It took a while, but St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins finally completed a long climb to the top of the NHL standings. After grabbing two points apiece in big wins on Sunday, the Blues and Bruins now sit atop their respective conferences.
It's almost surprising that the Blues haven't led the Western Conference all season. With a deep crop of two-way forwards and defensemen and an all-time great head coach in Ken Hitchcock, the Blues have consistently contested the Blackhawks for the lead in the new Central Division. But St. Louis seems to truly be rounding into form as the season hits the home stretch after a hard-fought win in Minnesota on Sunday.
The Bruins climb has been much more difficult. Injuries decimated their team early on, and the East-leading Pittsburgh Penguins held a 10-game lead over Boston in December. But Boston has slowly crept up on the Pens as they've gotten healthy, finally taking over the Eastern Conference lead with a dominant performance against Florida.
The season has five weeks left, and teams will continue to jockey for position in both conferences. But for the Bruins and Blues, their ascension on Sunday was merely the inevitable result of an impressive last few months.
All the NHL Scores
Rangers 3, Red Wings 0
Bruins 5, Panthers 2
Blackhawks 2, Sabres 1
Blues 3, Wild 2 (SO)
Kings 4, Oilers 2
On Sunday we asked you five burning questions about the days games. These are your cool, soothing answers.
1. Will the Blues overtake Chicago in the Western Conference?
They had to work for it. After jumping out to a two goal lead, the Blues tied the game and eventually prevailed in the shootout. The win helped St. Louis distance itself from the likes of San Jose and Los Angeles.
2. Can Henrik Lundqvist get his 300th win?
King Henrik added another milestone to his wonderful career in style, stopping 30 shots and shutting out the Detroit Red Wings in a 3-0 win. His 300th win brought him closer to two Rangers records. He just needs one more win to tie Mike Richter for the franchise win record, and he's now tied with Ed Giacomin for the franchise's all-time shutout record.
3. Can the Kings make it six in a row?
Yes, and it was never really all that close. Edmonton looked lost all night, and only Ben Scrivens' heroics kept them from getting blown out of the water early on. Jeff Carter had a three-point night with two goals and an assist.
4. Will Patrick Kane dazzle in his hometown?
I'll answer this question with moving pictures.
5. Can Reilly Smith rediscover his scoring touch?
Smith's goal drought reached 12 games after he failed to put the biscuit in the basket on Sunday. It's not like Boston needed him to score anyways, as they torched Roberto Luongo and the Panthers in a 5-2 win.
The one play or moment from Sunday that is going to be making headlines over the next couple of days.
Let's talk about the resurgence of the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings' offensive woes made headlines before the Olympic break, as the 2012 champions dropped further and further down the Western Conference standings. For the first time in years, people started questioning whether their grinding style of play was effective.
Now? The Kings have 20 goals in six games since the Olympic break and have won seven straight. Jeff Carter and Alec Martinez continued rediscovering their scoring touches with goals on Sunday. Marian Gaborik should help add some offensive punch now that he's in town. The Kings seem to be peaking at just the right time. Or worst time, if you're the rest of the Western Conference.
Stat of the Night
The St. Louis Blues are now 18-0-1 against the Central Division. For lack of a better term, that's just ridiculous.
Post to Post
- Jordan Nolan sucker punched Jesse Joensuu.
- Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson is probably done for awhile after hurting his leg.
- Florida gave away Tim Thomas bobbleheads after they traded him.
- Finally, keep Matt Stajan and his wife Katie in your thoughts and/or prayers. They lost their newborn son Emerson last Monday. Tragic, tragic news.