As he closes in on his 35th birthday, Manny Legace
isn’t getting older, he’s getting better.
Legace, who turns 35 on Feb. 4, is the main reason the St. Louis Blues have enjoyed a revival that has brought fans back to the Scottrade Center in droves. He ended 2007 by shutting out the Red Wings in Detroit, then stopped 27 shots in a 1-0 victory over Carolina for his 21st career shutout in his first full game of 2008 and then beat Columbus, 6-1, Tuesday night.
Legace missed the latter part of last season with knee problems, but if his wonky knee holds up, he could post the best numbers of his career. He has a 16-10-2 record, a 2.08 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage, putting him on track for a career year.
Five up -- Five players who’ve been hot:
Evgeni Malkin -- Malkin sometimes gets lost in the shadow of Sidney Crosby, but he’s becoming a star in his own right. Malkin has eight goals in his last nine games, including a hat trick last Thursday against Toronto, and is on pace for 37 goals and 90 points -- a pretty good second season.
Ryan Getzlaf -- Getzlaf has built on last season’s 25-goal output. He has four goals and 10 points during an eight-game scoring streak, including a goal and an assist in Monday’s 5-2 win over Nashville, and is on pace to break 30 goals and approach 90 points.
Ty Conklin -- Conklin got a chance to play for Pittsburgh after Marc-Andre Fleury went down with a sprained ankle and continues making the most of it. He’s allowed just four goals while winning his last four starts, and is 8-0-0 with a .949 save percentage since Fleury was injured.
J.P. Dumont -- Dumont has given the Nashville Predators an offensive jolt. He scored in Tuesday’s 7-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings, extending his goal-scoring streak to six games. He has 16 goals in 42 games, just five fewer than he had all last season.
Dominik Hasek -- He’s coming up on 43, but “The Dominator” looks none the worse for wear. He stopped 19 shots in Detroit’s 1-0 victory over Colorado Tuesday, giving him back-to-back shutouts and a streak of 134:13 in which he hasn’t allowed a goal.
Five down -- Five players who’ve been struggling:
Brad Richards -- The 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy winner’s struggles have mirrored those of his team, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Richards has gone 11 games without scoring a goal, has just four assists in that span, and owns a league-worst minus-24 rating.
Cam Ward -- Maybe there’s something about former Conn Smythe winners struggling. Ward had the worst night of any goaltender this season on Jan. 2, allowing five goals on 14 shots in a 5-4 overtime loss at Carolina. Even with Tuesday night’s 1-0 win against Boston, he has allowed 16 goals on 119 shots in his last six appearances, an .866 save percentage, and was benched for two games over the weekend.
Ruslan Fedotenko -- Islanders coach Ted Nolan benched Fedotenko for the third period in Monday’s 4-0 loss at Edmonton, but Fedotenko hasn’t been producing much for weeks. He has just one goal and one assist in his last nine games.
Nik Antropov -- Antropov’s 35 points are already more than he managed all last season. But he hasn’t had a point in 11 games and hasn’t scored a goal since Dec. 10 against Tampa Bay, 13 games ago.
Brad Boyes -- The Blues’ leading goal-scorer is one of several St. Louis forwards who’ve been in a slump. Boyes has 21 goals, but none in his last eight games, a span during which he’s managed only two assists.
Injuries and notes -- Chris Chelios is now officially the oldest NHL player not named Gordie Howe. Chelios was 45 years, 348 days old when he took the ice for Detroit’s game against Colorado Tuesday night — one day older than Moe Roberts, a retired goalie on Chicago’s training staff who came out of retirement to play one period in relief for the Hawks on Nov. 25, 1951. Chelios is playing his 24th NHL season and ninth with the Red Wings.
Returning -- Washington captain Chris Clark, who’s been out for six weeks with a groin injury, is practicing again. He could be back later in the week. … Detroit forwards Tomas Holmstrom (knee) and Kirk Maltby (back pain) returned to the Wings’ lineup Tuesday. Holmstrom had missed eight games and Maltby was out for 19. … Boston defenseman Aaron Ward is close to returning. He’s been out since Dec. 21 with a broken foot, but skated at Monday’s practice and could be back by the weekend. … Toronto hopes to get starting goalie Vesa Toskala (groin) back during this week’s West Coast swing. He hasn’t played since Dec. 22. … Chicago forward Martin Havlat returned Sunday after missing six games with a groin injury. … Dallas defenseman Sergei Zubov missed two games with a hand injury before returning on Saturday. … The Blues got defenseman Barret Jackman back on Saturday after he missed four games with a concussion; center Andy McDonald also returned after missing four games with a chest injury.
Out -- Philadelphia’s Joffrey Lupul suffered a spinal cord bruise and a mild concussion during Saturday's 3-2 victory over Toronto. He was injured when he collided with teammate Derian Hatcher. Sami Kapanen had dental surgery this week after being hit by a puck Saturday night. He also took 25 stitches. Forward Scottie Upshall (sprained right ankle) isn’t likely to play this week. But the Flyers did get some good news: Simon Gagne plans to return Thursday night after missing 26 games with a concussion. He’ll wear a neck brace. … The Rangers will be without top-line left wing Martin Straka for at least the next couple of games due to a concussion sustained Saturday night in Edmonton. They also placed forward Sean Avery (wrist) on IR. … Columbus goaltender Pascal Leclaire was pulled from Saturday’s game due to a viral infection and didn’t make the trip to St. Louis on Tuesday; World Juniors hero Steve Mason, who led Canada to the gold medal on Saturday, was recalled by the Blue Jackets. Left wing Curtis Glencross also skipped the trip to St. Louis with a viral infection. Columbus did get forward David Vyborny (groin) back on Tuesday. … Edmonton defenseman Dick Tarnstrom is out with a sciatic nerve problem. … Toronto defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo will miss the next 7-10 days due to a knee injury, and forward Mark Bell will miss time due to a cracked orbital bone that requires surgery. … Carolina’s Glen Wesley, who has played the second-most games by an active defenseman at 1,423, was a late scratch Tuesday night due to an illness, and left wing Ray Whitney was also scratched because he was sick. … Buffalo center Derek Roy (shoulder), left wing Daniel Paille (concussion) and right wing Maxim Afinogenov (groin) all missed Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout loss in New Jersey.
Still out -- Devils’ forward Jay Pandolfo is skating daily but is still some time away from returning to the lineup from the abdominal injury that has kept him out since Nov. 28. He may not play until after the All-Star break. … San Jose’s Ryan Clowe skated on Monday for the first time since undergoing knee surgery two months ago. Expect him to miss at least another 3-4 weeks. … Nashville defenseman Shea Weber, sidelined for the past seven games with a leg injury, could resume skating this week. … Kings forward Michael Cammalleri skated Monday but isn’t likely to return from the rib injury he sustained in Nashville on Dec. 22 until at least next week. … Columbus’ Fredrik Modin, out since Nov. 1 with back problems, is skating again at practice. … Ottawa’s Patrick Eaves, out since Nov. 22 with a shoulder injury, had his first team skate since the injury on Monday. There's still no word on a return date. … Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek is still out with a leg injury and could miss another week. … Edmonton forward Raffi Torres will have knee surgery and is expected to miss the rest of the season. He tore the ACL in his right knee on Dec. 13. … Minnesota center Mikko Koivu, who has missed 23 games due to a broken leg, has been practicing with the team, but there’s no date set for his return.
Moving -- Carolina snapped up former first-round pick Sergei Samsonov on re-entry waivers from Chicago. The Hurricanes hope he’ll provide a boost to their injury-riddled offense.
The week ahead -- A lot of the action will continue to take place out west, with Eastern Conference teams such as the Islanders and Maple Leafs completing trips.
Games to watch:
Toronto at Anaheim (Jan. 9) -- The Leafs begin a swing through California with their first visit to Anaheim since Nov. 11, 2003. They haven’t won there since March 11, 1998.
Philadelphia at New York Rangers (Jan. 10) -- The Flyers finish their six-game post-Christmas trip with their first visit of the season to Madison Square Garden.
Detroit at Ottawa (Jan. 12) -- The NHL’s two best teams square off for the only time this season.
Nashville at Columbus (Jan. 12) -- The Blue Jackets will try to break a 12-game losing streak against their Central Division rivals.
Ottawa at Washington (Jan. 15) -- The Senators may be the best team in the East, but they’ve lost all three meetings with the Capitals.
Tough week ahead:
Colorado Avalanche -- After playing in Detroit on Tuesday, the Avs tour four Southeast Division cities in seven days, including a Carolina-Florida-Tampa Bay visit in four days.
Dallas Stars -- It’s a white-jersey week for the Stars, who complete a three-in-four stretch in Los Angeles on Saturday, then visit Anaheim on Tuesday for a big Pacific Division game.
Toronto Maple Leafs -- The Leafs play three games in four nights in their first visit to California in more than four years.
Easy week ahead:
Boston Bruins -- The Bs play just twice in the next week, hosting Montreal on Thursday and visiting Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon.
Edmonton Oilers -- The Oilers can take things a little easier this week, with three home games and no back-to-backs.
New Jersey Devils -- The Devils are on the road but play only twice, at Carolina on Thursday and Buffalo two nights later. After that, they spend most of the next month at home.