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NHL Barometer: A Kid Again in Pittsburgh

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 a rookie Senator heating up, a Predator on verge of breakthrough campaign, another key injury in Philly and changes in Buffalo not helping Team USA's goalie.

First Liners (Risers)

Patrik Berglund, C, STL -
Berglund scored a goal for the fourth straight game Tuesday in St. Louis' 2-1 loss to San Jose. While that streak was stopped Wednesday, Berglund has nine goals and two assists in 17 games this season. Berglund has alternated good and bad years the past four seasons, and if the pattern holds true, he should be in line to continue his fine recent play and have another solid campaign.

Sidney Crosby, C, PIT -
One could ask, and rightfully so, why bother putting Sid the Kid here? It's not as if he is an unknown quantity and unowned in leagues, so what's the point? He is listed here because he is healthy, which has been a major concern the last two full seasons, and has shown no signs of slippage. Crosby added some muscle this offseason while not sacrificing any skill, seen in his 25 points in 17 games.

Jakob Silfverberg, RW, OTT -
Much was expected from Silfverberg entering the year after he made a successful intro to the NHL in last year's playoffs. However, early on, he failed to meet those expectations, struggling the first part of the season. Silfverberg appears to be hitting his stride with points in three straight games, including a goal Thursday against the Rangers. With Ottawa missing Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek up front and Erik Karlsson on the back end, Silfverberg should see his minutes continue to rise, including on the man-advantage.

Colin Wilson, LW, NAS -
Wilson extended his points streak to five games Tuesday with two assists in Nashville's overtime win against Detroit, though he also went minus-2. Wilson leads Nashville in points with 14 in 17 games this year, marking a breakout season for the young forward. That breakout could have occurred last season, as he posted 35 points, but he missed 14 games with an injury. This year, skating alongside David Legwand and Martin Erat, he could challenge that career high set just last season.

Blake Wheeler, RW, WPG -
Last week, it was Andrew Ladd getting the spotlight treatment and this week, it's Wheeler. Last year, Wheeler quietly led the Jets with 64 points, and the challenge presented to him was to do it again. The lockout will prevent him from matching that amount, but after tallying two goals Thursday, he now has 13 points in 16 games. After a hot start, Wheeler had been slumping a bit with just three assists in eight February contests, but he reversed that trend with the pair of lamplighters Thursday.

Dion Phaneuf, D, TOR -
Phaneuf scored a goal and assisted on another in Toronto's win over Buffalo on Thursday. After ending his five-game points streak Tuesday, during which he scored six of his then seven points on the season, Phaneuf went right back out there and started another streak. He's been typically effective this year, with what's become typically bad plus-minus, and when you throw in his penalty minutes, hits and blocked shots, it becomes even clearer why he is a top-flight fantasy D-man.

Paul Martin, D, PIT -
Martin tallied three assists Wednesday, giving him 12 points (2 G, 10 A) in 17 games. His fantasy value has never been higher since signing with the Penguins three seasons ago. Martin's seeing plenty of power-play time and the team is using him extensively in all situations. While much of the focus entering the season was on Kris Letang, Martin is the most valuable D-man in Pittsburgh.

Ray Emery, G, CHI -
While Corey Crawford's received many of the plaudits, Emery's quietly won all six of his outings this season, making his bid to be this year's Brian Elliott. Corey Crawford (upper body) is inching closer but not yet ready to return, so Emery still has some short-term fantasy utility. The fact that Emery is even playing at this level is remarkable as his career looked to be over a few years ago when he was sidelined with a hip injury, so anything else for him is pure gravy.

Ben Scrivens, G, TOR -
Scrivens gave up just a single goal on 32 shots in Toronto's win over the Sabres on Thursday, rebounding nicely from being pulling Tuesday against Tampa. He's made a good case for an expanded role even when James Reimer is healthy, delivering impressive production. In his nine starts thus far, he's got two shutouts and three one-goal games. Reimer just returned to skating this week, so Scrivens, like Emery, should retain some short-term value.

Others include David Desharnais, Nazem Kadri, Steven Stamkos, Henrik Sedin, Cody Hodgson, Mike Ribeiro, Evgeni Malkin, Tomas Plekanec, Patrik Elias, Ryan Kesler, John Tavares, Jamie Benn, Matt Duchene, Andrew Ladd, Max Pacioretty, Teddy Purcell, Phil Kessel (on a roll lately), Jiri Tlusty (two more goals Thursday), Benoit Pouliot, Corey Perry (Katy wanted her own rep back), Claude Giroux, Pascal Dupuis, Jonathan Huberdeau (leading Calder race?), Ilya Kovalchuk, Michael Ryder, Jordan Eberle, Jamie McGinn, Mikkel Boedker, Alexander Edler, Christian Ehrhoff, Keith Yandle, Dougie Hamilton, Duncan Keith, Cody Franson, Shea Weber (slow start a memory), Jacob Markstrom (called up in Florida), Robin Lehner/Ben Bishop (depending on who starts with Craig Anderson out), Tuukka Rask, Martin Brodeur, Jonathan Quick, Jonathan Bernier, Carey Price and Viktor Fasth (signed two-year extension with Anaheim).

Training Room (Injuries)

Artem Anisimov, C, CMB -
Anisimov, who returned to action Thursday after missing two games with a foot injury, lay motionless on the ice right after the collision that caused him to leave the game on a stretcher. He appeared to lose his footing behind the Red Wings' net while Kyle Quincey accidentally fell on him. Fortunately, preliminary reports that Anisimov lost consciousness are believed to be incorrect, but the injury is still a scary one and he could be sidelined for some time.

Jeff Skinner, LW, CAR -
Last week, coach Kirk Muller said he was unsure if Skinner suffered any concussion-related symptoms after taking hard hits during last Thursday's game. As time wore on and Skinner did not improve, it became clear that Skinner did in fact suffer a concussion. This marks the second consecutive season that Skinner will miss time due to a concussion, having missed 16 games last season following a similar injury in early December. This is a big blow for the Canes and fantasy owners alike, as Skinner is the team's second-leading scorer with 14 points (7 G, 7 A) in 13 games.

Matt Read, RW, PHI -
Read, who at the time of his injury was leading the Flyers in goals with seven, suffered multiple muscle tears in his rib cage Wednesday and is expected to miss six weeks. In his rookie year Read posted an impressive 47 points in 79 games, with his 24 goals leading all NHL rookies. Many felt that he would build off that solid campaign, and he looked to be doing just that with 13 points in 18 games this year while skating at times on the top line. Read now will not return until early April, which will leave him 3-4 weeks of action until the end of the season.

Craig Anderson, G, OTT -
Already without several players, including Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson, Ottawa could ill-afford another injury, yet that's what happened Thursday against the Rangers. Anderson, who has been phenomenal again this year for the Senators, collided with Chris Kreider in the third period Thursday and had to be helped off the ice. His leg got caught behind him, putting his ankle at a strange angle, and looks to be fortunate that the ankle is only sprained. That said, given how much push a goalie generates off his skates to go move across the crease, it would not be surprising if Anderson was sidelined for a while.

Others include Marian Hossa (head, could play Friday), Scott Hartnell (foot, cleared to skate, back in a week), Gabriel Landeskog (concussion, possibly back soon), Rick Nash (concussion or groin? You make the call, indefinite), Milan Hejduk (torso, DTD), Milan Michalek (knee, expected back next week), Johan Franzen (hip, still sidelined), Kyle Quincey (LBI, DTD), Mike Green (LBI, DTD), Jamie McBain (undisclosed, may miss several weeks), Jake Gardiner (concussion, playing in AHL), Cam Fowler (UBI, slated Thursday), Jaroslav Halak (groin, returned to action Wednesday), Corey Crawford (UBI, appears close to returning) and Jimmy Howard (blurred vision, started Thursday, but blew 2-0 lead).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Pierre-Marc Bouchard, C, MIN -
Bouchard, who missed the Wild's last game because of an illness, returned for Thursday's game at Edmonton. Bouchard, who had just three points in 13 games, re-joined a line with Kyle Brodziak and Cal Clutterbuck. From the 2005-06 through 2007-08 seasons, Bouchard was a solid offensive weapon. Since then, his production has dropped annually while injuries have kept him off the ice seemingly more than he's been on it.

Zack Kassian, RW, VAN -
Kassian was dropped to the fourth line Thursday. Kassian flashed his potential early this season, scoring a goal in five of six games while skating with the Sedins on the top line, but he's been pushed down the depth chart now that Ryan Kesler and David Booth are healthy. The young winger likely will bounce between lines all season, but he'll need to see some of the team's veterans hit the shelf again before returning to as prominent of a role as he held to start the season.

Ryan Whitney, D, EDM -
Remember when Whitney was a viable offensive defenseman with a lot of upside? Yeah, me too, but that ship has long sailed. Injuries cut short several recent seasons, and now, even though he is healthy, he was scratched Thursday for the third time this year. Whitney is now the seventh/eighth defenseman in Edmonton and could be on the verge of being traded.

Ryan Miller, G, BUF -
It's almost blasphemous to put Miller on this side of the ledger because many of his struggles are not due to himself but his team. Miller dropped his third straight game and fifth in the last six Thursday, giving up three goals on 36 shots against the Leafs; the 12th time in 16 starts he faced at least 30 shots. Miller is getting absolutely no help, as the Sabres defense has been porous and the offense has almost been nonexistent, something that cost coach Lindy Ruff his job Wednesday and did not change in the first game under new coach Ron Rolston.

Others include Olli Jokinen (still struggling in Winnipeg), Kyle Turris (not making the most of top-line duty in Ottawa), Nail Yakupov (hot start, demoted to fourth line and now back to second. How will he respond?), Valtteri Filppula (called out by coach Mike Babcock for poor play), Marian Gaborik (seven goals, yet seems to be unproductive), Stefan Matteau (spending most of his time in the press box), Brian Campbell (rough February), John-Michael Liles (odd man out already in Toronto?), Tomas Vokoun (at one point, looked as if he might threaten Marc-Andre Fleury for playing time. Those days are over).

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