Special to Yahoo Sports
First Liners (Risers)
DJ Zib continued his roll recently, notching goals in six consecutive games before he was shut out Friday. He has blossomed into a star in New York, tallying 27 goals two seasons ago, 30 last year and 32 this season, including two Sunday. The five-year, $26.75 million contract he signed with the Rangers in July 2017 looks like a veritable steal now, based on his production and importance to the team. His recent hot streak has Zibanejad up to 65 points after scoring a career-high 74 points last season.
Point is scoring at close to a point-per-game pace but may need to up his output with Steven Stamkos sidelined for the balance of the regular season. After a slow start, Point has been on fire, scoring in 13 of his last 15 games, tallying five goals and 13 helpers. Point, who scored 92 points last season, signed a three-year, $20.25 million contract with the Lightning last September, which contributed to his slow start. He is now up to 60 points in 61 games and should see an uptick in ice time with Stamkos out.
Giroux closed out a hot February, scoring twice against the Rangers on Friday. He hadn’t had a multi-goal game since Nov. 21, but that doesn’t mean Giroux hasn’t been productive — the 32 year old amassed six goals and 14 points in the last 11 games, helping to push the Flyers up to second place in the Metropolitan Division. After tallying 102 and 85 points the prior two seasons, Philly’s captain only has 49 points in 65 games, but has been productive lately.
Aho is driving Carolina’s playoff push. He notched two assists Friday, extending his point streak to 14 games in the process — the longest streak in franchise history since the move from Hartford in 1997. Aho has piled up 12 goals and 21 points during that stretch, and after tallying a career-high 83 points last season, the 22 year old appears headed for another 80-point campaign, despite the streak getting snapped Saturday. The five-year, $42.27 million contract Aho signed with the Hurricanes last July sure looks like an early bargain.
Eberle’s production fell from 59 his first season on the Island to 37 points last year but he signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract to remain with the Islanders last June. He got off to another slow start this season but has rebounded lately. Eberle saw his five-game point streak — during which he tallied five goals and added a pair of assists — end Saturday. That hot streak has enabled him to match last season’s output in only 54 games played.
Andersson has been productive lately, rebounding from a somewhat slow start. In his last 12 games to close February, Andersson potted a pair of goals and five assists while posting a plus-11. That output has given Andersson a new career-high in points in his second full season in Calgary. The Flames locked him up long-term in January, signing the 23 year old blueliner to a six-year, $27.3 million contract.
Tuukka Rask, G, Boston Bruins
Rask closed out February in fine fashion, stopping 26 shots for a 4-0 shutout over the Islanders. He has four shutouts this season, two of which have come in February, and he closed the book on the month by posting a 6-3-0 record over nine starts with a 1.94 GAA and .929 save percentage. On the season, Rask is 24-7-6 with a 2.21 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in 38 games and should notch 30-plus wins again after tallying just 27 victories last season due to Jaroslav Halak’s play and a sluggish start.
Carter Hart, G, Philadelphia Flyers
Hart has been a stalwart between the pipes recently, racking up four consecutive wins while posting an impressive 1.75 GAA and .939 save percentage before Sunday’s game. He won his fifth in a row Sunday, stopping 23 of 26 shots against the Rangers. This hot stretch comes shortly after Hart missed nearly a month with an abdomen injury. Brian Elliott was good in net while Hart was out, but Hart is the clear No. 1 goalie in Philly. With the five consecutive wins, Hart is now 22-12-3 with a 2.51 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.
Others include: Sean Couturier, Brock Nelson, Auston Matthews, Leon Draisaitl, Tyson Jost, Mark Scheifele, Adam Henrique, Max Domi, Connor McDavid, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mikael Granlund, Jesper Bratt, Brad Marchand, Kevin Fiala, Jakub Voracek, J.T. Miller, Zach Hyman, Nikita Kucherov, Reilly Smith, Artemi Panarin, Denis Gurianov, Zach Sanford, Jordan Greenway, Nikita Gusev, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Dominik Kubalik, Zach Parise, Kyle Connor, Brandon Saad, Torey Krug, Travis Sanheim, Ryan Ellis, Colton Parayko, Adam Fox, Tyson Barrie, Charlie McAvoy, Alex Stalock, Antti Raanta, Cory Schneider, Corey Crawford, Juuse Saros, and Pavel Francouz.
Alec Martinez, D, Vegas Golden Knights
Martinez has found a second wind since moving from the Kings to the Golden Knights. In his first six games for Las Vegas, Martinez posted two goals and four assists after tallying just three goals and 11 assists. He is on the second-pair blueline while manning the point for the second power-play unit. His production has waned since 2016-17, so don’t overrate the small sample size, but if you grabbed Martinez, enjoy the ride while it lasts.
Training Room (Injuries)
Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay Lightning
Stamkos had core muscle surgery Monday that will sideline him 6-8 weeks. His absence likely rules out any chance Tampa Bay overtakes Boston for first in the division and conference, but the team should remain second in the Atlantic Division. The 30-year-old forward was red-hot before the injury with 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists) across 15 games, and he’s racked up 66 total points through 57 contests this year. For the time being, Ondrej Palat will flank Brayden Point on the first line, though Blake Coleman could get a look there as well.
Chris Kreider, LW, New York Rangers
The Rangers’ playoff chances took a major hit Friday as Kreider suffered a broken left foot blocking a shot. A potential unrestricted free agent, Kreider signed a seven-year, $45.5 million contract last Monday, keeping him in New York. He had been red-hot leading up to the deadline but was scoreless in his last five games, including the contest in which he was injured. The power winger is at 24 goals and 21 assists, including 13 points on the power play, through 63 appearances.
Others include: Jeff Carter (lower body, has missed five straight games through Sunday), Kailer Yamamoto (ankle, missed Saturday’s game, returned Monday), Mark Stone (lower body, week-to-week), Anthony Duclair (ankle, missed third straight game Saturday), Patrik Laine (lower body, injured blocking a shot Thursday, missed Saturday’s game), Mike Green (sprained MCL, will miss 3-4 weeks), Jake Muzzin (broken hand, injured last Tuesday, out four weeks), Cam Fowler (lower body, will miss at least another week), Mark Giordano (hamstring, returned Thursday after missing 10 games), Jacob Markstrom (minor lower-body procedure last Wednesday, to be evaluated in another week or so), Igor Shesterkin (fractured rib, injured Feb. 23, taking low shots in ice) and Elvis Merzlikins (concussion, injured Feb. 24).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Vincent Trocheck, C, Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina acquired one of the bigger names at the deadline when they traded for Trocheck. The second-line center tallied just 36 points in 55 points with the Panthers prior to his trade. Trocheck took a major step back after his career year in 2017-18, dropping from 75 points in 82 games to 34 in 55. A broken ankle had a lot to do with that decline and it looks like he has yet to recover fully from that injury. Maybe a new start will jumpstart his game, but he was scoreless his first three games for the Hurricanes.
Justin Faulk, D, St. Louis Blues
Traded to St. Louis this offseason, Faulk had tallied at least 31 points the last six seasons. All signs point to him falling well short of the mark this year, as Faulk has scored just five goals and 10 assists in 66 games as a Blue. Faulk’s ice time is down almost two minutes a game and much of that decline has come on the power play, which has adversely impacted his production. Look elsewhere for a scoring blueliner.
Thatcher Demko, G, Vancouver Canucks
Demko has manned the pipes for Vancouver with Jacob Markstrom sidelined, though not successfully. Heading into Saturday’s start, Demko allowed at least three goals in each of the three starts since Markstrom has been out. In addition, Demko had a .879 save percentage and 3.63 GAA over five appearances in February. Demko did not inspire much confidence Saturday night, allowing three goals on 29 shots in a 4-3 win. It may only be a matter of time until Louis Domingue, acquired at the trade deadline, gets his shot with Markstrom out at least two more weeks.
Others include: Brandon Sutter, Ryan Dzingel, Sam Bennett, Brandon Tanev, Evgenii Dadonov, Anthony Beauvillier, Justin Schultz, Frederik Andersen, and Aaron Dell.
Blake Coleman, LW, Tampa Bay Lightning
Coleman saw his role substantially change upon his move to Tampa Bay. In New Jersey, Coleman was being used on the second line and the Texas native racked up 21 goals and 10 helpers in 57 games as a Devil. His 5×5 output was in the top-10 in the league, which was one reason why the Lightning acquired him to lengthen their lineup. He is being used as a third-liner, impacting his ability to produce, but he might get a chance at moving up due to Steven Stamkos’ injury.