If you have NHL Center Ice or Game Center, there are plenty of good games to watch on television this week. If I were to pick one game for you to watch, it would be tonight where Montreal will attempt to stop the Pittsburgh winning streak on the road. If that doesn’t suit you, if you can get away from family obligations Sunday, Chicago will pay an Easter visit to Detroit. I promise you the action on the ice will beat anything at the dinner table. It should also be noted that games played last night (March 25) are not factored in this week’s rankings.
1. Pittsburgh (LW: 1)- Everyone is talking about that basketball team where players take their talents to South Beach and their winning streak. They feature a three-star roster and a bunch of nobody’s around them. Well in the Steel City, the hockey team is chasing history of their own. The Penguins have won 12 straight games and they are 70 percent completed en route to the NHL record of most consecutive wins at 17 set by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins. If you think they are solid now, they were able to go out and acquire Dallas forward Brenden Morrow and Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray. This week they have four straight games at home before a date at Madison Square Garden next week that can tie the record.
2. Minnesota (LW: 5)- The Wild are looking the best right now in the West. They won six of their past seven games with the only loss coming against Anaheim. They also have a 9-3 record over the past month, with their losses coming to Chicago and Anaheim. They are playing their best hockey of the season, and are in prime position to take the division lead away from Vancouver. It should also be noted they do not play Vancouver anymore in the regular season.
3. Montreal (LW: 4)- I had a hard time justifying putting the Habs at No. 2 when they lost twice to Buffalo last week. You can’t afford to drop two home games in the same week to the last place team in your division. Fortunately for them, the Boston Bruins struggled last week as well. Wednesday is their final visit to Boston this season and it could be a statement game in the division race. But before they arrive in Boston, they will have the best opportunity to stop the Pittsburgh winning streak. Big week ahead for Montreal, let’s see how they handle it.
4. Chicago (LW: 3)- I don’t know if there’s any other team that has had five days between games this shortened season. It is well needed though, as they have had to face some long road trips. They also have a new injury in Marian Hossa, which could be a big blow to them (and my fantasy team). Let’s hope they were able to use this time off to rest and collect their thoughts leading to the stretch run. This week they begin a stretch of five of their next six at United Center, with the lone road game being at Detroit Sunday afternoon.
5. Anaheim (LW: 2)- They did defeat Chicago midweek, but they took a punch to the mouth at the hands of Detroit over the weekend. Not only did they lose both games against the Red Wings, they managed to come apart mentally and played undisciplined hockey as Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry earning misconduct penalties in the final minute. For a team that lost one game at home all season then to lose consecutive games in that fashion is cause for concern. Keeping your composure is underrated during playoffs as being mentally tough is just as important as being physically tough. This week they head out east when they travel to Chicago, Columbus and Dallas. Friday’s game will be as must-see hockey as the college basketball games going on at the same time.