Crashing the Net: Surgers and Fallers
Who's running hot and cold in the NHL right now? Crashing the Net has some thoughts on the matter.
Jeff Carter scored a hat-trick Monday night to give him 14 goals on the season and he's recorded six goals in his last five games. Five of his goals this season have gone for game winners and he's scored four times on the power-play. The goal scoring pace is bound to slow as his .230 shooting percentage is more than double his career rate of .113. Amazingly he has all of two assists on the season.
Kyle Chipchura of the Coyotes is killing it of late – in his last four games he has two goals and three assists while racking up a +7 rating. For a guy who scored three goals with 13 assists an a +2 rating last season that's pretty impressive production.
David Clarkson has 10 goals in 22 games, a pace that would net him 37 goals over the course of an 82 game season. Given that he's only had one 20 goal season in his career, he registered 30 last year for the Devils, that's a damn impressive pace. Alas, it's been hot and cold streaks aplenty for Clarkson. After scoring all 10 in his first 14 games this season he's gone 10-straight without lighting the lamp a single time. He's been terrific overall, so keep telling yourself that and look past the recent slump.
Ryane Clowe counter --- 20 games and no goals. He has 68 penalty minutes but this guy is a 20 goal scorer. Massive disappointment so far.
Jiri Hudler is enjoying his first season with the Flames as he's posted 15 points in 17 games. Only three of the points have been on the power-play, and he has just 29 shots on net, but he's rolled to five helpers in his last two games after being held off the score sheet for the previous three games.
Tomas Kopecky has five goals in his last nine game for the Panthers. He can thank a hat-trick as he has only two goals in the other eight games and none in his last three. Make sure you broaden out the sample size enough that you are getting a real picture with a player.
Chris Kunitz recorded a career best 26 goals and 61 points last season with the Penguins. A solid contributor for years, he's taken his game to the next level this season (it doesn't hurt when you skate with a superstar – Sidney Crosby). Kunitz has scored a goal in 4-straight games (five total goals), and he's working on a 6-game point streak. Going back a bit further we find that Kunitz has recorded a point in 10 of 11 games and 14 of 16 contests (including 11 goals). That's a month of games in which he has recorded a point in 87.5 percent of the Penguins games. There aren't many hotter skaters than Kunitz who is now third in the NHL with 28 points.
We can all breath a sigh of relief. Evgeni Malkin returned from his head injury after missing only four games. He picked up right where he left off with a goal an a helper in his first game back.
Peter Mueller has 11 points in 22 games this season, but more importantly he's been able to stay healthy. The last time this guy played 55 games in a season was 2008. That was also the last time he recorded 25 points in a season.
Max Pacioretty has scored four goals in his last three games, and in each contest he has two points. Moreover, Max has scored eight goals in his last eight games and he has 14 points in that time. Part of the key has been firing the puck on net. Two of his last three games he's had seven shots and he has taken 30 shots on net over his last six contests.
Brayden Schenn has been a fairly impressive scoring force this season for the Flyers with 19 points, a total that is greater than that of Ilya Kovalchuk (18 points) and Alexander Ovechkin (16 points). Schenn has also registered at least one point in 12 of his last 16 games.
Thomas Vanek will return from his upper body injury Tuesday after missing two games. Vanek has been killing it this season with 27 points in 20 games, but he's gone cold of late (damn you regression monster). Vanek has a total of four points in his last nine games and he's lit the lamp just one time during that run of futility.
Stephen Weiss has a wrist injury that will require surgery that will end his campaign. He had only four points while being a (-13) skater this season so at least his owners will no longer have to be swearing to the heavens thanks to his continued struggles.
Brian Campbell has been impressive on offense with six goals and 15 points. Is that enough to overcome his total of 12 penalty minutes, just nine hits an a (-12) rating? Probably not if you're in a league with a lot of scoring categories.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson recorded 13 goals last season for the Coyotes in a breakout season. He's a little off that pace with three goals in 22 games this season but he's up to 16 points in 22 games after recording six points, all helpers, in his last five contests.
Nicklas Grossman leads the league with 66 blocked shots, one more than Brooks Orpik and six more than Greg Zanon. The most physical player of the trio, Grossman has 59 hits, 20 more than Orpik and 28 more than Zanon.
Carl Gunnarson recorded 15 points as a rookie and then followed that up with efforts of 20 and 10 points the past two seasons. He's not exactly a scoring superstar this season with seven points in 15 games, especially since he doesn't have a since point on the power-play (and just 12 shots on goal), but he has dished out four helpers in his last four games.
Kris Letang all of a sudden has 21 points in 20 games this season after he's racked up six helpers in his last two games. Going back to the start of last season he's scored 13 times while recording 63 points in 71 games.
Ryan Suter is finally getting his game going with the Wild. He still hasn't scored a goal on the year, and that (-5) rating is a real eyesore, but he has recorded five assists over his last four games (he's tallied at least a point in each outing). Only one other blue liner has double-digit points and no goals and that's Alex Goligoski who has 10 helpers.
Craig Anderson (ankle) is improving, but he is still a ways away (he's basically been ruled out for the rest of the week). Ben Bishop continues to perform very well with a .938 save percentage and 2.15 GAA this season.
Jonathan Bernier has done the unthinkable... he's been able to take 50 percent of the starts away from superstar netminder Jonathan Quick over the last 10 Kings' contests. It's easy to see why when you look at the numbers. Bernier has won 5-straight starts while posting a 1.00 GAA and .956 save percentage while Quick allowed four goals in his last start and is 3-2 in his last five outings. He's been decidedly below par this season with a middling record (6-6-2) and a poor save percentage (.901). It's not like Bernier is going to take over in net, but he's certainly in line to get a lot more work than anyone expected he would.
Corey Crawford returned from injury to allow just one goal on 33 shots. He'll get the call again Tuesday in an attempt to continue his stellar season (10-0-3 with a 1.41 GAA and .945 save percentage). Looks like the team still plans to give him the majority of starts over Ray Emery, though Emery should still be started every time he takes the ice.
Miikka Kiprusoff (knee), might be back between the pipes as early as Wednesday. Out since February 5th, the Flames could really use their horse back in net. In seven games this season Kipper was awful with a 3.24 GAA and .870 save percentage, but there is no reason to think his performance won't improve as his health improves.
The Panthers seem content to roll with Jacob Markstrom as their leader in net now that Jose Theodore is likely to miss 5-6 weeks with a torn groin muscle. Markstrom hasn't impressed at all when given the chance (he's 2-7-1 for his career), but he is an elite prospect who the team has always thought could backstop the franchise for a decade. Looks like that clock is about ready to start ticking.
Cam Ward will miss 6-8 weeks with a knee injury. That likely means the 'Canes will have to turn to Dan Ellis on many a night, though Tuesday it will be Justin Peters between the popes as Ellis is ill. While Peters is hardly an inspiring name his game has been inspiring as he had a 2.29 GAA and .921 save percentage in 37 games at the AHL level this season. Ellis is still the one you would want from this duo, but there's certainly a chance that Peters could emerge.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday at 5 PM EDT. Ray's analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.