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Seguin, Chara have defending champs back on track

Sunday, 11.13.2011 / 10:55 AM / The Hot List

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

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Seguin, Chara have defending champs back on track
Tyler Seguin is proving why he was a worthy No. 2 selection in the 2010 NHL Draft, helping the Boston Bruins recover from a slow start.

Tyler Seguin is showing why the Boston Bruins were thrilled to get him with the second pick in the 2010 NHL Draft.

The second-year center has 11 goals in Boston's first 15 games this season, matching his total for all of his rookie season. Nos. 10 and 11 came Saturday night when he scored twice and added an assist in Boston's 6-2 demolition of Buffalo.

The Bruins have won five in a row and scored 30 times during their hot streak, Seguin has seven of those goals, all scored in the last four games, and has assisted on three others. He's also plus-7 during the streak, giving him a League-leading plus-14 rating less than a quarter of the way into the season. Not bad for a kid who doesn't even turn 20 until the final day of January.

Five up — Five players who are playing well:

Johan Franzen -- "The Mule" is pulling the wagon in Detroit, where the Wings have won four in a row after an early-season slide. Franzen has five goals and nine points during the winning streak, including an assist and the game-winning goal in Saturday's 5-2 victory against Dallas.

Daniel Sedin -- The reigning NHL scoring champion is off to another fine start. He has a goal and six assists in his last three games and is second in the NHL with 22 points. His 16 assists are two more than twin brother Henrik, usually regarded as the passer in the family, and more than anyone in the League so far.

Jimmy Howard
Goalie - DET
RECORD: 8-3-1
GAA: 1.66 | SVP: 0.934
Jimmy Howard -- Howard often flies below the radar on the star-studded Red Wings, but he's been a major reason (along with Franzen) for Detroit's four-game winning streak. Howard has been in goal for all four games, allowing just four goals and posting two shutouts.

Zdeno Chara -- Boston's captain has been piling up assists during his team's five-game winning streak -- eight of them, to be exact, with four two-assist games, after getting just four points in the Bruins' first 10 games. He's also plus-8 during the five-game streak.

Mike Smith -- The Coyotes signed Smith after Ilya Bryzgalov left during the summer, an so far, it's hard to notice the difference. Smith had a 31-save shutout in San Jose on Saturday and is 5-0-1 in his last six starts while allowing only 11 goals.

Five down — Five players who are struggling:

Blake Comeau -- Eleven games,  no points and a minus-5 rating. That's the season in a nutshell for Comeau, who scored 24 goals in 2010-11 but is among several New York Islanders who've contributed little offensively this season.

Mathieu Darche -- The 34-year-old was a solid third-line contributor last season (12 goals, 26 points in 59 games), but is contributing nothing offensively this season. He's gone 10 games since recording his only point of the season, a goal on Oct. 20.

TJ Galiardi -- Like Darche, Galiardi has only one point (a goal) and has gone 10 games since scoring it. He's also minus-5 in that span, though he average ice time has actually gone up to about 14 minutes during the last five games.

Rene Bourque -- After back-to-back 27-goal seasons, Bourque is off to a slow start with the Calgary Flames. His five goals have been scored in only three games, he hasn't had an assist all season and he's gone eight games without a point.

Matt D'Agostini
Right Wing - STL
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 6
SOG: 34 | +/-: 8
Matt D'Agostini -- St. Louis is relying on D'Agostini, a 21-goal scorer in 2010-11, for secondary scoring, but so far he's not delivering. D'Agostini has gone seven games without a point and has managed only nine shots on goal in that span.

Injuries, news and notes — Friday was a tough night for defensemen and hand injuries. Anaheim's Lubomir Visnovsky broke a finger blocking a shot in the Ducks' 4-3 win against Vancouver and is expected to miss four weeks, while Dallas' Alex Goligoski could miss about the same amount of time due to a broken thumb -- also after blocking a shot.

Out -- Toronto center Tim Connolly is back on the injured list with an upper-body injury. He missed the season's first eight games, also with an upper-body problem. … Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller left after two periods of Saturday's game in Boston following a collision with onrushing Bruins' forward Milan Lucic with what the team called a sore neck … Minnesota forward Guillaume Latendresse left Thursday's game with a concussion and is out indefinitely. …. Florida forward Scottie Upshall left Thursday's game with an upper-body injury and won't play Sunday. …Los Angeles forward Dustin Penner missed Saturday's game with a hand injury. Another forward, Scott Parse, was placed on IR after leaving Tuesday's game with a lower-body injury. … Washington defenseman Mike Green returned Friday from an ankle injury, but was injured again in the first period and didn't play Saturday. Another defenseman, Roman Hamrlik, left Saturday's game after a cross-check. … Nashville defenseman Teemu Laakso is out after having a cyst removed from his back. … Boston forward Daniel Paille hasn't played since leaving Monday's game after taking a slap shot in the face. … Chicago forward Dave Bolland has missed two games with a foot injury after blocking a shot on Tuesday. … Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi hasn't played for four games due to a sinus infection. ..

Returning -- Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson returned Friday after missing five games following a hit to the head on Oct. 29. … Calgary activated center Mikael Backlund off the injured list on Friday; he hadn't played this season because of a broken finger. … Winnipeg activated goaltender Chris Mason off IR after he missed seven games with a groin problem. … Carolina forward Jussi Jokinen was back in the lineup Friday after missing three games with a leg injury. … Columbus forward Jared Boll made his season debut Thursday; he hadn't played since breaking a thumb during training camp. Center Jeff Carter returned Saturday after missing 10 games with a broken foot.

Mikael Samuelsson
Right Wing - FLA
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 3
SOG: 13 | +/-: -1
Still out -- Florida is still without forward Mikael Samuelsson, who has yet to play for the Panthers as he tries to work his way back from a groin problem. … New Jersey forward Ilya Kovalchuk sat out Friday and Saturday games against Washington and hasn't played since leaving the Devils' Nov. 3 game in Philadelphia with a leg injury. … Calgary placed center Brendan Morrison on IR; he's having trouble rehabbing his knee after offseason surgery. The Flames also placed defenseman Anton Babchuk on IR with a hand injury. … Vancouver forward Mason Raymond, who suffered a fractured vertebra in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, returned to practice last week, though there's still no time frame for his return.

The week ahead -- It's a balanced week -- four teams play four games, four play twice and the other 22 all have three games.

Games to watch:

New York Rangers at New York Islanders (Nov. 15) -- The Rangers, winners of six in a row, come to Long Island for the second time this season; the Islanders won 4-2 exactly a month ago but have won just once since then.

Washington at Nashville (Nov. 15) -- The Caps come to Music City for the third year in a row, unusual for East-West rivalries. The last four meetings between the teams have gone past regulation, with Washington winning all four.

Anaheim at Los Angeles (Nov. 16) -- It’s the first of this season's six editions of the Freeway Faceoff -- and the opener of a home-and-home series that concludes in Anaheim on Thursday.

Detroit at San Jose (Nov. 17) -- The Wings come to HP Pavilion for the first time since losing Game 7 of their second-round playoff series to the Sharks last spring.

Philadelphia at Winnipeg (Nov. 18) -- The Flyers pay their first visit to Winnipeg in 15 years as the teams play for the first time since the Jets' wild 9-8 win in Philadelphia last month.


Tough week ahead:

Chicago Blackhawks -- If this is mid-November, it must be time for the "Circus Trip." The Hawks play the first half of their annual early-season trip next week with a swing through Western Canada.

Detroit Red Wings -- The Hawks' biggest Central Division rival also hits the road this week. The Wings make a stop in St. Louis before heading to California for stops in San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim in a four-day stretch.

Washington Capitals -- After their home-and-home series against New Jersey, the Caps hit the road for a trip that takes them to Nashville and Winnipeg before ending with a Saturday night game in Toronto.

Easy week ahead:

Calgary Flames -- The Flames are home for their only two games of the week, with Ottawa and Chicago coming into the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Edmonton Oilers -- After a tough six-game Eastern swing, the surprising Oilers are back home and alternate opponents with the Flames, hosting Chicago and then Ottawa.

Vancouver Canucks -- The Canucks returned from a six-game trip with a game against the Islanders on Sunday -- and they, too, will get their crack at the Hawks and Senators in their only two games of the week.
Quote of the Day

I didn't even know how to celebrate. I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug, so I guess that's all I needed.

— Sabres forward Tim Schaller on scoring his first NHL goal Sunday against the Bruins