This article is part of our From the Press Box series.
In recalling one of the key notions that I described in an early-season column, the sidekick theory needs to be revisited. You need to be aware of players who are earning playing time alongside the superstars in the NHL.
Here are a few worth taking stock of:
Nick Ritchie, LW, Anaheim – This 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft looks like he could become a prototypical power forward, given that he's blessed with the requisite size and skill. He gets a big chance to strut his stuff as a first-liner next to Ryan Getzlaf in a revitalized Ducks offense that has been one of the most prolific in the league over the past several weeks.
Connor Murphy, D, Arizona – Murphy has become the regular playing partner for Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and that has meant a significant spike in playing time alongside one of the most prolific offensive blueliners in the league. His point totals don't show it, but he's coming along and slowly being integrated into a strong power-play group.
Lee Stempniak, RW, Boston – Stempniak has made a seamless transition to the Bruins following the trade-deadline deal that brought hi over to Boston. He has six points in his last four games, including an overtime winner, while playing on the first line with stalwarts Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Stemp's experience is a nice fit on this line, but also drops younger players like Jimmy Hayes and David Pastrnak into less stressful minutes,