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Green keeps Caps going

by John Kreiser
It's hard to be hotter than Washington defenseman Mike Green. In fact, no blueliner in 25 years has been this hot.

Green scored twice in the Capitals' 3-1 victory Saturday against Florida, giving him goals in six consecutive games -- a franchise record and a feat no NHL defenseman has accomplished since Hall of Famer Ray Bourque did it in 1984.

Green had 4 goals and 6 points in Washington's three games last week. His 19 goals are more than any defenseman scored all last season, when he topped the charts with 18 goals. Green is also tops among defensemen with 46 points, despite playing in only 41 games. The defenseman missed 13 games due to a shoulder injury. Green has 10 points in his last four games and 13 during his six-game goal-scoring streak.

Just what Washington's opponents need -- someone other than Alex Ovechkin to worry about.

Five up -- Five players who've been producing:

Marian Hossa -- Hossa has been on a tear, scoring 6 goals in Detroit's four games last week while going plus-6. He reminded the Pittsburgh Penguins, with who he excelled in the Stanley Cup Final last spring, just how much they missed him by getting the backbreaking goal in Sunday's 3-0 win.

Ryan Kesler -- The Canucks played just twice last week, but that didn't stop Kesler from piling up the points. He finished with 3 goals and 3 assists for 6 points while averaging more than 21 minutes of ice time per game.

Chris Mason -- Mason got off to a horrible start this season, but he's played well enough during the past three weeks to take the No. 1 goaltending job in St. Louis. He went 2-0-2 last week, allowing just four goals on 95 shots, and is 5-1-2 since Jan. 19 -- a span during which he's cut his goals-against average from 3.16 to 2.54 and boosted his save percentage from .900 to .917.

Ryan Miller -- A key reason that the Buffalo Sabres have rebounded from their slump has been the play of Miller, who went 2-0-1 with an 0.98 GAA in three games last week, allowing just four goals on 94 shots. He's 7-2-1 in his last 10 decisions.

Jere Lehtinen -- One reason the Dallas Stars have been rejuvenated recently is the play of Lehtinen, who missed most of the first half of the season with injuries. The veteran right wing has an eight-game points streak and was 2-5-7 in four games last week, including five points in back-to-back wins against the Rangers and Predators.

Five down -- Five players who've struggled:

Bryan Little -- Atlanta's "Little White Russian" line has been as cold as a Siberian winter. Little, who had been hot until mid-January, has gone eight games without a point. Todd White's assist Sunday was his first point in eight games, and Slava Kozlov's goal Sunday was his first since Jan. 2.

Miroslav Satan -- Satan has been a disappointment for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who haven't gotten the scoring they expected from him. Satan had no points in four games last week and has just one goal in his last 10 games.

Dustin Byfuglien -- Byfuglien' s offensive production has dropped way off since the start of the new year. He hasn't had a point in Chicago's last eight games, hasn't scored a goal in 11 and has just two points in the Hawks' last 15 games.

Wade Redden --- The Rangers signed Redden to a long-term contract last summer in the hope he could give them some offense from the blue line. It hasn't happened. Redden is without a point in New York's last seven games, hasn't scored a goal since Oct. 10 and is on pace for his lowest offensive numbers since 1997-98.

Miikka Kiprusoff -- The NHL's winningest goaltender is in a bit of a slump. He dropped three decisions last week before getting a game off Saturday (the Flames lost that one, too), allowing 11 goals in the three losses.

Injuries, news and notes -- It's flu season, and NHL teams aren't immune to illnesses. It's not unusual to see a team lose two or three players suddenly (as Philadelphia did on Feb. 4) -- or for a player miss a few games.

Out -- Robert Lang's season is probably done. The 38-year-old Montreal center had Achilles tendon surgery last week after going down with an injury on Feb. 1. ... Detroit forward Tomas Holmstrom will miss at least three weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia. ... Washington goaltender Brent Johnson will undergo surgery to repair a hip injury. That puts the goaltending load on Jose Theodore. Caps captain Chris Clark is also out, possibly for the season, after undergoing wrist surgery. ... Rangers defenseman Dmitri Kalinin missed the team's last two games with a back injury. ... The Islanders, plagued by injuries all season, lost center Nate Thompson with a shoulder injury Thursday after All-Star defenseman Mark Streit hurt his left shoulder Tuesday. They also placed another defenseman, Thomas Pock, on IR with a hand injury that's expected to sideline him for about a month.  ... Edmonton placed defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky on IR Tuesday after he dislocated his right shoulder. ... Mike Van Ryn seems to be jinxed. The Toronto defenseman, who's missed much of the season with injuries -- including a pair of concussions -- left Saturday's game against Montreal with what appeared to be a serious leg injury. ... Ottawa's Chris Neil left Saturday night's game after the second period with an apparent right leg injury. ... Columbus put rookie goaltender Steve Mason on IR as he battles a case of mononucleosis. ... Edmonton center Shawn Horcoff sat out the Oilers' two games this past weekend with a lower-body injury. ... Buffalo sniper Thomas Vanek left Saturday's game against Ottawa after taking a slap shot that broke his jaw and required surgery; he will miss 3-4 weeks. Center Paul Gaustad also will miss time with a shoulder separation sustained three days earlier. ... Tampa Bay goaltender Mike Smith has missed the Lightning's last three games with an undisclosed injury. ... Montreal defenseman Patrice Brisebois has missed four games with a lower-body injury. ... Phoenix center Martin Hanzal and left wing Daniel Carcillo both left Saturday's game in the second period and did not return. Hanzal separated a shoulder and will miss at least two weeks; Carcillo is day-to-day with a mild concussion. Carolina center Rod Brind'Amour missed the last two games of the Hurricanes' western trip with a lower-body injury. ...

Returning -- All-Star defenseman Dan Boyle returned to San Jose's lineup Thursday after missing the Sharks' first three games after the break. The Sharks hope to get center Jeremy Roenick, out since undergoing shoulder surgery Dec. 14, back into the lineup during their upcoming road trip. ... Buffalo defenseman Teppo Numminen returned Wednesday after missing six games with a broken jaw. ... Tampa Bay forward Gary Roberts also returned Wednesday; the 42-year-old missed 30 games and more than two months after elbow surgery. ... Islanders goaltender Joey MacDonald was back in the net Thursday for the first time since leaving a Jan. 13 game against the Rangers with a groin injury. Forward Sean Bergenheim returned Saturday from a strained muscle in his side that cost him six games. ... Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg returned Wednesday after sitting out three games with back spasms. ... Carolina defenseman Niclas Wallin returned Saturday after missing 10 days with a sprained ankle. ... Los Angeles hopes rookie forward Oscar Moller will be ready to play Tuesday. He's missed more than a month with a broken collarbone sustained during the World Junior Championships. ... Montreal's Mathieu Dandenault has been cleared to play after missing nearly two months with a broken left arm. ...

Still out -- New Jersey says goaltender Martin Brodeur's recovery from a bicep injury continues on schedule; he could be back before the end of the month. Brodeur spent 40 minutes on the ice Saturday handling full-speed shots. ... Blues defenseman Roman Polak, who broke a bone in his foot Jan. 17, hopes to start skating in a few days but is nowhere near being ready to return. ... Pittsburgh forward Ruslan Fedotenko is skating again, but there's still no date for his return from the broken hand he sustained Jan. 7. ... Colorado defenseman Adam Foote has missed 14 games and counting with a triceps injury and is expected to miss a few more. ... Minnesota defenseman Kurtis Foster, who's been out all season with a broken leg suffered last February, passed all the required medical tests and has been assigned to the AHL Houston Aeros for a two-week conditioning stint. ...

The week ahead -- It's a hectic week for a lot of teams -- nine clubs play four games this week; only three play just two.

Games to watch:

New York Rangers at New Jersey (Feb. 9) -- A national TV audience (Versus) will see if the Rangers can slow down the Devils, who beat Henrik Lundqvist eight times in their last meeting Dec. 12.

San Jose at Boston (Feb. 10) -- Versus will also be on hand when the two best teams in the NHL (by points) meet for the only time this season. It's also just the second time former Bruin Joe Thornton will be playing a game in Boston since the November 2005 deal that sent him to San Jose.

Montreal at Edmonton (Feb. 11) -- The Canadiens complete a rare swing through Alberta with their first visit to Rexall Place since Dec. 15, 2005. It's the second game of a six-game trip for Montreal.

Dallas at Chicago (Feb. 14) -- After eight in a row on the road, the Blackhawks finally get to play a home game for the first time since Jan. 21. In contrast, the Stars are coming off a four-game homestand.

Philadelphia at New York Rangers (Feb. 15) -- NBC will be at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon -- and so will the Flyers, for the first time this season. Amazingly, the teams haven't met since the first weekend of 2008-09; this is the first of five games the rest of the way.

Tough week ahead:

Calgary Flames -- After starting the week at home against the Canadiens, the Flames hit the road for three games in four nights, visiting both Southern California teams before a game at Phoenix.

Montreal Canadiens -- The Habs' playoff aspirations figure to get a severe test this week: They play four games, three in Western Canada and one at Colorado, to start a six-game trip.

San Jose Sharks -- While Montreal goes West, the Sharks come East for four games, including three in four nights, against a tough group of opponents -- the easiest one is the defending Eastern Conference champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

Easy week ahead:

Buffalo Sabres -- After their recent six-game trip, the Sabres will be glad to spend a week at home hosting Ottawa, San Jose and Carolina.

Pittsburgh Penguins -- The pace slows for the Penguins, who play just twice -- hosting San Jose on Wednesday and visiting Toronto three days later.

Tampa Bay Lightning -- The Bolts get to spend a week away from winter's snow and cold, with all three of their games at home.

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