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The Hot List

Ladd trying to will Jets to playoffs with torrid stretch

Monday, 04.22.2013 / 10:00 AM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd is doing his utmost to get his team into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years.

Andrew Ladd
Left Wing - WPG
GOALS: 18 | ASST: 28 | PTS: 46
SOG: 113 | +/-: 10
With his team waging an uphill battle to avoid being the odd team out in the Eastern Conference race, Ladd upped his game in what has already been one of the best stretches of his career. Ladd had a goal and seven assists in Winnipeg’s three games last week, helping the Jets go 2-0-1 and stay alive going into their final three games.

Ladd enters the last week of the season riding a seven-game points streak in which he’s piled up 14 points, moving him into a tie for 10th in the League scoring race with 46 points -- only four fewer than he managed all last season. He was also plus-4 last week and is plus-10 for the season, his best showing in four years.

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Bobrovsky sizzling for Blue Jackets down stretch

Monday, 04.15.2013 / 9:22 AM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Columbus Blue Jackets have been looking for a top-flight goaltender since entering the NHL in 2000. In Sergei Bobrovsky, they may have finally filled that need.

Bobrovsky's goaltending has been the biggest factor in the Blue Jackets' late push toward a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He led Columbus to a perfect 3-0-0 showing last week by allowing only three goals despite facing 103 shots -- and that doesn't count the two shootout stops he made in Saturday's 3-2 road win against the Minnesota Wild.

Bobrovsky, acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers last summer, has been carrying the scoring-challenged Blue Jackets on his back. Since Feb. 26, he's cut his goals-against average from 2.90 to 2.01 and improved his save percentage from .899 to .932 -- while going 13-4-3 and bringing Columbus within sight of the second playoff berth in franchise history.

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Explosive Ovechkin tied for Rocket Richard lead

Monday, 04.08.2013 / 10:00 AM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Alex Ovechkin's slow start this season left many people wondering if he'd ever return to the form that made him a terror to goaltenders in his first five NHL seasons. Ovi's performance last week more than erased any doubts.

Alex Ovechkin scored seven goals in four games last week, giving him 15 in the Capitals' past 12 games and moving him into a tie for the Rocket Richard lead with Steven Stamkos. (Photo: Len Redkoles/NHLI)

Ovechkin had just two goals in the Washington Capitals' first 10 games, and he scored just 10 times in their first 24, Since then, he's been on fire -- and he took his offensive game to another level last week by scoring seven times and adding two assists as the Capitals swept four games to move into first place in the Southeast Division.

He was especially potent during the Capitals' weekend sweep of the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring five goals in the two games -- enough to move him into a tie with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos for the League lead in goals with 25. That includes 15 goals in Washington's past 12 games.

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

Nicklas Backstrom -- Goal-scorers need someone to get them the puck -- and in the case of Ovechkin and his big week, that person was Backstrom. He didn't score a goal last week but set up nine of them and is now third in the NHL with 34 assists.

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Lupul in lineup has meant good things for Leafs

Monday, 04.01.2013 / 10:00 AM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Joffrey Lupul
Left Wing - TOR
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 13
SOG: 28 | +/-: 8
Talk about coming back with a bang.

Joffrey Lupul returned to Toronto's lineup last week after sitting out a two-game suspension -- one that came after he had played only twice following a seven-week absence with a broken right arm.

Lupul showed he hadn't lost his scoring touch by getting a goal in the Maple Leafs' 3-2 shootout loss at Boston. He then scored twice in Toronto's victory against Florida, had a goal and an assist in a victory against Carolina and capped his week with a goal and three assists -- all on goals by Nazem Kadri -- in Saturday's 4-0 victory at Ottawa.

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Ovechkin showing signs of finding his old form

Monday, 03.25.2013 / 10:08 AM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

After the slowest start of his NHL career, Alex Ovechkin is looking like his old self.

Alex Ovechkin struggled mightily to begin this season, but the past week suggests "The Great Eight" may once again be starting to live up to that moniker. (Photo: Getty Images)

It took Ovechkin five games this season to score his first goal, and he reached the halfway point of the season having scored only nine times. Since then, however, he's been finding the net the way he did in his first five NHL seasons, when he terrorized goaltenders and helped the Washington Capitals move into the NHL's elite.

Ovechkin scored in each of Washington's four games last week; in all, he scored five times and added three assists for eight points -- and that doesn't count a shootout goal in Sunday's win at New York. He's had goals in five straight games, and his 16 goals in 32 games would make him a 40-goal scorer in a normal 82-game season -- a level he hasn't reached since 2009-10.

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

Cory Schneider -- With Vancouver's lineup riddled by injuries, the Canucks needed Schneider to step up last week -- and he did just that. Schneider won four starts in a six-day stretch and allowed just five goals on 116 shots to power the Canucks back into first place in the Northwest Division.

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Allen emerging as starting goalie in St. Louis

Monday, 03.18.2013 / 9:27 AM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Jake Allen
Goalie - STL
RECORD: 8-1-0
GAA: 2.18 | SVP: 0.920

Jake Allen hasn't wasted any time showing he belongs in the NHL.

St. Louis' second-round pick in the 2008 NHL Draft is turning himself into the Blues' starter in goal -- no mean feat on a team that led the League in fewest goals allowed last season. Since his second call-up from Peoria of the American Hockey League earlier this month, he's gone 5-0-0 to help the Blues shake off their February slump.

That five-game winning streak includes three wins in as many starts last week, during which he allowed just three goals on 97 shots and earned his first NHL shutout. Allen's .920 save percentage is far better than either Jaroslav Halak (.881) or Brian Elliott (.851), and he's giving every indication that he's ready to grab the starting job for a team that has Stanley Cup hopes in the spring.

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Hot List: Crosby's back and better than ever

Monday, 03.11.2013 / 10:00 AM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

After Sidney Crosby missed much of the last two seasons battling concussion-related problems, it was fair to ask if he would ever be as good as he was before the injuries.

The answer: He's not -- he's even better.

Sidney Crosby
Center - PIT
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 33 | PTS: 45
SOG: 91 | +/-: 16
Crosby led the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-0-0 record last week by piling up 11 points (two goals, nine assists) -- including a five-assist night on Sunday as the Penguins routed the New York Islanders, 6-1. The big week extended his scoring streak to eight games, during which he's piled up 20 points.

Crosby is threatening a runaway in the League scoring race. His 45 points are eight more than runner-up Steven Stamkos and put him on pace to finish this season's 48-game schedule with 80 points. Projected over an 82-game schedule, he'd have more than 140 -- a level no one has reached since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in the mid-1990s.

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Voracek records career-best week to spark Flyers

Monday, 02.25.2013 / 10:20 AM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Philadelphia's Jakub Voracek just completed the best week of his five-year NHL career.

Jakub Voracek
Right Wing - PHI
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 15 | PTS: 22
SOG: 52 | +/-: -4
Voracek put up 11 points in the Flyers' first 16 games -- then matched that total in just four games last week as Philadelphia's offense piled up 18 goals.

The 23-year-old started by setting up four goals in Philadelphia's 7-0 road win against the New York Islanders, then showed his shooting touch by scoring three goals -- including the game-winner -- in a 6-5 win at Pittsburgh. He added a goal the next night against Florida and capped the week with three more assists in Saturday's 5-3 win against Winnipeg.

With 22 points in 20 games, Voracek is on pace to exceed his career-best of 50 points -- even though this season is only 48 games.

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Tavares heats up for the Islanders

Monday, 02.18.2013 / 11:16 AM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

John Tavares is doing everything he possibly can to get the New York Islanders into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007.

The first player taken in the 2009 NHL Draft is the biggest reason the Islanders’ five-game losing streak is now a two-game winning streak. He had a regulation goal and the shootout clincher in a 4-3 victory against the Rangers on Thursday, then scored three times on Saturday in a 5-1 victory against New Jersey.

For the week, he had six goals and two assists for eight points -- and enters this week riding a five-game goal-scoring streak. His 11 goals have him tied with Pittsburgh’s James Neal in the League goal-scoring, one behind Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek.

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

Viktor Fasth-- Anaheim’s first-year goaltender is 30, meaning he’s too old to win the Calder Trophy. He’s had to settle for one of the great career starts in NHL history. Fasth allowed two goals in each of his three starts last week and won all three, giving him an 8-0-0 record. He’s one win short of matching the NHL record for most consecutive victories at the start of a career.

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Devils' Clarkson blossoms into a scorer

Monday, 02.11.2013 / 9:01 AM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

David Clarkson
Right Wing - NJD
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 15
SOG: 50 | +/-: 4
David Clarkson is proving that his 30-goal season in 2011-12 was no accident.

Clarkson made the NHL as a scrapper, an energy player who could skate, would stand up for his teammates and could score the occasional goal. But he turned into a 30-goal scorer last season -- more than he had scored in any two previous NHL seasons combined -- and he's picked up right where he left off last spring, when he helped the Devils make the Stanley Cup Final.

Clarkson had a pair of two-goal games last week, and they came in wins against two of the Devils' biggest rivals, the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. He added two assists for six points in four games.

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Quote of the Day

Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals