About a month ago, Pittsburgh was the team everybody talked about as a tough draw for one of the East’s high seeds in the first round of the playoffs.
While it looks like the Pens will finish a little higher than originally expected, the Carolina Hurricanes have taken the mantle as the club any Eastern Conference contender wouldn’t be crazy about facing in Round 1.
The Canes are really cooking these days, sparked by the return of Erik Cole from Edmonton. Their defense gets it done by committee and, as I mentioned a couple of weeks back, when Cam Ward is on, he provides this team with top-notch goaltending.
He’s struggled with consistency since winning the Conn Smythe in 2006, but if Ward keeps up his current level of play, Carolina may well have a lot to say about how the East shakes out.
Captain Nicklas Lidstrom kicks it up with one goal and five points in his past five games
Look at the names on their blueline and look where they are in the standings – it boggles the mind how much mileage they get out of that patchwork crew
Patrick Marleau looks like a lock for his first 40-goal season
Have become unbeatable at home, where they've won 11 straight
Have at least one point in eight of nine games since Erik Cole returned after the trade deadline
The first word that comes to mind when contemplating Columbus is 'sturdy'
Sid has a 13-game point streak going
What a job young Marc Staal is doing on the back end
Office chatter at THN recently revolved around the notion Alexander Semin may have the best wrist shot in hockey
Northeast is clinched, but Bruins need to get better if they're to hold onto East's No. 1 seed
Flyers sure boast a balanced offense as six forwards have hit the 20-goal barrier this season – and don’t forget about Daniel Briere
Olli Jokinen has been great since coming to Calgary, but the Flames, strangely, have not
Productive trip out west saw Preds nab six of a possible eight points
David Backes' breakout season continues with 11 points over his past nine contests
Good thing they banked so many points early
Hard to know what to make of this surge given how far out of things Ottawa is. Still, it speaks well of Cory Clouston's coaching
Looks like they won't miss the playoffs without a fight
Late-game collapse against Columbus really stings
In an odd year for goalies, Dwayne Roloson should merit Vezina consideration if he can get the Oilers in the playoffs. He's been absolutely awesome
Wild finally get Marian Gaborik back and have to watch Mikko Koivu leave the same game early with a knee injury
There's a good chance Todd White will post 50 assists as part of his career year
Had to enjoy embarrassing their old rivals in Montreal on the weekend
Ryan Miller can't come back fast enough
Brenden Morrow could get green light to resume skating as early as this week; let's hope his comeback goes better than the snake-bitten Brad Richards
Have gone 11 road games without a regulation victory; that's not how you get in the playoffs
Good news for the Habs is with all the free agents they have this summer, they actually can fire the team
Defenseman Mark Streit could end up leading this team in scoring by 20 points
Where will Martin St-Louis end up this summer? Sure looks like he can still play
It's all about experience for the young guys now
I wonder if Adam Foote wishes he hung in with the Jackets a little longer
The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.
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