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Crashing the Net: Tough Times in Chicago

Ray Flowers

Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: M-F at 5-8 PM EDT), Ray Flowers has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. You can follow Ray on Twitter (@BaseballGuys), he never sleeps, and you can also find more of his musings at BaseballGuys.com.

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.

Forward Focus

Evgeni Malkin has a point in eight straight games and he currently leads the NHL in points with 81 (one more than Steve Stamkos). During the stretch of contests Malkin has six goals and six helpers. That level of production has become fairly common place for the Penguins' great one who also has 22 points, including 11 goals, in his last 14 contests.

Derick Brassard has really enjoyed working with Rick Nash of late, and who could blame him (I'd rack up assists passing the puck to Nash). Pretty much a career long failure in the eyes of many after being taken 6th overall in 2006, Brassard has finally been producing as hoped. Brassard has point in each of his last three games an over the past month plus he has 14 points in 15 games. Way to go kid.

If you need a little boost on offense Carl Hagelin has five points in five games for the Rangers (including three goals).

Martin Hanzal has been a big hitter this year with 190 hits in just 52 games. He's only lit the lamp eight times though, a year after scoring 16 times causing some frowns, but he's been hot of late with seven assists in his last seven games for the 'Yotes.

Corey Perry has been a disappointment. A year after scoring 50 goals and nearly hitting the century mark in points (98), Perry is way, way down at 33 goals and 54 points for the Ducks. While those numbers are certainly disappointing, it should be notes that Perry's 33 goals are the second best mark of his career, and there is still an outside chance that he will be able to record 70-points for a fourth straight season. He's still been a disappointment though, you're right.

Teddy Purcell already has a career best 19 goals and 52 points (last season he registered 17 goals and 51 points). In and of itself that would hardly be news, but have you caught the Wayne Gretzky like work Purcell has done of late? Purcell has points in each of his last nine games, and 13 of 14 contests for the Lightning. Over those nine games during his current run he has scored two or three points six times leading to a total of 19 points (6g, 13a).

Teemu Selanne tied Jari Kurri, his idol, for 19th place on the all-time point scoring list with 1,398 points. Selanne, who has five points in the last six games, continues to score as if he was 31 years old, not 41 years of age. With 58 points in 67 games Selanne has recorded 138 points in his last 140 games played for the Ducks.

Steve Sullivan is putting together quite the run of late. Though he was held off the score sheet in his last game, Sullivan has points in seven of his last nine games (3g, 8a).

Blue Line Business

Zdeno Chara just gets it done. He has five points in his last five games to put him on the cusp of an 8th straight season of at least 40-points. He's also 11 penalty minutes away from an 11th straight effort of at least 85 PIMs, and with 16 more shots on net he's have recorded at least 200 for the 7th straight year. All-around excellence could be on the nameplate of his jersey.

Trevor Daley has all of 22 points on the year and he's been held off the score sheet in two March games. So why bother mentioning him? Prior to his two game skid the Stars' defensive d-man has recorded one assist in five straight games.

The last two weeks the leading point producer from the blue line is Erik Karlsson with nine points followed by Dustin Byfuglien with eight. The third place blue liner is a name you'd likely fail to mention if you were given 27 guesses. This Blues' blue liner, and no it's not the one you think it is, has two goals and five assists. Who is it? How about Kevin Shattenkirk.

Niklas Kronwall, have a week. On his way to being named the NHL's Second Star of the Week, Kronwall recorded two goals and five assists in three games for the mighty Winged Wheel.

Dion Phaneuf is one point from his first 40-point effort since 2008, and he seems intent on getting their quickly. Phaneuf has five assists in his last three games for the Leafs.

Crease Cops

Corey Crawford just can't get it going this year. He's allowed 10 goals in his last three games, and the last two times he has been on the ice he hasn't even made it to the halfway point of the game before he was removed from action. In has stepped Ray Emery who has won each of his last three appearances allowing just a single goal each time. It appears as if Emery has stolen the starting job from Crawford. Can he hold on to the job?

Mathieu Garon won 31 games back in 2005 and 26 games in 2007, but those are the only two times he's crested 20-wins in an NHL career that started back in 2000. So imagine your surprise that Garon is up to 23 victories on the year with an outside shot at another 30-win season. Though he has a mere .898 save percentage in the second half, a pathetic number, his record has been fairly impressive at 9-3-2 for the Lightning.

Robin Lehner went 2-2 in his most recent turn with the Senators while posting an impressive set of ratios (2.01 GAA, .938 save percentage). Still, he was sent back to the AHL as the Senators will turn to Ben Bishop to tend the twine until Craig Anderson is healthy enough to return from his injured finger.

Ryan Miller is back at the top of his game. After struggling along to a 3.07 GAA and a .899 save percentage in the first half of the season (30 games), Miller has rebounded with a fury in the second half posting a 1.83 GAA and .940 save percentage over his last 17 games. He's even turned his record around in the second half going 10-3-3 for the Sabres.

Anti Niemi had better get his game back in shape or the Sharks just might miss out on the playoffs. Niemi has looked rather lost with a 2.88 GAA and .899 save percentage over his last 13 starts with a pathetic record of 4-7-1. For a keeper who went 21-10-5 in the first half, that's some awful net keeping.

Marty Turco was signed to a one year, $600,000 contract by the Bruins to cover up the loss of Tuukka Rask who could miss 4-6 weeks with a groin/abdomen injury. Assuming no one claims Turco through the waiver process, he will serve as the backup to Tim Thomas until Rask is ready to return to action. Two things. (1) Turco will not be eligible for the playoffs if Rask is still out of action at that point because Turco signed after the trade deadline. (2) We're likely to see an awful lot of Thomas over the next month as he'll likely play a much heavier workload than normal.