Evgeni Malkin Eyeing Art Ross, Montreal Canadiens at a Loss

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Evgeni Malkin Eyeing Art Ross, Montreal Canadiens at a Loss

Both the Western and Eastern Conference playoff races haven't loosened up much. All it takes is one day for a team to jump back into contention with one win. It's certainly the most exciting time of the regular season and it may come down to the last day.

Another year of hockey flies by. May the best team hold the Stanley Cup come June.

 

HOT

Quietly but steadily, Evgeni Malkin is inching closer to an Art Ross Trophy and possibly a Hart Memorial to go along with it.

A memorable five-point night against Atlanta got him started and the Russian finished the week with eight points (three goals, five assists) in three games. There's no denying Malkin has been the best of the bunch in 2008/2009.

The strongest former Russian Five member is undoubtedly Vyacheslav Kozlov. The 36-year-old totalled seven points (three goals, four assists) this week for a Thrashers team that is building for next season.

If he continues his strong play, 1,000 points in his career shouldn't be out of the question.

It was a long and hard-fought battle, but Joel Ward finally found an NHL home in the Nashville Predators after many years of minor league hockey.

Ward has been one of the team's more reliable secondary scorers and his three-game scoring streak assisted the Predators' playoff aspirations.

Sitting on 41 goals, Zach Parise has nine games remaining to possibly reach 50. The Minneapolis, Minnesota native was more about the assists this week with five along with one goal. If he can't reach 50 goals, 100 points is still within his grasp.

Daniel Alfredsson isn't one to quit playing even when the season is over for his team. The Ottawa Senators captain contributed seven points (two goals, five assists) leading to four straight wins.

Seven points out of eighth place may be too much to overcome and it these performances may be too little, too late.

For the first time this year, hot or not is introducing Sam Gagner in this section. Having been in a sophomore slump for the majority of the season, the 19-year-old saved his best hockey for the stretch-drive.

Gagner scored four goals and added two assists, including his first ever hat-trick in Colorado.

On countless occasions, we've seen Shane Doan play superior hockey. Sadly, his team hasn't been able to resemble his intensity on the ice.

The captain scored three goals and dished out four assists which led to two victories. Had it not been for Doan, it may have been nothing but defeats for the Coyotes in their four games.

There are no guarantees in life, but the Columbus Blue Jackets should reach the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

Also, Steve Mason is deservingly going to win the Calder Trophy without a doubt. The 20-year-old has won five of his last six starts and this group could make some noise come April.

Led by Cam Ward in goal, Carolina continues to play strong hockey and should be in top eight when the season concludes.

Including today's overtime victory, Ward has won four straight and is looking like the guy who carried the Hurricanes to Stanley Cup glory in 2005/2006.

Victories in Ottawa usually are the result of brilliant displays by Jason Spezza. He will most likely finish this season with his lowest point total since the lockout ended, but Spezza's nine-game point streak indicates he still has the ability to change the course of a game.

NOT

100 reasons for a bad season may be the title of the book that chronicles the Canadiens' 2008/2009 year. The list of issues that have taken place is endless.

Andrei Kostitsyn has gone pointless in five games and has just two points in his last 13 games. Don't worry Sergei, your brother could join you in the AHL very soon.

For nearly all of February, Pavel Kubina was on fire. Now, the Maple Leaf defender has gone cold with one point in his last eight contests. Toronto has managed to win three of four even still which is good news.

What happens if Mike Green succumbs to injury? Tom Poti was expected to be the second line of offense from the blue line in Washington but it hasn't panned out that way. Nagged by injuries, Poti has just 13 points in 47 games for the Capitals this year.

Losing 8-1 to Edmonton is one way of grabbing attention. Colorado hasn't received much out of Marek Svatos who has reached 50 points once in his career.

Pointless in four, the Slovakian will be lucky to hit 40 in what has been a terrible season for the Avalanche.

A sight you won't seen very often is Ales Hemsky in the not section. The first line is struggling in Edmonton, as the Czech forward continues to find a regular partner on a line.

One point in five games isn't a major slump, but for a player the calibre of Hemsky, it can be classified that way.

Three consecutive losses have Marty Turco in familiar icy territory. His numbers continues to suffer and Dallas' injury woes aren't making the battle any easier. The .897 save percentage speaks wonder on its own.

As Florida hits a bit of a bump in their playoff surge, Cory Stillman has also begun to struggle. The veteran has two points in his last eight games after piling up points regularly following a concussion.

If the Panthers are to achieve a spot in the top eight, Stillman will have to bring his best in these final games.

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