From goal scorers to defenders to the men who keep the puck out of the net, each week we'll take a spin around the rink and touch on some of the players that are in the news.
Given that we had the All-Star game and its festivities over the weekend there wasn't a tremendous amount of game action to report on. Therefore, I'll take a look back at some of the first half numbers that stand out in what follows (you can also find a review of my first half All-Stars, Failures and Out of Nowhere performers in Friday's Face Off).
Evgeni Malkin leads the league with 58 points so it's hardly a surprise that he also leads the NHL in the percentage of games in which he has produced at least one point (76.2 percent). There are five other skaters who have recorded a point in 70 percent of the games that they have played: Patrik Elias (74.5), Phil Kessel (73.5), Marian Hossa (73.5), Joffrey Lupul (73.5) and Steven Stamkos (72.9).
The leading set of teammates that have both produced a point on the same goal is no surprise – it's the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, who have combined for a point on 38 goals this year for the Canucks. The #2 duo is Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul (34 goals) followed by James Neal and Evgeni Malkin (33 goals). You might have guessed all three of those duos, but you'd likely need a lot of guesses to choose #'s 4 and 5: Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville (31 goals) and John Tavares and Matt Moulson of the Islanders (28 goals).
Four skaters have taken at least one shot on goal every time they have stepped on the ice this year: Zach Parise, James Neal, Claude Giroux and Alexander Ovechkin. Speaking of Ovechkin, the eternal letdown since the start of last season, it's pretty amazing to think that he's still scored 102 goals since the start of the 2009 season, the second highest total in hockey behind only Steven Stamkos (128).
Tyler Seguin leads the NHL at the break with a +34 rating. However, he doesn't lead the NHL with most games with a positive plus/minus mark (he's tied for third on the list with 23 such games). The leader is actually Johan Franzen who has been a plus skater for the Red Wings in 28 of his 50 games played. Chris Kelly is second with 25 plus games, followed by Pavel Datsyuk (24 games). I'll say this for Seguin, he's only had three games out of 46 this season in which he has been a minus skater, and that's pretty phenomenal. Speaking of plus/minus, since the start of the 2009 season the top-3 spots in the NHL belong to Canucks: Daniel Sedin (+81), Alexandre Burrows (+80) and Henrik Sedin (+74).
There are five skaters who are on pace to record at least 60 points and 100 penalty minutes. The obvious leader is All-Star Scott Hartnell, who is on pace for 75 points and 121 PIMs. The others follow: Corey Perry (67 and 108), Milan Lucic (65 and 155), Brad Marchand (63 and 139) and David Backes (62 and 132).
Mike Fisher has four goals in his last four games, and he has recorded 12 points in his last 10 games for the Predators.
Mathieu Perreault recorded 14 points in 35 games last season for the Capitals. This season he has 13 points in 30 games. So why am I bothering to bring him up? He's been piping hot of late. Mathieu recorded a hat-trick in his final game played before the break, has five points in two games, and six points in four games. He only had one point in his previous eleven games, so don't go too crazy trying to add him to your roster, but certainly put him on your watch list.
The last two weeks there have been a handful of scorers in the NHL with a league leading seven points – Martin St. Louis, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Pavel Datsyuk John Tavares and ... wait for it ... Kyle Wellwood. The Jets' forward has points in five of six games. Still, be careful not to over-inflate the value of Wellwood, who has scored only one goal in his last 18 contests.
Blue Line Business
On the defensive side three blue liners have been positive skaters in 23 games this season, the most among rearguards – Nicklas Lidstrom, Ian White and Erik Karlsson. White and Lidstrom have had negative plus-minuses 20 times, whereas Karlsson has been a negative skater 18 times all on his own.
Jared Cowen isn't an exciting name, but he is tied with Shea Weber for the most hits by a defenseman the past two weeks with 21. He doesn’t score much, with 14 points on the year, and his plus/minus mark is flat at even, but he is a willing hitter (133 hits in 52 games).
Tobias Enstrom has picked up his scoring pace a bit of late. He has three goals in his last six games, points in five of six contests. Since the start of January the Jets' blue liner has three goals and six assists in 12 games.
Everyone is getting involved in the party in Boston. Andrew Ference has 17 penalty minutes in his last three games, but it's the fact that he's recorded a point in 3-straight games that's caught my attention.
Paul Martin has only one goal and 15 helpers on the year, but he's picked up the offensive side of his game in January with five assist in his last six games. He's also blocked at least three shots in five of his last seven games.
Ryan McDonagh has only two points in his last six games for the Rangers, but he's been a wonder in two categories. First, he is a +9 in those six games. Second, McDonagh has blocked 18 shots from getting to the net.
Craig Anderson has 431 saves the last month. There are only two other keepers with 300 saves the last 30 days – Cam Ward (345) and Pekka Rinne (308). Speaking of Rinne he is 28-11-4 thanks to winning each of his last 9-games. In that time he has allowed 12 goals. He's also won 12 of his last 13 starts. Can you say smoking hot like Brooklyn Decker in a bikini? I'm so jealous of Andy Roddick.
Don't look now, but the #1 goalie in St. Louis may not be All-Star Brian Elliott, it may be Jaroslav Halak, who has gone 7-1 with a 1.36 GAA over the past month.
Jimmy Howard is 8-2 over his last 10 games with a 2.18 GAA and .914 save percentage. How amazing has Howard been this season? Those ratios pale in comparison to his season long marks of 2.03 and .924.
Nikolai Khabibulin is 0-5-1 with a 3.31 GAA and .893 save percentage in January. Here are his GAA marks per month this season; 1.12, 2.46, 3.20 and 3.31. Notice a trend?
So what if Tim Thomas skipped the Bruins' trip to the White House? Last time I checked, American's were free to believe whatever they want. It's a non-story so let it go media.
Sidney Crosby still has no return date, but we might have a better handle on wait ails him. The concussion related woes are legitimate, but it turns out that he also had a neck injury that has since healed. It sounds like he is improving as he skated Monday, so we've all got our fingers crossed.
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. His NHL thoughts can be read at RotoWire.com. 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.