The pressures of winning in the NHL get greater and greater as the regular season begins to wind down and the playoff crunch begins. The recent firing of Tampa Bay Lightning bench boss Guy Boucher is evidence of that. A number of this season's top rookies seem to be handling the pressure just fine, led by undersized forward Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens, who continues to lead the rookie rankings. But he hasn't pulled away from the pack.
Here's a look at how things shape up this week (statistics are through Sunday, March 24).
1. Brendan Gallagher, forward, Montreal Canadiens
Previous rank: No. 1
Everyone keeps waiting for the Canadiens to fall back to the pack and I have wondered if this 5-foot-9 winger will be able to continue to play at such a high level. But so far the Habs keep producing points and their energy forward keeps on impressing with his relentless work ethic. With points in two of his past three games he sits third in rookie scoring with 18 points (9 goals, 9 assists) and is an impressive plus-9. His contagious attitude and leadership qualities also continue to shine bright. "He makes things happen every time he is on the ice," said one pro scout, who also pointed to Gallagher's maturity in all three zones.