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Scott Cullen

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The top scoring defencemen keep producing; Carter, Neal, Benn, Kessel, fantasy and more in Scott Cullen’s Statistically Speaking.

HEROS

Kris Letang – He’s getting overlooked in the Norris Trophy debate, but the Penguins blueliner has been a force. After two assists in a 5-2 win over Nashville, he has 47 points (15 G, 32 A) in 42 games since Christmas.

Erik Karlsson – Ottawa’s playmaking blueliner had a goal and an assist in a 3-2 win at Minnesota. He has 10 points (4 G, 6 A) in the past 10 games and has 78 points on the season, the most by a defenceman since Nicklas Lidstrom had 80 in 2005-2006.

Brent Burns – With two assists in a 4-2 loss to Vancouver, the Sharks defenceman has 22 points (7 G, 15 A) in the past 17 games, and is up to 73 points on the season.

Jeff Carter – Scored two goals and an assist in the Kings’ 3-0 win vs. Calgary. He has 15 points (7 G, 8 A) in the past 13 games.

James Neal – The Predators right winger had a goal and an assist in the loss at Pittsburgh; he has 13 points (8 G, 5 A) in the past nine games and this season’s 31 goals is the second-best total of his career.

Jamie Benn – Scored his 40th goal of the season and added an assist in a 4-1 win over Arizona. He has 16 points (8 G, 8 A) in the past 12 games, and ranks third in goals over the past three seasons.

Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel – They’re back on the hero list again. Bonino had a goal and an assist in the win over Nashville, and has 11 points (4 G, 7 A) in the past eight games.

 

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Kessel continued his hot streak with two goals, and has nine points (4 G, 5 A) in the past four games. He’s up to 25 goals and 56 points on the season.

ZEROS

Jonathan Marchessault and Tyler Johnson – The Lightning forwards were on the ice for all three goals against in a 3-0 loss to Montreal.

Justin Fontaine – The Minnesota winger struggled in terms of puck possession (1 for, 12 against, 7.7 SAT%) in a 3-2 loss to Ottawa. 

Sam Bennett – Calgary’s rookie winger had a tough game in Los Angeles, on the ice for two goals against, and lopsided possession (6 for, 27 against, 18.2 SAT%) in  3-0 loss to the Kings.

Pekka Rinne – Was pulled from the Nashville net after allowing four goals on 29 shots in two periods against Pittsburgh. He has a .839 save percentage in his past three games.

VITAL SIGNS

Travis Hamonic – Left the Islanders’ win over Columbus with a lower-body injury. If the injury sidelines him into the playoffs, that would be a huge loss for the Isles.

Martin Hanzal – Arizona’s towering, and oft-injured, centre scored a goal, but suffered an upper-body injury at Dallas.

Jared Spurgeon – Left the loss to Ottawa after suffering a lower-body injury blocking a Bobby Ryan shot.

Nathan Beaulieu – The Habs blueliner suffered a broken thumb at Tampa Bay, which will end his season. With Beaulieu hurt, Alexei Emelin played a career-high 29:17, and recorded two assists, for Montreal.

Sven Baertschi – The Canucks winger suffered a lower-body injury, and played just 4:51, at San Jose. 

FIRSTS

Mike Condon – Montreal’s rookie goaltender recorded his first NHL shutout in a 3-0 win at Tampa Bay. He has a .905 save percentage in 52 games this season.

Patrick Brown – The Hurricanes winger scored his first NHL goal, and added his first NHL assist, in his 11th career game, a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers. He also had a strong possession game (11 for, 2 against, 84.6 SAT%) in the win. 

Sergey Tolchinsky - Making his NHL debut for the Hurricanes, the 21-year-old rookie recorded an assist against the Rangers. He had 32 points (11 G, 21 A) and a minus-9 rating in 65 AHL games.

Tobias Lindberg – Acquired by Toronto from Ottawa in the Dion Phaneuf trade, the 20-year-old winger made his NHL debut in the Maple Leafs’ 4-1 loss at Buffalo, and assisted on Toronto’s only goal.

Blake Pietila – The Devils winger notched his first career goal, in his fifth career game, a 3-2 loss at Florida.

 

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Boone Jenner has scored 29 goals for the Blue Jackets in his third NHL season.

SHORT SHIFTS

Blue Jackets RW Boone Jenner had a goal and an assist in a 4-3 loss at the Islanders, and has 12 points (7 G, 5 A) in the past 13 games…Islanders C John Tavares scored a couple of goals in the win, and has five points (3 G, 2 A) in the past five games…Predators C Ryan Johansen picked up a goal and an assist in a 5-2 loss at Pittsburgh, giving him 10 points (3 G, 7 A) in the past nine games…Penguins D Trevor Daley had pair of assists against Nashville, and has eight points (2 G, 6 A) in the past seven games…Rangers C Derek Stepan had a couple of assists in a 4-3 loss at Carolina, giving him 15 points (4 G, 11 A) in the past 13 games…Hurricanes LW Jeff Skinner produced a goal and an assist, and has 14 points (6 G, 8 A) in the past 15 games…Panthers LW Jonathan Huberdeau tallied a pair of goals in a 3-2 win over New Jersey, giving him 14 points (7 G, 7 A) in the past 12 games…Panthers RW Jaromir Jagr contributed a couple of assists, and has 21 points (8 G, 13 A) in the past 20 games…Senators C Jean-Gabriel Pageau put up a goal and two assists in a 3-2 win at Minnesota; he has 17 points (5 G, 12 A) in the past 20 games…Stars RW Ales Hemsky had a pair of assists against Arizona, and has 13 points (4 G, 9 A) in the past 12 games…Kings C Anze Kopitar had two assists against Calgary, giving him 18 points (7 G, 11 A) in the past 16 games…Sabres C Johan Larsson put in a pair of goals in a 4-1 win vs. Toronto, and has five points (3 G, 2 A) in the past five games…Sabres LW Cal O’Reilly also scored two goals against Toronto; he had no points in his previous eight games.

Sabres G Chad Johnson stopped 25 of 26 shots in a 4-1 win over Toronto, giving him a .919 save percentage in 43 games…Stars G Antti Niemi had 31 saves on 32 shots against Arizona, his second straight quality start…Kings G Jonathan Quick recorded a 21-save shutout against Calgary, following up a rough patch in which he had a .874 save percentage in his previous five appearances…Canucks G Ryan Miller stopped 32 of 34 shots in a 4-2 win at San Jose, giving him a .936 save percentage in his past six starts.

FANTASY FOCUS

Time’s running out. Some late additions to help your lineup:

Victor Rask – Five goals in five games for the Carolina centre, and he’s played more than 20 minutes in each of the past four games. Owned: 43.5%

Anthony Duclair – Arizona’s rookie winger has six points (2 G, 4 A) in the past five games. Owned: 15.8%

Erik Haula – The Wild pivot scored a goal in the loss to Ottawa, running his point streak (5 G, 6 A) to 10 games. That could probably help most fantasy teams. Owned: 12.0%

Much of the data included comes from www.war-on-ice.comcorsica.hockey, stats.hockeyanalysis.com www.hockey-reference and www.naturalstattrick.com

Scott Cullen can be reached at scott.cullen@bellmedia.ca