Mike Richards Hot, New York Rangers Not

R LSenior Analyst IFebruary 23, 2009

Hockey Day in Canada once again brought a nation together on Saturday. None of the Canadian matchups disappointed in my eyes. Obviously, the big story was Mats Sundin's return to Toronto in a Canucks jersey.

The Swede's shootout winner was the storybook ending many may have anticipated. Would it have been less painful if Mikhail Grabovski missed his attempt?

Still, the standing ovation was pleasant to watch.



A three-game scoring streak isn't out of the ordinary. When you record a shorthanded goal in each game, that certainly deserves praise. Mike Richards increased his season total to seven which is by far tops in the league, and he recorded eight points in just two games this week.

Under new head coach Dan Bylsma, the Pittsburgh Penguins have gone 2-1-1 thus far. It would have been worse if Sidney Crosby hadn't contributed seven points in the four matches. Playoff contention is still possible, and the 21-year-old is doing all he can for the team.

Speaking of Pittsburgh, Sergei Gonchar's presence on the blue line is evident since his return to the lineup. The Russian is on a four-game point streak with two goals, and two assists. More impressive is how quickly Gonchar has adapted to the play after months of missed action.

Anze Kopitar truly appears to be the King of Kings in Los Angeles. The native of Jesenice started off the week with a four-point effort against the Atlanta Thrashers. Kopitar built off that performance with three more points in his remaining three contests.

It remains a mystery whether or not the Carolina Hurricanes will make the postseason for the first time since 2005/2006. One thing is certain: Ray Whitney is leading the charge. His goal and six assists helped Carolina to three straight wins. How about giving a hand Eric Staal?

Trade rumours are swirling around Pavel Kubina. Many would fancy his services, and a big shot from the blue line. Kubina recorded a goal along with five helpers for the Maple Leafs including an assist on every goal yesterday in New York.

C'est la vie. Nikolai Khabibulin's injury has given Cristobal Huet the starting goaltender rank in Chicago. The Frenchman has allowed three goals in his last three games, and won four of his past five starts.

Power forwards who can score regularly are something every coach craves. Ryan Getzlaf is the exemplary player who can pretty much do it all for the Anaheim Ducks. The fourth-year pro hurt his ankle when blocking a shot against Columbus Saturday. It's unfortunate if he misses significant time with six points in the last three games, and 69 on the year.

Three points isn't standard for Alexander Ovechkin, but his highlight reel goal against the Montreal Canadiens is in a category of its own. Fans are already comparing it to his memorable tally against Phoenix while lying on his back in his rookie year. And the award goes to?

Shutting out the Boston Bruins is never easy. Tomas Vokoun got the job done, setting aside 41 shots in the process. Vokoun has won two of his last three games, and each win was shutout. If an injury arises, Craig Anderson is always available who is more than capable of making 40-plus saves.

Confidence is blooming with Alexandre Burrows in Vancouver. Yes, he's playing with the Sedin twins. No, he's not just cashing in on their passing. Burrows has two goals, and five assists in his last four games. Not only has he been setting up the Sedins for goals, but his tip-in against Toronto Saturday was incredible.


Tom Renney is unemployed, and the New York Rangers' hot start to the season is officially a distant memory. New York has just one win in their last six games. That win came against the lowly New York Islanders, which isn't something to celebrate.

Following a five-game winning streak, the Ottawa Senators have dropped three straight. Perhaps another coaching change will bring out another set of wins. The only good news out of Ottawa is that captain Daniel Alfredsson missed just one game with a fractured jaw.

Chris Osgood is officially watching games from the press box. His underwhelming numbers have already been discussed many times in hot or not. The break served Alex Kovalev well, and Osgood may find it helpful himself.

It's been 20 days since Carey Price won a game. The young goaltender has allowed 23 goals in his last five starts. Everyone seems to be finding a hole in Price, and the Canadiens anniversary season continues to create more bad than good.

The Florida Panthers will need more from Bryan McCabe especially if Jay Bouwmeester is dealt on the trade deadline. He has one assist in his last eight games and the Panther fans may turn impatient eventually.

Coach Lindy Ruff has publicly stated that he requires more from Jason Pominville. The right winger has found assists regularly, but his goals are valued very much. With one goal in the last 22 games, the population of Pominville has decreased rapidly.

There's no place like home. For the Los Angeles Kings, it seems to be the other way around. Terry Murray's group has won five of six on the road, but lost four straight at home. A playoff berth may be ideal if L.A can get it together on home ice.

You can't help but admire the effort level that the St. Louis Blues bring every night. Brad Boyes is highly depended upon to put the puck in the net after a 43-goal 2007/2008 campaign. His recent four-game slide without a point is out of the ordinary.

Offense doesn't come easily in Nashville, which is why Martin Erat needs to end his recent struggles. The 27-year-old is one of the Predators' top skilled players, and his nine-game drought has Music City singing the blues.


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