NHL

Cullen: Notes on Toews, Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan and more

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Scott Cullen
11/29/2011 1:56:51 PM
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Jonathan Toews raising his game, Bobby Ryan's name hits the rumour mill, Nugent-Hopkins putting up points and, after Sidney Crosby's return, the leaders in points per minute.

CAPTAIN SERIOUS
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews got off to a mediocre start, at least in terms of point production, scoring nine points in the first 15 games this year, but in nine games since, he has eight goals, eight assists and is plus-8.

Toews' resurgence has helped lift the game of LW Viktor Stalberg, who has eight points and is plus-7 in his last nine games.

RYAN'S HOPE
Rumblings have started out of Anaheim that winger Bobby Ryan is being shopped. While it would be considered somewhat surprising to have a 24-year-old, three-time 30-goal scorer on the block, the Ducks are struggling and Ryan is one of the foremost underachievers, with seven goals, 11 points and a minus-6 rating in 23 games.

Ryan played a season-low 10:32 in last Wednesday's game at Phoenix and was moved to Anaheim's third line at practice on Monday. Ryan has a rare mix of size and skill, so his value should still be high, despite his poor start, but until the situation is resolved, or Ryan returns to one of the Ducks' scoring lines, he may not be quite as appealing.

Discussing which teams could be interested, and what they might give up, for Ryan is a separate blog unto itself.

SCORING MACHINE
While I caused a mini-furor by awarding my first quarter Rookie of the Year to Philadelphia's Matt Read, instead of to Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, by no means is that to suggest that Nugent-Hopkins isn't having a tremendous rookie season. With 11 points and a plus-4 rating in his last six games, Nugent-Hopkins has moved above the point-per-game plateau.

The Oilers have utilized Nugent-Hopkins' offensive skills effectively. He leads the team in power play ice time, 3:26 per game, and ranks eighth in percentage of offensive zone starts. (from www.behindthenet.ca)

RANK PLAYER TEAM POS. OFF. ZONE FO%
1. George Parros Anaheim RW 82.6
2. Henrik Sedin Vancouver C 77.0
3. Daniel Sedin Vancouver LW 75.4
4. Ryan Reaves St. Louis RW 75.0
5. Alex Burrows Vancouver RW 73.2
6. Cory Emmerton Detroit C 72.0
7. Mathieu Darche Montreal LW 70.3
8. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Edmonton C 69.7
9. Marc-Andre Bergeron Tampa Bay D 69.6
10. Stephane Da Costa Ottawa C 69.0

WHITE HOT
The Red Wings defence corps has been bolstered by the addition of Ian White who, sandwiched around a four-game absence after taking a puck in the face, has scored eight points in his last eight games. Paired primarily with Nicklas Lidstrom, White is one of eight defencemen in the league to have both double-digit points and a double-digit plus rating.

Staying in Detroit, Henrik Zetterberg is starting to come on after a slow start, putting up seven points in the last six games, finding the right mix with linemates Valtteri Filppula and Dan Cleary.

RUNNIN' WITH THE DEVIL
Rookie D Adam Larsson has seen his minutes go down a little in November, but he's been more productive. He's currently riding a five-game point streak and now has eight points in 22 NHL games, one season after scoring nine points in 37 games in the Swedish Elite League.

SID'S SENSATIONAL RETURN
I noted on Twitter that Penguins C Sidney Crosby had three assists in his first 3:53 of ice time against Ottawa Friday and suggested that a points-per-minute chart would be coming. Well, here it is.

The leaders in points-per-minute (minimum 10 GP). By the way, with nine points in 72:36, Crosby is putting up an unbelievable 7.44 points per 60 minutes.

RANK PLAYER TEAM POS. PTS TOI PTS/60
1. Thomas Vanek Buffalo LW 26 403:44 3.86
2. Phil Kessel Toronto RW 31 483:56 3.84
3. Joffrey Lupul Toronto LW 29 457:23 3.80
4. Nicklas Backstrom Washington C 25 397:37 3.77
5. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Edmonton C 24 385:44 3.73
6. Tyler Seguin Boston C 23 372:45 3.70
7. Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh C 22 362:52 3.64
8. Jordan Eberle Edmonton RW 23 380:21 3.63
9. Claude Giroux Philadelphia RW 29 496:30 3.50
10. Johan Franzen Detroit LW 22 380:20 3.47
11. Jaromir Jagr Philadelphia RW 17 294:29 3.46
12. Jason Pominville Buffalo RW 25 438:17 3.42
13. Tim Connolly Toronto C 12 210:42 3.42
14. Daniel Sedin Vancouver LW 25 440:26 3.41
15. Kris Versteeg Florida RW 26 461:54 3.38
16. Jamie Benn Dallas LW 23 409:13 3.37
17. Henrik Sedin Vancouver C 24 439:10 3.28
18. Steven Stamkos Tampa Bay C 24 443:24 3.25
19. Teemu Selanne Anaheim RW 22 419:00 3.15
20. Ryan Smyth Edmonton LW 24 459:16 3.14
21. Tomas Fleischmann Florida LW 23 443:14 3.11
22. Luke Adam Buffalo C 16 309:12 3.10
23. Jonathan Toews Chicago C 25 486:13 3.09
24. Valtteri Filppula Detroit C 19 371:51 3.07
25. Chris Kelly Boston C 16 313:10 3.07
26. Joe Thornton San Jose C 21 414:15 3.04
27. James van Riemsdyk Philadelphia LW 16 316:25 3.03
28. James Neal Pittsburgh LW 23 458:31 3.01
29. Marian Hossa Chicago RW 23 460:05 3.00
30. Kyle Wellwood Winnipeg C 17 340:41 2.99

CALL ME AL
Islanders G Al Montoya has somehow been splitting time in the crease with Rick DiPietro and Evgeni Nabokov this season, despite posting superior numbers (2.20 GAA, .929 SV%). With Nabokov injured, this might finally be a chance for Montoya, who has allowed two goals or fewer in five of seven starts this season, to get consistent playing time and establish that he's the Isles' best option in net.

RANGERS ROOKIE
A sixth-round pick in 2007, Rangers LW Carl Hagelin steadily improved throughout his time at the University of Michigan, scoring 99 points in 89 games during his junior and senior seasons.

After putting up 13 points and a plus-12 rating in 17 games with Connecticut of the AHL, Hagelin was promoted to the Blueshirts, where he's playing with Brian Boyle and John Mitchell. Despite limited playing time (10:43 per game), and less-than-offensively-gifted linemates, Hagelin has two points in his first two NHL games.

CHECK, CHECK
As if the Boston Bruins don't have enough going for them, they are getting serious production out of third-liners Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. Kelly, who has never scored more than 15 goals (and 38 points) in a season, has nine goals, 16 points and a plus-15 rating in 22 games. Peverley, who has more offensive production on his resume and gets power play time, has 14 points and a plus-7 rating in 20 games.

CHANGE IN THE DISTRICT
While it's fair enough to acknowledge that the Capitals' woes could be corrected with better goaltending from G Tomas Vokoun, whose .905 save percentage is well below his .917 career mark, he's hardly the only one that needs to perform better under new head coach Dale Hunter.

Defencemen Roman Hamrlik and Dennis Wideman, the latter of whom played for Hunter with London in the Ontario Hockey League, have combined to go minus-23 in 26 games this month, while LW Alexander Ovechkin and C Nicklas Backstrom have combined for a minus-13 in that time.

Ovechkin, in particular, has been heading south, scoring three points with a minus-7 rating in the last eight games. Alexander Semin has been in the tank all season, managing 10 points in 21 games, absurdly low production for a player that has tallied 217 points in 200 games over the last three seasons. Semin's lack of production landed him in Boudreau's doghouse, as his 16:24 average time on ice was his lowest since his rookie season. The equation should be pretty simple under Hunter, if Semin and Ovechkin produce, they'll get plenty of ice time.

FILLY ON THE REBOUND
Senators LW Nikita Filatov has returned to the NHL, after a stint in the minors. Filatov has struggled to produce in the NHL, but had seven goals, 12 points and a plus-3 rating in 15 games with Binghamton, which was good enough to get recalled when the Senators demoted C Stephane Da Costa (3 G, 2 A, -9, 22 GP).

Filatov was placed right on a line with Jason Spezza and Colin Greening and played a season-high 15:07 against Carolina Sunday, which should be an opportunity to produce. He hasn't scored a goal in 30 NHL games (with 36 shots on goal) over the last two seasons, so he's more than overdue.

HERE'S YOUR NUMBER ONE CENTRE
After a disastrous 2010-2011 season, during which he scored 32 points and was minus-29, Maple Leafs C Tyler Bozak was looking to bounce back this year, but was doing so without the spotlight of being the club's number one centre. After all, Tim Connolly and Mikhail Grabovski were higher on the depth chart, allowing Bozak to slide into a third-line role.

However, injuries to Connolly and Grabovski at various times have allowed Bozak to slide between familiar linemates Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul and, this year, the results have been much better.

Though his ice time has gone up, along with his production, in recent weeks, Bozak is averaging two minutes less per game than in in his first two NHL seasons. In the last nine games, Bozak has six goals and 11 points.

He's not going to continue at that rate all season, to be sure, but it's not inconceivable that Bozak could end up with more than 50 points and maybe even more if his wingers are going to stay atop of the NHL scoring race.

WILD TIMES
Minnesota RW Cal Clutterbuck is easy to overlook as a hitter and agitator, rather than scorer, but he's taking advantage of a top six role in the absence of injured Guillaume Latndresse. In the last nine games, Clutterbuck has five goals, eight points and a plus-3 rating. After scoring a career-high 19 goals and 34 points last season, he's capable of scoring 20 goals if given the chance.

Wild star C Mikko Koivu got out of the gate slowly this year, with no goals and three assists in the first eight games, but he's on a tear since, putting up a point-per-game (4 G, 12 A) in the last 16 games.

Now if only he could drag someone else along for the ride. While Koivu leads the Wild with 14 points in 14 games this month, Clutterbuck and Pierre-Marc Bouchard are tied for second, with eight points in 14 games.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Stalberg and Toews (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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