Crashing the net: Hall meeting expectations, Iginla rediscovers his
The first overall selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Hall has had a ton of pressure on his shoulders. Toss in that he was expected to spearhead a return to prominence of the Oilers and you can almost feel the weight he was under. Early on, the youngster is starting to deliver on his immense promise. Hall has three goals in his last two forays onto the ice, and he has lit the lamp six times in his last eight games. He has also been wildly effective in his two-way play, posting a +7 during those eight games, a rather remarkable total for a player on a squad that has been outscored by 23 goals this year.
Iginla owners can finally exhale. After starting the season in a fog that saw him record two goals in 15 games, the former 50-goal scorer has finally remembered that the name on his sweater reads "Iginla." The mighty right winger has scored eight times in his last 10 games and has recorded a point in each of his last four contests. Iginla, not surprisingly, has fared well in the plus/minus category with a +5 rating in that time. He isn't going to score 50 times, but that doesn't mean that he won't hit at least 30 goals for the 10th straight season (he has 11 in 27 games this season).
Rookie blue liners inevitably struggle, and rare is the youngster who can rise above that. Even rarer is the rookie blue liner who also becomes an offensive force. One such youngster is Shattenkirk, who has been an absolute point scoring monster for the Avs. Not only does he have a rather remarkable 14 points in 15 games, this Connecticut-born blue liner has a point in nine-straight games. In fact, 13 of his points have come during those nine games. Good luck finding a more productive blue liner at the moment, let alone one who is a rookie.
In each of the past three seasons Keith has scored at least eight goals with a plus/minus of +21 or better, and last season he was magnificent with 14 goals, 69 points, and a +21 rating, which resulted in the Norris Trophy. When you look at his line this year and see two goals and a -6 rating through 29 games, you have to be a little sick to your stomach. Keith has only one tally in 16 games, and despite three assists in his last four games he is still a -1 skater in that time. Show patience if you can, but he has been a massive letdown so far.
McCabe is a guy you draft late who ends up producing solid numbers from the blue line. While his numbers look decent this year since he has 12 points in 25 contests, the truth of the matter is that he has been pretty awful of late as fully one third of his point production came in one game back on Oct. 4, when he had four assists. For those of you trying to figure it out, that means he has eight points in his other 24 games. He's also only had one goal in 17 games, and he is a -4 skater over his last five games. The veteran has surprised us before, but things aren't looking up in Florida for this blue liner.
Here we go again. Maddeningly inconsistent, the beast that is Nash has either been white hot (a nine-game scoring streak that included nine goals from Oct. 30 through Nov. 22), or ice cold for most of this season. Currently he is on the frigid side with only one assist over his last six games while also sporting an unsightly -4 rating in that time. He's still firing the puck on net with 18 shots on net in that time, and he is still on pace to score about 43 goals, so you'll just have to buy your ticket to the amusement park and ride that roller coaster.
Chris Kelly scored a hat trick on Sunday to wipe out a stretch of 202 minutes and 57 seconds without a goal for the Senators, so you know things aren't going very well in Canada's capital. To help inject some life into the squad, Butler was called up from the minors and he will skate on the first line with Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson. Considered by some as a move that should have been processed weeks ago, Butler comes to the NHL with an impressive resume this season, which includes an AHL Rookie of the Month award (November) as well as 15 goals scored -- the AHL's leading total (tied with Andrew Gordon). Butler had been firing nearly four shots on goal per game in Binghamton and is clearly in a position to succeed with the Senators.
With Steve Downie (high ankle sprain) out indefinitely, the Bolts need someone to skate on their top line with point machine Martin St. Louis and sniper extraordinaire Steven Stamkos. It looks like that job will fall to Gagne, who, in a nice turn of events, not only looks healthy but finally productive now that he is finally over his head/neck issue. After going pointless in his first six games with the Lightning, Gagne has racked up five points in three games since returning to action, and there is no reason to think that he can't continue along at a point-per-game pace if he skates on a line with those two all-world studs in Tampa.
Here are some of the more notable goalie numbers from the last 30 days.
10 -- Marc-Andre Fleury
1.54 -- Carey Price
.953 -- Carey Price
404 -- Carey Price
* Six teams play four games this week: Anaheim, Dallas, Detroit, San Jose, Toronto and Washington.
* Six teams play only two games this week: Carolina, Chicago, Los Angeles, NY Islanders, Phoenix and St. Louis.