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NHL Barometer: Leaf Not Falling

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 second center in Anaheim on a roll, a hot winger on Broadway, the return of a top winger in Montreal and Hockeytown's big offseason acquisition struggling.

First Liners (Risers)

Mathieu Perreault, C, ANA -
Perreault assisted on Devante Smith-Pelly's first-period goal and scored one of his own late in the second Thursday in Anaheim's 3-2 shootout loss to Boston. He had gone three straight games without scoring but that may have been partially attributable to the wrist injury he suffered last Friday. Perreault's been a boon to fantasy owners since coming over to Anaheim, with 12 points in 13 games, and that appears set to continue.

Nazem Kadri, C, TOR -
Kadri picked up an assist Wednesday to extend his point streak to three games and five points (two goals, three assists). While there have been lapses in effort, Kadri is starting to prove that last year's hot start wasn't a fluke. He now has 13 points in 14 games, flourishing on the top line. Keep him going even if he's moved down the lineup when Tyler Bozak returns.

Chris Kreider, RW, NYR -
It looked like it was going to be another lost year for Kreider when he was sent back to Hartford to open the season. How wrong we might have been? Injuries as well as his own solid play in the minors open the door for CK20, and so far, he is making the most of it. Kreider has goals in back-to-back games and is finally using his size, speed and skill skating on a line with Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello. With Rick Nash sidelined indefinitely with a concussion, jump on Kredier if he is available in your league.

James van Riemsdyk, LW, TOR -
Van Riemsdyk stretched his point streak to five games and seven points when he scored his seventh goal of the season in Toronto's win over Calgary on Wednesday. The big man has 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 12 games this season, but this goal was an impressive short-handed effort. Van Riemsdyk should continue to produce for the Maple Leafs.

Jarome Iginla, RW, BOS -
After a slow start to the season, Iginla reeled off a five-game scoring streak before being shut out Thursday. Now that he finally appears to be comfortable with his new linemates, it seems Iginla, who is a notoriously slow starter, can be counted on to provide point production more nights than not.

Dennis Wideman, D, CGY -
Wideman carded two assists and finished the night plus-5 as Calgary rolled past Washington last Saturday, 5-2. He added another assist Wednesday, giving him eight points in 12 games. After a slow start, Wideman has heated up, and with Mark Giordano out six-to-eight weeks, much of the offense from the blue line in Calgary will be provided by Wideman.

Keith Yandle, D, PHX -
Yandle added an assist on a power-play goal Tuesday against the Kings. He added another helper Thursday, giving him eight points in a five-game point streak and points in six of his last seven games. After a slow start to the season, Yandle is on fire, moving himself up into the leading scorers among defensemen. Oliver Ekman-Larsson may overshadow him at times, but Yandle is a top-notch D-man in his own right.

Kari Lehtonen, G, DAL -
Lehtonen allowed two goals on 24 shots, but took the loss Tuesday in Montreal. Despite the loss, Lehtonen continues to deliver solid results in goal for the Stars as well as his fantasy owners. This was just his second regulation loss, as he is 4-2-1 with a 1.66 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. Lehtonen is back to 100 percent after missing some time with a lower-body injury and should play almost every game in Big D.

Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR -
Lundqvist stopped all 29 shots that came his way Thursday in a 2-0 win over Buffalo for his 47TH career shutout. The Rangers as well as Lundqvist played perhaps their best game of the year in this one, but it did come against a very poor team in the Sabres. Nonetheless, after an uneven start to the season, the Rangers and Henrik's fantasy owners have to be thrilled with this performance. He next draws a Carolina team on Saturday that's without its top two goalies, presenting a tasty opportunity for offensive support. Hank has now had back-to-back strong games, starting to put his slow start behind him.

Others include Tomas Plekanec (still rolling), Derek Stepan (signs of life), Jonathan Toews (hat trick Tuesday), Bryan Little (quietly effective in the 'Peg), Anze Kopitar (playing like the top line center he is), David Krejci (meshing with Milan Lucic), Vincent Lecavalier (hat trick in return to action), Ryan Johansen (six points last six games), Alexander Steen (11 goals already), Zuccarello (seeing PP time), Lucic (off to a solid start), Shane Doan (six points last seven games), Jason Pominville (scoring in Minnesota), Blake Wheeler (heating up), Kyle Okposo (still on top line on the Island), Justin Fontaine (getting a look as top line left winger for the Wild), Phil Kessel (sniper), Ryan Kesler (seeing time with the Sedins), Patrick Marleau (hot start again, 15 points in 13 games), Corey Perry (hot but overshadowed a bit by Ryan Getzlaf), Filip Forsberg (think Washington wishes it had him back?), Martin St. Louis (ho-hum, another big year), Nick Leddy (warming up), Ryan McDonagh (top PP duty), Eric Gelinas (sticking in NJ), Dougie Hamilton (some signs of life lately), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (the pickle rolling), Jay Bouwmeester (rolling in the Arch City), Alex Pietrangelo (absolutely on fire), Erik Karlsson (Superman?), Jaroslav Halak (no signs of slippage), Marc-Andre Fleury (big regular season again), Justin Peters (starting with Cam Ward out), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (upgrade with questionable status of Semyon Varlamov) and Frederik Andersen (pretty good goaltending pipeline in Anaheim),

Training Room (Injuries)

Alexander Ovechkin, RW, WAS -
Capitals coach Adam Oates said Ovechkin, who sat out Friday against the Flyers with an upper-body injury, could play Saturday against the Panthers. Nothing's set in stone, but the fact that Ovechkin, who missed his first game since February 2012, has a chance to play Saturday just further suggests his injury is not overly serious. If the team has any reservations about Ovechkin's heath, however, it could hold him out until Tuesday.

Max Pacioretty, LW, MTL -
Pacioretty, who last played Oct. 15 and has sat out with a hamstring injury since, is slated to play this weekend. The winger tallied two goals and an assist in just five games this season before he was sidelined. Activate him ASAP.

Jacob Trouba, D, WPG -
Trouba (neck) has not resumed skating and is not close to a return. Although Trouba has been seen recently without his brace, he still has a long way to go in his recovery from a neck sprain. The initial timetable for his return was set at two weeks, but it sounds like Trouba will be out well beyond then

Others include Sam Gagner (broken jaw, returned to action), Brent Burns (mouth, skating on his own, may be close to returning), Teemu Selanne (oral surgery, stitches in mouth, out two weeks), Charlie Coyle (knee, to be activated Friday), Jeff Skinner (UBI, placed on IR), Nathan Horton (MRI scheduled for next week to determine the progress in his healing), Loui Eriksson (concussion, still sidelined), Ryan Callahan (broken left thumb, probably a week to 10 days away from returning), Rob Scuderi (surgery on broken ankle, out indefinitely), Mark Giordano (broken ankle, out 6-to-8 weeks), Dan Boyle (head, skated Tuesday, getting close to returning), Kris Letang (knee, returned to action last Friday), Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion, not close to returning), Devan Dubnyk (nursing ankle injury, DTD) and Cory Schneider (LBI, IR, practiced Thursday).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Stephen Weiss, C, DET -
Weiss, who scored only two points in his first 11 games WAS dropped to the Wings' third line. The move hasn't helped his game, as he is scoreless in two contests since the change occurred. Weiss has struggled so far this season, but to be fair, this is his first season with higher expectations in a bigger market, after signing a five-year deal worth $4.9 million per season, and he's also coming off an injury. He should straighten his game out at some point, but it's taking longer than the Wings and his fantasy owners expected

Martin Erat, LW, WAS -
Erat's goalless streak to start the season reached 11 games Saturday in a loss to Calgary. He had no shots on goal and finished the night minus-4. He extended that schneid to 12 games Monday. Erat was never a scoring machine, even in his most productive years in Nashville. But the Caps are wishing they'd bought the extended warranty when they acquired him last season. In 21 games in a Washington sweater, he has all of six points. Erat's put just six shots on goal all season, has been collared in 11 of 12 games, and looks lost in the Caps' offense. If you haven't benched him already, it's high time.

Dan Hamhuis, D, VAN -
Hamhuis has only two points over his past 12 games and just three in 15 contests on the season. What happened to the Hamhuis who led the Vancouver blue line in scoring last season with 24 points in 47 games? His power-play time has gone down about 15 seconds from last season, and he seems to be lacking the offensive spark that made him so successful. He might turn it around, but the Canucks have been getting plenty of offense from other defensemen. Give it some more time before you give up on him completely, though.

Ondrej Pavelec, G, WPG -
Pavelec stopped 30 of 33 shots in a 3-2 loss to the Blues on Tuesday. This marks his sixth regulation loss to go with a pair in overtime over 12 starts so far this year. Pavelec's given up at least three goals in nine of those games and is not playing well enough to be a starting fantasy goalie except in very deep formats. The worst part about Tuesday's loss, especially for the Jets, is that Pavelec gave up the game-winning goal with just a minute left in regulation and the score tied, 2-2. If he continues to struggle, Al Montoya could see more playing time.

Others include Mark Scheifele (just one point his last 12 games but not in danger of being sent down), Brooks Laich (playing on second line, but still struggling), Derek Roy (seven points in 10 games, just one his last five), Jussi Jokinen (second line with Malkin, overall solid numbers but inconsistent), Emerson Etem (minimal production in Anaheim), Dustin Brown (six points in 14 games, but zero goals since scoring two on October 9), P.A. Parenteau (zero goals since October 8), Paul Martin (more of a defensive role with Scuderi out and Letang back?), Marc Staal (off top-two power-play units), Jake Gardiner (may need change of scenery to fulfill offensive potential), Sami Salo (very up-and-down season), Brian Campbell (just one point since October 10), Semyon Varlamov (will legal issues affect playing time?), Ryan Miller (wins a major challenge with nightmare offense in front of him) Craig Anderson (three straight losses, 11 goals allowed last two) and Evgeni Nabokov (when does Garth Snow pull the trigger and get Miller?).