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The Hot List

Datsyuk doing it all for Red Wings

Monday, 04.18.2011 / 9:49 AM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a time for every player to step up. Thus far, no one has stepped up more than Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk.
 
Datsyuk has been the star of the first week of the playoffs. He put on a show for a national television audience on Saturday by scoring a goal and setting up the other three in Detroit’s 4-3 win against Phoenix in Game 2 of their first-round series. In addition to making the most spectacular offensive move of the playoffs so far (a between-the-legs shot that wound up as an assist when Darren Helm converted the rebound), Datsyuk also won 16 of 20 faceoffs and did about all that one man can do to win a game.

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Canucks need Luongo to carry success into playoffs

Monday, 04.11.2011 / 3:27 PM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

After the best regular season of his career, Roberto Luongo is primed to carry the Vancouver Canucks on a long playoff run.

Luongo won 38 games and posted a career-best 2.11 goals-against average along with a .928 save percentage, giving the Canucks the kind of goaltending they needed to win the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time since entering the NHL in 1970. With rookie Cory Schneider providing him with enough rest and new goaltending coach Roland Melanson tweaking his style and positioning, Luongo has never been better.

He enters the playoffs having allowed just six goals while going 5-1-0 in his last six starts. But now things get serious -- Luongo and the Canucks meet the Chicago Blackhawks for the third spring in a row. The Hawks won the first two meetings, including last year’s on the way to the Stanley Cup. If Vancouver wants to bring home its first title, Luongo will have to step up his play to another level and beat the team that’s sent him home twice in a row.
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Iginla keeping Flames in the playoff hunt

Sunday, 04.03.2011 / 10:43 AM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The NHL's 77th 1,000-point scorer is doing his best to keep the Calgary Flames in the playoff hunt.

Jarome Iginla reached the milestone on Friday when his third-period game Calgary a 3-2 win in St. Louis, capping a game that saw him score twice and set up a goal to rally the Flames from a two-goal deficit.

With his team desperate for every goal, Iginla enters Sunday's game in Colorado riding a four-game streak in which he has 6 goals and 9 points. Going back to March 17, he has 9 goals in seven games, and he's one away from his fourth 40-goal season and first since 2007-08.

Five up — Five players who've been hot:

Patrick Marleau -- San Jose has had production from a number of players during its charge to the top of the Pacific Division, but Marleau has been on fire in the last couple of weeks. He scored twice Saturday after getting a pair of goals on Thursday, giving him 8 goals in his last five games and 37 for the season.
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Perry's hot play could land Ducks in the playoffs

Sunday, 03.27.2011 / 12:53 PM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Take Steven Stamkos’ start and Corey Perry’s stretch drive and you’d have a season for the ages.

Stamkos had 21 goals in Tampa Bay’s first 22 games, helping the Lightning to a fast start that should get them into the playoffs. Perry is showing the same kind of scoring touch down the stretch – and he’s carried the Anaheim Ducks into the top eight in the West.

Perry has 8 goals and 10 points in his last five games, moving him past Stamkos for the League lead in goals with 44. He’s scored those 8 goals on just 25 shots, giving him a 32.0 shooting percentage. Three of the five goals were game-winners, and two of those came in overtime. The other game-winner came Saturday night, when he scored both of the Ducks’ goals in the third period to rally Anaheim to a 2-1 victory in Chicago.

Perry has been on a tear since the All-Star break, much like the one Stamkos was on at the start of the season. The 25-year old has 19 goals in 23 games since the start of February.
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Pavelski's big week keeps Sharks on top in Pacific

Sunday, 03.20.2011 / 1:15 PM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The only person who could slow down Joe Pavelski last week was the official scorer.

Fans streamed out of HP Pavilion on Saturday night thinking they had seen Pavelski score his first NHL hat trick in San Jose's 5-3 victory against St. Louis. Instead, his first goal was awarded to Patrick Marleau after a post-game review.

But Pavelski still finished the night with 2 goals and an assist, capping a four-game week in which he scored 3 times and piled up 11 points -- including a four-assist night in Dallas on Tuesday and multiple points in all four games.

Five up — Five players who've been hot:

Ray Emery -- In one of the feel-good stories of the season, not only has Emery been able to rebound from major hip surgery that cost him more than a year, but he's been a real find for the Anaheim Ducks. Emery won back-to-back starts last week -- his first in more than a year -- while allowing just one goal in each.
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Daniel Sedin edging ahead of the scoring pack

Sunday, 03.13.2011 / 12:38 PM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Daniel Sedin doesn't want to talk about succeeding his brother as NHL scoring champion. His play on the ice is talking plenty.

Henrik Sedin won the Art Ross and Hart Trophies last season. Daniel could take home both honors this season. He moved five points in front of runner-up Steven Stamkos in the race for scoring honors with 2 goals, including the game-winner, and an assist in Vancouver's 4-3 win at Calgary.

The three-point night capped a big week for Daniel, who had 3 goals and 8 points to help the Canucks win all three games to complete a sweep of their five-game road trip that saw him go 5-5-10, giving him 89 points in 70 games.
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Toews leading Hawks' postseason push

Sunday, 03.06.2011 / 1:14 PM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Jonathan Toews is putting the Chicago Blackhawks on his back and carrying them to the playoffs.
 
Chicago's captain has stepped up his game when his team needed him most. Chicago won five games in a seven-day span from Sunday to Saturday, with Toews scoring goals and adding a pair of assists for nine points.
 
The Hawks have risen to fourth in the West on the strength of an eight-game winning streak, during which he has 13 points while going plus-6. It's the kind of performance every team hopes for from its captain – stepping up when he’s needed most.
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Niemi fuels San Jose's drive for first place

Sunday, 02.27.2011 / 1:47 PM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

It took half a season, but Antti Niemi and the San Jose Sharks have both found their game.

The Sharks signed Niemi last summer -- three months after he helped the Chicago Blackhawks sweep them on the way to the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 49 years. But the Sharks and their new goaltender both struggled -- San Jose was battling to stay in the top eight in the West, and Niemi reached the new year with a goals-against average of 3.08 and a save percentage of .899.

But Niemi began to find his game in mid-January, and he was the biggest reason the Sharks finished February with an 11-2-0 record despite playing 10 of  their 13 games on the road. Niemi started all 13 games, went 10-2-0 and allowed just 24 goals while posting three shutouts.

For the second week in a row, Niemi went 3-0-0 -- this time beating Detroit, Pittsburgh and Calgary on the road. His GAA is down to 2.44 as San Jose prepares to begin March, while his save percentage has improved to .919. Not coincidentally, the Sharks have climbed back into first place in the Pacific Division.
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Hedberg has Devils thinking playoffs

Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 7:49 PM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

It’s hard to believe the hottest goaltender in New Jersey is not Martin Brodeur.
 
The Devils' post-All-Star break surge appeared to be in trouble when Brodeur injured his knee at Montreal two weeks ago. Instead, veteran Johan Hedberg, aka “Moose,” stepped in, led the Devils to a 4-1 win on Super Bowl Sunday, and has kept the good times rolling.
 
New Jersey made it seven wins in a row on Saturday by winning 4-1 at Carolina, and Hedberg has been in goal for all seven – though he didn’t get the win in Montreal despite playing the last two periods. Hedberg was super this past week, winning all three decisions while allowing just three goals.
 
The wins included a shutout of the New York Rangers sandwiched around a pair of victories against eighth-place Carolina, the team the Devils are trying to catch in what would be one of the great comebacks in sports history – they are now 10 points out of the playoffs after trailing by 27 at the halfway point of their season.
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Bryzgalov has Coyotes climbing in West

Sunday, 02.13.2011 / 7:00 AM / The Hot List

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

When Ilya Bryzgalov is hot, the Phoenix Coyotes are among the NHL's best teams -- and for the last week or so, Bryzgalov has been red-hot.

The Coyotes have won their last four games, with Bryzgalov in goal for all four. The first two were shutouts, the next two were 3-2 victories, an overtime win at Dallas and a shootout victory against Chicago on Saturday night.

Bryzgalov was perfect in the shootout, but he made one of the saves of the year in OT when he robbed Chicago's Patrick Kane on a 2-on-0 break. It was the last of the 98 saves he's made on the 102 shots he's made during the Coyotes' unbeaten run.
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Quote of the Day

A piece of scar tissue breaks off, pinches the nerve, and every time you move your leg it's almost like having a root canal in your stomach and groin.

— Detroit Red Wings center Stephen Weiss on his sports hernia surgery