Olli Jokinen Hot, Niklas Backstrom Not

R LSenior Analyst IMarch 16, 2009

In St. Louis, it would have been easy to give up on the season. With a laundry-list of injuries throughout the year, the team made no excuses. Instead, they continue to fight for every point to stay in the playoff race.

With a great core of young players, a trusted No. 1 goaltender and trailing by only one point for eighth place, these kids may get their shot in the postseason sooner than they expected.

That's hockey.


Calgary was declared the conclusive winner at the trade deadline when they acquired Olli Jokinen from Phoenix. These week, we found out why as the Finn totalled eight points (six goals, two assists) in three games. His ability to knock a bouncing puck into the net against Toronto displayed yet another reason why Jokinen is so dangerous.

Toronto lost two of four, but Alexei Ponikarovsky did everything he could for the team with seven points (one goal, six assists). His four-assist night against the Flames capped off a great week for the 28-year-old.

Having already broken his previous career-highs in assists and points, Ponikarovsky is just three goals away from making it a hat-trick.

History was made Saturday night when Martin Brodeur tied Patrick Roy's all-time record for most wins as a goaltender. Accomplishing the feat in Montreal where Brodeur grew up made it all the more special.

So much for the greatest netminder expecting to return slowly. He's won seven of eight games since coming back and Terry Sawchuk's shutout record is barely hanging on.

Sometimes you don't know what you had until you lost it. Montreal's powerplay lost a key component when Mark Streit made the trip to Long Island. Playing for the worst team in the NHL hasn't taken anything away from the Swiss' game.

Streit had three goals and three assists this week helping New York win three out of four games. The only defenseman leading his team in points.

No regulation losses for Pittsburgh since Feb.14 and Sidney Crosby intends on keeping it that way. The 21-year-old carried the team on his back with eight points (two goals, six assists) giving the Penguins six points out of a possible eight.

Drafted 171st overall in the 1998 Entry Draft, Pavel Datsyuk still doesn't receive as much attention as he probably should. The Russian has been Detroit's most consistent player all season and led the way yet again with a seven-point week.

Speaking of underappreciated, Alexander Semin continues to play marvelous hockey in Washington. He had six points (one goal, five assists) in three games and has produced 69 points in just 51 games this season.

The 1.35 points per game average is only bested by Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Paul Kariya although the latter only played on 11 occasions.

When the playoffs are out of reach, pride is what you play for. In Atlanta, Kari Lehtonen has easily played his best in March. The 25-year-old has won four straight, allowed five goals and managed two shutouts.

If the wins keep piling up, John Anderson may have momentum going into next season.

A shootout ace as a rookie. Nearly a 20-goal scorer as a sophomore. Now, a thirty-goal man. Phil Kessel has re-captured the scoring touch that saw him hitting the back of the net constantly at one point in the season. Kessel scored four this week and added an assist.

The 21-year-old has never faced a battle he couldn't beat and he should be a top scorer in the league for years to come.

Each time Alex Burrows lights the lamp or manages a point it's a new career-high. The Vancouver winger has scored in four straight and is becoming one of the best agitators with offensive proficiency.

Just four points away from 800 in his career, Ray Whitney is a true inspiration to veterans in the NHL. The Wizard had six points (two goals, four assists) for the Hurricanes and still plays the game like a 20-year-old. As they say in Carolina, "Everybody loves Raymond."


With the continuing struggles in Minnesota, the team must be counting the days until Marian Gaborik's return. The Wild have lost four straight with Niklas Backstrom in goal and conceded 13 goals in the process. Three of the defeats were in overtime which is what has kept Jacques Lemaire's group in postseason contention.

Like the Wild, Edmonton was the recipient of three points through extra-time defeats. Dwayne Roloson has lost four of his last five and allowed 15 goals in the losses. The Oilers are another team on the bubble and the goaltender isn't the only one to blame.

It was all smiles in Sunrise when the Florida Panthers decided to maintain the services of Jay Bouwmeester. However, the offensive defender has only produced one point in five games since the trade deadline. It'll be a disaster if the Panthers miss the playoffs and lose their star defender in the summer.

The San Jose Sharks aren't dominating the opposition quite as routinely as they once were. One of their younger stars, Devin Setoguchi has hit his coldest point of the year going 10 games without a goal and one helper to show in that time frame.

Hey may hit 50 wins, but Miikka Kiprusoff still has his share of disputable performances. The native of Turku, Finland was beaten 14 times in three contests this week posting a save percentage under .900 in each match. Calgary also has the worriment of not having a dependable backup goaltender.

Alexei Kovalev was the MVP of the All-Star Game, but 47 points in 65 games aren't impressive numbers by any means. Kovalev has one goal in his last five games and seems to resemble the uninterested Russian we saw repeatedly in 2007/2008.

In his first full season with Philadelphia, he didn't fail to impress. This year, Braydon Coburn has lost an edge to his game. The eighth overall pick in 2003 has gone 10 games without a point and will be fortunate to match the 36-point campaign he enjoyed last year.


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