1. The Tampa Bay Lightning are the best team in hockey and it might not even be close. The Lightning routed the streaking kings 5-2 Wednesday night as Nikita Kucherov scored his sixteenth goal of the year for Tampa. Yes, Saint Louis is playing well right now as well but I truly believe the Lightning are the number one team in the NHL especially when you can punish a good all-around team like the Kings the way they did. Not to mention that was with backup netminder Peter Budaj.
2. The New York Rangers have recovered from an early-season stumble and regained balance. It doesn’t hurt that Kevin Shattenkirk and Rick Nash have really started heating up over the past week. Not to mention depth scoring gained by players like Jimmy Vesey who had two goals against the Bruins on Wednesday. Though Henrick Lundqvist has given up 9 goals over the past 3 games that is less an indictment of him then it is the way the league is in 2017. It is rare to see a goalie with a GAA below 2.50 anymore just because right now it truly is a scorer’s league.
3. The Oilers have saved their season with back to back OT on their road trip. Connor McDavid’s beautiful OT Winner against the Islanders and his fantastic pass to Leon Draisaital to be the Devils in OT on Thursday night have been the difference. The problem for the Oilers though has been finding scoring from other players not named McDavid. Anton Slepyshev got off the snide against the Devils scoring his first goal of the season. Milan Lucic has three goals but is old and slow, a great grinder but no longer a playmaker. The Oil need to make a move this season to get another depth piece, a name that comes to mind is Mitch Marner who has seemingly been shelved in Toronto.
4. After a brief stumble, the Leafs are playing well and winning with depth Scoring. Over the past two games, Nazem Kadri has 3 goals. Not to mention Connor Brown who has 7 goals this year after being promoted to the third line. The Leaf’s are finding new ways to win, something the great teams find a way to do.
5. The Jets are suddenly a surging team in the central. You could talk about Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, and Nikolaj Ehlers who have a combined 50 points but the credit has to go to Connor Hellebuyck. The Jets brought in Steve Mason so Connor could develop and Mason massively flopped. Now Hellebuyck is the starter and the kid has put up fantastic numbers 2.12 Goals Against Average and a 93 save percentage. Pair that with 8 wins and no regulation losses, and 2 OT losses, Winnipeg is soaring.
6. Of course, we can’t forget the blockbuster deal that went down this week. Let’s break down who went where first: Defenseman prospect Samuel Girard to Colorado
Forward prospect Vladislav Kamenev to Colorado
Forward prospect Shane Bowers to Colorado
Goaltender Andrew Hammond to Colorado
2018 first-round pick from Ottawa to Colorado (with a condition!)
2018 second-round pick from Nashville to Colorado
2018 third-round pick from Ottawa to Colorado
Kyle Turris to Nashville
Matt Duchene to Ottawa
Now some winners and losers in this trade. Winner, the Colorado Avalanche, Joe Sakic Fleeced the Predators of two draft picks for nothing in return. Andrew Hammond another big winner in this trade Hammond is a great goalie, in my opinion, had that great playoff run a few years back and here is a bold prediction, the rebuilding Aves trade Varlymov next. Loser, the Senators, yes you got Matt Duchene but only for a year before his contract expires. You also gave up your future for the next three years. The Sens have to win the cup this year or next for this trade to be considered a success.
7. The top 5 teams of the week
1. Tampa Bay Lightning
2. Toronto Maple Leaf’s
3. Saint Louis Blues
4. New York Rangers
5. Edmonton Oilers