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NHL Barometer: St. Louis Stays Hot

Jan Levine

Levine covers baseball, basketball and hockey for RotoWire. In addition to his column writing, he's the master of the MLB and NHL cheatsheets. In his spare time, he roots for the Mets.

This week’s article includes a still-hot Mighty Mite, a lesser-known Pittsburgh winger on a roll, a Devils goalie - not named Brodeur - backstopping the team of late and two big-name forwards providing less-than-expected production.

First Liners (Risers)

Kyle Brodziak, C, MIN – Brodziak has been on a roll lately, but the injury to Mikko Koivu that will sideline him for three weeks gives Brodziak another bump in value. Brodziak has eight points in his last eight games and is on pace for career highs in goals, points, plus/minus rating and shooting percentage among others. Unfortunately an illness will sideline him Friday and possibly Saturday. Be sure to monitor Brodziak’s health going forward, but as long as the ailment is not serious, Brodziak should be a key contributor while Koivu is sidelined.

Jason Spezza, C, OTT – Spezza continued his recent resurgence with a goal and two assists in Ottawa’s victory over Florida on Wednesday. He now has 11 points (2G, 9A) over his last nine games, giving him 29 total point in the 40 games he has played. Spezza has heated up while the Sens' season has trended from 'bad' to 'worse' in recent weeks; and while his name has not been mentioned lately in trade talks, there is not much time left for a decision with the deadline looming Monday.

Martin St. Louis, RW, TB – I normally don’t highlight top-tier talent, but St. Louis’ play warrants a mention. St. Louis' point streak stands at seven games after a three-point outburst Wednesday against Phoenix. He scored two goals -- his first two of the streak -- and added an assist to give him 10 points over those seven contests. His pace will bring him close to 100 points this season (he has 72 now), and he still has an outside shot at 30 goals (he has 22). So much for any possible erosion of skills as St. Louis approaches 36 years old.

Tyler Kennedy, LW, PIT – Kennedy scored both of Pittsburgh's goals Wednesday, including a game-tying score with 50 seconds remaining in regulation. Kennedy has stepped up as the Pens' biggest scoring threat in the absence of Pittsburgh's brightest stars. He has seven goals and two assists in the last 11 games, and 31 points in 61 games on the year. His minutes per game have spiked almost five per game in that stretch, which includes a nice bump in PP ice time. Kennedy also continues to reward poolies that use shots on goal as a category -- he has 36 attempts in his last nine contests.

Matt Moulson, LW, NYI – Moulson took a nice feed from Andrew MacDonald to score his 27th goal of the season in the Islanders’ 2-1 loss to Toronto on Tuesday. Moulson saw his three-game goal-scoring streak, in which he picked up six markers, end Thursday; but despite that, he has 27 lamplighters on the season, putting him in clear striking distance of the 30 he notched a year ago. Moulson is one of three Islanders who have scored 23 goals, and the only blemish on his season is his minus-10 rating. Despite that mark, his ability to score means he should be in your lineup nightly.

Marc-Andre Bergeron, D, TB – Bergeron notched another assist Wednesday, giving him six points in seven games since he was called up to Tampa Bay. Bergeron is an offensive defenseman who is so-so defensively; however, it’s that ability to score that makes him so worthwhile. He is also skating on the man advantage with several weapons surrounding him, which only adds to his value.

Travis Hamonic, D, NYI – Hamonic notched another assist Thursday, giving him 10 points in 12 February games. The trade of James Wisniewski opened the door for several Islanders defensemen to see more ice time, and Hamonic has made the most of that opportunity. In addition to the 10 points, Hamonic has notched 62 penalty minutes in those 11 games, spiking his value in leagues that count time in the sin bin.

Johan Hedberg, G, NJD – By the time you read this Hedberg’s run as the starting goalie might have ended, but his play during that time warrants a mention. Martin Brodeur is ready to return, but in his absence, Hedberg reeled off seven consecutive wins, including shutouts in two of his last three starts. Head coach Jacques Lemaire has been reluctant to mess with Hedberg’s hot streak, but his run as the starter may end with his next loss. If you own Hedberg, you just have to hope he keeps playing at a high level a bit longer.

Steve Mason, G, CMB – Up, down, up, down, describes Mason’s season, but he is now in the midst of an upswing that is keeping his team in playoff contention. Mason stopped all 20 shots he faced Tuesday in the 4-0 win over Nashville, his sixth win in his last eight starts. I would love to say he will be consistent the rest of the year, but we all know that another cold stretch can come out of nowhere. That said, if you are looking to take a flier on a goalie, Mason is worth a look.

Others include: Antoine Vermette, John Tavares, Eric Staal, Andy McDonald, Logan Couture, David Backes, Patrik Berglund, Rene Bourque, Phil Kessel (smoking hot, six goals, two assists last five games), Mikael Samuelsson, Bobby Butler, Andrew Ladd, Curtis Glencross, Erik Cole, Chris Stewart, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexei Kovalev, Ryan Callahan, Dan Cleary, Wojtek Wolski, Rick Nash, Devin Setoguchi, Martin Erat, T.J. Oshie, Keith Yandle, Marek Zidlicky, Shea Weber, Jared Spurgeon, Alex Pietrangelo, Robin Regehr, Matt Niskanen (new lease on life in Pittsburgh), Sami Salo, Al Montoya, James Reimer, Antti Niemi, Dan Ellis (could see time with Hiller sidelined in Anaheim), Craig Anderson (looks to be getting a shot in Ottawa), Ilya Bryzgalov and Miikka Kiprusoff.

Training Room (Injuries)

Mikko Koivu, C, MIN – Koivu suffered a broken left index finger while blocking a shot last Friday and will be lost for at least three weeks. The good news is Koivu, who led the Wild with 49 points before he was injured, won’t have surgery on the finger; and the Wild are hopeful that he will return before the end of the year. Koivu will undergo an exam Monday that should establish a more definitive timetable, but he'll be out several weeks at a minimum.

Marian Gaborik, LW, NYR – Gaborik, suffering through a nightmare campaign, is now sidelined with a concussion. Gabby believes he suffered the concussion on a Brooks Orpik hit February 13. He left practice early the Tuesday after but wasn't actually diagnosed with a concussion until this past Sunday. Gaborik had his blood examined for “deficiencies,” according to coach John Tortorella, but no word has been given as to the results of that exam, nor is there any timeframe for his return.

Ed Jovanovski, D, PHX – Jovanovski will miss several weeks after undergoing surgery for an orbital bone fracture. He was injured late in last Thursday's contest against Atlanta when he collided face-to-face with Patrice Cormier. Jovo-cop’s season has already been compromised due to several injuries and bouts with the flu, but his presence on the blue line, and his 14 points (5G, 9A) will be missed.

Antero Niittymaki, D, SJ – According to Sharks GM Doug Wilson, Niittymaki, already on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, is out "indefinitely. Niittymaki's fantasy value takes another beating due to the fact that his return date is unknown at this point. Plus, with Antti Niemi on a roll, Niittymaki probably won’t see much action even when he does return.

Jonas Hiller, G, ANA – Hiller, who has missed seven games, may be suffering from vertigo. Hiller noted that the symptoms are strongest when he is on the ice, following the puck, and thus he is not sure when he'll be able to return. "I definitely feel better than a couple days ago," Hiller said. "But I still don't feel like it's 100% so we'll see. Hopefully one of these days I'll be able to see how it goes on the ice...because I can't really tell how that's going to feel because I haven't been on the ice for awhile." With Anaheim dealing for Dan Ellis and calling up Ray Emery, Hiller will get as much time as he needs to heal.

Others include: Brad Richards (concussion, timeframe unknown), Valtteri Filppula (sprained left knee, returning to game action Saturday), Mark Letestu (knee, may play Friday or Saturday), David Perron (concussion, may miss rest of the year), Daniel Alfredsson (lower back, will be out several more weeks), Guillaume Latendresse (groin, practicing with no-contact jersey), Jaroslav Spacek (lower body, may be done for the season), Cam Barker (UBI, day-to-day), Marc Staal (knee, day-to-day), Chris Osgood (hernia, targeting March 9 return) and Martin Brodeur (knee, ready to return, needs Hedberg to lose).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Paul Stastny, C, COL – Stastny registered a game-winning goal and two assists in Colorado’s 4-3 win over the Blues Tuesday. While the three points were nice, the goal was Stastny’s first in exactly a month. Stastny has 48 points in 59 games and is on pace for around 65 points, a far cry from the 79 he scored last year. Stastny has already lost Chris Stewart from the wing and is now dealing trade rumors of his own, so his short-term outlook is a bit cloudy. Stastny is still a solid talent, but his production hasn’t matched that talent this season.

Nikolay Zherdev, RW, PHI – Zherdev has struggled in his return to the NHL, being getting demoted to the fourth line earlier in the season while also being a healthy scratch at times. Those were just mere blips considering Zherdez was recently demoted to the AHL after GM Paul Holmgren had no luck trading him. This is the third organization Zherdev flamed out with, so it would not be surprising to see him return to the KHL rather than play in the minors.

Dany Heatley, RW, SJ – Heatley notched an assist Wednesday, but his scoring production of late has really waned. Through mid-January he was a scoring machine, recording multiple points 13 times. In the ensuing 15 contests, Heatley picked up just six points (2G, 4A) to fall well off the scoring pace. With just 49 points in 62 games Heater won’t come close to the 82 he tallied last season. In fact, he is on pace for the worst full-season production of his career.

John-Michael Liles, D, COL – Liles assisted on two goals Tuesday night and then potted another one Wednesday. However, Liles had just one point (an assist) in 10 consecutive games before snapping the skid Tuesday. His overall numbers are solid – 39 points in 61 games – so maybe his last two games will get him back on the beam. Liles’ production is more than what was expected of him entering the year, so it will be interesting to see how he plays going forward given the changes already made, and potentially still forthcoming, in Colorado.

Dwayne Roloson, G, TB – Roloson is 10-6-1 with four shutouts since his arrival in Tampa Bay, but both his goals-against average and save percentage are worse than they were in Long Island. His GAA with the Lightning is 2.88; it was 2.64 on the Island. His save percentage is .904, but it was .916 in blue and orange. Those numbers indicate that the team around him might have more to do with his winning record than he does, so if you need wins, roll with Roloson but be prepared for his ancillary numbers to be average.

Tomas Vokoun, G, FLA – Heading into the season, Vokoun owners knew that the major downside of owning him was the poor team he plays for. Overall, his numbers are fairly close to last season - 2.61 GAA this season versus 2.55 last year, 92.5 save percentage last year, 92.0 this season – but he is in a bit of a slide lately. Vokoun is 1-5-1 in his last seven, and with Florida shedding assets, having dealt Cory Stillman and possibly about to trade Bryan McCabe, more struggles may be coming in the future.

Others include: Vaclav Prospal, Ryan Kesler, Jarret Stoll, Tyler Seguin, Brad Boyes, Raffi Torres, Chuck Kobasew, Mike Knuble, Niklas Hagman, Marek Svatos, Andrei Kostitsyn, Andy Greene, Cam Fowler, Brian Campbell, Brett Clark, Brett Burns, Ondrej Pavelec, Curtis McIlhenney, Robin Lehner, Marty Turco, Mathieu Garon and Chris Mason.