NHL Week 12: Who's Hot, Who's Not
Two weeks remain in the NHL regular season. The Eastern Conference playoff picture is shaping up, with just one team within immediate striking distance (Winnipeg is two points back).
Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, there is a three-way tie for eighth at 45 points, and Phoenix sits just two points out.
Streaks are even more important this week as we take a look at who’s hot and who’s not for Week 12.
Hot: Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals just keep on winning. They went from being a struggling Southeast Division team to running away with the division. The Capitals have won seven straight games, including a 6-5 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
There isn’t a hotter team in the league right now—just in time to gear up for the postseason.
Hot: New York Islanders
In the preseason, I doubt many outside of Long Island expected the New York Islanders to be in the playoff hunt. They are, though, thanks to solid goaltending from Evgeni Nabokov and consistent offense.
The Isles haven’t suffered a regulation loss since March 30 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
New York will test its solid road record (12-5-2) and try to hold onto a playoff spot by finishing the season with five consecutive road games to finish the year.
Hot: Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars appeared to be sellers at the deadline, trading away players like Jaromir Jagr, but they have won five straight and now sit in a three-way tie for the final playoff spot in the West.
Dallas scored 17 goals this week, including three five-goal games and a gritty win over the streaking San Jose Sharks, 2-1.
The Stars’ final stretch of games isn’t easy. Dallas won’t face a team lower than 10th in the standings for the last seven games.
Cold: New Jersey Devils
What happened in New Jersey?
The Devils have dropped nine straight games and have picked up just one point in April. The Devils went 0-2-1 this week, including a 5-4 loss to Boston.
It has been a rough month for New Jersey.
Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs is doing everything he can to keep the Leafs in a playoff spot. Kessel put up five goals and another two assists this week to help Toronto go 2-0-1.
Pascal Dupuis of the Pittsburgh Penguins is helping the Penguins survive without Sidney Crosby. Dupuis matched Kessel with a seven-point week. He notched two goals and five assists while going plus-seven this week.
Alex Chiasson of the Dallas Stars went on an absolute tear this week. The rookie has played in six games for the Stars and now has seven points thanks to a six-point week. Chiasson netted five goals and an assist this week as part of the Stars’ final push to the playoffs.
Thomas Vanek and Tyler Ennis of the Buffalo Sabres had rough weeks this week. The pair of forwards combined for no points and a minus-11 rating. Ouch.
Hot Defenseman: Jack Hillen
Jack Hillen of the Washington Capitals put together a better week than some of his bigger-name teammates on the blue line. Hillen had two goals, three assists, a plus-six rating and seven shots on goal this week. He put up two points against Tampa Bay and Montreal earlier in the week and added another goal against the Lightning on April 13.
Cold Defensemen: Eric Brewer
Eric Brewer of the Tampa Bay Lightning had a week to forget this week. Brewer had been a plus-rating for the majority of the season. After going minus-five this week, though, he finds himself even, and the Lightning have all but been eliminated from the playoffs.
Brewer averaged over 22 minutes per game this week, but he didn’t do much to help the Lightning pick up any wins.
Hot Goaltender: Brian Elliott
Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues had an astonishing week.
Just look at the numbers:
— April 7 against Detroit: 1-0 shutout
— April 9 against Nashville: 1-0 shutout
— April 11 against Minnesota: 2-0 shutout
— 66 saves
Cold Goaltender: Ben Bishop
Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning is just another goaltending victim of the Lightning’s porous defense. Bishop was pulled after one period against the Washington Capitals after giving up three goals on 20 shots. Yes, he faced 20 shots in one period. He also gave up six goals to Pittsburgh on April 11.