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NHL Barometer: Lightning Strikes Twice in This Week's 'Risers'

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 the Lightning’s captain shooting sparks, the Kings’ captain wearing the crown well with their top scorer out, Washington’s top-two d-men on the shelf and Minnesota’s top sniper in a goal-scoring funk.

This is the last article of the year. Thanks to all who provided suggestions and comments throughout the season. If you have any further input, please feel free to contact us at or

Happy April Fools' Day and birthday to my dad - thanks for all you do.

First Liners (Risers)

Frans Nielsen, C, NYI – Nielsen scored both of the Islanders' goals in a 3-2 loss to the Devils on Wednesday. The underrated center is having a breakout year with 13 goals and 31 assists, both career highs. The fact that he's a plus-14 on a dreadful Islanders squad also speaks volumes. The only negative - Nielsen left Thursday’s game after being run into the boards, so be sure to check his status before grabbing him.

Vincent Lecavalier, C, TB – Lecavalier had an assist in Tampa Bay’s postseason-clinching win over Pittsburgh Thursday, giving him six assists, and eight total points, during his current six-game point streak. The Lightning captain’s hot streak extends much further than the recent point streak - he picked 24 points in his last 23 games and totaled 37 points in his last 42 contests. Lecavalier is peaking at the right time, and his slow start seems but a distant memory.

Sergei Kostitsyn, RW, NAS – Kostitsyn saw his seven-game point streak, during which he tallied three goals and six assists, come to an end Thursday, but that does not diminish what he has done this season. Kostitsyn has scored a career-high 45 points (19G, 26A) and has emerged as a top-six forward for the Preds following his arrival from Montreal in the offseason. In addition, for those leagues that use shooting percentage as a category, Kostitsyn leads the league at 22.4 percent.

Dustin Brown, RW, LA – Brown saw his three-game streak, in which he scored two points in each contest, come to an end Thursday. With Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams lost for the year, someone in LA had to step up, and who better to do so that Brown, the team’s captain? With two goals on both March 24 and 29, Brown now has 27 goals after finishing each of the past two seasons with 24. His plus-15 rating is also pretty impressive considering he was a combined minus-65 the past five seasons

Martin St. Louis, RW, TB – Last week, I highlighted Teemu Selanne. This week, it’s time for another veteran with St. Louis getting a repeat stint in the bold type. St. Louis scored Thursday, giving him goals in three straight, and a total of four in those three contests. The point gives the University of Vermont alum 17 points in his last 12 contests and 92 (30G, 62A) – the second highest total in the league – in 77 games this season. St. Louis will get to showcase his talent in the playoffs after Thursday’s the win helped Tamp Bay clinch their first postseason berth since the 2006-07 campaign.

John Carlson, D, WAS – Carlson had a superb night Thursday against the Blue Jackets, scoring the game's first goal and assisting on the game winner, 2:30 into overtime. With fellow d-man Mike Green still on the shelf due to concussion-like symptoms, Carlson, who has 35 points and a plus-20 rating in 78 games, remains the top offensive blueliner for the Caps. This gives him significant fantasy upside in most formats, so deploy him accordingly

Zdeno Chara, D, BOS – For each of the past six seasons, including this one, Chara has notched at least 43 points. Throw in a plus-31 rating, 84 penalty minutes and 14 points on the man-advantage, and you see why he is a top-flight defenseman.

Ray Emery, G, ANA – Emery took a one-year sabbatical to Russia after losing his job in Ottawa to Martin Gerber, but he returned to the NHL with the Flyers last season. A major hip injury, which required surgery, ended his season early last year and sidelined him for the first portion in this one. However, Anaheim’s decision to take a flier on in February is paying big dividends. With Jonas Hiller out due to vertigo, Emery was recalled in early March. Since, all he has done is keep his team in the playoff hunt, going 6-0 with a 1.90 goals-against average (GAA) and .935 save percentage (SV%).

Al Montoya, G, NYI – Montoya, who didn’t pan out with the Rangers or Coyotes, has made the most of his chance with the Islanders. Montoya defeated the Rangers Thursday, stopping 25 of 27 shots to improve his record to 9-4-4 with a .2.33 GAA and 92.3 SV%. His strong play earned Montoya a one-year, one-way extension with the Islanders. He is expected to battle Rick DiPietro, and maybe Kevin Poulin and Mikko Koskinen, for the team’s starting goalie spot in 2011-12.

Others include: Joe Thornton (two assists Thursday, five-game point streak, three points shy of 1,000 for career), Jeff Skinner, Patrick Marleau, Mike Ribeiro, Antoine Vermette, Ryan Getzlaf, Henrik Sedin, Nazem Kadri, Logan Couture, Mikhail Grabovski, Eric Staal, David Backes, Ryan Kesler, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Scottie Upshall, Jarome Iginla (also just three points shy of 1,000 for his career), Simon Gagne, Teemu Selanne, Daniel Sedin, Matt D’Agostini, Chris Stewart, Tuomo Ruutu, Corey Perry, Nathan Horton, Ilya Kovalchuk, Erik Cole, Martin Erat, Daniel Briere, Jamie McBain, Johnny Boychuk, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Alex Pietrangelo, James Wisniewski, Mark Giordano, Lubomir Visnovsky, Dan Boyle, Cam Ward, Sergei Bobrovsky, Pekka Rinne, Antti Niemi, James Reimer, Michal Neuvirth, Jhonas Enroth, Tim Thomas and Marc-Andre Fleury

Training Room (Injuries)

Anze Kopitar, C, LA – The Kings took their second big hit within a week, losing Kopitar for the season right after losing Justin Williams. Kopitar broke his right ankle and also suffered ligament damage during last Saturday’s game against Colorado. He had successful surgery to repair the ligaments Wednesday, but that injury, coupled with the break, will keep off the ice until at least mid-summer and could leave his status for the start of the 2011-12 season somewhat in doubt.

Sidney Crosby, C, PIT – Crosby (concussion) completed his first game-day skate since January on Thursday. Even though Crosby says he no longer has no concussion symptoms, it doesn't sound as though he's close to returning. If he progresses well over the next week, it’s feasible that he gets into a game before the end of the year. That said, Pittsburgh would be ecstatic if Crosby makes it back for the playoffs.

Rick Nash, LW, NAS – Nash, who sat out Thursday’s game against Washington with an undisclosed injury, may also miss Friday’s tilt against the Blackhawks. The speculation is that Nash is dealing with a strained groin. With Columbus out of playoff contention, there is no reason for the team to take a chance with their star winger, especially with the rumors floating around that the Blue Jackets may consider moving Nash in the offseason.

Dennis Wideman, D, WAS – The Caps consider Wideman week-to-week with the lower body injury he suffered Tuesday against Carolina. While neither his injury nor a timetable for his return have been outlined, calling the blueliner "week-to-week" suggests that we may not see Wideman again until the playoffs.

Mike Green, D, WAS – Green, out since February 25. and on long-term injured reserve due to a head injury/concussion, may be able to practice Friday. No, this is not an April Fools’ joke, but even if Green does skate, there is no word as to when he might be able to return to action.

Jonas Hiller, G, ANA – After missing 15 games, Hiller was activated March 23 and started one game before being pulled in the first period for poor performance. Hiller acknowledged Wednesday that he is still experiencing vertigo symptoms, so don’t expect to see him on the ice for a while. Ray Emery is on fire, and it looks like he'll start most of the remaining regular season for the Ducks. Hiller owners will be lucky to get anything the rest of the way.

Ryan Miller, G, BUF – Miller is dealing with an upper-body injury and is day-to-day. Miller took a shot to the collarbone from Dion Phaneuf Tuesday, but the severity of the injury has not been revealed. The Sabres, battling to hold onto a playoff spot, turned to Jhonas Enroth Wednesday. Enroth came through in a big way, shutting out the Rangers 1-0, but he clearly is not Miller. No timetable has been given as to when Miller might be ready to return to action.

Others include: Derek Roy (quadriceps, skating, may be back for playoffs), Brendan Morrison (knee, return during regular season in doubt), Steve Sullivan (groin surgery, may miss rest of regular season), Ryan Malone (mid-body, returned to action Thursday after missing 21 games), Grant Clitsome (knee, may miss rest of the year), Erik Karlsson (cut thigh, 25 stitches, day-to-day), Chris Pronger (wrist, mild setback, may be out until the playoffs), Jordan Leopold (finger, out for rest of season), Jimmy Howard (sprained shoulder, back in action Saturday)

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Erik Christensen, C, NYR – Fortunes can change quickly in sports. Two weeks ago, Christensen was a ‘Riser’ and the Rangers had just gotten on a roll. Fast forward 14 days – the Rangers have now lost three of four and Christensen is close to being a healthy scratch again. Christensen has not scored in five games and has been removed from the spot next to Marian Gaborik.

Travis Zajac, C, NJ – Zajac appeared poised to take the next step in his development heading into 2010-2011. After scoring 62 points in 2008-09, and 67 last year, expectations were that Zajac could be a point-per-game player skating alongside Zach Parise again. The loss of Parise has hurt Zajac, but that can’t be the only reason his numbers plummeted so dramatically this year. Zajac might get a late-season bump now that Parise in back, but even if he does, the season as a whole has been a disappointment.

Martin Havlat, RW, MIN – Havlat has had a solid season, notching 22 goals and 40 assists. However, of late, his goal scoring has hit the skids. He has just one goal in his last 12 games and posted just two in the month of March. Despite the cold stretch, it’s been a good year for Havlat, who has played more than 70 games for the third straight year and will finish with at least the third-highest point total of his career.

David Booth, LW, FLA – Booth ended a seven-game scoring drought with a tally Tuesday against Columbus. Booth has been a streaky player this season, but his 22 goals aren’t bad when you consider he spent the early part of the year shaking off last season's concussion. If he truly is healthy, Booth will likely be a bounceback candidate next season. However, the lack of talent around him in Florida may limit his offensive potential.

Drew Doughty, D, LA – Following what appeared to be a breakthrough 2009-10 campaign, Doughty entered this season as a top fantasy defenseman. However, as we come close to wrapping up the season, the year can best be described as disappointing for Doughty and his owners. Doughty has 13 goals, 26 assists and a plus-13 rating, numbers that pale in comparison to the 16, 43 and plus-20 he notched just a year ago. Plus, his turnovers Thursday against Vancouver were a big reason why LA lost 3-1.

Kari Lehtonen, G, DAL – For the most part, Lehtonen has provided the Stars all they could want and more in replacing Marty Turco. Lehtonen is 30-22-11 with a 2.58 GAA and 91.5 SV%. However, of late, he has hit the skids. Lehtonen has lost his last five starts, and while he hasn’t been horrible and three of the losses have come in overtime, the fact is he has not been stellar. Lehtonen should be in net nightly with Dallas battling for the eighth spot in the West, but that does not mean he needs to be in your lineup every night.

Others include: Jordan Staal, Steven Stamkos, Artem Anisimov, T.J. Oshie, Derek Stepan, Wojtek Wolski, Alexei Kovalev, Marek Svatos, Michael Ryder, Patrik Elias, Michael Frolik, Mats Zuccarello-Aasen, Scott Hartnell, Marco Sturm, Sami Salo, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ian White, Adrian Aucoin, Dimitry Kulikov, John-Michael Liles, Carey Price, Braden Holtby, Dan Ellis, Niklas Backstrom, Brian Elliott, Ondrej Pavelec, Peter Budaj, Miikka Kiprusoff and Tomas Vokoun