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Giroux stepping up for Flyers

by John Kreiser
The Philadelphia Flyers caused a big stir this summer when they dealt two of the NHL's top centers, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. One reason they could afford to make those moves was Claude Giroux.

The Flyers' first-round pick in 2006 just continues to get better. He piled up seven points in Philadelphia's three games last week and has climbed to second in the scoring race with 27 points overall, one behind Toronto's Phil Kessel. He's had 11 points in seven games this month and 16 in his last 10 games overall.

Five up — Five players who are playing well:

Claude Giroux
Right Wing - PHI
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 15 | PTS: 26
SOG: 55 | +/-: 3
Carey Price -- After some early-season struggles, Montreal's No. 1 goaltender is on a roll. He blanked Carolina 4-0 on Wednesday and did the same against the New York Rangers on Saturday. For the week, he went 2-0-1 and stopped 72 of 74 shots.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- The No. 1 pick in last June's NHL Draft had a night to remember on Saturday with five assists in Edmonton's 9-2 win against Chicago. The performance made him the first 18-year-old in NHL history with five assists in a single game, and only the fourth 18-year-old ever to have a five-point game. He leads all rookies with 19 points.

Stephen Weiss -- Florida's No. 1 center had a pair of three-point nights last week. He also had one of the best two-way games in recent memory as the Panthers beat Pittsburgh on Saturday: Weiss set up his team's first two goals, scored the game-winner, went 15-7 on faceoffs and blocked a game-high five shots.

Matt Read -- Unlike Giroux, his Philadelphia teammate, Read had to play his way onto the Flyers as an undrafted free agent. The Flyers are glad they kept him: Read leads all rookies with eight goals and has scored in each of Philadelphia's last four games, including a pair on Saturday.

Joffrey Lupul -- Playing with Phil Kessel has been a boon for Lupul, as has been the ability to stay healthy. He had a goal and three assists on Saturday, is third in the League with 24 points and is having his best season since 2008-09.

Five down — Five players who are struggling:

Mike Knuble -- The 39-year-old forward is among several Washington Capitals who've gone cold. Knuble hasn't found the back of the net since Oct. 29 and hasn't had so much as a point in his last seven games.

Semyon Varlamov -- Colorado brought in Varlamov to be its No. 1 goaltender, but six straight losses have persuaded coach Joe Sacco to give backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere more playing time.

Kari Lehtonen -- Lehtonen was been the biggest reason the Dallas Stars started with 11 wins in 14 games. He's lost his last three while allowing 11 goals -- though to be fair, he's also seen 106 shots in those games.

Andrew McDonald -- After scoring the Islanders' first goal of the season, he hasn't had a point in New York's next 15 games despite averaging well over 20 minutes of ice time.

Alex Ovechkin -- At least Ovi is shooting again (13 in his last two games). But Washington's big gun has been silent for most of the season. He's gone pointless in his last four games and is just 7-7-14 -- numbers that would put him on pace for career lows of 31 goals and 62 points.

Alex Ovechkin
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 14
SOG: 67 | +/-: -6
Injuries, news and notes — The Sidney Crosby watch continues. The Pittsburgh Penguins captain continues to work out at practice, but the team has not set a date for his return from the concussion that has sidelined him since early January.

Out -- Maple Leafs are dropping like flies. Toronto lost defenseman Mike Komisarek (broken arm) and forward Matt Lombardi (upper body) on Thursday -- two days after losing center Mikhail Grabovski (upper body) and Clarke MacArthur (lower body). Toronto announced Saturday that Komisarek has a broken arm that will require surgery and that he'll miss at least two months. … Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr played only 1:22 on Thursday before leaving with a lower-body injury and didn't travel to Winnipeg for Saturday's game. … Dallas forward Adam Burish went on IR after breaking a bone in his left hand. … Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov left Thursday's game with a groin injury and is out indefinitely. Fellow goaltender Al Montoya missed Saturday's game with a hamstring injury. … Detroit defenseman Ian White missed the week with a fractured cheekbone that landed him on IR. … Florida forward Marcel Goc missed games Thursday and Saturday after suffering an upper-body injury on Tuesday. Goaltender Scott Clemmensen sat out Saturday's game with soreness. … Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo sat out Saturday with a lower-body injury. … Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo hasn't played since Sunday due to an upper-body injury. … David Moss missed both of Calgary's games last week with an injured foot that landed him on IR. … Edmonton defenseman Andy Sutton will miss at least a week after leaving Friday's game with a groin injury. Another Oilers defenseman, Cam Barker, will miss at least three months after injuring his ankle; he'll need surgery.

Returning -- Dallas forward Steve Ott returned Friday after a hip injury that cost him six games. … Islanders rookie Nino Niederreiter made his season debut on Tuesday after missing five weeks with a lower-body injury. … Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi played Saturday in Los Angeles after missing six games with a sinus infection. … Forward Eric Fehr made his debut for the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday after missing the first six weeks of the season following offseason shoulder surgery.

Still out -- Flyers forward Brayden Schenn practiced last week for the first time since going down with a broken foot on Oct. 26. … Los Angeles put forward Dustin Penner (hand) on IR; coach Terry Murray says he's weeks from returning. Alex Martinez also went on IR with an upper-body injury. … Penguins forward Dustin Jeffrey will be idled for another week or two as he tries to regain strength in his surgically repaired knee. … San Jose's James Sheppard participated in a practice last week for the first time since injuring his knee in an ATV accident in September 2010. … Phoenix center Daymond Langkow has missed five games due to the death of his mother on Nov. 8. … Edmonton defenseman Ryan Whitney skated last week and hopes to be back in the lineup this week. He's been sidelined since Oct. 25 with a knee injury. … Colorado placed Peter Mueller (concussion) on IR; he's skating at practiced by hasn't played since Oct. 12. … Washington defenseman Mike Green hasn't skated since injuring his groin on Nov. 12.

The week ahead -- The Thanksgiving holiday plays havoc with this week's schedule. Wednesday and Friday both include 13 games, sandwiched around a dark day on the holiday, and there are 11 more games on Saturday's schedule. In all, half of the League's 30 teams play four times. U.S. fans have a little extra to be thankful for: All but three games from Nov. 21-27 will be played south of the 49th parallel.

Games to watch:

Boston at Montreal (Nov. 21, Versus/TSN/RDS) -- The Bruins come to Montreal for the first time since being swept by the Habs in a home-and-home last month.

Philadelphia at New York Islanders (Nov. 23) -- The Islanders, who've beaten the Flyers just once since April 2007, hope that the debut of their new third jerseys will bring them a change in fortune.

Detroit at Boston (Nov. 25, NBC/TSN) -- The Wings come to Boston for the Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown at 1 p.m. ET.

New York Rangers at Washington (Nov. 25, NHL Network-US) -- After the Bruins and Wings finish, the Rangers visit Washington for the first time since the Caps bounced them out of the playoffs last spring.

Chicago at Los Angeles (Nov. 26) -- The Hawks wrap up their Circus Trip with a stop in Los Angeles, their third game in four days.

Tough week ahead:

Chicago Blackhawks -- Having spent last week visiting Western Canada, the Hawks will spend the holiday in California; they are in San Jose on Wednesday before spending the weekend in Southern California.

Calgary Flames -- After spending an easy (two games) week at home, the Flames get a tough seven-day stretch on the road, playing four games on a tour of the Midwest.

Edmonton Oilers -- Like their Alberta rivals, the Oilers spent last week at home and hit the road this week for four games -- but unlike the Flames, who have a day off between each game, Edmonton plays a pair of back-to-backs sandwiched around a two-day break.

Easy week ahead:

Colorado Avalanche -- The Avs, who began an eight-game homestand Friday night, spend the holiday week in Denver while playing only twice -- Vancouver and Edmonton come to the Pepsi Center.

Minnesota Wild -- The Wild continue a homestand that began Thursday and keeps them in St. Paul through the holiday as Nashville, Edmonton and Calgary come to the Xcel Energy Center.

San Jose Sharks -- After games in Dallas on Saturday and Denver on Sunday, the Sharks get to spend the week at home, with visits from Chicago on Wednesday and on Saturday (after Vancouver plays at Phoenix on Friday).
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