After finding the back of the net three times this week, Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson now leads NHL defensemen in goal scoring. The young Swede has become the de facto foundation for the team's rebuilding effort, as well as a logical replacement for captain once Shane Doan's time in the desert is over.
2. Smitty gets a 'W'
Even though it was possibly his least impressive game in net of the past week, Mike Smith came away from Tuesday night's matchup against the Detroit Red Wings with his first victory since Mar. 5. Smith's play of late has been far superior to that of the beginning-to-middle of the season, which is promising considering he will also play an integral role in the aforementioned rebuilding effort.
3. Tank Watch
Two enormous tilts are fast approaching concerning the 2015 Battle to the Bottom. The Coyotes and Sabres will face off this Thursday, Mar. 26, as well as next Monday, Mar. 30. If either team manages to sweep the brief series, the other will be a big step closer to securing a top-2 pick in the upcoming 2015 NHL Entry Draft, and an opportunity to select either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.
4. The Hamburglar
While Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson recovered from an injury, AHL goaltender Andrew Hammond was called up from the Binghamton Senators to serve as the team's backup to Robin Lehner. After Lehner suffered a concussion on Feb. 16, Hammond got his shot, and hasn't looked back. The 27-year-old is 14-0-1 in 15 starts, with a 1.67 goals-against average, and Ottawa is poised to steal a wild card spot in the East.
5. Carey Price backwards magic
1. Butt goal 2.0
In a close game at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mike Smith gifted the opposition with a goal from behind his own net. Smith's clearing attempt bounced off the rear end of Penguins defenseman Brandon Sutter and into the Coyotes net, tying the game 1-1. The Penguins would go on to win by a tally of 3-1.
2. Sharks sinking
As noted yesterday's TWIPD post, the Sharks' lackluster 1-3-0 week has put them even further out of the playoff race. They have qualified for the postseason in each of the last 10 years, yet their streak looks to be coming to an end.
3. Burke testing the market
Reports have surfaced that Coyotes goalie coach Sean Burke is exploring jobs elsewhere, and that the team granted him permission to do so a few weeks ago. Burke's contract expires at the end of this season, and although he has worked wonders within the Coyotes organization, he very well may depart in search of a full-time management position.
4. Sellout streak ends
For the first time in 13 years, the Toronto Maple Leafs failed to sell out the Air Canada Centre. Monday night's game against the Wild featured an attendance of only 18,366, which is the lowest total in the 16 year history of the building. The team is currently on a six-game losing streak.
5. Hockey world mourns loss of Matthew Weust
Metro sports reporter and CapGeek founder Matthew Wuest passed away early last Thursday after a battle with cancer that lasted two-and-a-half years. His CapGeek resource became one of the most popular tools for hockey fans, which he had quietly shut down only recently. Rest in peace.