By Jon Rosen
1. Penguins 47-22 -6 --
In the six games since their returns, Sidney Crosby has 11 points and a plus-eight rating and Kris Letang has five points and a plus-nine rating. Theyll open the week with a home-and-home series against the Islanders, so this would probably be a good time to keep Crosby active in all fantasy formats.
2. Blues 47-20 -9 --
Time to rethink riding Jaroslav Halak in a playoff series? Brian Elliott has a .970 save percentage in March and back-to-back shutouts. The Blues salvaged a 3-2-2 trip with a resounding 4-0 win in Phoenix on Sunday.
3. Rangers 47-21 -7 --
The battle for the first overall seed and the chance to avoid Philadelphia in the first round maybe even the Presidents Trophy could very well come down to an April 5 game in Pittsburgh. Marian Gaborik is on the verge of playing his first 82-game season in the NHL.
4. Flyers 44-23 -8 1
Ilya Bryzgalov has allowed two goals or fewer in 11 of his 12 March starts and is 10-1-1. The Flyers are going to raise hell in their first-round series against either New York or Pittsburgh.
5. Canucks 45-21 -9 -1
Zack Kassian was playing in the AHL a month ago, but this week hell be skating on a line with Henrik Sedin. The Canucks have won seven of 16 games since Feb. 19.
6. Bruins 44-28 -3 1
Rich Peverley returned from a knee injury in a 3-2 win in Anaheim on Sunday after missing 19 games. Despite their inconsistencies in the second half, this will be a team trending upwards over the final two weeks and toward the playoffs.
7. Predators 44-24 -8 -1
Nashville is at its peak of talent and opportunity in the franchises existence, and the Preds are going to earn their glory the hard way starting with a likely first-round series against the Detroit Red Wings. Alexander Radulov has points in each of his first three games.
8. Red Wings 45-25 -5 --
Nicklas Lidstroms return stopped a six-game skid Saturday night, but with Jimmy Howard nursing a sore groin and Joey MacDonalds back taking him out of action, Ty Conklin has been called upon recently. Howard will look to get back into the lineup for the home-and-home series with Columbus to start the week.
9. Blackhawks 42-26 -8 1
After five strong efforts in a row, Corey Crawford was pulled in a blowout loss to Nashville on Sunday having allowed four goals on 15 shots and remains the hinge on any grandiose Blackhawk postseason plans.
10. Devils 42-28 -6 -1
Whats up with Marty? After shutting out Colorado, he has allowed 12 goals on 88 shots and has detoured from his resurgence over the last two months. Its looking an awful like Peter DeBoer will be coaching against his former team in a 3 vs. 6 matchup with the Panthers.
11. Kings 37-26 -12 2
Trading Jack Johnson allowed Slava Voynov to take some more minutes on the blue line, and he continues to reward the team with production. They need at least three wins from their four-game trip through Western Canada and Minnesota this week; this is a team that has had its hands full with Edmonton recently.
12. Stars 41-29 -5 2
The Stars have been a quality road opponent this season, boding well for their crucial four-game swing through Western Canada and San Jose this week. Dallas is looking to hang its first divisional banner since 2006 and eighth since moving to Texas in 1993.
13. Panthers 36-24 -15 -2
After flirting with the second seed, Florida has dropped three straight to set itself up for a first-round matchup with New Jersey. Jason Garrison has played a ton of minutes, as has Brian Campbell, who saw 31:59 of ice time in a shootout loss to Edmonton last Friday.
14. Sharks 38-27 -10 2
The Sharks Pacific Division dogfight starts after Mondays game against Colorado. Beginning on Wednesday vs. an Anaheim team against which theyre 1-4, they wont face a team outside the division the rest of the way. Theyll end the year with a home-and-home with L.A.
15. Senators 38-28 -10 -3
The Sens have played themselves into a dogfight to make the playoffs, and with four of their remaining six games on the road, theres no guarantee theyll get in. Milan Michaleks 33 goals are the most by a Senator since Dany Heatleys 39 in 2008-09.
16. Sabres 37-29 -10 4
In the three-team race for the Easts final two spots, its the Sabres that have been playing the most consistent hockey for the last month. Tuesdays game in Washington may as well be a one-game playoff, if it stays in regulation.
17. Capitals 38-30 -8 1
Tomas Vokoun is hoping to return from a groin injury this week; unless hes at his career best, this isnt a Caps team that will do any damage in a first-round series. Braden Holtby is coming off a shutout and likely to start in net against Buffalo in Tuesdays key matchup.
18. Coyotes 37-27 -13 -1
Their 2-3-2 record at home this month will be the Coyotes downfall. By the time they rest up for Thursdays game against St. Louis, theyll likely be outside of the top 8. The 'Yotes may need to win four of their final five games to qualify.
19. Avalanche 40-31 -6 -4
The Avs have cranked out 81 shots over their last two games -- losing both -- and open the week in 10th place without games in hand in the clogged Western Conference. Unless they sweep San Jose, Vancouver and Calgary in their upcoming trip, Colorados chances of making the postseason are low.
20. Flames 34-27 -15 -1
Losses in five straight have left the Flames needing to win their remaining six games to stand a chance at a postseason berth. Jay Bouwmeester enters the new week with 582 consecutive games played, the NHLs sixth-longest streak all-time. wait another year to play in his first career playoff game.
21. Jets 35-32 -8 --
This franchise will go another year before attempting to add to its total of four playoff games. Theres encouragement and firmer resources and support in Winnipeg, but its going to take some time.
22. Lightning 34-33 -7 1
Steven Stamkos 52 goals are a career high, and his 21:49 average ice time is over a minute more than any previous season. Martin St. Louis will turn in only his second sub-80-point season since the lockout.
23. Ducks 32-33 -11 1
The depth scorers have eased the pressure off the big names in Anaheim, and it hasnt been Jason Blake, Nik Hagman or Saku Koivu. Matt Beleskey, Nick Bonino, Kyle Palmieri and 19-year-old stud Devante Smith-Pelly have all had a standout second half.
24. Hurricanes 30-31 -15 -2
The Canes wont make the playoffs, but theyll look to continue their 12-6-6 stretch and finish strong to build confidence for next season. Despite a rough night against Detroit, Justin Faulk is emerging as a versatile, competitive defenseman and an eventual defensive pillar of the franchise.
25. Maple Leafs 33-34 -9 --
The Leafs have been held to under 20 shots in four of their last five games. Five forwards Lupul, MacArthur, Brown, Frattin and Kulemin missed Saturdays shootout loss to the Rangers due to injury.
26. Wild 31-34 -10 2
Its disappointing to see Jared Spurgeons breakthrough second season derailed by a concussion, and we hope the composed defenseman is able to return to the lineup before years end. The banged-up Wild have been shut out five times in their last 13 games.
27. Islanders 31-33 -11 --
The Isles will try to finish off a solid road trip in Pittsburgh as part of a six-game stretch against playoff-bound opponents. Matt Moulson has raised his scoring total for the third consecutive year and has seven goals in March.
28. Oilers 31-36 -9 -1
The Oilers have points in seven straight as they head home to play spoiler in the Pacific Division race by hosting Dallas and LA. Theyll be without Theo Peckham, who suffered a concussion in an awkward collision with the boards off of a Rick Nash hit on Sunday.
29. Canadiens 29-34 -13 -3
The expansion era of hockey disrupted Montreals three decades of Cup dominance as the championship drought will continue for a franchise-record 18th year. Their usually reliable penalty kill allowed three power-play goals in a loss at Philadelphia last Saturday.
30. Blue Jackets 24-44 -7 --
Jack Johnson had been terrific prior to his minus-four effort against Edmonton on Sunday. Theyll see how much improvement theyve actually made in the upcoming home-and-home series with Detroit.