The NHL is too vast of a league to keep up with everything all at once. Hockey's landscape changes from week to week, and while it's impossible to watch every game unfold in its entirety over the course of a week, you can certainly read the most important narratives all in one place.
These are not your typical power rankings, but more of a trend of who's rising and who's falling, from players and teams to storylines and statistics. To get you ready for the week ahead, we'll catch you up on the week prior.
World Cup of Hockey announcements save boring week of news
We're over six months away from the new World Cup of Hockey tournament, but after a disappointing trade deadline on Monday, the week needed some spice. What better way to stir up the fans than by announcing not just the jerseys for the eight team tournament, but also the preliminary rosters for each participating country, all in one day!
Twitter and social media felt more a buzz over an event happening in September than they did all day for the trade deadline. In hockey fandom fashion, no one could agree on the best jerseys or who were snubs off the rosters, and if they even could be snubs since the final rosters won't be set until the first of June. The event itself might be just another cash grab for the NHL, but at least it's keeping its fans engaged. Even we couldn't resist ranking the jerseys themselves in a completely serious, totally not facetious manner.
I'll take Roberto Luongo cracking jokes about World Cup roster news than a slow day on the trade front any time.
Is there a team Canada over 35 I can sign up for anywhere?Kidding aside those r 3 great and well deserving goalies. Canada in great hands— Strombone (@strombone1) March 2, 2016
For awhile, the Florida Panthers and Los Angeles Kings held pretty large leads in their respective divisions. The Panthers rose to the top thanks to the Canadiens rapid fall from grace while the Kings seemed to be the only major power in the Pacific Division. As of this past week, those leads are no more and now the Tampa Bay Lightning and Anaheim Ducks stand in their places.
The Lightning are riding a nine-game winning streak, their longest in franchise history, breaking the record set back in their Stanley Cup winning season of 2003-04. Equally as hot are the Ducks, who have won 11 straight and took control of the Pacific after besting the division-leading Kings on Saturday. You might recall that neither team had the best start to the year. Tampa Bay didn't look as strong as they did last season as the Eastern Conference champions and Anaheim had a disastrous first few months in the bottom five -- they were urged often to blow up the team thanks to their inability to create offense.
Now, with a month left in the regular season, the Lightning and Ducks are in the tops of their conferences. Gone are their past transgressions and here to stay looks to be two competitive clubs come the playoffs.
Holy Anaheim. The #ducks are now 18-1-1 since mid-January and lead the Pacific Division.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 5, 2016
McDavid vs. Eichel finally became a reality
Move over Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin, there's a new player rivalry in town. You may have heard, but the top two picks from last season's draft are pretty good. Both Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are revolutionary talents for their teams, the Oilers and Sabres, and their countries, Canada and the US, so, of course, they're going to get pitted against each other.
We were robbed of their first meeting thanks to McDavid's collarbone injury that kept him out for more than half of the season. Last week, we were finally treated to the matchup we had been waiting for since the draft, and it did not disappoint. McDavid got the better of Eichel as the No. 1 overall pick scored both goals in the game, the first 22 seconds in then the overtime winner to lift the Oilers over the Sabres 2-1.
There's always next time, Eichel.
McDavid's speed is almost unfathomable.https://t.co/dCkTSJInfa— NHL (@NHL) March 2, 2016
Trade deadline day disappoints after wild buildup
It's not like we didn't warn you that it was going to be bad. We did tell you, but of course, we all had high hopes that it'd be wrong and there'd be a flurry of activity in the hours leading up to the deadline. Instead, we played bingo -- and won, twice -- and twiddled our thumbs until the 3 p.m. deadline hit and all we had were 20 trades to show for it all by the end of the night.
Of course, there were moves. Mikkel Boedker went to Colorado, the Stars overpaid for Kris Russell and we talked more about Sergei Plotnikov than we ever wanted to thanks to the slow day. Even so, all the big deals were done before the deadline day. Eric Staal went to the Rangers on Sunday, the Blackhawks stocked the cupboard for their Stanley Cup run with three moves in two days and the Maple Leafs finally look like a team with a plan after their strip down of their roster.
Sure, we had a fair warning that it was coming. It still sucked all the same.
NHL trade deadline day is like Christmas, if your mean parents made you talk about your presents all morning without ever opening anything.— Down Goes Brown (@DownGoesBrown) February 29, 2016
Zac Rinaldo's no good, very bad week
If there was one person to be suspended by both the NHL and the AHL at the same time, it would be Zac Rinaldo. The Boston Bruins bruiser found himself in hot water twice this past week for illegal hits to the head, and managed to get suspensions out of both plays.
First, with Boston, Rinaldo went high on Lightning forward Cedric Paquette two Sundays ago, which landed him a five-game suspension just as the team announced they were shipping him down to the Providence Bruins.
Then, Rinaldo landed a very similar hit to Kane Lafranchise of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Friday, causing the AHL to hand down an infinite suspension to the forward.
With suspensions in both leagues, it's hard to say if Rinaldo will ever play hockey again this season. Given the nature of both of the hits, he probably shouldn't.
Blue Jackets surrendered yet another long-range goal
Poor Columbus. Not only has their season been a disappointing mess, their goaltending without Sergei Bobrovsky has been in shambles. Three times within the last three months, Blue Jacket goaltenders allowed long range tallies. Joonas Korpisalo had the first two, one from P.K. Subban just across the red line in January then another to David Legwand that flew over both blue lines for a goal.
Add Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas to that mix, thanks to Curtis McElhinney's whiff on a bomb from the red line on Saturday.
Get well soon, Bobrovsky. Your Blue Jackets need you.