This week's article includes a playoff hero rising out West, a pair of trade-deadline acquisitions excelling in new towns, the 1A center in Pittsburgh out again and a power forward looking weak lately.
This is the final column of the year. Thanks to all who have read and commented on the article during the season. Please feel free to provide any comments or suggestions for the future either on the site or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
First Liners (Risers)
Mike Richards, C, LA - Richards saw his six-game point-scoring streak end Tuesday, but during that span, he had seven points, including three goals, and he got right back on the beam with an assist Thursday. Richards got off to a woeful start, but he started picking it up in late February and now has 11 goals and 19 assists in 44 games. If LA is to make another playoff run, Richards will need to keep up his recent scoring pace.
Mike Ribeiro, C, WAS - Ribeiro has been profiled a few times this year, and every time you think he will slow down, he rolls off another point streak. He tallied his 13 goal of the season Thursday, extending his point streak to four and six of his last seven games. Ribeiro has 31 assists to go with his 13 goals and has more than ably filled the second center role in the nation's capital.
Jannik Hansen, RW, VAN - Hansen was moved up to the top line in practice earlier in the week but ended up skating with Derek Roy and Ryan Kesler. The second line is not a bad place to be, and Hannik notched an assist Monday and another Thursday. Hansen has already been notching points at a career-high rate this year, and his production should only improve if he sticks on the second line or is moved up to the top line.
Brenden Morrow, LW, PIT - Morrow registered two goals and an assist during Pittsburgh's 6-4 win over the Canadiens on Wednesday. The former Stars captain is fitting in well in Pittsburgh and has recorded eight points with a plus-6 rating in his last four games. Morrow's presence has helped the Penguins overcome the absence of Crosby, Neal, Malkin and Martin.
Jason Pominville, RW, MIN - Pominville lit the lamp twice, including scoring the game-winner, against the Flames on Monday. He then added two assists Wednesday versus Edmonton and one assist Thursday. Pominville has scored nine points in eight games since being traded to Minnesota. Coincidently, the first eight of these points were scored two at a time, including three goals and three assists in his three contests before Thursday, after he scored just 25 points in 37 games, which was a major downturn from his 73 of a year ago.
Zach Bogosian, D, WPG - Bogosian notched his third consecutive two-point performance Thursday with a goal and an assist against Carolina. He entered Thursday off consecutive two-assist performances. Overall, Bogosian hasn't had a great year with four goals and nine assists in 32 games, but he looks to be closing the season with a flourish.
Cody Franson, D, TOR - Franson picked up his fifth assist in his last six games in Toronto's 2-0 win over the Devils on Monday and then added a goal in the team's 5-3 loss to the Islanders on Thursday. He now has 21 helpers on the season and is one of the top NHL defenders in that category. Franson's behind only Ryan Suter, Kris Letang, P.K. Subban, Kimmo Timonen and Alex Goligoski, and is tied with Niklas Kronwall and Duncan Keith as far as top set-up blueliners go.
Craig Anderson, G, OTT - Anderson faced just 19 shots Thursday against Washington, stopping 18 in a 3-1 win. That's three wins in a row for Anderson, but this one was a lot less work than the 33 and 34 shots put on him in the previous two games. He lost his first two games after missing 19 contests with an ankle injury but has obviously righted the ship lately.
Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR - Lundqvist stopped 34 shots in backstopping the Rangers to a 6-1 win over the Panthers on Thursday. The start was the 18th in 19 contests for Lundqvist, as the Rangers try to lock up a playoff spot. Lundqvist's numbers are a tick off from his Vezina Trophy campaign of a year ago, but he still has been rumored to be in the mix to repeat the award.
Others include John Tavares (two more goals Thursday), Kevin Porter (recent hot streak), Logan Couture, Derek Stepan, Jonathan Toews, Vernon Fiddler, Steven Stamkos, Derick Brassard, Eric Staal, Ryan Kesler, Pavel Datsyuk, Bryan Little, Alex Galchenyuk, Carl Soderberg (debut forthcoming), Ryan Getzlaf, Mats Zuccarello (shootout winner last week against Toronto, goals in back-to-back games Tuesday and Thursday), Andrew Ladd, Simon Gagne, Alexander Ovechkin, Claude Giroux, Brian Gionta, Jiri Hudler, Blake Wheeler, Matt Moulson, Tomas Fleischmann, Matt Calvert, Marian Gaborik, Martin St. Louis (close to overtaking Sidney Crosby for points lead), T.J. Galiardi, Phil Kessel, Benoit Pouliot, Johan Franzen, Vinny Prospal, Marian Hossa, Pascal Dupuis, Alexander Semin, Nail Yakupov, Sven Baertschi, Jonathan Huberdeau, Dustin Byfuglien, Dion Phaneuf, Dan Hamhuis, Jake Gardiner, P.K. Subban, Kimmo Timonen, Dan Boyle, Kris Letang, Sheldon Souray, Brent Burns, Keith Yandle, Brian Elliott, Ondrej Pavelec, Braden Holtby, James Reimer, Steve Mason, Martin Brodeur (shutout number 121 Thursday, snapping 10-game losing streak) and Antti Niemi.
Training Room (Injuries)
Evgeni Malkin, C, PIT - Malkin missed the last two games with a right shoulder injury and is questionable for Friday's contest. Malkin, who was sidelined for three weeks in March with a shoulder injury, averages a point a game, but his shooting percentage is way down, a la 2010-11, and he hasn't really had that major hot streak we are all used to seeing.
Ilya Kovalchuk, RW, NJD - Kovalchuk, who hurt his right shoulder March 23, practiced Wednesday but did not suit up Thursday. There is a better than 50-50 chance that despite his lack of conditioning, Ilya could suit up and play Saturday. The Devils, who broke an 0-5-4 streak with a 3-0 win over Philly on Thursday, could obviously use Kovalchuk, who has 27 points in 32 games, to keep their small playoff chances alive.
Jeff Skinner, LW, CAR - Skinner, who suffered an upper body injury Tuesday against the Senators, did not play Thursday against the Jets. There was some hope that Skinner would suit up, but that did not happen and there are rumors that Skinner suffered yet another concussion. Skinner missed time last year and earlier this season with concussions, and since the effect is usually cumulative, there is obviously major concern whether he sustained another one.
Others include Sidney Crosby (jaw, skating and working out), James Neal (concussion, symptom free), Alex Chiasson (shoulder, check status), Joffrey Lupul (neck, returned to action), Alex Tanguay (Grade 2 MCL sprain, done for the year), T.J. Oshie (surgery on left ankle, likely done for the year). Joffrey Lupul (neck, played Tuesday, scored Thursday), Michael Ryder (UBI, returned to action Thursday), Marc Staal (eye, practicing, but still has blurry vision), Raphael Diaz (concussion, close to returning), Erik Karlsson (Achilles, may practice next week), Kevin Bieksa (groin, DTD), Kari Lehtonen (LBI, returned to action Thursday) Ray Emery (LBI, DTD) and Mike Smith (UBI, DTD).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Mikhail Grabovski, C, TOR - Grabovski snapped a 10-game scoreless stretch when he potted his ninth of the season in Tuesday's loss to Washington, but he was held off the score sheet again Thursday. The goal went in off his leg, but who cares - a goal is a goal. Grabo has been a disappointment this season with just 16 points and is due for a rebound in 2013-14 ... if he gets moved to a new locale.
Milan Lucic, LW, BOS - Lucic skated with the Bruins' extra forwards during Thursday's practice. Lucic, who has recorded two goals over his last 27 games and just six goals in 41 games overall, could conceivably be a healthy scratch Friday against the Penguins, with Carl Soderberg a candidate to move into the team's lineup. If Lucic does sit, it would presumably be a short-term deal to help recharge his batteries, as he has proven be a very effective power forward when he's on his game, which has not been the case much of this year.
Alex Pietrangelo, D, STL - Pietrangelo has not scored a goal since March 7, a span of 18 games. It's not just goals that seem to be eluding Pietrangelo. He has a mere five assists in his last 18 games to boot. He continues to log close to 23 minutes per game during what has become a team-wide scoring slump of seven goals the last seven games.
Ilya Bryzgalov, G, PHI - The Flyers are still undecided on the issue of buying out Bryzgalov's contract. NHL teams have until June 30 to buy out as many as two players, and Bryzgalov's deal has seven years remaining with an annual cap hit of $5.67 million. His overall numbers are down substantially the last two seasons, and with Steve Mason now in Philadelphia, the Universe may be looking for a new planet to inhabit.
Others include Patrik Berglund (streaky player and heading in wrong direction lately), Mikko Koivu (just one point in nine April games), Travis Zajac (three points in April), Brad Boyes (first goal since March 16 on Thursday)), Scottie Upshall (just one goal in last 12 games), Wayne Simmonds (one goal and two assists in nine April games), Lubomir Visnovsky (snapped seven game pointless streak with two assists Thursday), Jacob Markstrom (four straight losses as Florida goes for top pick) and Ben Bishop (TB has lost six of his eight starts).