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Columbus' York has gone from sub to star

by John Kreiser /
Allen York probably wishes that last week would never end.

Allen York
Goalie - CBJ
RECORD: 3-1-0
GAA: 2.35 | SVP: 0.921
One week ago, York was a backup goaltender for the last-place Columbus Blue Jackets. The former RPI star, signed as an undrafted free agent last year, was in the NHL only because Curtis Sanford was out for the season with an injury, and figured to see little action behind starter Steve Mason.

But a shot that hit Mason in the mask during the morning skate Wednesday turned York into a starter -- and York helped the Jackets to their best week of the season.

Not only did the 22-year-old win all three of his starts, he beat three teams that figure to be in the playoffs when the regular season ends next week. York stopped 29 shots in a 4-2 win against Detroit, turned aside 30 more in a 4-1 win against Southeast Division-leading Florida and capped his week with a 34-save performance in a 5-2 win at St. Louis -- only the fifth regulation loss for the Blues at home this season.

Regardless of what happens for the rest of the season, York has had a week he'll never forget.

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

Mike Smith -- With his team's season on the line, Smith stepped up once again with a flawless week to push the Phoenix Coyotes back into the top eight in the West. Smith stopped 38 shots in a 2-0 win against San Jose, then turned aside all 44 shots he faced Saturday to beat Anaheim 4-0 and move the Coyotes into seventh in the West.

Josh Bailey -- The New York Islanders have been waiting for Bailey, their top pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, to become more of an offensive force. He had the biggest week of his career by piling up eight points in back-to-back wins against Pittsburgh -- including the first five-point home game by an Islander since 1996.

Anze Kopitar
Center - LAK
GOALS: 25 | ASST: 47 | PTS: 72
SOG: 226 | +/-: 12
Anze Kopitar -- Los Angeles' top scorer was a big reason the Kings ended the week on top of the Pacific Division. Kopitar had seven points in three games as L.A. went 2-0-1, sweeping the Alberta teams before losing in a shootout at Minnesota.

R.J. Umberger -- While York has been keeping pucks out of the Jackets' net, Umberger has been putting them in the opponents' cage. He scored five goals in York's three wins, including back-to-back two-goal nights against Florida and St. Louis.

Ryan Malone -- Malone is closing strong and giving the Tampa Bay Lightning some offensive production from a player other than Steven Stamkos. He had six goals in Tampa Bay's four games last week, including a hat trick in New Jersey and both regulation goals in Saturday's OT win against Winnipeg.

Five down -- Five players who are struggling:

Jaroslav Halak -- After watching Brian Elliott put up three straight shutouts for St. Louis, Halak was back in the net for games Thursday and Saturday -- and allowed seven goal in losses to Chicago and Columbus.

Niklas Hagman -- The three-time 20-goal scorer continues to struggle offensively with Anaheim. Saturday's 4-0 loss in Phoenix stretched his pointless streak to 10 games, and he hasn't scored a goal since Feb. 19.

Jarret Stoll -- One year after hitting the 20-goal mark for the second time in his career, Stoll may not even reach double figures. He's gone nine games without a point and has just five goals and 19 points all season.

David Booth -- The Canucks have been winning despite not generating a lot of goals, and some more production from Booth would help. He's gone eight games without a point.

Shawn Horcoff -- Edmonton's captain has stayed healthy this season -- he's played 77 games after injuries limited him to 47 in 2010-11. But Horcoff has just seven more points this season than he did last season and has gone seven games without a point.

Injuries, news and notes: With the playoffs coming up quickly, the Chicago Blackhawks got some good news on Friday when captain Jonathan Toews was cleared for contact. Toews, sidelined by a concussion, missed his 19th straight game on Saturday -- but the Hawks expect he'll be able to play at least once in their final three regular-season games.

Out -- Buffalo's playoff hopes took a big hit when defenseman Tyler Myers couldn't play Saturday due to a foot injury suffered the night before. The Sabres also lost another top defenseman, Christian Ehrhoff, after a knee-on-knee collision in Tuesday's game at Washington. … Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was diagnosed with a chip fracture in his right foot and missed Philadelphia's last two games. … Toronto lost both of its regular goalies. James Reimer went down with an upper-body injury and Jonas Gustavsson left the warmup on Thursday after being hit on the inside of his left leg by a shot. … Montreal forward Petteri Nokelainen left Saturday's game in the second period with an upper-body injury. … Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid didn't make the trip to New York this weekend after suffering an eye injury on Thursday. … Islanders center Casey Cizikas missed Saturday's game with an upper-body injury. Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov went down with a lower-body injury on Tuesday and hasn't played since, though he's not ruling out a return before the end of the season. … Los Angeles center Jeff Carter missed the Kings' last two games with an ankle injury. He is expected to see a specialist early next week. ... Minnesota defenseman Marco Scandella sat out Saturday with an upper-body injury. Center Matt Cullen is out for the rest of the season because of a broken finger that required surgery. … San Jose defenseman Douglas Murray missed games Thursday and Saturday with an ankle injury. … Columbus goaltender Steve Mason may not play again after taking a shot to the head during practice last week. … Washington goaltender Tomas Vokoun left Thursday's game with an apparent lower-body injury and didn't play Saturday.

Nicklas Backstrom
Center - WSH
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 29 | PTS: 42
SOG: 92 | +/-: -3
Returning -- Washington welcomed No. 1 center Nicklas Backstrom back to the lineup on Saturday. Backstrom hadn't played since leaving the Caps' game against Calgary on Jan. 3 with a concussion. … St. Louis forward Matt D'Agostini (concussion) returned Saturday, as did center Andy McDonald, who's been out with a shoulder injury, and defenseman Roman Polak (knee). … Lightning center Nate Thompson returned Saturday after missing seven games with an upper-body injury. … Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard returned Friday after missing 10 days with groin injury. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (broken wrist) was also back on Friday. … Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen was back on Friday after missing eight days with an upper-body injury. Forward Joe Vitale (shoulder) also returned Friday, as did goaltender Brent Johnson, who missed more than a month with an undisclosed injury. … Vancouver forward Andrew Ebbett made a triumphant return from a broken collarbone that had sidelined him since Jan. 7 when he scored the OT winner for the Canucks on Saturday. … Dallas defenseman Mark Fistric (abdominal strain) returned Saturday after missing five games

Still out -- Vancouver GM Mike Gillis says forward Daniel Sedin (concussion) will be ready to go for the start of the playoffs. … Washington placed defenseman John Erskine on injured reserve with a lower body injury. He hasn't played since Feb. 12. …Ottawa's Jesse Winchester (concussion) is healthy enough to play but is likely to sit out a little longer. ... Detroit's Patrick Eaves (concussion) has been out since Nov. 26 and isn't likely to play in what's left of the regular season or playoffs. Forward Darren Helm hopes to be back from a knee injury in time for the opening round of the playoffs… Chicago hopes defenseman Sami Lepisto (leg) might be able to return before the start of the playoffs. … Philadelphia forward James van Riemsdyk, still recuperating after surgery for a broken foot, hopes to be skating in a week or so and aims to be ready sometime during the first round of the playoffs. …

The week ahead -- This is it -- the last week of the season. 2011-12 ends with a bang in Saturday when all 30 teams are in action for only the fourth time in League history.

Games to watch:

San Jose at Dallas (April 3) -- The Sharks and Stars, two of the four clubs scrambling for the Pacific Division title, play the back end of a home-and-home as Dallas returns home following a tough four-game trip that has dropped the Stars out of the top eight in the West.

New York Rangers at Pittsburgh (April 5; NBCSN/TSN2) -- The Rangers appear to have outlasted the Penguins' late push for first place in the East, but the Pens will likely need to win to keep fourth place and the last home-ice edge in the opening round of the playoffs.

Florida at Washington (April 5) -- The Panthers' inability to beat non-playoff teams last week has given the Caps a chance to catch them for the Southeast Division lead.

Chicago at Detroit (April 7; NBC/TSN2) -- Two of the NHL's oldest rivals finish the season against each other in the first of the 15 games on the last day of the schedule.

San Jose at Los Angeles (April 7) -- The Sharks and Kings finish a season-ending home-and-home that began Thursday in Los Angeles by playing the final contest of the NHL's 1,230-game regular season -- and the playoff situation in the West may not be decided until this one is done.

Tough week ahead:

Anaheim Ducks -- The Ducks say goodbye to their home fans for the summer before ending the season with a week in Western Canada.

Phoenix Coyotes -- The Coyotes, one of four teams battling for the Pacific Division title and a playoff berth in the West, end their home schedule on Tuesday against Columbus, a team they haven't beaten in three tries this season, then finish with back-to-back road games in St. Louis and Minnesota.

Tampa Bay Lightning -- The Bolts end their home season on Monday, then end the season with three road games in Canada as the Frozen Four takes over the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Easy week ahead:

Calgary Flames -- The Flames end a disappointing season with home games against Vancouver and Anaheim.

Colorado Avalanche -- If the Avs still have any playoff hopes by midweek (after a six-day break), they get to play their last two games at home.

Vancouver Canucks -- The Canucks get to tune up for the playoffs with three games against non-playoff teams, two of them at home.
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