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NHL Barometer: Malkin in the middle

By Jan Levine, Rotowire.com

Rotowire.com
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This week's article includes the second center in Minnesota excelling, a stud scorer from last year starting to get hot, a major injury in New Jersey and an elite blueliner struggling on the Left Coast.

First Liners (Risers)

Patrice Bergeron, C, BOS - Bergeron notched a goal and three assists in Wednesday's 6-5 shootout loss to the Canadiens. The outstanding two-way center now has 10 goals and 31 points overall in 32 games, while sporting a spiffy plus-24 rating. In addition, Bergeron is excellent in the face-off circle, which obviously has more real than fantasy value, but it means he is on the ice in almost all critical moments, which could lead to more scoring options.

Matt Cullen, C, MIN - Cullen had a goal Wednesday against Phoenix, giving him a very quiet 22 points in his last 26 games. Cullen started slowly this season but has really turned it on lately, with a big part of his recent success coming after he was paired on a line with Devin Setoguchi. Much of the focus in Minnesota has rightly been centered on Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Mikko Koivu and Nicklas Backstrom, but Cullen has played just as big of a part in their recent success as those four.

Martin St. Louis, RW, TB - St. Louis scored a goal and added an assist, both of which came on the power play, in Tampa's 2-1 win over the Sabres on Tuesday. Mighty Mite has been one of the league's most consistent point producers. He still hasn't gone more than one game without recording a point. Some may quibble with the fact he has scored only eight goals, but it's kind of hard to do so given that he has also has 34 assists.

Claude Giroux, RW, PHI - Giroux assisted on both Philadelphia goals in a 5-2 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday and then added two more Thursday. He's been steady lately, recording points in all but three March games, but this was actually his first multi-point effort since Feb. 27. That explosive production from last year - 93 points in 76 games - has certainly been missing for Giroux, but he has provided consistent offense and may be gearing up for a strong stretch run.

Jakob Silfverberg, RW, OTT - Silfverberg scored a goal and added an assist in Ottawa's win over Tampa Bay last Saturday, giving him eight goals and five assists on the season. A good portion of that production has come in March. Silfverberg's a top-10 scorer among rookies this year and should develop into a strong, two-way scoring forward in years to come.

Brent Burns, D, SJ - Burns scored a power-play goal midway through the first period as the Sharks defeated the Ducks, 4-0, on Wednesday. Burns has been having a great March so far as he's sitting at nine points (4G, 5A) and plus-2 since he moved to forward. His value is mainly as a defenseman, so check your league eligibility.

Dion Phaneuf, D, TOR - Phaneuf totaled two assists and his seventh goal of the season in Thursday's win against the Hurricanes. He now has 21 points in 35 games. That scoring pace is in line with what Phaneuf posted last year, making him a top-20 defenseman, and higher if you factor in hits and blocked shots.

Cory Schneider, G, VAN - Schneider continued rolling Tuesday night, stopping all 17 shots and three shootout attempts in a 1-0 win over the Blue Jackets. Schneider has started and won five consecutive games. He has two shutouts while allowing just five goals total during the winning streak. The 27-year-old netminder has put some distance between himself and Roberto Luongo, and the Canucks should continue to look Schneider's way more frequently between the two.

Braden Holtby, G, WAS - Holtby stopped 28 of 31 shots in a 3-2 loss to the Islanders on Tuesday. Tuesday's loss broke a streak of three straight wins for Holtby, during which he allowed just one goal on 83 shots, including back-to-back shutouts. His 13 wins rank eighth in the league, and his save percentage has trended upward after a rough start.

Others include Michael Cammalleri (more responsibility for him now in Calagry), Ryan O'Reilly (red-hot), Mikko Koivu, Steven Stamkos, Derek Stepan, John Tavares, Logan Couture, Tomas Plekanec, Eric Staal, Nazem Kadri, Travis Zajac, Marcus Johansson, Tyler Johnson, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Jarome Iginla (if nothing else, move to Pittsburgh gives him world-class talent to play with), Gabriel Landeskog, Johan Franzen, Zach Parise, Corey Perry, Alexander Semin, Taylor Hall, P.A. Parenteau, Jordan Eberle, Joffrey Lupul, Mason Raymond, Joe Pavelski (goals in back-to-back games after major slump), Jakub Voracek, Brendan Gallagher, Ryan Suter (on fire), P.K. Subban, Brent Seabrook, Kris Russell, Ian White (seeing PP TOI), Michael Del Zotto, Sergei Gonchar, T.J. Brennan, Dustin Byfuglien, Simon Despres (call-up in Pittsburgh), Nick Leddy, Francois Beauchemin, Andrei Markov, Ben Bishop/Robin Lehner (solid in place of Craig Anderson, but Anderson close to returning, so be ready to jump when that occurs), Justin Peters, Niklas Backstrom, Ondrej Pavelec (back-to-back wins after a rough patch), Henrik Lundqvist, Sergei Bobrovsky, Jaroslav Halak, Pekka Rinne and Jacob Markstrom.

Training Room (Injuries)

Evgeni Malkin, C, PIT - Malkin, who last suited up March 9, was activated off injured reserved and into the starting lineup Thursday against the Jets. It's definitely a rough way to return for Malkin, as he has to skate with paupers like James Neal and Jarome Iginla. (sarcasm dripping).

Ilya Kovalchuk, RW, NJD - Kovalchuk is expected to miss "2-4 weeks" with a shoulder injury he suffered in the third period last Saturday against Florida. This will leave a huge hole in the New Jersey lineup as Kovalchuk plays more than 25 minutes most nights, tops among NHL forwards. The news could have been worse, but owners are looking at possibly not having Kovalchuk for their fantasy playoffs in a few weeks.

Tobias Enstrom, D, WPG - Enstrom, who had last suited up Feb. 15, recorded 13 points in 13 games prior to his shoulder injury. He made a successful return to the Jets lineup, notching goals in back-to-back contests Sunday and Tuesday. Get him back in your lineup ASAP.

Mike Smith, G, PHX - GM Don Maloney is hopeful that Smith, who is out with an upper body injury, will join the Coyotes on their current road trip but noted that the goalie isn't likely to return to action before next week. Smith last suited up March 21, with Jason LaBarbera having started the Coyotes' two games since, surrendering seven goals in the process.

Others include Paul Stastny (bruised foot, out another week), Marian Hossa (UBI, close to returning), Brandon Dubinsky (LBI, placed on IR on Thursday), Colin Wilson (UBI, skating, but not close to returning), Thomas Vanek (UBI, DTD), Patrick Sharp (shoulder, practiced in a non-contact jersey Thursday), James Wisniewski (broken foot, returned after 14-game absence Thursday), Ed Jovanovski (hip surgery, out for year), Johnny Boychuk (foot, IR), Dan Ellis (skate cut on leg, out another week), Marc-Andre Fleury (neck, DTD), and Craig Anderson (ankle, inching closer to returning).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Brayden Schenn, C, PHI - In his last nine games Schenn has managed only one assist for the Flyers. The streaky Schenn - who struggled in January and was red-hot in February - is now on an extended cold streak, posting only two points in the last 12 games. He has been a drag on plus/minus as well with a minus-10 for March.

Nathan Horton, LW, BOS - His goal Wednesday was just the second of the month in 15 games for Horton, who checks in with nine tallies and 17 points overall in 32 games. While skating on a line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic carries some upside, the troika has struggled to score on a consistent basis lately, with the Bruins in the market to add more scoring punch before the NHL trade deadline, as seen by the almost-completed deal for Iginla.

Drew Doughty, D, LA - Doughty has one goal in 77 shots. Let that sink in - one goal in 77 shots. Doughty put up 16 goals and 59 points in 2009-10, but since then his point production has declined annually, and this year will be no different, though part of that is due to the lockout. Doughty is still a solid defenseman, but clearly not worth the eight-year, $56 million deal he signed in September 2011.

Jake Allen, G, STL - Allen won five consecutive and looked poised to take over as the No. 1 netminder in St. Louis. Since then, Allen has had two rough starts in a row, including one in which he was pulled, while Jaroslav Halak has looked better. Allen will continue to see some action, but if Halak remains hot, he could re-assume his role as the top goaltendr in the Arch City.

Others include Sean Couturier (no points last 14 games), Olli Jokinen (first goal in month Tuesday), Damien Brunner (goalless in last 12 contests, repeat mention), Nail Yakupov (no goals and just four assists since Feb. 25), Milan Lucic (first goal in 16 games Monday), Matt Read (one point in last nine games), Scott Hartnell (just seven points in 17 games after scoring twice Thursday, so glad I own him in two leagues), Corey Crawford (hit a bit of a rough patch) and Jonathan Quick (save percentage down to .895).

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League type:
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League size:
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Draft time:
Aug 28 9:00 am
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