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NHL Barometer: Stamkos is Back

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 is a slight tweak from the past. Rather than the longer player mentions, I thought I would go back to what I did right after the Olympics - with one to two liners on several players and getting rid of the "Others Include" list a bit. Let me know which style you like better.

Highlighted players include a hot center in Montreal, a winger back on the beam in San Jose, a D-man expected to pick up the slack in Anaheim, a top winger out for the remainder of the year in the Windy City and the Ducks' goalie game south for the winter.

First Liners (Risers)

Gustav Nyquist, C, DET -
Nyquist notched his 20th of the season on the power play Thursday against Pittsburgh. That goal gave him four markers in the last three games while helping keep Detroit alive in the playoff hunt. Nyquist, a fourth-round pick in 2008, has tallied those 20 goals in 44 games, taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by all the injuries in Hockeytown.

Andrew Shaw, C, CHI - Four goals and three assists last seven games, showing excellent chemistry with Patrick Sharp and Michael Handzus. Could get even more responsibility with Patrick Kane out.

Nicklas Backstrom, C, WAS -
Notched another assist Thursday, giving him two goals and 12 helpers in 12 games since the Olympics. If anyone expected the ban he received for the gold-medal game to impact him, they are right, but it's been more as a motivator than detriment.

Frans Nielsen, C, NYI -
Helping pick up the slack from John Tavares' absence with six points his last six games. Now the top line center on the Island, he will get every chance to keep producing in what has been a career year.

Anders Lee, C, NYI -
Ten points in 10 games since promotion. Like Nielsen, picking up slack form Tavares' absence as well as trade of Thomas Vanek.

Derek Stepan, C, NYR -
A favorite whipping boy among the Blueshirt faithful for his lack of speed and questionable status as a No. 1 center, Stepan has played like one lately. Three goals and nine assists in the 11 games since Sochi, where despite the lack of ice time, Stepan benefitted from watching the elite daily.

Patrice Bergeron, C, BOS -
A goal and a shorthanded assists Tuesday. Eight points his last eight games giving him 48 points to go with a plus-34 rating on the year.

David Desharnais, C, MTL -
Do you think he likes centering Pacioretty and Vanek? Two more assists Thursday and 16 points in the last 14 games. Desharnais now has 43 points in 67 games and looks like the top-two center he was when he scored 60 points two years ago.

Jason Spezza, C, OTT -
Two more assists Thursday, 11 points his last six games. Where was this production all year? The hot streak has lifted his season marks to 58 points in 64 games, albeit with a poor plus-minus.

Tyler Seguin, C, DAL -
Two assists Thursday. Point streak, during which he has scored 14 points, at seven. Up to 72 points in 67 games, last year's misstep looks like an abrerration.

Steven Stamkos, C, TB -
He's back!!! Notched a natural hat trick Monday and now has 19 goals and 30 points in 24 games. A healthy Stamkos coupled with the other pieces in Tampa will make the Lightning a very tough out in the playoffs.

Tyler Johnson, C, TB -
Two assists Thursday, giving him back-to-back, two-point games. Tallied 11 points his last 11 games, showing no signs of slowing even with Stamkos back in action.

Joe Thornton, C, SJ -
A goal and two assists Thursday. Thornton has scored just 11 goals on the season, but three of those have come in his last eight games. Of course, that lack of goal-scoring is more than offset by his 58 assists, seven of which have also been notched in his last eight games.

Travis Zajac, C, NJD -
Another assist Thursday, giving him 10 points in his last 10 games and helping to salvage what was a poor year until recently.

Thomas Vanek, RW, MTL -
Went from no goals in his first five games with Montreal to four in his last two, including a hat trick Monday. Can he give some of that magic to Martin St. Louis?

Max Pacioretty, LW, MTL -
Five assists in last five games. An all of a sudden hot Vanek has meant a hot Patches.

Patrik Elias, LW, NJD -
Three assists Thursday, including on the game-winning goal in overtime, and 15 points his last 11 games. Meshing well with Adam Henrique.

Joel Ward, LW, WAS -
Added to his career-high with his 22nd goal and 42nd point on Thursday.

Daniel Alfredsson, RW, DET -
A pair of goals Thursday, including the overtime game-winner. Five points his past three games, including a pair of game-winners, keeping Detroit in playoff contention.

Andrew Ladd, LW, WPG -
Two more goals Wednesday giving him seven in his last 10. This hot streak has made his year look much better than it really has, but with 50 points, he has an outside shot at exceeding his career-high of 59 set in 2010-11.

Brent Burns, LW, SJ -
Back-to- back two point nights, including Thursday against the Ducks. After basically being invisible in January and February, with just seven points in 21 games, this month, Burns has nine points (six of them goals) in 10 contests helping San Jose take over first place in the Pacific Division.

Nicklas Jensen, RW, VAN -
Point streak at four, with three goals and two assists in seven games since promotion

Jason Chimera, LW, WAS -
Sneaky production with points in eight of 11 March games for the Capitals.

Marian Gaborik, LW, LA -
Points in three of his last four and looks to be building chemistry with Anze Kopitar.

Matt Read, LW, PHI -
With all the focus rightly on Claude Giroux (15 points last eight games) and Wayne Simmonds (14 points last 14 games), Read has scored nine points his last 11 games, a boon for those in deeper leagues.

Alexander Semin, LW, CAR -
No goals last two, but 18 tallies since Jan. 18.

Victor Hedman, D, TB -
Two more assists Thursday, 45 points in 63 games, heck of a breakout for the Swedish snub for the Olympics

Tobias Enstrom, D, WPG -
Two assists Wednesday and seven points in last four has to have you scratch your head to try and figure out why he nearly a year-long slump

Keith Yandle, D, PHX -
Has a minus-16 rating, but 49 points in 70 games.

Ryan McDonagh, D, NYR -
Four points in last six with a career-high 12 goals and 25 assists in 70 games so far this year.

Lubomir Visnovsky, D, NYI -
Pretty quietly has eight points in 16 games since returning from his concussion, though five of them did come in two contests

Dustin Byfuglien, D, WPG -
Next year, the fun will be deciding if he is a D or an F for your league's eligibility. Now, he likely is listed as a defenseman, but since moving to forward, he has nine goals and nine assists in 24 games

Hampus Lindholm, D, ANA -
Will be expected to pick up the slack while Cam Fowler is sidelined with his injury.

John Carlson, D, WAS -
Not great production, but does have four points his last seven games.

Jake Gardiner, D, TOR -
The Maple Leaf D has been rightly maligned for their own zone play at times, but they have gotten nice production from the back line. Lately, it's been Gardiner who is hot, notching five goals his last seven games to give him 10 on the season.

Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR -
Notched career-win #302 Tuesday to pass Mike Richter for most wins as a Rangers goalie

Antti Niemi, G, SJ -
Rough patch looks to be over with six victories his last seven starts.

Corey Crawford, G, CHI -
Solid overall numbers and has increased his value in March, allowing one goal or fewer in five of seven starts this month.

Roberto Luongo, G, FLA -
Made 52 saves in a win this past week and is 3-3-1 with a .926 save percentage for the Panthers

Ben Bishop, G, TB -
A bit of a rough patch lately based on goals allowed but has won five straight starts.

Eddie Lack, G, VAN -
Expect the bumps in the road to continue, but will be between the pipes nearly every game, and as you saw, Wednesday, he can post a shutout at any time.

Mike Smith, G, PHX -
If the Coyotes do get into the playoffs and make a run, it will be because of Smith, whose win Thursday gave him 27 on the year. Smith has been red-hot with three consecutive wins and seven in nine starts. To further evidence just how good Smith has been, in his last 15 starts, he's allowed just 28 goals on 443 shots -- a 1.86 GAA and .937 save percentage, unreal numbers.

Training Room (Injuries)

Mikhail Grabovski, C, WAS -
Grabovski, out since the opening shift of Washington's Feb. 27's game against Florida, will miss at least two more weeks with his ankle injury. What role he fills when he does return due to the emergence of Evgeni Kuznetsov is unknown.

Brooks Laich, C, WAS -
Underwent surgery for a tight adductor muscle and will miss the next 4-to-6 weeks.

Patrick Kane, RW, CHI -
Kane suffered a lower-body injury against the Blues on Tuesday, which will sideline him for three weeks. The injury, which is to his lower leg or ankle, will likely keep Kane, who has 69 points in as many games, out the rest of the year and could cost Chicago home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Jordan Eberle, LW, EDM -
Eberle's knee injury, which occurred Tuesday, did not require an MRI as originally thought but it did force him to miss Thursday's contest. The good news is that the knee looks to be structurally sound, but there is no timeframe for his return to action.

Beau Bennett, RW, PIT -
Inching closer to returning from his wrist injury, likely back sometime next week.

Alexandre Burrows, RW, VAN -
Just when Burrows got hot, he looks to have suffered a left hand injury Wednesday. Burrows, who has five goals and three assists over his last eight games, took a slash to the hand from Shea Weber as Nicklas Jensen's game-winner went through the net. There has been no update yet as to how long Burrows may be sidelined, and with Vancouver down several players, including Ryan Kesler, and battling for a playoff spot, they can ill-afford to lose a hot Burrows.

Cam Fowler, D, ANA -
Fowler will miss 3-to-5 with a sprained MCL in his left knee, sidelining him the rest of the regular season and possibly first round of the playoffs. This ends a breakthrough campaign for Fowler, who tallied 36 points and a plus-15 rating in 67 games and was one of the best blueliners for the U.S. team in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Hampus Lindholm and Francois Beauchemin will need to pick up the slack in Fowler's absence.

Dennis Wideman, D, CGY -
Wideman, out with an upper body injury, has had his rehab program shut down, meaning he is done for the year. So much for that late-sleeper pick I may in my home league.

Tyler Myers, D, BUF -
Myers, who last suited up on March 13 due to an elbow injury, will miss another week of action.

Jonathan Bernier, G, TOR -
Day-to-day with a lower-body injury, in his absence James Reimer will continue to hold down the fort between the pipes for Toronto.

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Mike Richards, C, LA -
While Jeff Carter has thrived in LA, Richards has regressed. Richards has just two points in his last 19 games and none in his last six contests.

Lars Eller, RW, MTL -
Eller's goal Saturday was his first since January 2. Any thoughts that could restart his game likely can be tossed out the window as he is scoreless his last three contests.

Reilly Smith, LW, BOS -
A goal and an assist his last two but that comes after no goals in 15 games. His production should pick back up but it looks like he was exceeding his pay grade earlier in the season.

Dustin Penner, LW, WAS -
Struggled before getting dealt by Anaheim to Washington and it's not gotten much better in the Nation's Capital. He is playing on the fourth line for Capitals and has just one assist in nine games for them.

Zach Bogosian, D, WPG - Just 11 points in 54 games, he has improved defensively but regressed offensively as his career has worn on.

Michael Del Zotto, D, NAS -
MDZ was a healthy scratch Tuesday, as similar issues that landed him in the doghouse in New York - turnovers, poor own-zone play - has shown up again in Nashville.

Eric Gelinas, D, NJD -
Back to role as seventh d-man and PP specialist in New Jersey. As long as he scores on the man-advantage, he is worth a spot on your team, when he doesn't ...

Robin Lehner, G, OTT -
Lehner has been afforded a chance to play with Craig Anderson out and he has spit the bit. He took another loss Thursday, allowing five goals on 28 shots to the Lightning for his fifth consecutive loss. For further evidence of just how bad he has been, Lehner is a winless since Feb. 4, and he's allowed 31 goals in his last nine games (seven starts). So much for that goalie of the future label for him in Ottawa.

Jonas Hiller, G, ANA -
The Ducks lately have struggled and Hiller has been a big reason why. So far in March, Hiller has lost four of his five starts with a save percentage of .876 during that time, as the Ducks have ceded their hold on the top seed in the Pacific Division to San Jose.