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NHL Barometer: Hab Getting 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 the new No. 1 center in Big D, a young winger excelling in Canada's capital, Dub him on fire and a huge loss in Chicago.

First Liners (Risers)

Jason Spezza, C, DAL -
The injury to Tyler Seguin created a gaping hole at center for Dallas. spezza has ably stepped into that breach. Despite going scoreless Sunday, Spezza has recorded six goals and eight assists in his last 11 games while skating on the top line with Jamie Benn. Spezza now has 52 points in 63 games and will be relied upon heavily by Dallas as it attempts to remain in the playoff hunt.

David Desharnais, C, MTL -
Desharnais' numbers have vacillated wildly the last few seasons, going from 60 points in 2011-12 to 28 in the strike-shortened 2012-13 campaign and then to 52 last year. In conjunction with those swings in production have been shifts in playing time, though it's your call if it's correlation or causation. This season, Desharnais is doing his best to break the good-bad-good pattern, putting up 38 points in 62 games. Overall, those numbers are just OK, but he is hot lately, with six points and a plus-8 rating in his last six games.

Matt Moulson, LW, BUF -
It's been a disappointing season all the way around for Moulson. However, lately, he has shown signs of life. Moulson could have been pressing to live up to the five-year, $25 million deal he signed with the Sabres last July or possibly he was attempting to do too much due to the team struggling overall. Regardless of the reason, Moulson has just nine goals and 20 assists with a minus-13 rating, but he does have a goal and five assists in his last six games.

Patric Hornqvist, RW, PIT -
Hornqvist's season has been interrupted by injuries, but when he's suited up, he's been productive. His assist Sunday extended his point streak to four games, during which he has scored four goals and two assists. Hornqvist gets to ride shotgun to either Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby, so whichever line he is on, he has an elite center setting him up.

Mike Hoffman, LW, OTT -
Hoffman continued his surprising roll, notching two goals and an assist Saturday. Those three points means Hoffman has recorded at least one point in all but two of his last 13 games and has scored six goals in his last eight games. Hoffman showed what he could do last year in the AHL, notching 30 goals and 37 assists in 51 games. He has carried that production to the next level, tallying 23 goals and 16 assists along with a tidy plus-23 rating in 57 games.

Michael Del Zotto, D, PHI -
Philly is making a late playoff run with MDZ helping to key it. His game-winning goal Saturday gives him eight goals and 17 assists for the year. Those numbers are good, not great, but if you consider that he was a healthy scratch earlier in the year, you can see just how far he has come.

John Moore, D, ARI -
Moore has all the skills and talent to be an above-average defenseman, but he has struggled translating those gifts into production. The inability to do so has now resulted in him getting dealt twice. But the trade to Arizona should open up a world of opportunities for Moore, as he should see all the ice time he can handle, especially on the man advantage.

Devan Dubnyk, G, MIN -
RotoWire's latest update for Dubnyk spells out just how amazing he has been. "Dubnyk has won five of his last six games, allowing two goals or less in each of those contests. He's also suffered just two regulation losses in his last 16 games." Talk about going from outhouse to penthouse. Despite deserving more time, Dubnyk was behind Mike Smith. He landed somewhere he was needed and Dubnyk has run with the job and then some for the Wild.

Cory Schneider, G, NJ -
Schneider recorded his fourth shutout of the season, and second in his last four games, Saturday against the Blue Jackets. The Devils are making a late playoff run, keyed by Schneider's hot play. Like last year, Schneider has been hurt by poor play in front of him, meaning no goals, resulting in his 23-23-6 record, but his 2.19 GAA and .927 save percentage are eighth and fourth in the league, respectively

Others include Andrej Nestrasil, Craig Smith, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Bryan Little, Tyler Bozak, Henrik Sedin, Nicklas Backstrom, Tyler Johnson, Kyle Turris, Ryan Getzlaf, Pavel Datsyuk, Gabriel Landeskog, Brendan Gallagher, Jordin Tootoo, Vladimir Tarasenko, Nino Niederreiter, Mark Arcobello, Curtis Glencross, Jordan Eberle, Wayne Simmonds, Erik Cole, Zach Parise, Nick Foligno, Ondrej Palat, Ryan O'Reilly, Tomas Tatar, Kevin Hayes, Anders Lee, Ryan Callahan, Zach Parise, Seth Jones, David Savard, Tyson Barrie, Andrei Markov, Andrej Sekera, Niklas Kronwall, Trevor Daley, Brian Campbell, Anton Stralman, Morgan Rielly, Jason Garrison, Roman Josi, Eddie Lack, Jonathan Quick, Andrew Hammond, Steve Mason, Cam Talbot, Michal Neuvirth, Carey Price and Semyon Varlamov.



Training Room (Injuries)

Brandon Dubinsky, C, CMB -
Dubinsky, who had just gotten hot with five points in six games, will unfortunately be sidelined again. This time, it's a concussion suffered Thursday against Montreal that will keep him out indefinitely. Dubinsky had already been limited to 34 games this season, missing two months of the year after undergoing abdominal surgery in early October, so this year is looking like a waste. His loss will thrust Alexander Wennberg into duty as the Jackets' second-line center

Patrick Kane, LW, CHI -
Kane suffered a broken left clavicle after losing his balance and crashing into the boards following a light cross check by the Panthers' Alex Petrovic last Tuesday. His recovery time is believed to be about 12 weeks, putting his return date as late in the playoffs, if Chicago is still there. To help make up for his absence, the Blackhawks acquired Antoine Vermette from Arizona on Saturday night.

Valeri Nichushkin, LW, DAL -
Nichushkin, out since November with a hip and groin injuries that required surgery, could be back by mind-March. He will need a minor-league stint with Texas in the AHL, due to his lengthy absence. Dallas may be in play-out-the-string mode when Nichushkin is ready to return, so it's feasible he gets shut down. However, the Stars could opt to play Nichushkin and give him solid minutes to allow him to enter summer with a good feeling about his game.

Others include David Krejci (torn MCL, out 4-6 weeks), Tyler Seguin (knee, light skating), Darren Helm (UBI, out indefinitely), Henrik Zetterberg (UBI, IR), Marc Giordano (UBI, placed on IR on Sunday), Kevin Shattenkirk (abdomen, out until late-March), Frederik Andersen (UBI, activated off IR on Friday), Craig Anderson (hand, activated off IR on Sunday), Sergei Bobrovsky (groin, activated Saturday) and Ryan Miller (sprained knee, out 4-6 weeks).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Brock Nelson, C, NYI -
Nelson was the flavor of the month earlier this season, but the sweetness has been lost a bit. He was skating with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, but lately, he has been shifted down to the third line. Anders Lee and Josh Bailey have taken up the spots on the Tavares line and no change looks imminent. Neslon will have tio produce on the third line, but he has just six points over his last 19 games

Carl Soderberg, LW, BOS -
After scoring 48 points in 73 games last year, there were raised expectations for Soderberg, despite his third-line placement. It looks like those hopes were unwarranted, as Soderberg has just 34 points in 62 games. Included within are several cold streaks, including lately where he has just two assists his last 13 games.

Nikita Zadorov, D, BUF -
Zadorov has eight points in his last 10 games, but those 10 games haven't been the last 10 contests for Buffalo. The young blueliner was a healthy scratch for four straight games due to a team-imposed suspension and coaches' decision. If his maturity can catch up to his skill, Zadorov is an intriguing player, but the jury is very far out on that.

Jonas Hiller, G, CGY -
It's unclear if Hiller is still the No. 1 goalie in Calgary, but if he is, it's in name only. Hiller dropped three in a row in mid-February, allowing 13 goals during that stretch. Since then Kari Ramo has started the Flames' last three games. With the playoffs still in sight, though a long shot due to the team's so-so play, Hiller could get another chanced, especially with one more year to go on his deal, but that's not guaranteed.

Others include Ryan Kesler (scoiring not ancillary numbers), Evgeny Kuznetsov, Sean Couturier, Benoit Pouliot, Andre Burakovsky, Beau Bennett, Milan Lucic, James Wisniewski, Dan Boyle and Kari Lehtonen.