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NHL Barometer: Perry's Firework Lighting it Up

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 Get Carter, a hot Flyer, a center in Vancouver who just can't seem to stay healthy and a pair of Panthers in major slumps.

First Liners (Risers)

Jeff Carter, C, LA -
You could easily argue that Anze Kopitar (eight points his last four games) or Mike Richards (points in seven of his last eight games) should get the nod here, but goals in five consecutive games tipped the scales in favor of Carter, who has lit the lamp 11 times this year. He only has two assists, but that is being really picayune, as it's hard to complain about his production when he already is more than halfway to his goal total of a year ago.

Nazem Kadri, C, TOR -
Before the season began, Kadri was one of prominent names mentioned in a potential deal for Roberto Luongo. When not discussed as part of that deal, the remaining chatter about Kadri was centered on whether he will live up to his talent or be viewed as a bust. Through the first 22 games of the year, Kadri has answered his critics; driving hard to the net while taking punishment to make plays. He punctuated his early season success with a hat trick Thursday, giving him eight goals and 13 assists in 22 games.

Jakub Voracek, RW, PHI -
The roll Voracek was on had to end sometime, and it took until the last game of the month for Philly for that to happen. Prior to that contest, Voraeck has posted five goals and nine assists in a six-game point streak and had 21 of his 24 points in February. His hot streak helped Philly overcome the absence of Scott Hartnell, who just recently returned to the lineup. After arriving in Philadelphia last year via the Jeff Carter trade, Voracek managed a career high plus-11 and 10 points in 11 playoff games. He parlayed that hot streak into a four-year, $17 million deal with the Flyers, which so far looks like money well spent.

Corey Perry, RW, ANA -
Two weeks ago, I highlighted Perry's struggles while referring to him as Katy. Obviously, that was the impetus he needed to turn around his season, as since then he has been on fire. Perry notched three assists Wednesday, giving him a six-game point streak, during which he notched 11 of his 17 points. Just two years ago, Perry was the NHL's only 50-game scorer, so his talent is not a question. One of the big questions coming into the year was whether Anaheim would be able to keep Perry or Ryan Getzlaf as unrestricted free agents. Both are making their case to stay, which is good news for the Ducks and fantasy owners.

Matt Moulson, LW, NYI -
Moulson looks like the best free-agent find under Garth Snow's tenure on the Island. Entering the season, Moulson scored 97 goals his three years with the Islanders and posted a career-high 69 points and 36 goals last year. He has shown no signs of slowing this season, scoring 10 goals with 13 assists in 24 games while skating on a line with John Tavares. The only negative is his minus-nine rating, but if he continues to rack up points as he has, you can easily look past that for your fantasy team.

Marc Staal, D, NYR -
Staal is better known for his defensive ability, but he flashed his offensive skill in February. His goal Thursday against the Lightning means that he scored eight of his 11 points on the season during the last month. While he won't match his career-high 29 points set in 2010-11, the fact that Staal is now healthy and productive is a huge boost for the Rangers while a nice surprise for his fantasy owners.

Niklas Kronwall, D, DET -
Kronwall's performance has been up-and-down, but his overall stats are nice. Kronwall endured a five-game pointless streak but rebounded with back-to-back three-point efforts. He now has 16 points in 21 games, looking like the fantasy force that scored 51 points in 2008-09.

Ondrej Pavelec, G, WPG -
It was just a few weeks ago that Pavelec was on the Fallers list, but as we know, it's fairly common to go from the outhouse to penthouse in hockey in that span. Pavelec beat the Devils on Thursday for his fifth win in his last sixth starts, four of which came on the road. During this stretch, Pavelec has lowered his goals-against average (GAA) to less than three and raised his save percentage (SV%) above .900. While that doesn't sound like much, but given how bad he struggled a while ago, it's a pretty nice accomplishment.

Tuukka Rask, G, BOS -
Rask won his fifth game in a row Thursday, stopping 30 of 31 to prevail in overtime against the Senators. With just one regulation loss and 11 wins on his record, along with a sub-two GAA and SV% above .930, Rask's been one of the league's most valuable netminders this year. His overall numbers this year, coupled with strong campaigns last year and in 2009-10 make his 2010-11 struggles look like a major aberration.

Others include Ryan O'Reilly (offer sheet by Calgary on Thursday was matched later that evening by Colorado, so he should be back in action shortly), John Tavares, Ryan Getzlaf, Cody Eakin, Cody Hodgson, Steven Stamkos, Matt Stajan (spike in value continues as O'Reilly will not be a Flame), Patrik Elias, Michael Cammalleri, Brayden Schenn, Simon Gagne (who says you can't go home again?), Jarome Iginla (his game seems to be back, Raffi Torres, Tomas Fleischmann, Alex Tanguay, Evander Kane, Michael Ryder, Martin St. Louis, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kunitz, Ales Hemsky, Mikkel Boedker, Andrew Ladd, Henrik Zetterberg, Derek Dorsett, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Ovechkin (will hat trick spur a major hot streak?), Damien Brunner, P.A. Parenteau, Brendan Gallagher, Jiri Tlusty (two more goals Thursday, same as last week), Brenden Dillon, Zach Bogosian, Mark Streit, Cody Franson, Grant Clitsome, Dougie Hamilton, Justin Schultz, Francois Beauchemin, Paul Martin, Braden Holtby (alternating good and bad stretches), Ray Emery (will start in net for as long as Crawford is out), Mike Smith (was hot until Thursday's game against Minnesota), Ilya Bryzgalov (numbers aren't phenomenal but in net almost nightly), Mathieu Garon (more PT with Lindback struggling), Robin Lehner/Ben Bishop (until Craig Anderson is activated) and Dan Ellis.

Training Room (Injuries)

Ryan Kesler, C, VAN -
Kesler, who seemingly can't stay healthy, will now be sidelined long-term with another injury. This one is a broken foot, which will keep him out 4-to-6 weeks. Kesler sustained the injury Feb. 15 but managed to play six games before realizing something was wrong. Prior to being sidelined, Kesler had five points in seven games as he worked his way back in shape after starting the year on the sidelines because of shoulder and wrist surgeries.

Vladimir Tarasenko, LW, STL -
Tarasenko, who suffered a concussion on a hit by Mark Olver last Wednesday, reportedly is feeling better but is not ready to return to the ice yet. The 21-year-old rookie has recorded 12 points in 17 games for the Blues this season. Tarasenko's injury prompted a rant by coach Ken Hitchcock as to the proliferation of head shots in general and the lack of respect that seems to have pervaded the game the last several years. Hopefully, Tarasenko, who had a huge start before cooling, gets back in the lineup soon.

Brendan Smith, D, DET -
Smith, who had been out been since Feb. 2 with a right shoulder injury, was activated from IR on Tuesday night and played Wednesday against the Kings. Prior to being sidelined, Smith hadn't done much offensively in his eight games, but he delivered seven points in 14 games (1 G, 6 A) and a plus-3 rating in his first taste of Detroit last season. Smith's shoulder got an immediate test, absorbing a hit from Dustin Penner, but he is not expected to miss any time and should see his minutes and opportunities rise as the season wears on.

James Wisniewski, G, CMB -
The Blue Jackets placed Wisniewski, who is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks with a broken foot, on IR, retroactive to Feb. 24. Wisniewski suffered the injury blocking a shot Feb. 24 against Chicago. This is the second year that an injury has wreaked havoc with Wisniewski's season after signing a six-year, $33 million deal with the Blue Jackets in July 2011. He has shown that he can be productive when on the ice, but that has been too limited for Columbus and his owners to rely on.

Others include Gabriel Landeskog (concussion, returned to action Tuesday), Evgeni Malkin (concussion, skating on his own), Rick Nash (mystery injury, returned to lineup Thursday after missing four games, tallied a goal and an assist while taking 12 shots), Jeff Skinner (concussion, goal in return to action Thursday), Andy McDonald (left foot, week-to-week), Kris Versteeg (chest, no timeframe for return), Scott Hartnell (foot, back in action), Brandon Dubinsky (knee, could be back next week), Radim Vrbata (LBI, has missed five straight games), Michael Del Zotto (hip, returned to lineup Thursday after missing two games), Kevin Bieksa (groin, DTD), Martin Brodeur (back, IR), Craig Anderson (practiced with the Senators on Thursday) and Corey Crawford (left Thursday's game after first period; may have aggravated his UBI that sidelined him earlier in the month).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Stephen Weiss, C, FLA -
Weiss, an unrestricted free agent after the season, isn't doing much to boost either his trade stock or earnings potential. He has just one goal and three assists in 14 games, which led to him being benched for much of the third period of last Sunday's game against the Bruins. Weiss is also a minus-11 to date, after recording a plus-5 rating last season. Prior to this year, Weiss had scored at least 42 points the last six years, which makes this year's struggles all the more surprising.

Marcus Foligno, RW, BUF -
Foligno was a healthy scratch for Buffalo's game Thursday against the Panthers. Foligno was a revelation for the Sabres in the second half last year, with 13 points in 14 games, but has struggled mightily to start this season. He hasn't lit the lamp since Jan. 27 in Washington, a span of 15 games. He still has multi-category potential in keeper leagues, but it's best to stash him.

Jonathon Blum, D, NAS -
After scoring points in three straight games, Blum was a healthy scratch on Feb. 22. After sitting out a game, Blum returned to the lineup, but has gone scoreless in the three games since. With Ryan Suter now in Minnesota, Blum and Roman Josi were counted on to pick up the slack, but neither has been consistent this season.

Jose Theodore, G, FLA -
Theodore almost singlehandedly carried Florida last year while also holding off Jacob Markstrom between the pipes in the Sunshine State. This year, it's been a reversal of fortune, as Theodore won't lower his GAA for the third straight year. Theodore has struggled so badly that Florida promoted Markstrom, and even when Joe Ted gets back between the pipes, he likely won't right the ship.

Others include Nik Antropov (seven points in 20 games, better lately, but still not a reliable option), David Clarkson (had to expect he would come back to earth a bit after such a hot start), Michael Grabner (has rebounded after nightmarish 2011-12 season, yet still not close to 34-goal effort from two years ago), Chris Kreider (back to the Whale), Jussi Jokinen (four points in 19 games), Erik Cole (move to Big D probably lands him on third line), Marek Zidlicky (better lately, but still not a reliable option), Victor Hedman (some growth, but still string of games with little to no production), Anders Lindback (struggling and has lost time to Garon), Rick DiPietro (waived and demoted to AHL).