The unofficial second half of the 2021 NHL season is upon us. This trade deadline is in the rearview mirror, and just over 20 games remain in the regular season. It was a busy week across the league. Multiple contending teams adding depth to their rosters with the hopes of going on a run in the postseason. Rolling along with our weekly stock, up stock, down article, the Florida Panthers remain red hot as they continue to pace the Eastern Conference. Winners of eight of their last 10 games, the group currently sits three points back of the Colorado Avalanche in the race for the President’s Trophy. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Penguins are pushing for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.
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Stock Up: Florida Panthers
Florida is closing in on their first Atlantic Division title in five seasons. They made the biggest splash around the league at the trade deadline, acquiring Claude Giroux from the Philadelphia Flyers. Hitting the ground running in his debut for the franchise on Thursday, he added two assists while playing alongside Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe. This helped lead the Panthers to a 3-0 victory. The team has now earned a point in four of their last five games. Home to one of the deepest forward cores in hockey, Jonathan Huberdeau continues to lead the way for the group. The 28-year-old has added four points in his last two games, bringing his season total up to 88.
Stock Down: Tampa Bay Lightning
The two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions have hit a rut of late, losing their last three games. The team was defeated by the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday before falling to the Boston Bruins on Thursday Night. They have been unable to get production out of their star players. In the middle of prolonged scoring droughts, Nikita Kucherov has scored just one goal over his previous 10 contests, while Brayden Point has also gone scoreless in eight. Corey Perry has failed to find the back of the net since March 6th, while Ondrej Palat has been goalless since January 11. Now sitting in fourth place in the Atlantic Division, the team is handling the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Stock Up: New York Islanders
Surging in March, the Islanders have rattled off four wins in their last five contests while also capturing seven of their last 10. Beginning to play better on the offensive end, they have scored fourteen times over the previous week. One of the hottest players in the league, center Brock Nelson, is leading the way for the group with eight points over his last five games. Both Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov have been excellent for New York, remaining rock-solid in goal. On Thursday night, the former stopped 37 of 39 shots in the team’s 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings, while the latter is fresh off a shutout victory in his latest start.
Stock Down: Anaheim Ducks
Anaheim continues its free fall down the Pacific Division standings. Losers of their last five, they have won just once over their latest 10-game stretch. The team now has just two regulation victories since February 1. Struggling to keep the puck out of the back of their net, the Ducks have fallen to No. 21 in the league with over three goals allowed per matchup. Along with this, the team is giving up more than 33 shots on average each night. Once a contender for a spot in the Western Conference playoffs, the franchise chose to unload pieces at the trade deadline. They shipped out longtime defenseman Josh Manson to Colorado while also flipping winger Rickard Rakell to the Penguins.
Stock Up: Nashville Predators
Nashville is still in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference. They are currently three points up on the Dallas Stars for the first wild card spot. Enjoying an eventful week, the team landed back-to-back 6-3 victories over the Ducks and the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, the group then dropped consecutive games to the Los Angeles Kings and the Vegas Golden Knights while being outscored 12-2. Relying heavily on their goaltender in Juuse Saros, the former fourth-round pick has continued to cement his status for the Vezina Trophy. Already surpassing his career-high in starts, the 26-year-old is top 10 in the league in wins (31), shutouts (3), and total shots faced (1719).
Stock Down: St. Louis Blues
The Blues have begun to slip in March. They have amassed just a 3-4-3 record in their last 10 games. The team is currently in a dog fight with the Nashville Predators for the final playoff spot in the Central Division. Addressing a big need on the blue line at the trade deadline, general manager Doug Armstrong acquired defenseman Nick Leddy from the Red Wings. The 31-year-old will fill a need as a left-shot option to pair with Colton Parayko. Needing to sure up their goaltending if they hope to make a run in the postseason, the key for the franchise will be the play of Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso. Both have been inconsistent over the last four weeks, with save percentages below .900.
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