This week’s article includes the first overall pick in this past year’s draft making up for lost time, the Rat on fire, two backups playing well between the pipes and a top d-man scuffling in the City of Brotherly Love.
First Liners (Risers)
Derek Stepan, C, NYR – After missing time with an injury and the subsequent rough patch, Stepan has really found his game. His two goals Sunday against the Flyers gave Stepan 101 lamplighters for his career and 12 points in his previous 13 games. Stepan sees time in all situations and likely has another level to reach, but right now is playing pretty well. With 27 in 46 and 26 games remaining, he won’t beat his career-high of 57 but could end up in the mid-40s, which is a nice jump considering where he was a month ago.
Connor McDavid, C, EDM – McDavid returned from his 37-game absence with a bang, notching a goal and two assists in his first game on February 3. Prior to getting injured, the kid’s production was meeting the hype with 12 points in 13 games. McDavid has taken his game to another level, posting 12 points in eight games (prior to Tuesday) as he tries to force his way in Calder Trophy consideration.
Justin Abdelkader, LW, DET – Abdelkader posted a career-high 44 points last year, taking advantage of a top-six role. He is taking advantage of his top-line placement, notching 14 goals and 17 assists. In his last 10, Abdelkader has amassed a goal and eight assists, helping to put that career point mark in jeopardy. In addition, he has already dished out 137 hits, adding to his value.
Brad Marchand, LW, BOS – The modern day version of Ken Linseman has been red-hot. Marchand tallied a goal and assist Sunday, extending his goal streak to seven games. His hot streak goes beyond those games, as he has 13 goals and four assists in his last 14 heading into Tuesday’s contest, where he was shut out. Those 13 goals give Marchand 28 for the season, matching his career-high.
Jiri Hudler, RW, CGY – Hudler’s pre-trade, raise-his-stock streak continued Monday, with two goals and an assist against the Ducks. Those three points give the Czech forward 10 points in his last 10 and 32 in 50 for the year. Hudler won’t approach his 31 goals and 45 assists from a year ago but if he can remain hot, 50 points should be achievable.
Brent Seabrook, D, CHI – Seabrook isn’t known as being a scorer but lately he is doing his best to change that narrative. He notched his 11th goal Monday, extending his career-high and giving him four goals in his last five. Add in 25 assists, a plus-10 rating, 84 hits and 107 blocked shots and you have more than a well-rounded blueliner for your league.
Alec Martinez, D, LA – Last week it was Jake Muzzin’s time to get the bold treatment. This week, it’s Martinez’s shot. He has five points in his last five, giving him 21 on the year, one behind the career-high he posted each of the last two seasons. Martinez is also a plus-15 and has doled out 113 hits and blocked 124 shots, each of which set new personal milestones.
Joonas Korpisalo, G, CLM – Who? Sergei Bobrovsky is out again with the recurrence of his groin injury while no other Blue Jackets goalie grabbed a hold of the top netminding role. Enter Korpisalo. With Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney (ankle) both sidelined for an extended period, the young Finn is the new #1 goalie in Columbus. Lately, he hasn’t disappointed, posting a 4-0-1 record with a 1.71 goals-against average before Tuesday. Korpisalo was strong again Tuesday, allowing two goals on 30 shots in a 2-1 overtime loss to Boston.
Thomas Greiss, G NYI – We have a full-blown goalie controversy in Brooklyn. Greiss was signed to back up Jarsolav Halak. But Halak has gone 3-6-1 in his last 10, opening the door for the German, who has excelled. If coach Jack Capuano goes by recent play and overall numbers, Greiss should be between the pipes. Greiss has posted a. 2.16 GAA and .931 save percentage in 23 starts -- 16 of which were wins. By contrast, Halak owns a 2.42 GAA and .914 save percentage with 13 wins in 30 starts, so the choice should be clear.
Others include Ryan O'Reilly, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Jordan Staal, Mike Ribeiro, Tyler Seguin, David Krejci, Calle Jarnkrok, Anze Kopitar, Victor Rask, John Tavares, Ryan Johansen, Pavel Datsyuk, Sam Reinhart, Derick Brassard, Adam Henrique, Charlie Coyle, Cam Atkinson, Vladimir Tarasenko, Filip Forsberg, Corey Perry, Shane Doan, Mats Zuccarello, Mark Stone, Jaromir Jagr, Phil Di Giuseppe, P.A. Parenteau, Henrik Zetterberg, James Neal, Mike Hoffman, Phil Kessel, Nikita Kucherov. Chris Kunitz, Milan Lucic, Blake Comeau, Shayne Gostisbehere, Dougie Hamilton, Johnny Boychuk, John Klingberg, Michael Stone, Seth Jones, Mathew Dumba, Roman Josi, Jake Gardiner, Colton Parayko, Dustin Byfuglien, Cam Fowler, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Victor Hedman, Martin Jones, Henrik Lundqvist, Ondrej Pavelec and Petr Mrazek.
Training Room (Injuries)
Chris Stewart, RW, ANA – Stewart was struck on the side of the face during a fight last Thursday and suffered a displaced fracture in his jaw. That will sideline him four to eight weeks. After a rough start, he had started to figure it out again lately, posting a goal and four assists in his previous seven games. Stewart should return for the playoff push.
Carey Price, G, MTL – If you believe La Presse, Price is done for the season with a torn MCL in his right knee. Coach Michel Therrien called that report ‘speculation’ but admitted his prized netminder still hasn't progressed to the next phase of his rehab program. If you are a betting man, don’t expect Price back anytime soon.
Others include Aleksander Barkov (upper-body injury, injured reserve, back shortly), Evgeni Malkin (knee, close to returning), Jason Spezza (upper-body, will play Thursday or Saturday), Marian Hossa (lower-body, out several weeks), Brandon Pirri (leg/ankle, out several weeks), Marian Gaborik (lower-body, IR), Justin Faulk (leg, day-to-day), Alexander Edler (fractured fibula, out six weeks), Michael Del Zotto (upper-body, out several weeks), Ryan McDonagh (concussion, likely to play Wednesday), John Gibson (upper-body, day-to-day) and Karri Ramo (lower-body, out for the season).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Eric Staal, C, CAR – Staal, an unrestricted free agent after the season, continues to frustrate his owners. He was held off the scoresheet for a sixth straight game Tuesday while also notching just two assists his last 13. Staal is sitting on nine goals and 21 assists in 57, continuing his drop in production the last two seasons. Maybe impending free agency has impacted his game, but that looks to be too easy of an excuse.
Valeri Nichushkin, LW, DAL – Nichushkin played in just eight games last season before a hip injury sidelined him for the balance of the year. The hope was he would build on the mild success from 2013-14. Nichushkin has yet to reach that status, with just six goals and 14 assists. He also has no goals and five assists his last 17 and is best left on your bench.
Mark Streit, D, PHI – Streit has failed to find his game since returning from injury, tallying just three assists in 19. After notching 44 and 52 points the last two seasons, Streit has just four goals and eight assists in 37. At 38, Streit may be wearing down and with Shayne Gostisbehere on fire as well as Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov possibly ready next year, the Flyers could look to move the veteran to a contender at the deadline. The one impediment could be the one year left on the four-year, $21 million deal he signed in June 2013.
Jonas Hiller, G, CGY – Hiller has received another shot at filling a top goalie role due to Karri Ramo’s absence but he is botching the opportunity. After winning three straight, Hiller has allowed eight goals on 52 shots his last two games. Those poor performances likely have opened the door for Joni Ortio to earn another chance.
Others include Mike Fisher, Antoine Vermette, David Desharnais, Kyle Turris, Nikolay Kulemin, Jimmy Hayes, Jonathan Marchessault, Patric Hornqvist, Patrick Sharp, Rasmus Ristolainen, Patrick Wiercioch, Christian Ehrhoff, Jaroslav Halak, Connor Hellebuyck (sent to minors) and Jimmy Howard (would love to take him off the list but keeps warranting a spot).