroyed Central Division foe St. Louis to a tune of 5-1 on Thursday.
Detroit’s offense cooled off against the Edmonton Oilers, but Jimmy Howard and the defense held off a dangerous Oilers offense to secure a 2-1 win.
A tough contest against Los Angeles (3-2 win Sunday. Did anyone see that ending?), followed by St. Louis and Anaheim close out this four-game homestand.
It's been a rough February for one of the league's best teams.
It seems a bit unfair to put a 7-2-2 team in this category, but the San Jose Sharks find themselves cooling off in the West. The Sharks haven’t picked up a win in the entire month of February and have two regulation losses in the last week.
Don’t jump ship on the Sharks just yet. Those losses came to a red-hot Chicago Blackhawks squad and a dangerous Anaheim Ducks team.
A season-high six-game road trip starts Monday in Columbus.
Sidney Crosby is finding his focus which is helping the rest of his offense.
Thomas Vanek (BUF): We all know all good things must come to an end, but someone forgot to tell Thomas Vanek. The league’s leading scorer put up four more goals this week and added three assists. He is on a torrid pace (23 points, 11 games) and is one of the few bright spots on a struggling Buffalo team.
Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz (PIT): Sidney Crosby is doing what good captains do in order to get his team to the next level. Crosby may not be finding the net at his usual clip, but he had six assists and seven points to help the Penguins climb within a win of the top of the East.
Crosby’s helpers have aided forward Chris Kunitz. Kunitz had four goals and three assists this week. He was plus-two on just nine shots on goal.
The Flyers are winning despite Claude Giroux's lack of production.
Steven Stamkos (TBL): Steven Stamkos has 17 points this season, including seven goals, but he has just one assist this week. He hasn’t found the back of the net all week. The Lightning’s struggles can’t be blamed entirely on Stamkos’ struggles, but the chances of winning certainly improve when he is clicking offensively.
Claude Giroux (PHI): Claude Giroux has fallen on hard times just like Steven Stamkos. One of the best scorers in the game, Giroux has just seven points this season and only one assist this week. The Flyers have managed to snag points in four of their last five games. This slump can’t last all season for Giroux, and when he breaks out, look out, Eastern Conference.
Andy Greene's seven-point week has been huge for the Devils.
Andy Greene of the New Jersey Devils is finding his stride. The undrafted defenseman has seven points this week, including six assists.
He had two points against Pittsburgh, two against Tampa Bay and two against the Islanders. On top of a solid offensive week, Greene is plus-four with five blocked shots.
He scored the game-winning goal against Tampa and has been key in the Devils’ run to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
One of the league's best defensemen last season, Drew Doughty, has been anything but this year.
Drew Doughty was crucial in the Los Angeles Kings' run through the Stanley Cup playoffs last season. He has been in a serious slump to start the season with just four points and an awful minus-eight rating.
Doughty nabbed an assist against the Columbus Blue Jackets on February 5, but he is minus-five for the month. The Kings are sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. They are part of a four-way tie for last (eight points).
Viktor Fasth is the league's hottest goaltender.
The Anaheim Ducks' fans had to wonder what was going through the mind of the front office when they signed Viktor Fasth this offseason to back up Jonas Hiller. Not two months into the season, the league has seen what the Ducks saw.
Fasth is undefeated this season and is 3-0-0 this week. He has a 1.88 goals-against average and notched a shutout against the Colorado Avalanche on February 6.
The Swede has been a huge part of the Ducks’ success and could very well take over the No. 1 spot if his hot play continues.
It has been one of those stretches for Brian Elliott.
The St. Louis Blues' goaltending duo was a large part of their success last season. With Jaroslav Halak injured, Brian Elliott has stepped into a more day-to-day role. He hasn’t filled that role well.
In four appearances this week, Elliott is 0-3-1 with a 5.45 GAA and a .778 save percentage. The Blues have dropped four straight contests on the heels of a four-game winning streak.
St. Louis has to be counting down the days until Halak can return to the lineup.