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NHL Barometer: Edmonton's Magic Man

Jan Levine

Jan Levine

Levine covers baseball, basketball and hockey for RotoWire. In addition to his column writing, he's the master of the MLB and NHL cheatsheets. In his spare time, he roots for the Mets.

This week's article includes a "veteran" Oiler on a roll, Captain Cally leading the way, a point-producing D-man back from an injury and an big name, offseason acquisition struggling on the Left Coast.

First Liners (Risers)

Sam Gagner, C, EDM -
The magical run that Gagner has been on lately hit a mild roadblock as he was held off the scoresheet Saturday against Ottawa, but that doesn't diminish how hot he's been. Prior to Saturday's contest, Gagner had eight goals and seven assists in his previous five games. The 22-year-old has 36 points in 48 games and was rewarded for his recent play with a move up to the top power-play unit alongside Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, which should only help him remain on a roll.

Brayden Schenn, C, PHI -
Schenn scored two goals Sunday against Detroit, giving him eight on the season and five in his past eight games. Schenn now has 11 points in 28 games and is still a work-in-progress. That said, his recent production has shown signs of the type of player he can be and why he was the fifth overall pick in 2009 by the Kings and included in the Mike Richards trade.

Max Pacioretty, LW, MTL -
Pacioretty had a hat trick Thursday night -- the first of his NHL career -- in the Canadiens' 4-2 win over the Islanders and followed that with a lamplighter Sunday against the Maple Leafs. Pacioretty leads the Canadiens with 23 goals and has added 19 assists as he has forced hockey fans to think more of him as a scorer and less for the hit he suffered at the hands -- or shoulder -- of Zdeno Chara last year.

Ryan Callahan, RW, NYR -
Captain Cally does more than just score for the Rangers, but he showed recently that he can light the lamp as well. Callahan is on a three-game goal-scoring streak, tallying one on Thursday against Tampa Bay, a hat trick against the Flyers on Saturday and a highlight reel goal Sunday against the Capitals. With 41 points (22,19) in 54 games, he is on pace to exceed the 48 he scored in 52 games last year, and when you add in the 195 hits and 60 blocked shots, you can see why he is so valuable to the Rangers and fantasy teams.

Joe Pavelski, LW, SJ -
The Big Pavelski remains hot out West, scoring two goals while adding two assists in San Jose's 5-3 win over Washington on Monday. Pavelski is not the biggest name in hockey, yet he has been remarkably consistent, notching 22 goals this season, the fourth straight year he has tallied at least 20 goals. With 44 points in 54 games, he likely won't match the 66 he scored in 74 games last season, but should top 51 for the fourth straight year. Steady and consistent is sloughed at many times in fantasy leagues, but it's players like Pavelski who help win championships.

Alex Goligoski, D, DAL -
Goligoski picked up two assists Sunday against Los Angeles, giving him 24 points in 44 games. Overall, those numbers are nice but not overly impressive. However, when evaluated in the prism of him having scored 10 points in his last 10 games plus Goligoksi missed time with an injury, the production looks even better. If Goligoksi remains hot, he could score over 30 points for the third straight season.

Brent Burns, D, SJ -
Burns registered his first goal since Jan. 7 with a tally Monday in San Jose's win over Washington. Burns has been on a torrid pace of assists lately, with eight over the last six games to go with Monday's goal. His game has woken up following a slow start, as he has been showing his considerable skill during the Sharks' recent run of up-and-down play.

Carey Price, G, MTL -
Price allowed four goals on 34 shots in Montreal's loss to Carolina on Monday, snapping a four-game winning streak. The key -- and why he is on this side of the ledger and highlighted -- was the four-game winning streak. That streak was marked by shutouts on either end. Despite the loss Monday, the odds are that Price will bounce back nicely as Montreal keeps its scant playoff hopes alive. Expect him in goal just about every night.

Ryan Miller, G, BUF -
Miller made 26 saves but didn't get the offensive support he needed in a 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday. The loss was his first in his last four starts, also ending a 5-0-1 stretch, and his first regulation loss since Jan. 21. For those who held on to Miller during his disastrous first half of the year, you are finally being rewarded and should ride him while he is hot.

Others include Patrik Berglund, Marcel Goc (12 points last 15 games), Mike Fihser (18 points in 18 games in 2012), Evgeni Malkin, Patrik Berglund, Eric Staal, Vincent Lecavalier, Olli Jokinen, Tyler Bozak, Mikhail Grabovski, Henrik Zetterberg, Paul Stastny, Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau, Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais, Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, David Perron, Tomas Fleischmann, Martin St. Louis, Teddy Purcell, Steve Downie, David Clarkson, Alex Tanguay, Kris Versteeg, Ray Whitney, Corey Perry, Zach Parise, Jordan Eberle, Wayne Simmonds, Alexander Ovechkin, Clarke MacArthur, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Radim Vrbata, Patric Hornqvist, Martin Erat, Ilya Kovalchuk, Chris Kunitz (eight points last five games), Alexander Edler, Alex Pietrangelo, Kris Letang, Michael Del Zotto, Justin Faulk, Fedor Tyutin, Victor Hedman, Christian Ehrhoff, Kurtis Foster, Jake Gardiner, Stephane Robidas, Dustin Byfuglien, Brian Elliott, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Mathieu Garon, Henrik Lundqvist, Miikka Kiprusoff, Scott Clemmensen, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Nabokov, Mike Smith, Jonas Hiller and Martin Brodeur.

Training Room (Injuries)

Matt Duchene, C, COL -
Duchene, out since Dec. 29 with a knee injury, has been skating on his own and is expected to accompany the team on its upcoming three-game road trip. Prior to getting injured, Duchene had just 24 points in 39 games, so maybe the time off will have the benefit of allowing him to find his form of the past two seasons.

James van Riemsdyk, LW, PHI -
van Riemsdyk continues to battle post-concussion syndrome and may not return "for awhile." There was speculation that van Riemsdyk could return last week, but it appears he just can't shake the aftereffects of his concussion. The longer this drags on, the more cautious van Riemsdyk and the Flyers likely will be about getting him back on the ice. Prior to getting injured in early-January, van Riemsdyk had 22 points in 37 games and likely would have exceeded the 35 and 40 he scored the last two seasons

Brenden Morrow, LW, DAL -
Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said Morrow (upper body) will be out "a couple of more weeks." Morrow has missed nine games this season, mainly due his back/neck injury, and will miss nine more if he sits two more weeks. With just 22 points on the year, he has had a disappointing season, and this injury likely will make it next it impossible for Dallas to deal him by the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

James Wisniewski, D, CMB -
Wisniewski, who broke his ankle Dec. 29, made a triumphant return to the lineup Saturday. He tallied a goal and an assist and followed that with an assist Sunday. Wisniewski's minus-16 rating is a disappointment, but his 20 points (three goals) in 31 games can help most of his owners. In addition, he's a beast on the PP and should provide some offense with the likes of Rick Nash and Jeff Carter.

Jimmy Howard, G, DET -
Howard, out since Feb. 3 with a broken finger on his right hand, faced shots for the third straight day in practice Monday and is still eyeing a return to game action Friday. Nothing is set in stone, while Joey MacDonald backstopped the Wings to an overtime win Sunday against the Flyers and is likely to make his sixth consecutive start when Detroit hosts Dallas on Tuesday. Howard has 32 wins and his return will be welcomed by all of his owners.

Others include Mikael Backlund (shoulder, out 4-to-6 weeks), Travis Zajac (Achilles', out another month), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder, could be back within a week, but that is unlikely), Nicklas Backstrom (concussion, out indefinitely), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion, could miss rest of the year), Nathan Horton (concussion, out indefinitely), Simon Gagne (concussion, skated Saturday for first time since Dec. 26), Guillaume Latendresse (concussion, likely out for season, noticing a pattern?), Tuomo Ruutu (UBI, DTD), Ryan Malone (UBI, still not ready to return), Marc-Andre Bergeron (back, played and then was scratched again), Adam Larsson (groin, DTD), Mike Green (sports hernia, skating, could be back before end of the month), Nikita Nikitin (knee, possibly back shortly) and Jacob Markstrom (knee, sent to AHL).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)


Mike Richards, C, LA -
Richards has just 28 points this season as he's struggled offensively since coming off the IR back in late December. In that stretch, he has just three goals, two of which came in the first two games after he returned, and five assists in 24 games. The Kings as a whole have struggled offensively, an area where Richards was expected to help, which is why the Kings obtained him from the Flyers this offseason.

Mike Knuble, RW, WAS -
Knuble was a healthy scratch for the Capitals' past three games. Knuble has struggled statistically this season, with just three goals and 11 points in 53 games, while recording a minus-14 rating in the process. It's fair to speculate that the veteran forward might be on the move before the NHL's trade deadline. If not, look for him to be a repeat visitor to the press box.

Ryan Wilson, D, COL -
Wilson was a healthy scratch for three straight before getting back in the lineup Saturday, but he was scoreless in that contest. According to coach Joe Sacco, Wilson is partly caught up in a numbers game. With eight healthy defensemen on the roster, two guys ultimately have to sit every night. However, Sacco also points to Wilson's quality of play since returning from a combination of concussion and groin injuries. Overall, Wilson has been reasonably productive when healthy (15 points in 37 games), but his inability to remain in the lineup on a consistent basis makes it hard to recommend him for fantasy purposes.

Corey Crawford, G, CHI -
All you need to know as to how bad Crawford has been lately is that only three times in 2012 (12 appearances) has he allowed less than three goals. Crawford went through a rough patch early in the season, but was able to rebound. Maybe this time will be similar and he has benefited by Ray Emery's inability to take hold of the starting job. The goaltending in the Windy City is a mess, which is why they have been rumored to be shopping for a netminder.

Others include Craig Smith (four straight without a point), David Krejci (third line and struggling without Norton), Scott Gomez (scored first goal in over a year last week; that's all you need to know), Tim Connolly (no goals since Jan. 6 and just three assists in those 16 games), Luke Adam (was a healthy scratch and now down in the AHL), Andrew Brunette (nine goals in 55 games not what Chicago was hoping for when they signed him as a free agent), Brett Connolly (nine points in 42 games, but future in TB still bright), Ryan Ellis (no points in six games; then a healthy scratch on Saturday), Paul Martin (has cooled off a hot stretch), Stefan Elliott (struggled after hot start and was sent down to AHL last week), Niklas Backstorm (average lately and could lose time to Josh Harding) and Craig Anderson (0-6-2 last eight games).

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