Hot List: Kadri rewarding Toronto's patience

Monday, 03.04.2013 / 9:44 AM
John Kreiser  - NHL.com Columnist

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been waiting for Nazem Kadri to become the impact player they hoped he'd be when they took him with the seventh pick in the 2009 NHL Draft. If last week is any indication, their patience is paying off.

Kadri enters the week as Toronto's leading scorer with 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 22 games. That includes six points in the Maple Leafs' three games last week -- highlighted by his first NHL hat trick in Thursday's road victory against the Islanders.

Defensive problems have hampered Kadri's development, but the lessons he learned with the AHL Toronto Marlies appear to be taking hold. Not only is Kadri the Leafs' leading scorer, but he's also in the top-15 in the NHL in plus-minus rating at plus-11.

Five up -- Five other players who had a good week:

Max Pacioretty -- Montreal has points in each of its last 11 games, and Pacioretty's scoring was a big reason the Canadiens went 2-0-2 last week. He had seven goals in the four games, including a two-goal performance against Toronto as well as a goal and an assist in Montreal's weekend games against Pittsburgh and Boston.

Sidney Crosby -- What a surprise -- Crosby is on top of the NHL scoring race. Pittsburgh's captain put up six points in three games last week, including a goal and two assists in Saturday's memorable 7-6 overtime win at Montreal.

Eric Staal -- Like Kadri, Staal's commitment to the defensive end of the ice has helped his offensive numbers. Staal had three goals and six points last week -- but he was also plus-4 in four games, boosting his season numbers to plus-15, tying him for the League lead. It's a big change from last season's minus-20 rating.

Ryan Miller -- After sinking to the bottom of the Eastern Conference, the Sabres turned a corner last week with three wins and a shootout loss -- and Miller was in goal for all four games. He allowed just nine goals on 134 shots -- and also won two of three shootouts.

Andrew Cogliano -- The 25-year-old Anaheim center entered last week with four goals and ended it with eight, including a hat trick in the Ducks' 5-4 shootout loss at Phoenix on Saturday.

Five down -- Five players who didn't:

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- The first player taken in the 2011 NHL Draft has gone cold. Nugent-Hopkins scored his first goal of the season on Feb. 16; since then, he's gone seven games without generating a point.

Michael Frolik -- The two-time 20-goal scorer's offensive game has gone off the rails. Frolik scored in Chicago's season-opener against Los Angeles; he hasn't had another goal since then and hasn't put up a point in the Blackhawks' last seven games -- all victories.

Pekka Rinne -- Two weeks ago, Rinne's goals-against average was 1.58 and the Nashville Predators were almost impossible to beat. The Vezina Trophy finalist has seen his GAA rise by more than half a goal in 14 days after allowing 15 goals in his last four games.

Scott Clemmensen -- Jose Theodore's injury is going to put a lot more pressure on Clemmensen, his backup with the Florida Panthers. He allowed 12 goals in less than seven periods in his last three appearances this past week, and he's near the bottom in both goals-against average (4.15) and save percentage (.859).

Matt Carle -- Tampa Bay signed Carle last summer after he'd spent four seasons as a consistent point-producer on Philadelphia's blue line. But after a good start, both Carle and the Lightning are struggling. He's gone six games without a point despite averaging 24 minutes a game of ice time.

Thee week ahead -- There's lots of hockey on this week's schedule, especially if you're a Devils fan. New Jersey begins a stretch of five games in seven days with a visit to Toronto on Monday night. Another 20 teams have four-game weeks. Edmonton continues its nine-game trip with four more road games; Montreal and Winnipeg also play four times on the road.

Games to watch:

Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh (March 4; NBCSN/TSN2/RDS2) -- The NHL's top two scorers – Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos -- battle it out as the Lightning come to Pittsburgh.

Philadelphia at New York Rangers (March 5; NBCSN/TSN2) -- The Rangers have won nine of the past 10 games against their Atlantic Division rival, including a 2-1 victory at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 29.

Colorado at Chicago (March 6; NBCSN/TSN) -- The Avalanche get their chance to end the Blackhawks' season-opening streak of avoiding regulation losses, which grew to 22 when Chicago beat Detroit 2-1 in a shootout on Sunday.

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh (March 7; NHLN-US) -- The Flyers go from visiting one division rival to another as they make their second trek of the season to Pittsburgh; the last one resulted in a wild 6-5 win 15 days earlier.

Chicago at Colorado (March 8; NHLN-US) -- The Avalanche get the Blackhawks in Denver in the back end of a home-and-home series.

Philadelphia at Boston (March 9; NHLN-US) -- What might be the toughest week of the season for the Flyers continues in Boston. It's the first of a tripleheader for NHL Network viewers in the U.S., who will also see St. Louis at San Jose and Pittsburgh at Toronto (that game will be shown on CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada."

New York Rangers at Washington (March 10; NBC/TSN2) -- Two teams trying to recover after slow starts get together at Verizon Center to start a 10-game Sunday schedule. The Rangers eliminated Washington in the second round last spring and beat the Capitals 2-1 in their first meeting this season.

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