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Marchand dazzles for B's; Malkin Mania for Pens

Saturday, 12.24.2011 / 4:00 PM / The Hot List

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

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Marchand dazzles for B's; Malkin Mania for Pens
Brad Marchand's unexpected tremendous play has helped the Boston Bruins become the team to beat in the Eastern Conference
For a guy who figured to make his NHL living as a pest, Brad Marchand sure knows where the back of the net is.

Brad Marchand
Left Wing - BOS
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 14 | PTS: 29
SOG: 78 | +/-: 25
Boston picked Marchand in the third round of the 2006 NHL Draft with the expectation that he'd be a high-energy player who could chip in a little offense. He surprised everyone by scoring 21 goals and 41 points as a rookie as the Bruins won their first Stanley Cup since 1972, and is on his way to blowing past both those marks this season.

Marchand had a career night on Friday with his first NHL hat trick and a pair of assists for a five-point night as Boston buried the Florida Panthers 8-0. He has six goals and nine points in Boston's past five games and has climbed to second on the Bruins with 29 points while leading the team in goals with 15. He's also second in the League to teammate Tyler Seguin in plus-minus at plus-25 -- matching his rating for last season.

Five up -- Five players who hit the Christmas break playing well:

Evgeni Malkin
Center - PIT
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 25 | PTS: 40
SOG: 133 | +/-: 7
Evgeni Malkin -- With Pittsburgh decimated by injuries to Sidney Crosby and other top players, Malkin continues to drive the offense. The Penguins scored seven goals while winning both their games this past week, and Malkin set up four of them. He has 16 points during a seven-game scoring streak and is tied for second in the League with 40 points, though he's played in only 28 games.

Marian Gaborik -- Gaborik reached Christmas with a League-leading 21 goals, just one behind his total for all of last season. He's scored six times during a four-game goal-scoring streak that includes a pair of winners.

Curtis Glencross
-- Jarome Iginla isn't the only Calgary Flame who can put the puck in the net. Glencross reached the Christmas break riding a four-game goal-scoring streak, during which he's connected five times.

Marian Hossa
Right Wing - CHI
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 23 | PTS: 38
SOG: 122 | +/-: 21
Marian Hossa -- Hossa is the one who makes Chicago's offense go. He's seventh in the NHL and tops on the Hawks with 38 points and reached the break riding a seven-game points streak during which he's put up seven goals and five assists.

Tuukka Rask -- On any other team, Rask might be an All-Star; on the defending champion Bruins, he's the backup to Tim Thomas. But coach Claude Julien never has to worry about giving the reigning Vezina Trophy winner a night off -- not when Rask has pitched shutouts in his past two starts and owns a 1.66 goals-against average and .944 save percentage.

Five down -- Five players who didn't:

Carey Price -- The pressure of trying to carry an underpowered team may be taking a toll on Price, who’s lost his past four starts for Montreal while allowing 16 goals.

Shawn Horcoff -- One reason the Edmonton Oilers have struggled is a lack of secondary scoring when opponents shut down their first line. The Oilers need more from players like Horcoff, who's gone seven games without a point.

Antoine Vermette -- The 29-year-old had 65 and 47 points for Columbus in the past two seasons, which makes this season's 12-point output entering the Christmas break a puzzle. He's gone six games without a point and has yet to have a multiple-point game.

Bobby Ryan
Right Wing - ANA
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 17
SOG: 84 | +/-: -8
Bobby Ryan -- Many of the Ducks could make this list as Anaheim is one of the biggest disappointments of the season. But after three-straight seasons of scoring 31 or more goals, Ryan has just 10 goals and 17 points. He's gone four games without a point and six without a goal.

Jack Johnson -- The No. 3 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft (he was picked immediately after Ryan and two picks after Crosby) is struggling at both ends of the ice. Not only has Johnson gone seven games without a point from the blue line, he's minus-10 during that span.

Injuries, news and notes -- It's fair to say that, as far as hockey is concerned, Sidney Crosby won't miss the departure of 2011. There's still no indication when he'll get back into the Pittsburgh Penguins' lineup after his most recent concussion-related absence.

Out -- Two goaltenders went down Tuesday night. Phoenix's Mike Smith left with a lower-body injury, while the Islanders' Al Montoya had to leave with a concussion. … Isles forward David Ullstrom also suffered a concussion Tuesday night, as did Chicago forward Marcus Kruger. … San Jose forward Martin Havlat had surgery Wednesday to repair a partially torn tendon in his left hamstring. He'll be out for "an extended period of time," according to GM Doug Wilson. … Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas missed the Stars' past two games before the break after injuring his foot in Wednesday's morning skate. … Florida lost first-line center Stephen Weiss on Thursday with an upper-body injury. Weiss didn't play Friday. Forwards Marco Sturm (undisclosed) and Mikael Samuelsson (back) didn't play Thursday or Friday. … Boston's Rich Peverley sat out Friday with an undisclosed injury. … Flyers forward Danny Briere missed Friday's game in New York due to a hand injury. … Tampa Bay forward Ryan Shannon is expected to miss at least two more weeks after sustaining a lower-body injury on Wednesday. … Ottawa's Peter Regin re-injured his surgically repaired left shoulder on Tuesday, sat out Thursday and Friday and may need more surgery, which could end his season.

Returning -- The best thing the Philadelphia Flyers got for Christmas was Claude Giroux. The slick center returned Wednesday after missing 10 days with a concussion and promptly scored a goal and added three assists in Dallas. … Tampa Bay also got a boost when Martin St. Louis returned Wednesday after missing 13 days due to facial injuries sustained when he was hit by a puck during the morning skate on Dec. 8. … Los Angeles center Mike Richards returned from a concussion on Thursday in his first game since Dec. 1. He missed eight games. … Dallas forward Adam Burish returned Wednesday after missing 15 games with a broken hand. … Andrew Ebbett returned to Vancouver's lineup Wednesday after missing nearly seven weeks with a broken foot. … Pittsburgh's Ben Lovejoy played Tuesday for the first time since going down with a broken wrist on Nov. 3. … Phoenix defenseman Rostislav Klesla played in the Coyotes' two-game trip Tuesday and Wednesday, his first games since sustaining a lower-body injury on Dec. 3. … The Sharks activated goaltender Antero Niittymaki on Friday; he hasn't played this season after undergoing hip surgery. … Islanders defenseman Mark Eaton returned Thursday after missing 13 games with a sprained ligament in his left knee.

Still out -- Phoenix put defenseman Adrian Aucoin (lower body) on IR. … Rangers defenseman Marc Staal is skating but still hasn't been cleared for contact as he works to return from the concussion that has kept him from playing this season. … Chicago put forward Daniel Carcillo (upper body) on IR; he missed the Hawks' last five games before Christmas but may be able to return this week. … Blues center Andy McDonald (concussion) is skating again but there's no date set for his return. He's been out since Oct. 13. … Ottawa forward Milan Michalek had hoped to return Friday from a concussion, but won't be back until this week at the earliest. … Defenseman Henrik Tallinder missed New Jersey's last four games before the break with back spasms. … Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen (groin) returned to practice on Thursday. He's been out since Nov. 26. … Calgary defenseman Anton Babchuk has been able to skate at practice as he works to return from a broken hand sustained last month. Defenseman Mark Giordano (torn leg tendon) is also skating.

The week ahead -- There will be plenty of hockey in Alberta this week, but none of the NHL variety. The start of the World Junior Championship in Calgary and Edmonton on Monday means that the Flames and Oilers are hitting the road.

Games to watch:

Detroit at Nashville (Dec. 26)
-- The Wings are back in Nashville for their second visit in 11 days -- they were unable to hold a 3-1 third-period lead and lost 4-3 at Bridgestone Arena on Dec. 15.

Pittsburgh at Philadelphia (Dec. 29) -- Expect plenty of booing when Jaromir Jagr steps on the ice at the Consol Energy Center for the first time -- wearing a Flyers uniform.

Montreal at Florida -- (Dec. 31; CBC) -- It wouldn't be New Year's Eve in Sunrise if the Canadiens weren't coming to BankAtlantic Center. This is the third year in a row that Montreal is spending the last day of the year in South Florida; the Canadiens won 4-0 in 2009 and 3-2 in OT last year.

Vancouver at Los Angeles (Dec. 31; CBC) -- The Canucks and Kings get together for the last game of 2011 …

Calgary at Nashville (Jan. 1) -- … and the Flames spend New Year's Day in Nashville playing the Predators in the first game of 2012. 

Tough week ahead:

Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers -- The Flames start their week in Columbus on Tuesday before back-to-backs on Long Island and in Ottawa before visiting Nashville on Jan. 1. The Oilers visit Vancouver on Boxing Day and work their way East for games at Minnesota on Thursday and Long Island on Saturday.

Montreal Canadiens -- If it's the week between Christmas and New Year's, it's time for the Canadiens to head for Florida. They begin the second half of a two-week trip in Ottawa on Tuesday before heading South for games against the Lightning and Panthers.

Vancouver Canucks -- Vancouver does get to play a holiday home game when Edmonton comes to town on Boxing Day, but the Canucks quickly head for California and three games in four nights, ending with a New Year's Eve date in Los Angeles.

Easy week ahead:

Chicago Blackhawks -- Not only did the Hawks finish the pre-Christmas portion of their schedule on Wednesday, they get to spend the week at home with visits from Columbus, Los Angeles and Detroit.

San Jose Sharks -- The Sharks figure to have plenty of time for holiday festivities; they are home all week and play just twice, against Anaheim and Vancouver. The Sharks become the first team to end play in 2011 when they host the Canucks on Wednesday.

Tampa Bay Lightning -- Like their Sunshine State rivals, the Florida Panthers, the Bolts spend the holiday week at home, with Philadelphia, Montreal and Carolina providing the opposition. The Panthers host Toronto and the Rangers before Montreal comes for its annual New Year's Eve visit.

Quote of the Day

I just think about how much it hurts. The feelings aren't going to go away, probably never. It's just something that sticks with you for a long time.

— San Jose forward Logan Couture to The Canadian Press on the Sharks' first-round loss to the Kings after taking a 3-0 series lead