Don't look now, but the San Jose Sharks are poised to steal the President's Trophy away from under everyone's nose.
It's funny what lower expectations can do for a team. After years of successful regular seasons and playoff disappointments, the spotlight finally decided to stop focusing on San Jose this year. So the Sharks have quietly gone about their business as usual, racking up points while keeping pace atop the Western Conference standings.
After Antti Niemi broke a franchise record on Sunday with a 41-save shutout, the Sharks are a mere two points behind the league-leading St. Louis Blues. The President's Trophy is there for the taking, and the Sharks just need to keep winning and hope the Blues and Ducks regress a bit.
But then again, the spectre of the President's Trophy casts a large shadow. San Jose knows this all too well, and perhaps that's not what they need this season. Time will tell if they have a choice.
All the NHL Scores
Capitals 4, Leafs 2
Sharks 1, Rangers 0
Avalanche 3, Senators 1
Jets 7, Stars 2
On Sunday we asked you five burning questions about the days games. These are your cool, soothing answers.
1. Will Roberto Luongo stick it to his old team?
Luongo surrendered two early goals to his old teammates but put in a solid performance after that, stopping 21 of 23 shots and leading the Panthers to a shootout. Unfortunately for Florida, Luongo also gave up the only goal in the shootout to Nicklas Jensen. Vancouver skated away with a 4-3 win and a crucial two points against their old netminder.
2. Can Jumbo Joe make it 10 for 10?
Sunday was not a good day for points in New York. Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Niemi put on a goaltending clinic, stopping a combined 69 of 70 shots against. The only shot that wasn't stopped was an unassisted goal by Logan Couture, so Joe Thornton couldn't extend his points streak.
3. Can the Senators pick up the pieces after a devastating loss?
A miserable weekend ended in more misery for Ottawa, as they fell once again to the Avalanche in their own building. The 3-1 loss pretty much ended their hopes of making the playoffs this season.
4. Can Dallas pull away from Phoenix again?
It's been a rough two games for Dallas. After dropping an overtime loss to Calgary on Friday, the Stars played their worst game of the season in Winnipeg on Sunday. All phases of their game were lackluster, and they dropped out of the playoff picture for the time being. After a horrid January, the Stars can't afford these kinds of losses at this point in the season.
5. Will Marian Hossa be back up to speed?
It seems like Hossa scores every time he returns from an injury-related absence. It happened again on Sunday when Hossa turned on the afterburners while the Hawks and Red Wings were playing 4-on-4 hockey. He's missed ten games this season and still has 25 goals and 51 points. Impressive stuff from the 35-year-old.
The one play or moment from Sunday that is going to be making headlines over the next couple of days.
Is it time to start worrying about Pittsburgh? Considering they've lost over 400 man-games due to injury, it's incredible they've managed to stay atop the Eastern Conference standings for so long.
But after getting run out of two buildings by the Flyers this weekend, Penguins fans have to be concerned with the long-term success of this club. Yes, the Flyers have been impressive lately. But with so many bodies out of the lineup, Pittsburgh looked confused, out of sync and uncomfortable this weekend. You can never really count out a team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but Dan Bylsma has quite the task in front of him when the playoffs arrive.
Stat of the Night
The Stars might've played terribly in Winnipeg, but Tyler Seguin reached the 30-goal mark for the first time in his career. After being run out of Boston, Seguin now has more points than Alexander Ovechkin this season.