With the regular season down to its final four weeks, we take a snapshot of the best and worst in the NHL thus far in the month of March:
Team: Pittsburgh. As the Bruins found out on Sunday, the Penguins are on the march in March, having now won nine in a row to take a serious run at No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. And things might only be getting better this week with the impending return Thursday of Sidney Crosby.
Offense: Ilya Kovalchuck, Devils; Jordan Caron, Bruins. You expect it from a guy like Kovalchuck, who has 11 points in March (5 goals, 6 assists) and carries a plus-6. But Caron? With Nathan Horton out, Caron has been getting it done this month, with a league-leading plus-8 over the past 10 days, with three goals and seven points.?
Goal: Ilya Bryzgalov, Flyers. The goaltending nightmare in Philadelphia is over. After last year’s playoff debacle, the Flyers spent big bucks to get Bryzgalov, and the dividends are coming now, with a 5-0 start to March, including three shutouts for a goals-against average of 0.98.
Team: Boston. You knew that was coming. Since winning back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 10-12 last week, the Bruins promptly went out and lost to Washington and Pittsburgh over the weekend to further loosen their grip on the Northeast Division title.?
Offense: Alex Ovechkin, Capitals. Not a lot of O from Ovechkin lately. In his past five games, Ovechkin has attempted 23 shots and scored just one goal. He also has one assist, and is lugging around a minus-3 over that period, as the Caps cling to the No. 8 seed in the East.?
Goal: Robert Luongo, Canucks. Sure, it would be easy to point out that Tim Thomas is 3-4 in March, but we’ll pump Thomas’ tires a bit by pointing out that Luongo has a dreadful 5.34 GAA over his past three games, including allowing three goals in five minutes against Buffalo a week ago.