The Winnipeg Jets are one of the league's hottest teams and the Southeast Division leaders.
The NHL trade deadline is just over two weeks away and as the rumors heat up, so does the intensity on the ice. The season is approaching “crunch time” and general managers will have to decide if they are playing to win this season or next.
This season, the race for the coveted No. 1 seed is going to be exciting. With so many solid teams in the league this week, let’s see who’s hot and who’s not in Week 8.
This week has been one for the ages for Columbus fans.
The Blue Jackets very rarely get any credit for what they accomplish on the ice. The city lost the All-Star Game, long-time captain Rick Nash and could have very well cashed it in on the season—they haven’t.
Columbus is 6-0-4 in the last 10 games and has forced overtime with some of the perennial conference powers in Chicago, Vancouver and Detroit. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is having a career year and the Jackets are finding ways to pick up much-needed points.
Don’t look now, but Columbus is just two points out of the playoffs.
The picture says it all.
The Western Conference appears to be the conference of streaks this season. Anaheim is just preying on competition in the West with a 7-0-3 record in the last 10 (3-0-1 this week).
The Ducks had won five straight before dropping an overtime contest to St. Louis on March 16. With a five-game homestand starting on March 18 against the Sharks, Anaheim may do the unthinkable and knock the Blackhawks out of the top spot in the league by the end of the homestand.
The Wild have climbed their way all the way to the top of the Northwest.
The Minnesota Wild appear to have taken coach Mike Yeo off the hot seat—deservedly so. The Wild went 3-1-0 this week and have climbed to the top of the Northwest Division with 32 points (and the tie-breaker over Vancouver).
Minnesota is 7-3-0 in the last 10 games. The Wild have an extremely important contest against Vancouver on March 18 to potentially separate the two teams in the division.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have won eight in a row.
If you thought the Western Conference had the only hot teams, you’re way wrong. The Eastern Conference can’t be overlooked with four teams riding ridiculous streaks led by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Pens have won eight straight and are 8-2-0 in the last 10. Pittsburgh didn’t beat the bottom of the conference either.
They knocked off Toronto, New York (both teams) and the Boston Bruins this week. Sidney Crosby is being his usual self and Marc-Andre Fleury is getting into a groove.
The league’s best offense isn’t showing signs of slowing down any time soon.
Celebrations are happening north of the border led by the Montreal Canadiens.
Whether you are a Canadiens fan or not, it has to be exciting for Canadians to see one of their teams at the top and playing at such a high level. Montreal has won five straight and is tied for the Eastern Conference lead with 42 points.
A dominant 9-3-2 record at home keeps Canadiens fans happy, but a 7-1-2 record in the last 10 games is even more exciting. Montreal won four games of a five-game roadtrip and are playing great hockey.
Is this the year of the Canadiens?
Winnipeg joins Montreal as division leaders this week.
Oh, hello Winnipeg and welcome back to Canada.
Despite being tragically out of place in the Southeast Division, the Winnipeg Jets are sitting atop the division standings and have themselves in third place in the Eastern Conference after going 7-2-1 in the last 10.
The Jets have won three in a row including two over Toronto and another over the New York Rangers. Winnipeg goes back home for a four-game homestand on March 19 to separate the Jets from the rest of the division.
Winning is just business as usual in Boston.
The Bruins picked up another casual 3-1-0 week with wins over Southeast Division opponents. Boston travels to Pittsburgh on March 17 to decide who is the top team—and potentially the hottest—in the Eastern Conference.
The defense is solid and the goaltending has been steady. Boston knows who they are and play its style every game. Boston has a four-game road trip this week, but that shouldn’t hurt anything with a 9-2-2 road record.
This season has been a bit overwhelming for the Panthers.
Someone had to be cold this week and the Florida Panthers take it. Injuries have destroyed this team and ruined an opportunity to load up on draft picks for the future.
Florida is 1-7-2 in the last 10 and lost the last four as they sit at the bottom of the East. It has been a rough season for the defending Southeast Division champions.
Chris Kunitz loves playing on a line with Sidney Crosby.
Chris Kunitz of the Pittsburgh Penguins is having a great season thanks to being placed on a line with Sidney Crosby. Kunitz led all scorers this week with eight points (four goals, four assists) and can thank Crosby for most of them (seven assists). Pittsburgh has coincidentally won eight straight games. It has to be coincidence.
Chris Stewart of the St. Louis Blues is a huge part of the St. Louis Blues’ three-game winning streak. The Blues even beat the Anaheim Ducks thanks to two-point game from Stewart. He has multi-point games in each of the last three games with five goals and two assists in that span.
Honorable Mention: Sidney Crosby (PIT), Matt Duchene (COL), Patrick Kane (CHI), Dustin Brown (LA)
It has been a struggle for Steven Stamkos and the Lightning this week.
Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks had a cold week with just one point (goal) while logging over 18 minutes of ice time per game and only six shots on goal all week. Still, Anaheim fans can laugh and say “Who cares?” with one of the league’s hottest teams still winning despite Ryan’s struggles this week.
Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning has hit a scoring drought with just one goal this week. Tampa Bay is struggling as a team and Stamkos will need to get things going if the Bolts want to make another run at the playoffs like he did last season in his 60-goal campaign.
Ryan Suter had a huge week this week.
Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild is earning his new paycheck this week. One goal and six assists for the d-man has propelled the Wild to the top of the Northwest Division and changed the attitude around the team. It will be interesting to see if he can keep it up and if the Wild can de-throne the Canucks from their perennial spot atop the division.
Tough week for Dan Girardi and the Rangers.
Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers is logging over 24 minutes of ice time per game this week but has struggled to keep the puck out of the Rangers’ net. With a minus-three rating, Girardi is having a rough week. Give him a little while and he’ll snap out.
Marc-Andre Fleury is now the Pens all-time shutout leader.
Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins picked up three wins this week with a 1.00 goals-against average and a shutout of the New York Rangers. With that shutout, he is now the franchise leader in shutouts. Congratulations to Fleury.
Honorable Mention: Jake Allen (STL)
A lot of goaltenders have struggled against the Blackhawks this season.
Kari Lehtonen of the Dallas Stars is cold this week after facing an absolutely filthy Chicago Blackhawks offense. Lehtonen gave up four goals on 17 shots in 28 minutes as the Blackhawks rolled 8-1. Lehtonen also gave up four goals to the struggling Nashville offense earlier in the week.
He went 0-3-1 this week with a 3.53 GAA.