What we learned in the NHL over the last week of play:
Bruins are on a surge
Remember when the Boston Bruins lost to the Kings with 0.4 seconds remaining in overtime Oct. 28? A loss to the Ducks on Nov. 15 dropped Boston to 6-7-4. The Bruins have since become the hottest team in the league.
Their victory Sunday against the New Jersey Devils made them 19-2-3 over their last 24 games and extended their road point streak to 13 games (11-0-2), the longest in the NHL this season. Patrice Bergeron has entered the Hart Trophy conversation with 20 goals in his last 26 games.
Goalie Tuukka Rask went more than two months without a regulation loss and was the 11th goaltender in NHL history to earn at least a point in 21 consecutive decisions. Boston is also getting contributions from a stable of rookies, including Charlie McAvoy, Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk. Kings fans take note: McAvoy, a defenseman, is a future star whose style has been likened to Drew Doughty’s.
Rangers aren’t keeping plans secret
At the other end of the Eastern Conference spectrum are the New York Rangers. Sitting at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division with veteran winger Rick Nash on the trading block, management took the unusual step of publicly announcing their plans to overhaul the roster.
“As we approach the trade deadline later this month and into the summer, we will be focused on adding young, competitive players that combine speed, skill and character,” President Glen Sather and general manager Jeff Gorton wrote in an open letter to fans. “This may mean we lose some familiar faces, guys we all care about & respect. While this is part of the game it’s never easy. Our promise to you is that our plans will be guided by our singular commitment: ensuring we’re building the foundation for our next Stanley Cup contender.”
The landing spot often mentioned for Nash is the Dallas Stars, whose coach, Ken Hitchcock, coached Nash with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Barzal is in Calder contention
Mathew Barzal wasn’t a popular candidate for rookie of the year going into this season. Some outlets didn’t even have him as the top rookie candidate on his own team, the New York Islanders, and instead listed Josh Ho-Sang. Barzal leads all rookies in scoring with 59 points, 11 more than the next closest player, Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks. More of a playmaker than a scorer, Barzal is a leading candidate for the Calder Trophy and would be the first Islanders winner of that award since Bryan Berard in 1997.
Ducks fan got his wish
The Ducks welcomed a special guest last week when Nick Armstrong, 9, practiced with the team alongside his favorite players Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Armstrong has a congenital heart defect and, through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, wanted to practice with the Ducks and attend a game.
Armstrong also announced the starting lineup in the locker room before the game against the Edmonton Oilers and joined Perry on the ice when Perry was announced as the first star of the game. The Ducks have long been one of the more proactive teams when it comes to fan interaction, and this latest outreach was a feel-good moment of the week.