Corey Perry and the NHL's Most Improved Stars in 2011

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Corey Perry and the NHL's Most Improved Stars in 2011
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

What Ducks star Corey Perry has accomplished this year (especially in the last month) has been nothing short of spectacular as he tries to lead Anaheim into the playoffs and hopefully back to the Stanley Cup Finals.

His 100 penalty minutes this season are testimony to Perry’s toughness and intensity on the ice, but his other stats are what make his case for MVP candidacy.

Perry is currently fifth in the NHL in points with 85 and leads the league in the goal column with 44—far exceeding what he accomplished last season when he finished with only 27 goals. He is tied for first with 10 game-winning goals, has 12 power play goals (two behind teammate Selanne) and three short-handed tallies as well.

It’s not just the numbers that tell the tale here, but rather the whole Perry package as part of the Ducks' efforts to stay afloat in the beastly Pacific division and head back into the playoffs after missing out last season.

Anaheim has been propelled this year by stellar play from other sources as well. Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan have all stepped up their games this year putting up over 200 points combined.

The way that these stars have been scoring and how ample replacement was found in net when Jonas Hiller went down with injury are the keys to the Ducks making a playoff run this April.

However, the Ducks aren’t the only team that has benefited from diverse scoring as the league has seen many big-name stars take their play to the next level.

Remember last year’s Conn Smythe winner who as captain of Blackhawks was the without-a-doubt star of Chicago?

Toews didn’t even finish in the top-30 in scoring in the regular season. This year? He’s netted 30 goals and sits in ninth overall with 74 points. Not too bad.

How about the Flyers? They made it to the Stanley Cup Finals while having only one player finish in the top-50 in NHL scoring—Mike Richards in 49th place.

Fast forward to today and we have four different Flyers in the top 30, including Claude Giroux, a no-name from last season sitting pretty with 70 points. Remind me why they’re in first again…

It seems as though the key to a successful franchise and playoff spot is diversified scoring. Washington knows it, Vancouver definitely knows it and now other teams are stepping up and flexing their collective muscles as well.

The only question now is whether it will last for the next month and a half…

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