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NHL Barometer: Capital Contradiction

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 a young center causing a Devil of a time for his opponents, a former Calder-winning blue liner heating up, a pair of big-name centers out with injuries and an offseason signing hailed as brilliant proving not to be the case.

First Liners (Risers)

Paul Stastny, C, COL -
Stastny fired home his 15th and 16th goals of the year in Colorado's 4-1 win over Los Angeles on Wednesday. He's played very consistent hockey lately, with 16 points (5G, 11A) over his last 16 games. Stastny sits second in team scoring with 39 points and leads his team in goals.

Adam Henrique C, NJD -
Henrique posted two assists in the Devils' win over Toronto on Tuesday, giving him six points in the last four games. Henrique, who has 41 points in 51 games, has played well lately despite scoring just once in the last four contests, as he's played the role of provider. Look for Henrique, who will get Calder Trophy consideration, to continue factoring into New Jersey's scoring, especially with his perch on the top line alongside Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise

Blake Wheeler, RW, WPG -
Wheeler collected his 37th and 38th assists of the season Thursday night, extending his point streak to four games while helping the Jets to a 4-3 home win over the Lightning. Since overcoming a slow start to the 2011-2012 season, Wheeler - who also has 11 goals - has proven himself to be one of the league's best passers not named Henrik Sedin or Claude Giroux. With line-mate Andrew Ladd playing perhaps the best hockey of his career, the chances for assists are likely to keep on rolling in for Wheeler.

Milan Michalek, RW, OTT -
Michalek notched his 26th and 27th goals of the year Wednesday night in a 5-2 Ottawa win over Washington. His 27 goals are a career high by the speedy winger. Michalek also added an assist in Wednesday's win and now has points in five of his last six games, totaling four goals and five assists during that span. With Craig Anderson sidelined, Ottawa may need to rely on its offense, led by Michalek, to pull out victories.

Alexander Semin, LW, WAS -
Semin had two assists in a 5-2 loss to the Senators on Wednesday. He now has 23 assists and 39 points this season after piling up 26 assists and 54 points in 2010-11. Semin has at least one point in four of his last six games. Despite that, his name has still been prominently mentioned in trade rumors due to what looks like at times indifferent play, but he has been better lately.

Tyler Myers, D, BUF -
Myers extended his points streak to four games with one of Buffalo's two goals in the Sabers' win over the Islanders on Tuesday. The towering Texan has found his offensive game, something that was missing earlier in the season. The last four games and his play since the All-Star Game are indicative of what Myers can do, not necessarily that he will produce. He's definitely worth a gamble in the season's final seven weeks.

Erik Karlsson, D, OTT -
It's a little crazy to bother having Karlsson as a Riser, but his phenomenal play is deserving of a mention. Karlsson had a goal and two assists Wednesday as the Senators thumped the Capitals, 5-2. He now has 60 points (13G, 47A) on the season and has scored in five straight games, collecting five goals and seven assists along the way. With his three points Wednesday, Karlsson opened a 20-point lead on the next highest scoring defenseman, Brian Campbell, who has 40. Karlsson also set a franchise mark for assists by a defenseman in a single season with 47, a record held by Norm Maciver since the 1992-93 season. He's now only three points back of the franchise mark for points by a defenseman in a single season, also held by Maciver. All that tells is that Karlsson is having a season any D-man would want and should be the favorite for the Norris Trophy.

Justin Peters, G, CAR -
This may only be a short-term move, but given how leagues are sometimes decided by the slimmest of margins, sometimes those moves are the ones that wins titles. With Cam Ward nursing a lower-body injury, Peters has admirably filled in for him. Peters made 35 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss to the red-hot Ducks on Thursday and is 2-1-1 in his four starts, surrendering just five goals in that stretch. Ward may be back any day, but for now, roll with Peters.

Devan Dubnyk, G, EDM -
Like Peters, Dubnyk is benefitting from an injury. Nikolai Khabibulin is on the shelf with a lower-body injury, which should allow Dubnyk plenty of ice time in the short term. Dubnyk is doing his best to keep the job whenever the Bulin wall comes back, surrendering just one goal in 56 shots, including a shutout, to win two straight. Like Peters, roll with Dubnyk in the shirt-term, though Dubnyk does have a better shot at keeping the job for a while.

Others include Antoine Vermette, Derick Brassard, Evander Kane, Logan Couture, Steven Stamkos, Petr Sykora, Pierre Parenteau, Derek Roy, Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd, Jordan Eberle, Dany Heatley, Corey Perry, Tomas Fleischmann, Jordin Tootoo, Radim Vrbata, Wayne Simmonds, Teddy Purcell, Claude Giroux, Clarke MacArthur, Phil Kessel, Jiri Tlusty, Wayne Simmonds, Andy McDonald, Michael Ryder, Jason Pominville, Dustin Byfuglien, Tomas Kaberle, Nikita Nikitin, Michael Del Zotto, Shea Weber, Stefan Elliot/Tyson Barrie (call ups in Colorado), Jake Gardiner, Robin Lehner (playing time with Craig Anderson sidelined), Jonas Hiller, Pekka Rinne, Jaroslav Halak, Martin Brodeur, Mike Smith, Jimmy Howard and Corey Crawford.

Training Room (Injuries)

Vincent Lecavalier, C, TB -
Lecavalier is dealing with a fractured bone in his right hand, but since the fractured bone is not displaced, he won't need surgery. Vinny, who was injured in practice Monday, could be back in the Tampa Bay lineup by mid March.

Pavel Datsyuk, C, DET -
Datsyuk will miss two weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. The good news is that Datsyuk should be refreshed for the stretch run after sitting out the two weeks and could have a boost in production from not being worn down.

Marc-Andre Bergeron, D, TB -
Bergeron (back) is not with the Lightning on their current trip and may be headed to another doctor for another opinion on the injury. The injury, which has forced him out of 17 of the last 18 games, is apparently affecting his sciatic nerve. But it seems like there has been a different diagnosis with each passing day.

Craig Anderson, G, OTT -
Anderson will be out at least the next 10 days and possibly longer after cutting his right hand in a home accident Wednesday. The injury occurred when a knife he was using to prepare a meal accidentally lacerated his hand. Ottawa has slight cushion in its battle for a playoff spot, but losing Anderson won't make the task any easier. Look for Robin Lehner to see most of the action between the pipes.

Others include Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder, inching closer to return), Rich Peverley (third degree MCL sprain, out 4-to-6 weeks), Jamie Langenbrunner (mouth, out a month), Curtis Glencross (knee, expected to suit up Friday), Nathan Horton (concussion, no timeframe for return), Joni Pitkanen (knee, possibly back in a week) and Cam Ward (LBI, DTD).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)


Matt Cullen, C, MIN -
Cullen lit the lamp for the first time in 16 games on Feb. 19 and then added a second goal on Thursday. Despite that, he has just 13 goals in 59 games on the year. In addition, remember when Cullen was on fire at the start of the 2010-11 season? Yeah, neither do we. He has just 31 points, including just eight on the power play, this year.

Nikolai Kulemin, LW, TOR -
Kulemin scored his first goal in 17 games in Toronto's loss to Vancouver last Saturday. He's playing hard as witnessed by the bloody lip he earned while scoring. This season has been an offensive write-off for the powerful winger as he has just 25 points in 61 games after scoring 57 last year, but he's playing solid defensive hockey. Fingers crossed he gets the points back. Right now, he's only useful in the deepest of deep leagues.

Dennis Seidenberg, D, BOS -
Seidenberg has had a disappointing campaign, scoring 19 points in 58 games. In addition, in 10 games in February, Seidenberg has no points with a minus-six rating. It looks like it will be a stretch for Seidenberg to tally at least 30 points for the fourth game in a row.

Tomas Vokoun, G, WAS -
Almost everyone hailed the offseason signing of Voloun as a brilliant move and a steal by the Capitals. However, it goes to show you that games are played on the ice, not on paper. Vokoun's so-so campaign continued Wednesday as he was pulled in the second period of the team's 5-2 loss to the Senators. It was the second game in a row in which Vokoun was pulled. He has allowed eight goals in his last three games and is 0-3 during that stretch. Maybe it's time for Washington to go with Braden Holtby?

Others include Stephen Weiss (four assists the past six games but just one goal since January 18), Tim Connolly (a couple of goals lately, but who really believes he will continue), Mikkel Boedker (those high expectations of years ago are clearly never going to pan out), Mason Raymond (14 points in 35 games not what was expected), Ryan Ellis (bright future, but may be heading back down to the AHL), Jack Johnson (maybe trade to Columbus will be what he needs to take that next step), Jonathan Bernier (Quick entrenched as the LA starter, so Bernier will need a trade or injury to see more action) and Joey MacDonald (brilliant while Howard was out, but with Howard back, he heads back to the bench).