And with 13 games remaining, the Sharks have a legitimate shot at ending second behind the Detroit Red Wings.
There are a number of reasons why the Sharks are among the best teams in the NHL, including outstanding goaltending and coach Ron Wilson’s ability to get his team to pay attention to defensive detail.
The fact Joe Thornton has risen to fourth in league scoring and Jonathan Cheechoo, injured much of the first half, is once again a scoring machine helps, too.
With five assists in seven games, Brian Campbell has been a nice addition to the defense.
Newcomer Brad Richards made quite a splash in his debut, recording five assists in Game 1 after arriving from Tampa Bay. He then had just one assist and was minus-4 in his next three outings before scoring a goal and an assist and finishing plus-2 in the Stars 3-0 win over Colorado Sunday.
Three straight wins, including a humdinger 4-3 decision over Nashville, which brought many smiles back to the faces of Red Wings fans. Nicklas Lidstrom returned to the lineup after missing six games (the longest stretch on the sidelines of his illustrious career) with two assists.
After being shut out in back-to-back games, the Ducks came back to life with a 3-1 win over Montreal. Top goal-scorer Corey Perry suffered a lacerated tendon above his right knee and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Ouch!
You had to see it to believe it. First Patrick Marleau saved the day in overtime when he batted a puck out of mid-air that was headed into his team’s net. Then, a few minutes later, he bagged the shootout winner. And to think, there was plenty of talk that the Sharks were going to trade their captain. Huh?!
Don’t look now, but Patrik Elias has found his scoring touch. For a while, it looked like it was touch-and-go as to whether or not he’d fit in with new coach Brent Sutter. Elias has two goals and nine points in his past nine games.
Sid the Kid is back. Yippee! With two goals (including a fluky game-winner against Washington Sunday) and four points in his first three games, Sidney Crosby looks like he has picked up right where he left off when he went down with an ankle injury in mid-January.
Losing to Anaheim and San Jose on their four-game Western swing gave the Canadiens a pretty good indication of where they stand against the league’s elite teams. Beating Phoenix and L.A. was to be expected.
Winning six of their last seven games has many believing the Rangers could be a threat come playoff time. It would be nice to see Jaromir Jagr come out of hibernation, however. He has no goals in his past five games and just two in 19.
What the heck has happened to Kristian Huselius? While he remains second in team scoring, the Swedish left winger hasn’t scored a goal in 20 games.
Four straight losses has folks in Minnesota scratching their heads. That said, the Wild have picked up points in their last two games, losing both in the shootout.
I know what you’re thinking; this is awfully high for a team with just three wins in its past 10 games. You may be right. But Bryan Murray has settled on his starting goalie, obviously Martin Gerber, and the Sens looked fine beating Phoenix.
The Avalanche won six straight before losing 3-0 to Dallas. Jose Theodore continues to give his team a chance to win virtually every game.
Sergei Samsonov continues to hold a hot hand (making GM Jim Rutherford look like a genius) scoring his 12th goal since joining the Hurricanes. Make that four wins in a row for Carolina.
Who are these guys? 10 goals in two games? Who says the Canucks can’t score? Even agitator Alex Burrows got in on the action with a goal and an assist in back-to-back games.
When things go bad for the Bruins, they go really bad. Three losses in four games and outscored 20-6 in that span, the B’s are looking for answers. A commitment to team defense might be a good place to start.
Seven goals in seven games made Jeff Carter one of the hottest snipers in the NHL. That said, I bet the Flyers were hoping for more than one goal and two points out of Vinny Prospal in six games since acquiring him from Tampa Bay.
Three goals by the Predators in 7:35 gave the Red Wings the scare of their life, but alas, it wasn’t enough as Detroit hung onto the 4-3 win. Martin Erat continues his career year and is up to 22 goals.
It will take a miracle for the Blackhawks to make the playoffs, but it is going to be darn fun watching them try. Even if they fail, the Hawks have served notice they are a team to watch out for in the future.
The Sabres are knocking at the playoff door, but the Flyers aren’t letting them in. Thomas Vanek has no goals and is minus-5 in four games.
Three losses in four games for Gretz’s Guys have them moving further away from a playoff position. An NHL-worst 14-17-3 home record is one big reason why.
A win over Tampa Bay was preceded by three straight one-goal losses for the highly competitive Blue Jackets. With 14 goals, Jason Chimera has a shot at breaking his single-season high of 17.
Poor Nicklas Backstrom. The rookie lived every player’s nightmare when he swept a shot past his own goalie, Cristobal Huet, for what proved to be the winning goal against Pittsburgh Sunday.
Back-to-back overtime wins over Columbus and Chicago have the Oilers thinking they can still make the playoffs. Oh well, it doesn’t hurt to dream.
Nathan Horton scored two overtime winners as the Panthers rolled up four straight victories.
Two losses in three games (both to New Jersey) have pretty much put a cap on the Leafs’ playoff hopes. After scoring a goal in each of his first three NHL games (spread out over three seasons), Jeremy Williams has been blanked in five straight.
Coach Ted Nolan played a hunch when he went with backup goalie Wade Dubielewicz against the Rangers, and it backfired as the Islanders’ cross-town rivals beat them 4-1 with starter Rick DiPietro watching from the bench.
Brad Boyes scored both goals in a 4-2 loss to Vancouver giving him 34 on the season.
The Thrashers snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 3-2 shootout win over Minnesota, but returned to their losing ways the next day against Florida.
Just when it looked like he may never score another NHL goal, Vinny Lecavalier snapped his 12-game goalless drought with one against Columbus in a 5-3 loss.
Goalie Erik Ersberg’s NHL debut was one for the books; he shut out the Ottawa Senators 2-0.
The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 on Mondays. Changes in rankings reflect each team’s play from the previous seven days.
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