At age 22, Ryan Getzlaf
has a bright future. The Anaheim center’s present looks pretty good too.
Getzlaf has been in the middle of the Ducks’ resurgence during the past month. He comes into Wednesday night’s game against Detroit with a 14-game points streak — the longest active streak in the NHL — including eight points (two goals, six assists) in his last four games. At plus-25, he’s also among the NHL’s leaders in plus-minus.
With 19 goals and 57 points in 49 games, Getzlaf is on track to shatter his career highs of 25 goals and 58 points, both set last season. The scary thought for opponents: He’s only going to get better.
Five up -- Five players who’ve been hot:
Johan Holmqvist — Holmqvist had one career shutout before last weekend, when he blanked Pittsburgh and Ottawa on successive nights, stopping all 52 shots he faced. He followed that with a 4-3 win against Edmonton on Tuesday. Tampa Bay hopes Holmqvist uses those performances as a stepping stone to giving the Lightning the kind of goaltender they need to get back in the playoff race.
Scott Hartnell — It’s hard to get much hotter than Hartnell, who had five more goals in a three-game stretch that included his second hat trick in nine days. He went 8-6-14 during a seven-game scoring streak.
Dan Cleary — One way that top teams stay that way is to find talent where other teams ignore it. Cleary never lived up to his draft status with Chicago, Edmonton and Phoenix, but he’s been a solid player in three seasons with Detroit — and has emerged as a scorer, too. He had seven goals and 13 points and was plus-11 in his last 10 games.
Nicklas Backstrom — With Michael Nylander gone for the season, Washington needs Backstrom to step up — and so far, he’s delivered. Backstrom had four assists in Saturday’s 5-3 win against Florida, then set up four more goals in Monday night’s 6-5 shootout win in Pittsburgh.
Scott Nichol — No one will ever mistake Nichol for a sniper. But he had a great home-and-home series for Nashville against St. Louis, scoring a pair of shorthanded goals Saturday and another one in the return match Monday. Not bad for a player who had only two goals in his first 37 games.
Five down -- Five players who’ve been struggling:
Roberto Luongo — It’s been a tough couple weeks for Luongo, who has lost his last four decisions and shown only flashes of the form that got him voted into the starting lineup for the All-Star Game. He’s 1-4-1 in his last six, with a 2.96 goals-against average and .895 save percentage — far below his usual standards.
Alexei Zhitnik — The veteran defenseman averaged nearly a point a game after Atlanta got him at the trading deadline last winter. But he’s done little for the Thrashers this season, going pointless in his last 11 games and putting up just one goal and four assists in 50 games.
Tuomo Ruutu — Even Ruutu has acknowledged that he has to contribute more offensively. He’s had no goals and just five assists in his last 18 games — not nearly enough on a team that’s been riddled with injuries up front.
Aaron Voros — Voros gave the Minnesota Wild an offensive boost when he came up, scoring seven goals and 13 points in his first 21 games. But he’s gone cold since then, going pointless in 12 games.
Evgeni Nabokov — San Jose’s All-Star was the last goalie in the NHL this season to get a night off, and all that work may finally be taking a toll. Nabokov lost three-straight games, allowing 15 goals and looking nothing like the goalie who earned an All-Star berth, before Tuesday night’s 3-2 win against Chicago.
Injuries and notes — The Pittsburgh Penguins and hockey fans in general took a hit when Sidney Crosby went down with a high ankle sprain in last Friday’s loss to Tampa Bay. Crosby will miss Sunday’s All-Star Game and is expected to be out for six to eight weeks — a long time for a contending team to be without its best player and leader. He’s on injured reserve.
Teammate Evgeni Malkin will replace him at the All-Star Game. Other All-Star replacements: Boston’s Tim Thomas (for Martin Brodeur, family issues); Anaheim’s Scott Niedermayer (for Sergei Zubov, foot); Dallas’ Mike Ribeiro and Anaheim’s Corey Perry (for Colorado’s Paul Stastny, appendectomy, and Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg, back problems).
Out -- Colorado lost another top forward last week when Stastny had to undergo an appendectomy. The Avs put him on IR. … The New York Islanders lost defenseman Chris Campoli for the season with a dislocated shoulder last Wednesday; He’ll have surgery to fix the injury. They did get two other defensemen, Brendan Witt (ankle) and Radek Martinek (leg) back Monday. … Nashville center David Legwand injured his leg in Monday’s win against St. Louis and won’t be back until after the break. Another center, Radek Bonk, didn’t play Monday due to an arm injury he sustained Saturday. Two other Nashville forwards, Jordin Tootoo (hip flexor) and Darcy Hordichuk (lower leg) have been sidelined and won’t be back until next week, at the earliest. … In addition to losing Crosby, Pittsburgh put forward Adam Hall on IR with a groin injury sustained Saturday in Montreal. The Pens also lost forward Colby Armstrong to a bruised hip Saturday; he didn’t play Monday against Washington. … San Jose put checking forward Curtis Brown on IR with a hand injury sustained Saturday. … Ottawa forward Brian McGrattan injured his right shoulder in Sunday’s loss at Philadelphia. … Florida forward Rostislav Olesz re-injured his surgically repaired wrist and is expected to miss a couple of weeks.
Still out -- St. Louis forward Martin Rucinsky is skating again, but is still at least two weeks away from returning. He’s been out since Dec. 29 with a separated shoulder. … Los Angeles center Michael Cammalleri, out since Dec. 22 with bruised ribs, still isn’t ready for contact drills. The Kings also don’t expect forward Ladislav Nagy to be back until after the All-Star break; he injured his neck in Friday’s loss to Calgary. … Chicago forward Martin Lapointe likely won’t play until after the break due to a bruised kidney. … Boston defenseman Andrew Alberts had a setback in his recovery from post-concussion symptoms that has cost him 16 games. … Minnesota defenseman Sean Hill isn’t playing on this week’s trip to Western Canada due to a wrist injury. … Toronto defenseman Bryan McCabe is skating again but is still a week or two away from returning; he’s been out since Dec. 15 with a broken hand. … Colorado defenseman Kurt Sauer, out since Nov. 30 with a neck injury, is skating again and should return to the lineup soon. … Edmonton put forward Geoff Sanderson on IR due to a back injury that’s kept him out for more than two weeks. … Chicago forward Jason Williams, already out with a groin injury, will miss another six weeks after undergoing sports hernia surgery. He hasn’t played since Nov. 28. … Tampa Bay hopes to have defenseman Dan Boyle (wrist surgery) back soon, though the Bolts may wait until after the All-Star break.
Returning -- Ottawa got captain Daniel Alfredsson back Tuesday night after he missed two games with a hip flexor injury. … Buffalo defenseman Jaroslav Spacek returned Monday after missing four games due to back spasms. … Anaheim took forward George Parros off IR on Sunday; he’s been out since Dec. 9 with a knee injury. But center Samuel Pahlsson (inflamed abdomen) still isn’t ready to play. … Atlanta forward Brad Larsen returned Sunday after missing a week with a groin injury. … Columbus forward Fredrik Modin returned to the lineup last Saturday after missing 2-1/2 months with a back injury. He scored his first goal of the season Sunday night. The Blue Jackets also reactivated forward Andrew Murray on Tuesday; he had been out of action with a concussion since Jan. 8. Another Blue Jacket forward, Sergei Fedorov, was diagnosed with a concussion this week and was placed on IR. … …. New Jersey forward John Madden returned Sunday after missing two games with a laceration on his foot and scored twice in the Devils’ 3-2 win against Toronto. The Devils also got defenseman Karel Rachunek back Friday after he missed six games with an ankle injury. … Vancouver defenseman Mattias Ohlund made a surprise return to the lineup Saturday against the Kings. He had been out with a concussion since Dec. 22. … Edmonton defenseman Matt Greene was back in the lineup Sunday after missing 11 weeks with a broken ankle. … Minnesota forward Derek Boogaard returned Friday after missing 16 games with a herniated disc.
May be returning -- Peter Forsberg told Swedish media that his right foot has responded favorably to hard skating. He may play for the Swedish national team in a tournament early next month; if he’s OK after that, it’s not impossible to envision him back in the NHL by the end of February.
The week ahead — It’s All-Star Weekend, with the regular season taking a four-day break after Thursday’s games while the NHL’s best gather in Atlanta.
Games to watch:
56th NHL All-Star Game (Jan. 27 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, 6 p.m. Versus, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio) — If recent history is any indicator, look for lots of goals when the best of the Eastern and Western Conferences face off.
Detroit at Anaheim (Jan. 23) — The Wings wrap up their pre-All Star schedule with by visiting the Ducks, the only Western Conference team to beat them by more than one goal.
Washington at Toronto (Jan. 23) — The Leafs, with Cliff Fletcher the interim GM, will be looking for revenge from an early-season 7-1 drubbing at the hands of the Caps in the opener of a home-and home series.
Atlanta at New York Rangers (Jan. 24) — The Thrashers, who also played in New York on Tuesday, are the visitors on Brian Leetch Night, as the Rangers honor the 1994 Conn Smythe winner.
Anaheim at Los Angeles (Jan. 24) — Southern California’s two teams face off at Staples Center. It’s the last time either team will be near home for a while — both make East Coast swings as part of long post-All Star road trips.
Pittsburgh at New Jersey (Jan. 29) — Two of the three teams jockeying for the Atlantic Division lead meet at the Prudential Center.
The week ahead — With the All-Star break knocking out most of the upcoming week, we’ll look instead at some teams that have tough, or easy, schedules ahead after the break.
Tough stretch ahead:
Anaheim Ducks — Thursday’s game at Los Angeles is the start of a nine-game road trip that takes the Ducks to the East Coast for the first time since the lockout.
Los Angeles Kings —. Like their Southern California rivals, the Kings are heading East; they play their next eight on the road and make several of the same stops.
Buffalo Sabres — The Sabres spent the last few days before the break in the Southwest; when play resumes they start out in the Southeast, visiting both Florida teams and Atlanta, then travel to Boston before they get back home.
Easy stretch ahead:
New Jersey Devils — The Devils are making up for all those early road games; they’re in a stretch where they play 15 of 18 at home.
Calgary Flames — No one gets a better All-Star break than the Flames, who finished up Tuesday and don’t go back to work until Jan. 30. They’re in the middle of a four-game homestand and an eight-game stretch in which they don’t leave Alberta.
Tampa Bay Lightning — The Bolts play their last two games before the break at home, then get to stay there for the first three after the break. They don’t play a road game again until Feb. 6.