Crashing The Net: Crosby returns with elite scoring touch intact
Sidney Crosby has 15 assists in 11 games and has returned with scoring touch
With 24 goals, Rick Nash is on pace to score fewest goals since 2006 season
Ilya Bryzgalov is first goalie to win First Star of the Week in league history
From goal scorers to defenders to the men who keep the puck out of the net, each week we'll take a spin around the rink and touch on some of the players that are in the news.
Sidney Crosby is pretty good. Anyone ever tell you that? In three games since he returned to action he has five points. And though he has only two goals in 11 games this year, the 15 assists mark him as, what do you know, an elite scoring option.
Martin Erat was named the NHL's 3rd Star of the week after recording two goals and seven points in four games. Erat is one point from a career-high with 56, and he's scored 14 points in his last 13 games.
Martin Havlat has appeared in three games since his return from a hamstring injury. The Sharks winger has picked up four points while taking nine shots on goal in that time. He's a near elite point producer who has been limited to 19 points in 29 games this season.
Hey, didn't you used to be Rick Nash? If there ever was a player who needed a chance of scenery it was Nash at the trade deadline. Let's hope that he is moved this offseason because his output this season has been pathetic. With 24 goals to this point, he's going to have to go bonkers to avoid his worst goal-scoring season since 2006 (he's scored at least 32 times each of the past four years). He's also looking at his worst point total in five seasons (he has 47 points; the 66 he posted last season was his previous four-season low). Nash hasn't recorded a point in seven games. Ugly my friends.
There's no telling where Alexander Radulov will be playing next year. He'll be a free agent in the NHL and he still has a KHL contract he could go home to, but for the last couple of weeks of the NHL season he'll be a part of the Predators. You'll have to be in a pretty shallow league not to add Radulov when he returns to game action since the guy can flat-out score. Jordin Tootoo might lose his spot in the lineup for Radulov, whose addition makes the Predators legit contenders in the NHL's Western Conference.
There's no chance the streak will last, but in his last three games Brian Rolston has seven points an is a plus-5 skater for the Bruins.
Drew Stafford has a point in four straight games for the Sabres, but he's actually been much more productive than that. Stafford has two goals and seven assists, not to mention a plus-7 rating and 15 shots on goal in those four outings. Overall, it's been a disappointing year for a guy who scored 31 goals last season (he has only 15 this season), but he seems intent on closing on a high note. Stafford's linemates have been productive of late as well. Marcus Foligno has points in five-straight games (5g, 2a) while Tyler Ennis has also produced a point in five-straight (4g, 5a).
Drew Doughty has five points in three games. It's too late to salvage his season -- his nine goals, 33 points and an even plus/minus rating are disappointing.
Alex Edler has been as good as advertised. Edler has scored three goals in his last six games and handed out an assist, bumping his season total to 11 goals and 45 points for the Canucks. Both totals are career bests.
Mark Giordano has only 23 points thanks to being limited to just 52 games. However, he's been bringing the offense as the Flames try to grab a playoff spot with three goals and four assists in his last seven games.
Let's give Mike Green a Bronx cheer. He recorded a point Monday night, his first point since, wait for it, October 22. That's one point in 16 games for the player formerly known as Mike Green.
P.K. Subban is making a strong push on the offensive side of the ice. He's racked up nine points (3g, 6a) in nine games in March.
Shea Weber has been wonderful this season with 14 goals, 42 points an a plus-16 rating. However, he has just two assists in his last 10 games.
No one is talking much about Keith Yandle other than to say they are disappointed that he isn't going to match his career-best 59 points from last season. Cut the guy some slack. He's reached double-digit goals for the third straight year (10), and his 41 points gives him three-straight years at that level as well. With 25 shots in the Coyotes' last nine games, he would also better his career best shot total of 199 from last season.
Ilya Bryzgalov was named the NHL's First Star of the Week for the second straight week (the first time in league annals that has ever occurred). Ilya allowed six goals in four games last week. Since the start of March he is 8-0-1 with a 1.20 GAA, a .960 save percentage and four shutouts. Simply put -- you can't play any better than that.
Do the Canucks have a goalie controversy on their hands as they work on tuning up for the playoffs? Roberto Luongo has allowed a whopping 16 goals in his last four outings, emerging winless in that stretch. Meanwhile, Cory Schneider continues to surge in net. Not only is his save percentage of .930 better than Luongo's .920 mark, he also has a 0.4 advantage in goals against average (2.08 compared to 2.48). Schneider has also posted a GAA of 1.63 with a .944 save percentage over his last seven outings. At the very least, it wouldn't be shocking to see Schneider play more minutes in his workload the rest of the way.
Corey Crawford is the keeper to own right now in Chicago, and yes, if you need a second to pop some Dramamine for your nausea from the roller coaster ride in net for the Blackhawks, we'll all understand. Crawford played three games last week, posting a 1.09 GAA thanks to a .948 save percentage to earn the NHL's 2nd Star of the Week. Hopefully, you didn't give up on Crawford when it looked like Ray Emery was taking over in a net a couple weeks ago.
Jimmy Howard re-aggravated his groin injury, the one that cost him three games this month, and he's now considered day-to-day. To support Joey MacDonald, the team has called on Ty Conklin, though he will have to clear re-entry waivers to be allowed to rejoin the Winged Wheel.
Curtis Sanford is most likely done for the year with the Blue Jackets after suffering a torn muscle in his leg (he'll end the year with a 2.60 GAA and .911 save percentage). The club has called up Allen York from the AHL, but it likely will be Steve Mason who gets most of the work in net. That may not be a bad thing either as Mason, and I can't believe I'm about to type this, is exceedingly hot, going 5-1 with a 1.87 GAA and .947 in March. Guess those new pads are really helping.
The Lightning likely will be without Mathieu Garon for the remainder of the regular season, and Dwayne Roloson has been a total bust this year. Dustin Tokarski hasn't exactly endeared himself to the team's brass either (he was bombed for four goals on just 15 shots Monday night). The organization is trying to add Sebastien Caron to the mix, but he will need to pass through waivers before joining the club. If he does, it seems likely that Tokarski will be sent back to the minors.
he Wild are changing things up in net. Matthew Hackett has been sent back down to the minors with Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom healthy enough to suit up. Harding had a shutout Monday night, and he has a chance to get more playing time than usual down the stretch as Backstrom isn't quite 100 percent yet.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, and Saturday's from 4-5 PM he hosts the SiriusXM Fantasy Hockey Show. His NHL thoughts can be read at Rotowire.com. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account. To e-mail Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at email@example.com.
Phillips: Outfielders are on the move at MLB winter meetings
SI Now Live Wednesday December 11, 2013