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.
Marc-Andre Bergeron has missed the last three games with a back injury (at least that's what we think his issue is). He also won't play on Friday either. Given that he only has two points in his last 13 games the Bolts are losing as much as you might think with him on the shelf.
Dan Boyle was playing injured earlier in the year, he had a broken foot, but no one knew it. All we knew was that the perennial 50-point producer was sucking wind (from November 11th through December 10th he had a total of one point). Now healthy, Boyle is on fire for the Sharks. Over his last nine games he has posted a +9 mark in addition to his total of 10 points. He remains one of the elite point producers from the blue line.
All of sudden the Ducks' offense has come to life. Here are some of the point totals produced by the club over the past two weeks – Teemu Selanne (eight), Corey Perry (eight), Jason Blake (eight), Saku Koivu (eight), Francois Beauchemin (seven) and Bobby Ryan (seven). It's about time that offense takes off.
Kris Letang finally returned to the ice, an in his first game back since suffering a concussion he skated more than 24 minutes while dish out an assist. So much for easing him back into action.
The NHL record for single season plus/minus is +124 by Bobby Orr in 1970 (I can't even fathom how that is even possible. Orr also had three other seasons during which he was able to record at least a +80 mark). I bring this up because the current NHL leader in plus/minus is a current Bruin, Tyler Seguin at +35. Last years leader was another Bruin, Zdeno Chara with a +33 mark. Can Seguin keep this up and push his plus minus mark to the +50 level? Over the last seven years only one skater has reached that level and that was Jeff Schultz in 2009 when he was a +50 for the Capitals. Over his other five NHL seasons Schultz is only a +37.
Alex Pietrangelo had 43 points last season in a breakout effort for the young blue liner. He started slowly this season disappointing many, but he's kicked things into gear of late in a big way. Over his last eight games he has 11 points, three goals and eight helpers, and he has produced a point in each of the eight games he has played in the month of January. He's not Ray Bourque, but the Blues' young bluer liner has oodles of upside on the offensive end of the ice.
Brad Richards missed practice on Friday with a stiff neck. He's expected to play on Saturday. In related news I almost couldn't type this piece because I have a head cold. The bigger issue with Richards is that he has a mere 31 points in 45 games for the Blue Shirts.
Jason Spezza has 20 goals and 30 assists to give him 50 point in 49 games. The point total has Spezza two points ahead of a guy like Jonathan Toews. Frequently injured, he's skated in 60 and 62 games the past two years, Spezza has appeared in more than 75 games just three times in eight previous seasons. However, his track record of ill health has never precluded him from producing points. With 20 goals this season he's reach that total in each of his last six seasons (he scored 22 times in 2003 but just missed out in 2005 when he lit the lamp only 19 times). You may not recognize it, but Spezza has been a point-per-game producer to this point of his career with 582 points in 575 games. Look for Jason to be similarly effective in the second half of the season, if he can stay healthy.
I seem to write about him every week, but can you blame me? Craig Anderson allowed just a single goal on 37 shots against the Sharks Thursday which means that he has allowed eight goals over his last six games. Don't look now but he is up to 25 wins with a .911 save percentage for the Senators.
Jonas Hiller has a terrible record at 13-17-7, but he has won his last three starts for the suddenly hot Ducks. Hiller has allowed a total of six goals over his last five starts as he's back to being a must start after having some substantial struggles to start the year.
Your weekly Ryan Miller update. He still stinks. Twenty-eight games into the year and his GAA sits at 3.16. The last time he allowed fewer than two goals was December 9th, his GAA for the month of January is 3.55 an over his last 17 starts his save percentage is a terrible at .889. That's like Mike Vernon in 1991 folks.
Tomas Vokoun is hot. Finally. Winner of six of his last 10 starts, Vokoun has allowed two or fewer goals in seven of his last 11 games to lower his GAA to 2.53. His save percentage has also inched up to .917. That mark is a direct match for his career rate but it would also be a seven year low.
Cam Ward still has a GAA of 3.01, but he's shaved more than a goal off that mark in the month of January. In seven games in the first month of 2012, Ward has gone a mere 3-2-2 though he has a .942 save percentage to accompany an impressive 1.97 GAA. If you held on to the Hurricanes' star you are finally reaping the reward.
YOU GOTSTA KNOW
Because of the All-Star break there isn't a single team in hockey that has more than two games to play for the week from January 23rd through January 29th. Here are the teams that play two games: Blue Jackets, Blues, Islanders, Oilers, Leafs, Predators, Red Wings, Senators, Sharks and Jets. Be very careful setting your lineup for next week. Hopefully your league, if it's a head-to-head setup, has next week combined with this one or the one that follows.
THE NUMBERS GAME
0.57: The difference between the per game scoring pace of Mike Fisher at home (0.86 points per contest) an on the road (0.29). Fisher is also a +4 skater at home, an a (-5) on the road. You think it has something to do with his wife, Carrie Underwood, being close to him at home? Some guys have all the luck.
1: The number of goals that Jaromir Jagr has recorded in his last 10 games. Injuries have started to weigh down the all-time great, and that is likely part of why he has struggled to slip the puck into the net of late. Still, the nearly 40 year old winger has 34 points in 39 games, and that's the level of production you should have expected if you drafted Jagr.
1: The number of goals that Joshua Bailey has recorded in his last 16 games for the Islanders. It's not like he is a prolific goal scorer as he's averaged 14 goals the past two years, but just four in 45 games has to be a disappointing mark for the 2008 first round draft pick.
1.13: The point-per-game pace of David Krejci of the Bruins over his last 23 games. During that time he has produced 26 points, not bad for a guy who started the year out slowly with nine points in 19 games. It's not a massive shock though given that he recorded 62 points in 75 games last year.
6: The point scoring streak for Flyers' rookie Sean Couturier. Sean has scored a goal in five of those games, while dish outing two helpers. He's also sporting a +6 rating. Teammate and rookie Matt Read has one goals and four helpers during his current four game point scoring stretch.
11: The current point scoring streak of John Tavares. A 24 goals scorer as a rookie, Tavares upped that mark to 29 in his second season. With 17 markers in 45 games this season he's on pace for his first 30-goal season. Tavares also has 29 helpers giving him 46 points in 45 games, leaving him well on pace to obliterate his previous career best of 67 points. During his 11 game streak J.T. has six goals and 13 assists for the Isles.
14: The number of NHL skaters that have blocked at least 100 shots this season. Not a single one of those skaters has recorded 20 points on the year, though Niklas Kronwall and Ryan McDonagh both have 19 points. Speaking of Kronwall, he is the only skater in the league with more than 100 hits who has also scored more than four goals – and he has nine.
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 email Ray a question for next week’s piece, drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org..