- The Capitals and Golden Knights are looking good down the stretch yet again, begging us to wonder if another Stanley Cup Final rematch is possible. But they’d have to get past some pretty strong teams to make it happen.
Could it happen again? Could we see the first Stanley Cup rematch since Detroit and Pittsburgh went at it in 2008 and again in 2009? (And poor Marian Hossa lost both, though he made up for it with the Blackhawks.)
The Knights and Capitals are two of the three hottest teams in hockey (the other being the Lightning, of course). Mark Stone has been hot for the Knights. The Caps' depth moves are paying off already, plus, oh yeah, they've got the best scorer in the game. Vegas, it seems, has a clearer path in the West, especially given the experience the team has over a group like Calgary. Washington would have to go through Tampa Bay—but that was the same scenario last year, too.
31. Ottawa Senators | Record: 25-41-6 | Previous Ranking: 31
Ottawa was officially eliminated from the playoffs last week. Good on them for getting some of their top prospects involved.
30. Detroit Red Wings | Record: 25-37-10 | Previous Ranking: 30
The Red Wings also found themselves knocked out of playoff contention. At least Filip Zadina looked good.
29. Los Angeles Kings | Record: 25-38-8 | Previous Ranking: 29
The Kings have, for once, a good problem on their hands: If they want, they can trade Jonathan Quick during the offseason because Jack Campbell could be a long-term solution. Or, they could trade Campbell like they've done with Martin Jones and Jonathan Bernier.
28. New Jersey Devils | Record: 27-37-9 | Previous Ranking: 28
A win against Edmonton doesn't discount the horrid play to start March.
27. Anaheim Ducks | Record: 30-35-9 | Previous Ranking: 27
There have been some signs of life in recent days. The back-to-back wins against Colorado and Florida weren't bad, either.
26. New York Rangers | Record: 28-31-13 | Previous Ranking: 25
Tony DeAngelo has been one of the most effective players on the Rangers. He has to figure out his off-ice stuff or he will keep getting benched.
25. Vancouver Canucks | Record: 30-32-10 | Previous Ranking: 23
Surprised we haven't seen more of goalie Thatcher Demko.
24. Edmonton Oilers | Record: 32-33-7 | Previous Ranking: 22
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is having a career year. Why isn't he mentioned in the Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl discussions?
23. Buffalo Sabres | Record: 31-32-9 | Previous Ranking: 21
Given the Sabres' struggles, not sure that Brandon Montour, who's a good player, was necessarily worth the trade they made.
22. Colorado Avalanche | Record: 31-29-12 | Previous Ranking: 20
The last really good team the Avs beat? Nashville on Feb. 23.
21. Chicago Blackhawks | Record: 32-30-9 | Previous Ranking: 26
It’s good to see Corey Crawford playing so well in his return.
20. Florida Panthers | Record: 32-28-12 | Previous Ranking: 24
Aleksander Barkov is criminally underrated with 30 goals and 83 points so far. What a year.
19. Minnesota Wild | Record: 34-30-9 | Previous Ranking: 17
After riding high with the win against Tampa Bay, the Wild got a dose of reality against San Jose. Followed by even more reality in losses to the Stars and the Islanders.
18. Philadelphia Flyers | Record: 35-29-8 | Previous Ranking: 18
Are the playoffs too far of a reach? Maybe. Think a team ahead of them would need to collapse more than the Flyers surging, but a comeback win against the Penguins was a good start.
17. Arizona Coyotes | Record: 36-30-6 | Previous Ranking: 19
Rick Tocchet for Jack Adams Award? Don't be so shocked.
16. Dallas Stars | Record: 37-29-6 | Previous Ranking: 16
It's easy for him to get lost, but Ben Bishop has been really, really good of late, winning his last five starts for the Stars.
15. St. Louis Blues | Record: 37-27-8 | Previous Ranking: 14
Slowly, Jordan Binnington's shine is wearing off a bit.
14. Columbus Blue Jackets | Record: 40-28-4 | Previous Ranking: 15
It’s probably safe to say the deadline hasn’t been as successful as the Blue Jackets hoped thus far.
13. Montreal Canadiens | Record: 37-28-7 | Previous Ranking: 13
The Habs were likely happy to end their west coast swing, which included tough losses against Islanders and the Blackhawks.
12. Vegas Golden Knights | Record: 40-27-5 | Previous Ranking: 12
The 6–3 loss to Calgary, on the road, is less damaging because of the 2–1 win against the Flames a few days earlier.
11. Nashville Predators | Record: 41-27-5 | Previous Ranking: 8
The back-to-back wins against Minnesota seem more like the exception these days than the rule.
10. Winnipeg Jets | Record: 42-25-4 | Previous Ranking: 9
Kevin Hayes has been fine individually, but it is noteworthy that the Jets haven’t taken off with him like that they did last year with Paul Stastny at the deadline.
9. Carolina Hurricanes | Record: 39-25-7 | Previous Ranking: 10
Seems, at this point, that the 5–3 win against Nashville might not be the most impressive, especially after the 8–1 drubbing by the Jets.
8. Pittsburgh Penguins | Record: 39-24-10 | Previous Ranking: 11
Don't count out Pittsburgh yet, as the Penguins are only three points away from Washington. But Evgeni Malkin better get healthy and quick.
7. New York Islanders | Record: 42-23-7 | Previous Ranking: 7
Robin Lehner is returning, which is good, but it shouldn't be forgotten how good Thomas Greiss has been this year. What a turnaround in net from last year to this season.
6. Toronto Maple Leafs | Record: 43-24-5 | Previous Ranking: 6
Should the Leafs panic after the bad Lightning loss? No. But it shouldn't be written off, either.
5. Washington Capitals | Record: 42-23-7 | Previous Ranking: 4
The loss against Pittsburgh is defensible, given the Penguins' recent play. It’s not the worst after a seven straight wins.
4. Boston Bruins | Record: 43-20-9 | Previous Ranking: 2
The Bruins had two oddly bad losses against Columbus and Pittsburgh. Followed by another tough loss against Winnipeg.
3. Calgary Flames | Record: 44-21-7 | Previous Ranking: 3
Okay, it's the Devils, but six points from Johnny Gaudreau is still pretty fantastic.
2. San Jose Sharks | Record: 43-21-8 | Previous Ranking: 5
The Sharks had a week of impressive wins, especially against playoff-caliber teams in Minnesota, St. Louis, Montreal and Winnipeg.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning | Record: 55-13-4 | Previous Ranking: 1
A 6–2 win in Toronto is another impressive game in a season that’s been full of them.