It's Friday, so it's time to send you off to a weekend of fun and games with a review of some of the most important stories from the frozen pond.
Chicago’s Dave Bolland is helping make up for the injury to Patrick Sharp and the goal-scoring struggles of Patrick Kane (more about that below). Bolland has recorded a goal in three straight games and has seven points over his last five contests. It's more a hot streak than a trend you should believe in, but there's no reason that he shouldn't be on someone's roster when he's going this well.
Jeff Carter has been placed on injured reserve for the Blue Jackets with a separated right shoulder. The team doesn't have a target date for his return, but they are calling the injury week-to-week, which would seem to indicate that he may not be back on the ice for a while. Carter has had a terribly disappointing start to his Jackets career with only 10 goals and 17 points in 30 injury-filled games this season.
Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby is still experiencing concussion-like symptoms after skating on Friday. There remains no timetable for his return. This story doesn't look like it's going to have a happy ending.
Justin Faulk is seeing a lot of time on the first power play unit with the Hurricanes alongside Jaroslav Spacek. He has responded with three points in his last four games and two goals and three helpers in his last seven contests. However, his plus/minus rating is a certain fantasy detriment at minus-11. That is something you will have to consider if you have a desire start the rookie blue liner.
Colin Greening has enjoyed the top-6 minutes he has been receiving lately and has a goal and five points in his last three games for the Senators. Through 69 NHL games the former seventh round selection has 15 goals and 22 assists.
Anze Kopitar of the Kings appears to have escaped a potentially serious injury. Kopitar took a big hit from Brenden Morrow Thursday, but other than being sore, Kopitar says that he should be fine. There is even some optimism that he may not miss any game action. Kopitar may have only 13 goals in 44 games, but he does have 40 points on the year for the Kings.
The Senators’ Milan Michalek is tied for third in the NHL with 23 goals, but he's also the only skater to score 16 or more times that has failed to dish out at least 10 assists (he currently sits at eight). The next guy to pull off the double-digit goal, single-digit assist line is Jordan Staal, who has 15 goals and six assists for the Penguins.
Just in case you hadn't noticed, Radim Vrbata has 21 goals, tied for 5th in the NHL. He also has a plus-11 rating, five game-winning goals and 122 shots on net. He's not a superstar, but he's as close to one as the Coyotes have.
Ottawa’s Craig Anderson is tied for second in the league with 22 victories. He's also sporting a GAA of 2.99. Anderson has won seven of his last eight starts, permitting only 13 pucks to slip past him as that GAA continues to plunge.
The Wild's excellent goaltending duo is in a bit of a slump right now. Niklas Backstrom
has allowed at least three goals in six straight starts and has just one victory in his last nine outings. His overall numbers are still impressive (2.39 GAA, .923 save percentage), but that recent run of futility is just terrible. Josh Harding also has impressive totals on the year (2.32 GAA, .926 save percentage), but he too has struggled, allowing eight goals in his last two games before being pulled from his last appearance. These two are too talented to continue to struggle this badly, but it's a shame that they are both slumping at the same time (it wouldn't hurt if the Wild tightened up their defensive zone coverage a bit either).
Is Jonas Gustavsson taking over in net for the Leafs? Over his last four starts, all of which he has won mind you, The Monster has posted a GAA of 1.51 while also pitching two shutouts. He has played so well that James Reimer hasn't taken the ice in the month of January. Dating back to November - and I'll be the first to admit that it hasn't always been pretty - Gustavsson has won nine of 12 decisions. You have to respect that, and the Leafs are by starting him regularly.
San Jose’s Antti Niemi has gone an impressive 19-7-5 in 32 starts this season. His 19 victories are the most in the league for a keeper who has single-digit regulation losses.
Mike Smith has played very well since returning from injury. Smith may have only one victory in his last five starts, but it's pretty tough to blame him given that he has posted a 1.55 GAA and .951 save percentage in January. Come on Coyotes; score this fella some goals.
YOU GOTSTA KNOW
Michael Cammalleri is now a member of the Flames, yet again. Here's what went down:
Cammalleri badmouthed his former squad, the Canadiens, saying that the team had a losing attitude. This didn’t sit well with team management, who went Cammalleri packing 24 hours later. Cammalleri stated after the deal that he didn't want out of Montreal despite his comments, but it’s tough to believe that.
The deal plays out like this:
Flames receive: Cammalleri, Karri Ramo, and a fifth round pick in 2012
Habs receive: Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland, and a second round pick in 2013
A 39-goal, 82-point performer in his lone season in Calgary in 2008-09, Cammalleri failed to score more than 50 points or play in more than 67 games in the next two campaigns. This year he has a mere nine goals and 22 points in 38 games. Still, Cammalleri has scored at least 26 goals four times and has four seasons of double-digit power play totals to his name. He should infuse some offense to a Flames club that desperately needs a kick in the pants. If he is languishing on waivers, now is a great time to add him to your squad.
As for Bourque, he still has one game left on a five-game suspension. A rugged winger, he has really struggled for any offensive traction this year (13G, 3A) after back-to-back seasons of 27 goals and at least 50 points. Look for him to pick up the pace slightly as he tries to impress his new team.
THE NUMBERS GAME
0: The number of goals that Henrik Zetterberg has recorded in his last 12 games. I know, how is that even possible? Still, he has helped soften the blow with seven assists in his last six games. The question now is, with just eight markers in 43 games, will he fail to record at least 23 goals for the first time since 2003?
1: The number of points Buffalo’s Luke Adam has recorded in his last 15 games. Adam started out hot with nine points in his first 10 games, and he scored five goals in November, but it's been ugly of late. He just can't seem to get anything going, at all, on the offensive side of the ice.
1: The number of players this season that have 60 penalty minutes, 15 goals and 35 points. That man skates for the Flyers – Scott Hartnell. In addition to 65 PIM, 19 goals and 38 points, Hartnell is also a plus-18 skater showing strong two-way skills.
1.79: The average number of shots taken per game by the Oilers' Alex Hemsky, well off his mark of 2.31 shots per game since the start of the 2005 season. Perhaps that is one of the reasons he has recorded only 15 points in 29 games after producing an average of 0.92 points per contest from 2005-10.
4: The number of ladies, excuse me I mean goals, that Chicago’s Patrick Kane has scored in his last 26 games. Kane, who has recorded at least 25 goals in each of the previous three seasons, has only 10 goals in 44 games for the 'Hawks. He's still producing points - 38 in 44 games - putting him barely on pace for a fifth straight year of at least 70 points.
5: The number of goals the Islanders’ Kyle Okposo has recorded in his last nine games. A 19-goal scorer in his last full season (2009), Okposo regressed to just five goals in 38 games last season. This year he has doubled that total with 10 in, you guessed it, 38 games.
6: The number of points that the Leafs' Dion Phaneuf has recorded in his last five games. In those five games Phaneuf has been a fantasy player’s best friend, as he has also recorded 20 shots on net, 16 hits and 11 blocks. He finally looks like the all-around beast that he was during his days with the Flames.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, and Saturday's from 3-4 PM he hosts the SiriusXM Fantasy Hockey Show. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account. To e-mail Ray a question for next week’s piece, drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.