Another week, another roundup of NHL action. With the All Star break over, teams got back into the swing of things, and although it was not quite a full week of games, a lot still happened. Let’s not waste time and get straight to the action.
Florida Panthers – After a January struggle, the Panthers have been playing a reenergized game in the past little while. With injured players Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau back from extended periods on the IR, the Panthers have found themselves on the winning side. They’ve won their last 3 games in a row, with the returned players scoring goals. Things seems to be on the up for the Panthers as they fight for a playoff position.
Philipp Grubauer, Washington Capitals – When you are playing behind the constancy that is Braden Holtby, you are not likely to get many starts in Washington. However Grubauer is proving that he’s an extremely capable backup as of late. On Sunday afternoon he shut out the Los Angeles Kings (who have also been playing well in recent games) in a decisive 5-0 win. This was his third shut out of the season – which is pretty good for someone who doesn’t play the most games. I’d expect that given his success, the Capitals would be smart to make a trade for picks for him in the near future.
Columbus Blue Jackets – After going on a nearly record breaking win streak, the Blue Jackets have been struggling lately. They are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, including two back-to-back losses. Also they are slipping further away from the division leading Capitals and now sit tied for second in the Metropolitan Division with the Penguins. There’s no need to worry about the team just yet, as their playoff spot seems secure, but it seems they may have lost a good deal of steam after their win streak.
Mike Ribeiro, Nashville Predators – Ribeiro has had a bit of an up and down career since he was first drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1998. He’s definitely in the twilight of his career and had been underperforming in Nashville. It has been rumoured that he has asked for a trade – however, either the Predators could not find anyone to take him, or they did not try as he recently cleared waivers. When you’ve played as many years in the NHL as he has, that has to hurt.
Boston Bruins – I had the Bruins on the losers list a few weeks ago as well, but forgive me as I am a disgruntled fan. One of the many problems facing the Bruins this season is their lack of a backup goalie. The backups (combined) have exactly ONE win so far this season, ONE. This is putting extreme pressure on Tuukka Rask to perform, which he mostly has been but a team cannot rely on one goalie alone. Boston needs to get reliable backup goaltending ASAP to prevent a further slide down the standings.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs – To say that William Nylander is having a good rookie season is putting it mildly. He has 34 points in 49 games and is fourth in rookie scoring. Nylander’s impressive first year has been a bit overshadowed by the fact that he’s sharing a team with whizkid Auston Matthews. However, Nylander stepped into the spotlight on Saturday night when he scored his first hat trick against the Bruins. It will be very interesting to see where Nylander lands statistically at the end of the season,