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Zetterberg on pace for his best season ever

Wednesday, 10.24.2007 / 10:00 AM / The Hot List

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Red Wings' forward Henrik Zetterberg is
the current NHL scoring leader with 17 points, and has registered at least a point in every one of Detroit's games this year.

The Detroit Red Wings were counting on Henrik Zetterberg to take a step forward this season and become an elite player. So far, so good.

Zetterberg has done everything the Wings could have asked so far, scoring a league-leading 17 points to help Detroit get off to a 6-2-1 start that includes a 3-1 record on its just-concluded Western trip. Zetterberg has at least one point in all nine games, and going back to last season, has a 16-game points streak. He’s had six multiple-point games this season and is third in goals and second in assists. Zetterberg is also one of the NHL’s best faceoff men. He’s won 55.9 percent of his draws and had only one game in which he didn’t win at least half of his faceoffs.

No one expects Zetterberg to keep scoring at this kind of pace, but he’s on target for his first 100-point season and he’s in position to give Sidney Crosby a challenge for the NHL scoring title, if he can stay healthy – he’s missed 15 or more games in two of the last three seasons.

Five up: Five players who’ve been hot:

Patrick Kane Before the season, there were questions as to whether Kane, the No. 1 overall pick in June’s Entry Draft, was ready for the NHL. He’s wasted little time answering those questions. Kane was 3-10-13 in his first nine NHL games and has nine points in his last three.

Evgeni Nabokov San Jose has been up and down in the early going, but not through any fault of Nabokov, who’s now San Jose’s unquestioned No. 1 goalie. He shut out Nashville on Saturday and came within 2:33 of a second-straight shutout in Monday’s 4-1 victory in Calgary.

Daymond Langkow Centering for Jarome Iginla has been a boon for Langkow’s career. He had 33 goals and 77 points last season and is on pace to better those numbers in 2007-08. He is 8-4-12 in nine games so far and was 3-2-5 in three goals during the past week.

Martin Biron Biron is making the most of his first chance to be the unquestioned No. 1 goalie on an NHL team. He’s 6-1-0 for the surprising Philadelphia Flyers and has allowed just two goals in his last three games.

Bill Guerin The Islanders’ captain had no goals in his new team’s first six games, but broke out in a big way in the Isles’ last two games, scoring three times in Washington and getting the game-winner in overtime at home against New Jersey.

Five down: Five players who’ve been struggling:

Martin Brodeur Brodeur set an NHL single-season record for wins last season; this time, he’s won just twice in his first six starts. The Devils haven’t been nearly as tight defensively as they’ve been in past years, and Brodeur hasn’t picked up the slack as yet.

Mason

Chris Mason After a brilliant start in which he allowed just one goal in two games for Nashville, Mason and the Predators have hit the skids. He’s been in goal as Nashville dropped six straight games and was pulled Tuesday night in Los Angeles after allowing four goals in less than two periods.

Jaromir Jagr He’s averaging a point a game, but Jagr and the New York Rangers are struggling to put the puck in the net. Jagr has just one goal in New York’s first eight games, the slowest start of his career.

Scott Hartnell The Philadelphia Flyers are off to a 6-1-0 start, but not due to any offensive help from Hartnell. After scoring 25 and 22 goals in the last two seasons with Nashville, Hartnell has no goals and only two assists in seven games for the Flyers.

Doan

Shane Doan Phoenix’s captain has not provided the offense needed by a young, underpowered team. Doan, a seven-time 20-goal scorer has just four assists in seven games and has no goals on 25 shots – a big reason the Coyotes are off to a 2-5-0 start.

Injuries, news and notes – Don’t offer to shake hands with Martin Straka. The New York Rangers’ forward is expected to miss at least four weeks with a broken bone at the base of his right index finger. He was injured on Saturday in Boston when he was hit by a Zdeno Chara slap shot. No surgery is required. The Rangers do hope to get Sean Avery (shoulder) back within two weeks. … The Rangers’ suburban rivals, the Islanders, will be without defenseman Bryan Berard for 2-4 weeks due to a groin injury sustained Saturday against New Jersey. That could create a place for Marc-Andre Bergeron, who’s been benched the last couple of games. … Toronto forward Darcy Tucker is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Center Kyle Wellwood, who was expected back as soon as this week from sports hernia surgery, is still sidelined with no return date set. … Atlanta goaltender Kari Lehtonen’s sore groin is back again. He’s expected to miss at least a month after leaving last Thursday’s game against the Rangers in the first period. … Carolina put forwards Scott Walker (chest injury) and Andrew Ladd (sprained ankle) on the injured list. Another forward, Eric Cole, will miss at least a week with a foot injury. … Ottawa got starting goaltender Ray Emery (wrist surgery) back last Saturday, and forward Dean McAmmond (concussion in preseason) hopes to return Saturday night in New Jersey. … Calgary forward David Moss (concussion) sat out Monday and center Wayne Primeau (high ankle sprain) is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. … Detroit forward Dallas Drake will miss at least two games with a broken cheekbone sustained last Thursday against San Jose. … Tampa Bay defenseman Dan Boyle (cut tendons in arm in preseason) is skating again and could be back in a week or so. … Philadelphia could get forward Scottie Upshall (wrist surgery in preseason) back within 10 days. … Washington is still without forward Alexander Semin (sprained ankle). … Florida forward Rostislav Olesz remains out with an injured right hand. He had an MRI on Monday. Defenseman Noah Welch is weighing whether to have surgery on his dislocated shoulder now, which would keep him out likely until March, or opt for rehab (4-5 weeks) and have surgery after the season. Another Panther defenseman, Mike Van Ryn, is battling a sprained knee. … Columbus’ Fredrik Modin has missed four games with a groin injury. … Edmonton defenseman Joni Pitkanen will have knee surgery and will miss 2-4 weeks. The Oilers also are without their other big blue-line pickup, Sheldon Souray; he’ll miss another three weeks with a shoulder separation.

The week ahead -- The New Jersey Devils finally get to open their new arena, the Prudential Center in Newark, on Saturday against Ottawa. It’s the Senators’ only game in an 11-day span – a scheduling quirk matched by the Islanders, who host Carolina Saturday in their only game between Oct. 20 and the end of the month. New Jersey stays home for the next week. … Atlanta is in the midst of a seven-game trip, visiting Nashville, Chicago and Montreal in the next week. … Calgary plays games 4-5-6 of a seven-game homestand. … Buffalo begins a four-game trip Wednesday night in Carolina. … Detroit, which just finished a West Coast trip, plays two games at home before heading out again for three games in Western Canada, beginning Sunday in Vancouver. … Los Angeles began a four-game homestand Tuesday night against Nashville and spends the week in Southern California. … Minnesota makes a three-game swing through Western Canada before coming home to face Pittsburgh on Oct. 30. … Montreal visits Carolina and Pittsburgh this weekend before coming home for four games. … The Rangers finished a three-game trip in Pittsburgh on Tuesday and starts a six-game homestand Thursday night against the Devils, who are completing their season-opening nine-game trip. … Philadelphia went 4-0 on its just-concluded homestand; the Flyers play their next eight on the road, starting with a two-game swing through Florida. … San Jose, which has spent most of the first month away from home, plays the last three games of a four-game trip. … Toronto, which played eight of its first 10 games at home, visits Pittsburgh and the Rangers.

Quote of the Day

Because of the way they play and their skill set I don't think they're fourth-line players, so in my mind I'm looking at one of those guys I'll have to move over to the wing.

— Capitals coach Barry Trotz on his four-player battle for second-line center