It's Friday, so it's time to send you off to a weekend of fun and games with a review of some of the most important stories from the frozen pond.
Over the past two weeks the top-4 players in plus/minus all skate for the Bruins, an all told they have eight of the top-12 skaters in that category. The only non-Bruins are Alexandre Burrows (+6), Roman Hamerlik (+6), Duncan Keith (+6) and Dennis Wideman (+6).
Jason Demers has been in an out of the lineup this year, and the addition of Brent Burns has curtailed Demers work on the power-play. Still, it doesn't take much to shoot a puck to the Sharks offensively talented forwards and the result for Demers has been three assists in his last two games and four in five contests.
Rafael Diaz has 13 points in 38 games this season for the Habs from the blue line. He has been held pointless in his last two games but the two games before that he dealt out five helpers giving him five assists in four contests.
Here's a name you need to be paying attention to – Lars Eller. The 13th selection in the 2007 draft, Eller recorded 17 points in 17 games last season for the Canadiens. This year he's equaled that total in 40 fewer games played thanks to rather impressive run of games of late. OK, maybe it wasn't an impressive run as much as it was a massive game that included four goals and an assist against the Jets. Eller has five goals and two assists in his last seven games.
Nathan Horton is finally kicking things into gear. He has recorded three goals in his last two games, and over his last five outings he's posted six points for the Bruins. It's taken him a while to round back into form after injury, but like most of his mates, he's humming now.
Mason Raymond has only one goal the past two weeks, but he's fired 20 shots on net for the Canucks. That's a terrible .050 shooting percentage, but it's way better than Alexei Ponikarovsky and his zero goals on 17 shots mark the past two weeks, the same totals next to the name of Daniel Winnik.
Mike Ribeiro scored two goals on Thursday night. Never a true goal scorer, he's hit the 19 goal mark in each of his last two seasons, Mike is still under that pace this season with eight in 39 games. Part of the blame can be put on his .107 shooting percentage, well below his .144 career mark.
Mikael Samuelsson has appeared in only 13 games this season as he just can't seem to get over the hump physically. Well, for one night at least he was a valuable offensive contributor with two assists against the Rangers Thursday. It's been hard to keep track of cause of his ill health, but Mikael has five points in his last four games while posting a +4 rating for the Panthers. You might consider adding him to the mix if he's out there on the wire.
Craig Anderson has played nearly every game in net for the Senators (36 of 41 games), but his ratios on the year are far from impressive (3.12 GAA, .901 save percentage). However, were you aware that he's currently on a nice little run of late that includes a victory in 4-straight games. During that run he has allowed just five goals leading to a save percentage of at least .929 in each of the four games. Maybe he'll end up being more than a low level goalie #2 this year after all.
Scott Clemmensen is in line for some substantial work over the next couple of weeks as Jose Theodore is now battling an injury to his knee. Clemmensen allowed three goals in just 16 minutes back on December 30th, but in his two outings since then he's held the opposition to four goals in two games while posting an impressive .932 save percentage. Keep an eye on Scott even when Theodore returns. There have been rumors all season that he could be dealt to another club, an if that occurs he could end up with enough playing time to be fantasy relevant.
The Oilers situation is a bit muddled right now. Nikolai Khabibulin has fantastic numbers – 2.33 GAA, .922 save percentage – but things have taken a turn for the worse. That's a predictably turn by the way after The Bulin Wall posted a 1.12 GAA over his first seven starts. During his last eight games Khabibulin is just 2-6, and his GAA is a poor 3.31. The Oilers have started to give backup Devan Dubnyk some more work in net, but he's just 5-10 with a 3.15 GAA on the season. Still, he hasn't played appreciably worse than Khabibulin since the start of December as he has a slightly better record at 2-5, while his GAA is 3.48. Obviously, neither keeper is someone you should blindly put into your starting lineup.
Is Tim Thomas the best goalie in Boston? Tuukka Rask has won each of his last five appearances, posted three shutouts in that time, and allowed a total of ONE goal as he has stopped 128 of 129 shots. Through games on Thursday Rask has a better GAA (1.49) and save percentage (.949) than Thomas (1.90 and .940).
YOU GOTSTA KNOW
It was one year ago yesterday, January 5th, 2011, that the NHL world changed. That was the day that Sidney Crosby was concussed by Victor Hedman on a rather innocuous play. Since that point Crosby has suited up for eight games recoding 12 points. Eight games. Crosby is still out, he last appeared on the ice December 5th of 2011, as yet another concussion related situation has arisen. I hate to write it, but I'm going to anyway – is this the end of the line for one of the greatest offensive players the game has ever seen? Crosby hasn't been ruled out for the remainder of this season, but there is clearly some major concern in Pittsburgh that he might have laced them up for the last time this season. That concern is shared by everyone in the NHL, from the Zamboni drivers to the fans. Let's hope that Sid the Kid gets back out there soon, that he stays out there, and that he reminds everyone why he's one of the best players of his generation. I fear though that the time is growing near that we will have to admit the obvious with Crosby...
THE NUMBERS GAME
.232: The NHL leading shooting percentage of Curtis Glencross. The Flames' forward has 16 goals on just 69 shots to leave him at the top of the heap. The Eastern Conference leader is Jordan Staal who has 15 goals in 68 shots for a .221 shooting percentage. The NHL leader in goals, Steven Stamkos with 28, has a shooting percentage of .203, well above his .166 career mark.
2: The number of months, literally, that it has been since Sheldon Souray scored a goal. He's been on the shelf since December 23rd with an ankle injury, but his last goal was scored on November 4th, 22 games ago for the once potent blue line scorer.
5: The point scoring streak of Dennis Seidenberg. He has two goals and five assists in those five games, a pretty amazing total of points for a guy who has never scored more than 41 points in a season. Seidenberg is also an otherworldly +11 in those five games to lead the league in that time.
6: The league leading shutout total of the Kings' Jonathan Quick. On the year he's dropped his GAA to 1.95 and upped his save percentage to .933. Quick also posted six shutouts last season, and over his last eight starts this season he has six wins (6-0-2). For one more six --- that's the number of loses he has in OT/shootout this season.
19: The number of goals scored by Radim Vrbata of the Coyotes. That's more than Thomas Vanek (18), Claude Giroux (18), Daniel Sedin (18), Alexander Ovechkin (17), Marian Hossa (17) etc.
25: The number of games between goals for Drew Doughty who won the Kings contest with that marker :28 seconds into overtime Thursday night. For a guy who has averaged 14 goals the past two seasons, that's pretty amazing is it not?
100: The percent of games that the oft injured Steve Sullivan has appeared in for the Penguins. That's right, he's appeared in all 38 Penguins contests. However, he's now dealing with an illness and wasn't able to practice on Thursday. It's questionable whether or not he will be able to play Friday night against the Rangers. Since 2005, here are his games played totals: 69, 57, 41, 82 and 44.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.To email Ray a question for next week’s piece, drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.