Local Hockey Power Rankings- Week 18
This was a fantastic week of hockey for the local teams. Every team had exactly two wins this past week and voting was the toughest it has been all season. We had two voters this week including myself.
1. Philadelphia Flyers: 6 points (1 first-place vote) Last Week: 1
Record: 30-18-7 (2-1-0 last week) Week MVP: Claude Giroux
An otherwise fantastic week for the Flyers was spoiled by one of the worst games of the season in the middle. First, however, Brian Elliot turned in a 16-save shutout against the Detroit Red Wings, the 40th of his career. Kevin Hayes and Matt Niskanen each recorded a short-handed goal in the third to extend the lead en route to a 3-0 finish. Their next game, against the Devils, was one of the worst they have played all season. Elliot was pulled after allowing four goals on 17 shots. A 5-0 loss to the Metropolitan Division doormat was a tough pill to swallow going into Washington to face the Capitals but the Flyers responded in a big way. In one of the best games of the season, Philadelphia chased Braden Holtby, held Alexander Ovechkin off the board and crushed the Caps 7-2. Claude Giroux had three points including the 800th of his career, becoming the fourth Flyer to do so. Consistency will be key in this busy upcoming week as Philly has a home-and-home with the Panthers, broken up by a matchup with the Islanders plus a meeting with the Lightning.
2. New York Islanders: 6 points. Last Week: 2
Record: 31-16-6 (2-1-0 last week) Week MVP: Kieffer Bellows
The Islanders closed out a three-game homestand with back-to-back wins to begin the week before running into a red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning team. On Tuesday, Mat Barzal tied a back and forth game with the Dallas Stars at 3, putting home a bounce off of the end boards between his legs, before Anthony Beauvillier ended it in overtime. That game was the NHL debut for Kieffer Bellows, who was credited with an assist on Derick Brassard’s second-period goal. Bellows would score twice in the Islanders’ next game, including the game-winner as part of a three-goal third period, as part of a 5-3 comeback win over the Kings. New York trailed 3-1 before Bellows’ first career NHL goal became the first of four unanswered. Rounding out the week was a trip to Tampa Bay where the Islanders would manage just 18 shots en route to a 3-1 loss. Andrei Vasilevskiy extended his personal point streak to 18 games while the Bolts extended their win streak to six. This week, New York has some critical divisional games with Washington and Philadelphia before head west to Nashville and Vegas.
3. New Jersey Devils: 5 points (1 first-place vote) Last Week: 4
Record: 20-24-10 (2-0-1 last week) Week MVP: Mackenzie Blackwood
The Devils are on a two-game shutout streak. Words I never thought I would write. Of course, it wouldn’t be a week in local hockey without the Devils blowing a lead as they did to Montreal on Tuesday. After Jesper Bratt made it 3-0 New Jersey in the second period, the Habs rattled off two goals before the end of that period and a two more in the first half of the third to take a 4-3 lead. Kyle Palmieri salvaged a point, tying the game with 20 seconds to go. Ilya Kovalchuk silenced Prudential Center boos when he scored the shootout’s only goal. The week would only go up from there, however, beginning in Philadelphia. Miles Wood scored twice while Mackenzie Blackwood recorded a 46-save shutout as well as an assist on Damon Severson’s second-period goal. Blackwood backed up that effort with a 37-save shutout against the Los Angeles Kings two nights later, becoming the second New Jersey goaltender to get back-to-back shutouts twice in his career (Martin Brodeur). All three goals were scored in the second period, beginning with Nikita Gusev’s first goal in four games. New Jersey will look to extend the shutout streak, facing the NHL’s fifth-highest scoring team in the Florida Panthers before tilts with the Red Wings, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets.
4. New York Rangers: 3 points. Last Week: 3
Record: 27-23-4 (2-2-0 last week) Week MVP: Igor Shesterkin
It was a .500 week for the Rangers as they played four close home games. Against Dallas, the Rangers were thanks in part to two goals from Joe Pavelski 16 seconds apart as well as Stephen Johns‘ first goal in almost two years. Brett Howden tied it at 2 late in the first but the Stars would score the game’s next three goals to open up a 5-2 lead the became 5-3 before the final horn. Against Toronto, two goals in six seconds from Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider turned a 1-1 game into a 3-1 lead for New York en route to a 5-3 win. It was the 7th time in Rangers history that they got two goals in six or fewer seconds. Against Buffalo, former Ranger Jimmy Vesey had a goal and an assist to help the Sabres to a 3-0 lead. Two goals in the final 2:53 of the game would be too little too late, however, for the Blueshirts as Carter Hutton made 37 saves. The Rangers finished the week, and homestand, with the Los Angeles Kings. Igor Shesterkin took center stage in this one, making 42 saves to help his team to a 4-1 win. Two goals in 37 seconds late in the third sealed it for New York. The Rangers head out on the road next week with games in Winnipeg, Minnesota and Columbus before returning home to face the Boston Bruins.