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by Brian Wheeler / Buffalo Sabres
Beyond the Boards is written by the Buffalo Sabres Website Manager, Brian Wheeler. Joining the Sabres prior to the 2003-04 season, Wheeler is the main contact and content editor for He has worked in the NHL, NFL, AHL and NLL over the past 11 years.  Click here to send him an email.

Washington's Nicklas Backstrom leads the league in assists and points over the last seven days.
A lot happens in 82 games.  Want to know who the hottest players are in the league right now?  Don't look at the leader boards.  Take a snapshot of the last seven days, you'll see who's really on fire at this time.

That's exactly what we've done below.

A pair of goals in front of Monday night's Versus audience didn't hurt Alex Ovechkin's cause.  He shares the league lead with Philadelphia's Scott Hartnell and Atlanta's Marian Hossa  with five goals each. 

Ovechkin isn't exactly afraid to pull the trigger from anywhere on the ice.  It's more impressive that Hartnell completed the feat playing with one less game and shooting 18 fewer times.

Closest Sabres Player:  Drew Stafford  -  A hat trick in Buffalo's 10-1 victory over Atlanta and another score last night in Coyote country puts the second-year pro in a five-way tie for fourth in the league  (Shane Doan - Pho., Niklas Hagman - Dal., Viktor Kozlov - Was., and Alex Semin - Was.).

League Leader:  Alex Ovechkin  - With two less games and 66 more shots, Ovechkin inches Ilya Kovalchuk with 38 goals heading towards the All-Star Break.

Nicklas Backstrom - The rookie posted a four-assist night in Washington's 5-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Jan. 19 and has eight in his last four games.  Not bad for the fourth-overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.  Backstrom leads the Caps with 31 assists on the season ... and hair product used.

Closest Sabres Player:   Brian Campbell - The Sabres All-Star representative's four-game assist streak came to an end on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  But with four helpers in as many games, Soupy ends up in a 10-way tie for seventh in the league.

League Leader: Sidney Crosby - This week's boldest injury report item remains the league leader with 43 assists in 46 games.  That stat line is bound to change as "Sid the Kid" is expected to miss the next six to eight weeks with a high-ankle sprain. 

Drew Stafford (photo: Getty Image)
(What exactly is a high-ankle sprain, you ask?  It occurs when you injure the large ligaments that hold together the tibia and fibula in the leg.  How does this vary from a standard ankle sprain?  Don't know; look it up yourself.)

Nicklas Backstrom - Here's an interesting statistic, the rookie has equal number of points (nine) as he does shots in the last four games. 

Doesn't mean anything concrete, but I'm just guessing it implies you don't need to shoot a lot when playing alongside Ovechkin.

Second place goes to Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour, Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf, Phoenix's Peter Mueller and the aforementioned Ovechkin with eight each.

Closest Sabres Player:   Drew Stafford - The Guitar-Hero playing winger is in the midst of a 10-player tie for eighth with six points (4+2) in his last four games. 

League Leader: Vincent Lecavalier - Despite his recent struggles - just a goal and an assist in his last six - Vinny continues to lead with 64 points in 48 games. 

Another interesting stat line, which has nothing to do with Lecavalier.  Ilya Kovalchuk is tied for second in the league with 63 points (Jarome Iginla, Sidney Crosby) and has scored 37 goals.  He also happens to be the only minus player among the top 23 scorers (minus-13 rating).
To see more posts on the Beyond the Boards blog, visit its index page.
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