NHL Power Rankings: Korpisalo, Kuemper, Hughes lead Conn Smythe race

In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we check back in with the Conn Smythe Watch and which players are leading that race.

Right now the story of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is a couple of game-changing goaltending performances in Columbus and Arizona that are keeping their series close, and the rapid emergence of two young superstar defensemen that are getting ready to take over the league.

Who else figures into the mix at this point?

To the rankings!

1. Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus Blue Jackets. He remains the story of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Not only because he has been the most impressive individual player in the tournament so far, but also because it is so unexpected. He exceeded expectations during the regular season in replacing Sergei Bobrovsky. He has taken his play to an entirely new level in the playoffs and is the single biggest reason his team is still playing and giving Tampa such a fight.

2. Darcy Kuemper, Arizona Coyotes. Pretty much the Western Conference version of Korpisalo. A former backup that has taken his chance as a starter and run with it. He has become a wildly productive goalie since arriving in Arizona and after shutting down the Nashville Predators in the Qualifying Round has been giving the high-powered Colorado Avalanche some headaches in the First Round.

3. Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks. Yes, you are reading that correctly. It is Hughes over Bo Horvat in Vancouver. Maybe this is a spicy take that needs to be handled with oven mitts, but it is also the correct take. Horvat has been great (as have all of Vancouver’s young players) and scored some massive goals, but when it comes to the team’s best player night in and night out, the answer is simply Hughes. Because of his position and the type of impact his position can make he was always going to be the Canucks’ X-factor and his development was going to play a big role in what this team was capable of doing. He has quickly become a star, and the Canucks are wildly better off because of it. He is playing 23 minutes per night in the playoffs, he has nine points in seven games (tied for the team lead, and leads the league in assists), and is a possession-driving monster that is helping the Canucks dominate shot attempts (55.1 percent), scoring chances (59.8 percent), expected goals (56.3 percent), and actual goals (7-4 margin) when he is on the ice. He is still only 20 years old.

4. Miro Heiskanen, Dallas Stars. Another absolutely brilliant young defenseman that could very well have a Norris Trophy in his future. He is neck-and-neck with Hughes in my view for the Conn Smythe and it is really down to splitting hairs when it comes to which one gets top billing. You could flip flop these two and I would not argue it too much. He has been the Stars’ best player.


5. Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers have been waiting decades for a goalie like Hart, and now that they finally have one it should terrify the rest of the Eastern Conference. He has only allowed seven goals in his first five starts this postseason. He had one clunker of a game where he allowed four goals against Montreal, which means he has only allowed three goals in his other four starts. The Flyers are for real, and Hart is a big reason why.

6. Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes. He was the best non-goalie in the qualifying round but has cooled off a little against Boston. With Andrei Svechnikov sidelined the Hurricanes are going to need him to get hot again to help carry the offense. Fortunately for them, he is perfectly capable of doing that.

7. Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa’s underrated and often times overlooked star. He has at least one point in every game this postseason for the Lightning and is helping to pace the offense in the absence of Steven Stamkos.

8. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens needed the in-his-prime version Price to show up to have a chance this postseason, and that is the exact version that has be in net for them. He may not play at this level as consistently as he used to, but that ability is still very much there.

9. Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders. The Islanders looked lousy for the last three months of the regular season and then came back in the return to play and immediately looked better than they did at any point over the past two years (even during their 15-0-2 stretch earlier this season). Varlamov’s play in net is one of the big factors in that turnaround.

10. David Krejci, Boston Bruins. Easily the most underrated Bruins of this era. Krejci has always had a knack for coming through in the playoffs and he is doing it again this season playing big minutes and helping to drive the Bruins’ offense in the First Round against Carolina with five points (two goals, three assists) in the first three games of the series.

Honorable mentions: Sam Bennett (Calgary Flames), Bo Horvat (Vancouver Canucks), Elias Pettersson (Vancouver Canucks), Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche), Reilly Smith (Vegas Golden Knights) Cam Talbot (Calgary Flames), Jordan Eberle (New York Islanders)

• Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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    Coyotes minority owner suspended by NHL following arrest

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    NEW YORK — Arizona Coyotes minority owner Andrew Barroway was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Friday following his arrest for domestic violence in Colorado.

    Online court records show Barroway was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of second-degree assault strangulation, a felony, and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. He appeared in court Friday to be advised of the possible charges he is facing and is scheduled to back in court on April 3.

    Barroway spent Thursday night in Pitkin County Jail after police arrested him at an Aspen hotel, according to a police report obtained by the Aspen Daily News.

    “The National Hockey League is aware of the arrest of Arizona Coyotes’ minority owner Andrew Barroway,” the NHL said in a statement. “Pending further information, he has been suspended indefinitely.”

    The 57-year-old Barroway was arrested after a verbal altercation with his wife turned physical, according to the police report. He is prohibited from having contact with his wife, except when it involves their children, and can’t consume alcohol under a court order.

    A prominent hedge fund manager, Barroway owns 5% of the Coyotes.

    “We are aware of the allegation regarding Mr. Barroway and we are working with the League to gather more information,” the Coyotes said in a statement. “When we have enough information, we will have an appropriate response. Until the investigation is complete, we will have no further comment.”

    Blue Jackets’ Patrik Laine out 2-4 weeks with triceps injury

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    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine is out 2-4 weeks after straining a triceps muscle in practice, yet another blow to the last-place team in the NHL that has been hampered by injuries all season.

    The Blue Jackets announced Laine’s absence before their home game against the New York Islanders.

    They already have 454 man-games lost to injury, one of the highest numbers in the league, and have a record of 22-41-7.

    Laine missed two separate stints with elbow and ankle injuries in the fall. The 24-year-old Finn is the team’s second-leading scorer with 52 points in 55 games.

    Columbus has been top defenseman Zach Werenski since November because of a torn labrum and separated shoulder. Forward Sean Kuraly recently went on injured reserve with a strained left oblique muscle but is set to return Friday.

    Tortorella earns 700th career win, Flyers top Wild 5-4

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    PHILADELPHIA — John Tortorella needed one word to sum up if 700 career wins meant anything to the Flyers coach.


    OK, then. Good thing the brusque Stanley Cup winner isn’t paid by the word.

    James van Riemsdyk scored the only goal in a shootout, and Philadelphia beat the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Thursday night for Tortorella’s 700th victory.

    Tortorella is 700-573-181 in 1,454 games as an NHL head coach. His 700 wins rank 12th in NHL history and his career games rank ninth in NHL history. He led Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2004. In his first season coaching the Flyers, Tortorella joined Peter Laviolette as the second American-born coach to win 700 games.

    “I think the culture’s kind of changed around here,” Flyers forward Joel Farabee said. “I think he’s done a really good job of keeping the group together.”

    Farabee, Scott Laughton, Rasmus Ristolainen and Tyson Foerster scored for Philadelphia. The Flyers have two straight games for the first time since Jan. 9-14 when they won three straight. Yeah, it’s been that kind of season.

    “Farabee’s starting to pop, he’s looking real good. Tyson is looking real good,” Flyers defenseman Tony DeAngelo said. “This is all about laying the foundation for next year but we get a lot of money to do this job. It’s something we love, so we’re gonna go out and give it our best every night.”

    Matt Boldy had two goals for the Wild, and Oskar Sundqvist and Marcus Foligno also scored.

    “We weren’t very good. They were good,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We knew they were playing well, they played well tonight. We were loose. We were not firm, turnovers, it didn’t look like our hockey club.”

    The Flyers and Wild were tied 1-all at the end of the first period, 3-3 at the end of the second and 4-4 headed into OT.

    The rebuilding Flyers have been plucky of late. They had won two of three coming into the game, with the lone loss in overtime. They showed some of that grit in the final two periods, scoring late tying goals.

    “It’s a credit to their group, to their coaching staff, that they’ve got them playing the right way,” Evason said.

    Boldy poked a backhander past Carter Hart with 6:28 left for a 4-3 lead. The Flyers, playing more for the No. 1 pick and for pride, tied the game on Foerster’s second goal of the season.

    Farabee tipped in Cam York’s shot early in the second for a 2-1 lead.

    The Wild got going when Boldy ripped one top shelf past Hart for his 24th goal of the season that tied the game 2-all. Foligno scored his seventh goal for the 3-2 lead.

    Ristolainen buried a hard slapper from the blue line on the power play for the tying goal with 23 seconds left in the second.

    “I think it’s good to try to lay this foundation, kind of get ready for next year. You see guys getting confidence,” DeAngelo said.

    The Flyers only played ahead in the first period.

    Laughton scored off the rush for his 17th goal of the season and a 1-0 lead. Sundqvist celebrated his birthday with a deflection for the tying goal with 3:24 left in the period.

    The Flyers had been one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL until the start of this seven-game homestand (3-2 so far). They have scored at least three goals in every game and at least four in the last four.

    “We have definitely gotten to the net better,” Tortorella said. “We have spent a lot of time on the ice and with tape as far as getting to that area.”


    Wild: Host Chicago on Saturday.

    Flyers: Host Detroit on Saturday.

    Crosby reaches 30-goal mark, Penguins knock off Avalanche 5-2

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    DENVER – Sidney Crosby wasn’t even aware of reaching yet another milestone. He’s simply locked in on helping the Pittsburgh Penguins make a 17th straight postseason appearance.

    Jeff Carter had a pair of goals, Crosby scored on a nifty backhand shot in the second period to reach the 30-goal mark for an 11th season and the Penguins beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.

    Crosby moved into a tie with Hall-of-Fame center Mario Lemieux for the most 30-goal seasons in Penguins history. Another milestone reached – it came as news to him.

    “I think the most important thing for me is just try to be consistent and if that reflects that great,” said Crosby, who turns 36 in August.

    Even more, Crosby’s the first player in league history to post a 30-goal campaign at 18 years old and again when he was 35-plus, according to NHL Stats.

    “It means I’ve been in the league for a while,” Crosby cracked. “That’s been the thing that’s driven me since since I got into the league – in your first year, you want to prove that you belong. Even at 35, I still think you want to prove you belong, because it is a younger league.”

    Jake Guentzel also scored and Bryan Rust added an empty-net goal for the Penguins, who snapped a four-game slide and moved back into a wild-card spot in the East.

    “It’s definitely a big one for us, for sure,” Guentzel said. “Defending champs, coming to their building, you know how good they are. Top to bottom, we defended hard and that’s what we have to do at this time of the year.”

    Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry stopped 28 shots in improving to 11-4 this season against teams from the Western Conference.

    J.T. Compher and Devon Toews had goals for the Avalanche, whose six-game winning streak was halted. Nathan MacKinnon had an assist to extend his home points streak to 18 games.

    It was a missed opportunity for Colorado, which could’ve pulled into a three-way tie with Dallas and Minnesota in the Central Division with a victory.

    “We knew they were going to play with urgency,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “But I didn’t feel like there was any reason why we couldn’t, either. … We didn’t get it done. Hopefully we get another one.”

    Alexandar Georgiev made 40 saves, including several critical ones in a second period controlled by the Penguins, who outshot the Avalanche by a 21-9 margin. It could’ve been more than a 3-1 deficit heading into the third period.

    Toews’ power-play goal made it 3-2 with 9:32 remaining. But Carter wrapped up the win with his first multigoal game in the regular season since Jan. 11, 2022.

    “I’m thrilled for him. We’re all thrilled,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Carter. “He cares about the Penguins. He wants to win, and he wants to contribute in helping us win so we couldn’t be happier for him.”


    Bednar was appreciative of the three-year extension he signed Tuesday that goes through the 2026-27 season. In his seventh season, he’s the third-longest tenured coach in the NHL behind Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper (March 2013) and Sullivan (December 2015).

    “It’s not a forgiving league or sport, for the most part, but obviously that’s part of the reason why I’m so grateful and thankful,” Bednar said. “Because there were times over my tenure that got a little hairy and management could have made another decision. But obviously they didn’t.”


    Avalanche D Cale Makar missed a second straight game with a lower body injury. “I still have him as day-to-day,” Bednar said. … F Darren Helm returned after missing 64 of 69 games this season with a lower-body injury. … Penguins D Jeff Petry (upper body) skated in the morning but sat out his third straight game. … The Penguins are 11-1 against the Central Division this season. … Penguins standout Evgeni Malkin assisted on Guentzel’s goal to reach the 50-assist mark for a seventh time in his career.


    Penguins: At Dallas on Thursday night.

    Avalanche: Host Arizona on Friday night.