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NHL catches its breath with just two games

by Adam Schwartz / NHL.com
After a busy weekend in the NHL, there are just two games Monday night.

The early game sees the Penguins go for their first win against the Rangers (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS) this season after dropping the first two meetings. 

At 9:30 p.m., the Islanders, who are trying to climb their way out of last place in the Eastern Conference, make a rare trip to Edmonton.

Here's what to keep an eye on:

* The Penguins, who have lost five of their last six games, have two players with 50 points -- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin -- but no other Penguin has 30 points. Pittsburgh, which had the fourth-best power play in the League last season at 20.4 percent, has just a 17.2 percent success rate this season. Malkin, who leads the League with 60 points, has no goals in his last seven games. Crosby, who has 10 fewer points than Malkin, has just 1 goal in his last six games.

* Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik, who averages 20:45 of ice time per game, leads the team with 134 hits. Orpik, a stay-at-home defenseman who was integral to the Penguins' run to the Stanley Cup Final last season, has no points and a minus-11 rating in 29 career games against the Rangers, including a minus-1 rating in the two previous games this season.

* Penguins right wing Miroslav Satan, who had 41 points in 80 games with the Islanders last season, has 26 points in 38 games and is on pace to finish this season with 56 points. Satan, who signed with Pittsburgh as a free agent last summer, has had six seasons with 60 points, but hasn't had 60 points in a season since the 2005-06 season. 

* Rangers right wing Nikolai Zherdev, who leads the team with 35 points, has 3 assists and 4 points in his last five games. Zherdev, who is second on the team with 12 goals, has 1 goal in his last six games.

* The Rangers, who have lost four of their last five games, have lost their hold of first place in the Atlantic Division. The Rangers, who have the most shootout wins in the Eastern Conference with eight, have an 8-5-2 record when being outshot by their opponent.

* Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival, who has the most points among Rangers defensemen with 18, is one of four Rangers with a plus-minus rating as low as minus-9. Rozsival, who has a plus-4 rating in his last six games, has 4 goals in his last five games.

* Islanders center Doug Weight, who leads the team with 25 assists and is on pace for 53, has had seven 50-assist seasons -- but none since 2003-04. Weight, who played for the Oilers for nine seasons, has 8 goals and 16 points in 18 career games against his former club.

* Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo, who had just 3 assists and 5 points in his first 21 games this season, has 5 assists and 7 points in his last six games. Okposo, who averages 15:33 of ice time per game, played more than 21 minutes in three of his last five games and prior to that span he had not played more than 19 minutes in a game.

 
* The Islanders, who have the fewest points in the League with 28, have been outshot in 26 of their 40 games this season and have a 5-18-3 record in those games and have a 6-4-1 record when outshooting their opponents. The Islanders, who have a 2-5-1 record when going into the second period with a lead, have a 9-4-1 record while leading after two periods.

* Edmonton center Shawn Horcoff, who leads Oilers forwards with an average ice time of 21:42 per game, is tied for second on the team with 28 points. Horcoff, who has two multiple-point games in his last three games, has just 11 of his 28 points at home this season.

* Oilers defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who has 8 assists and 9 points in his last seven games, is second among Oilers defensemen and third among Northwest Division defensemen with 24 points. Visnovsky, who had a minus-18 rating last season with the Kings, has a plus-8 rating in 37 games this season.

* Edmonton, which is one of 10 teams with two or fewer shorthanded goals, has the worst penalty killing in the Western Conference at 74.4 percent. The Oilers, who had 15 shootout wins last season, have just two shootout wins this season.

Contact Adam Schwartz at aschwartz@nhl.com.
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