Don’t panic, I’m not going soft on all of you. I just thought I would post my hockey article for those of you who follow the fastest game on ice. I’m still all baseball all the time at BaseballGuys.com – minus a little diversion here or there.
Here are the NHL leaders in offense the past 14 days.
Goals (9): Michael Grabner. It’s hardly a shock he is the leader since he has 16 markers in his last 17 games.
Assists (8): Olli Jokinen. He has 12 points his last seven games.
Corey Perry: He’s 13 short of his career best of 49 assists.
Ryan Getzlaf: Because of injury, he’ll have to push to reach 50 assists for 4th straight year (he has 32 in just 46 games this year).
Jonathan Toews: He has 13 helpers his last 10 games.
Henrik Zetterberg: 48 assists in 59 games is one off his career best mark.
Plus/Minus (+9): Michael Grabner. What did you expect from a guy who is scoring goals like the reincarnation of the Finnish Flash? It’s probably more shocking that Frans Nielsen, another Islander, is second with a +8 mark.
Shots on Goal (35): Michael Grabner. Phil Kessel is the only other player over 30 – he had 34 shots.
A few others worthy of note for their positive play the last two weeks.
David Backes, Blues (22g, 23a, +19, 81 PIM)
Over his last seven contests he has lit the lamp like Steve Stamkos with six goals, has been a plus/minus force (+5), and has rubbed a few faces with his gloves as well (19 PIMs). He’s one of the best point/PIM power-forward types in the game.
John Taveras, Islanders (23g, 28a, [-20], 39 PIM)
What’s the deal with the Isles of late? They actually resemble a real NHL team. Taveras, the young face of the franchise, has 13 points in his last eight games leaving him with 23 goals and 51 points, ever so slightly behind his marks of 24 and 54 from last season – though he reached those totals in 82 games (he’s suited up just 56 times this season).
Loui Eriksson, Stars (19g, 36a, +11, 6 PIM)
Eriksson is going to be hard pressed to match his totals of 36 and 29 goals the past two years thanks to a recent stretch that has seen him score one goal in eight games and three in 24 games. He’s paid to score goals, and he just hasn’t delivered in 2011.
Simon Gagne, Lightning (9g, 10a, [-22], 14 PIM)
Gagne has been limited to 41 games because of injury, but with half a season of contests under his belt he would be on pace for an 82 game performance of 18 goals and a gnarly (-44) rating. Can it get much worse than that for this former 47 goal scorer who is a +121 for his career? He’s been invisible of late with only two assists in six games, and he hasn’t scored a goal in eight February games.
Erik Johnson, Avalanche (5g, 14a, [-9], 37 PIM)
That’s right, in the trade that shock keeper leaguers everywhere, Chris Stewart was sent from Colorado to St. Louis in exchange for potential #1 defensemen Erik Johnson (you can get an insider’s take on the deal in Erik Johnson and Jay McClement Colorado Bound).Perhaps the new environment, where he will likely be given top power-play unit duties, will allow Johnson to rediscover his offense as he has just two assists in his last 12 games.
Mikko Koivu, Wild (15g, 34a, +5, 36 PIM)
Reports are circulating that he could miss most of the regular season with a broken left index finger. Koivu is the Wild’s leading assist man who is one point behind Martin Havlat for the team lead in points, so it’s obvious that the club can ill afford an extended period of time without their most complete player.
Brad Richards, Stars (24g, 39a, +4, 24 PIM)
He is on the shelf with a concussion sustained on February 13th. The injury is considered to be of the minor variety, he’s expected to return to the ice shortly, but you never know with concussions. Richards is currently 8th in the NHL with 63 points and 11th with 215 shots on goal.
Craig Anderson, Senators (14-15-3, 3.17 GAA, .901 SV%, 1 SO)
The Sens made a bold moving trading for a keeper who will be a free agent at the end of the year (they sent under-performing Brian Elliott to the Av’s).
Anderson was a star last season for the Avalanche with 38 victories, a .917 save percentage and 2233 saves, the most in the NHL. This year he has struggled with injury and off ice concerns, and the results on the ice have been pretty dreadful.
So why did the Senators make the deal? The reasons are many.
(1) The net minding this season in Canada’s capitol has been awful. The Sens are 28th in the NHL in GAA (3.19) and save percentage (.895).
(2) Brian Elliott has played the majority of the games, he’s appeared 43 times, and his numbers are pitiful (3.19 GAA, .890 SV%). His career numbers are slightly better (2.81, .903), but their still rather uninspiring, so moving him to Colorado appears to have little long term risk.
(3) The Sens have Robin Lehner waiting in the wings. The 2009 2nd round pick has appeared in eight NHL games with disastrous results (3.53 GAA, .888 SV%), but most pundits view him as a potential starting goalie. Still, he is just 19 years old and the team feels that more time in the minors would be beneficial to his long-term development.
(4) The club also has Pascal Leclaire in net. He should be healthy enough to return to backup duties behind Anderson by next week, he’s missed 25 games with a lower-body injury, at which time Lehner will head back to the AHL.
All of this means that if you are an Anderson owner there is no reason to panic. It appears that there is nothing in his way to playing the overwhelming majority of games with the Sens the rest of the way, and after his 47 save shutout in his first appearance with the club, perhaps there is some hope that he will more closely resemble the star he was last season versus the morning skate keeper he has been most of this season.
* One team plays five games this week: St. Louis.
* Ten teams play four games this week: Boston, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Florida, Nashville, NY Islanders, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Toronto.
* Zero teams play only two games this week.
By Ray Flowers