LCS Hockey: Born Again
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March 24, 2019
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Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks: Before his leg got cut like a European placekicker, Perry was having a stellar season for the Water Fowl, posting 29 goals, 54 points, and 108 penalty minutes in 70 games. Scott Hartnell, with his 22 red lights and 143 penalty minutes, is the only other member of the 20-goal, 100-PIM club, and he has 16 fewer points than Perry.

I remember last summer our buddy Mone Peterson warned me Perry would score 40 someday. I laughed and laughed and laughed. Well, Perry wouldn't have hit 40 this year, but he surely would have cracked 30. And that's a hell of a lot closer than I thought he'd get this season. I would have taken the under on 25.


Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks: The Windy City is ripe with underappreciated performances. The 24-year-old blueliner is logging an average of 25:56 in ice time per night, the 11th highest total in the league, and he's already notched a career-high 11 goals.

Even though the Hawks have given up two more goals than they've scored this season, Keith has somehow managed to clock in at plus-26. That's not easy, especially when he's seeing 25 minutes a night against the other team's best forwards. Keith's the real deal. And I still say he got jobbed at the fastest skater competition.


Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks: There are only 11 guys in the entire NHL with more goals than Patrick Sharp. I rib you not. Sharp has 34 goals and 55 points in 71 games for the Hawks. Feel free to win a beer with that one.

Always known as a speedy penalty-killer, Sharp has terrorized opposing power plays for a league-leading seven shorthanded goals. His .197 shooting percentage ranks fourth in the league, and this is his second straight 20-goal season, so this whole goal-scoring thing could be a trend.


Dustin Byfuglien, Chicago Blackhawks: Before this season, the 22-year-old Byfuglien had four goals and eight points in 34 games. The 6'3," 245-pound native of Minneapolis was used exclusively on defense, where he mixed his obvious physicality with a powerful point shot and above average puck skills. Unfortunately, his skating was reminiscent of a young Herman Munster, except more awkward.

Well, this season the Hawks started using Byfuglien on the wing, and the kid's responded with 17 goals and 32 points in 59 games. While his skating is still labored, his touch around the net and willingness to take the body may have earned him a home up front. He's recently been skating with Jonathan Toews and Andrew Ladd, and his versatility allows him to man the point on the power play. Plus, his train wreck of a last name will ruin the lives of sports editors for years to come. That'll be great; that'll be fun.


Mike Ribeiro, Dallas Stars: My hatred for all things Ribeiro has been well documented in the pages of LCS, but it's tough to ridicule the stats. Ribeiro has already posted career-highs in goals (27), assists (50), points (77), and plus-minus (20). The production earned him a fat new contract from the Stars. But don't believe the hype.

Ribeiro has just 97 shots on goal. The most he's ever recorded in a season is 130. The reason his numbers are up this year is because he's leading the league with a ridiculous .278 shooting percentage. That won't last. Before this season, Ribeiro converted a mere .144 percent of his shots. He won't crack 60 points next season. Book it.


Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings: Bad, bad, Dustin Brown. He's the baddest man in the whole damn town. The 23-year-old power forward has taken a major leap offensively this season, already bagging a career-high 30 goals and 54 points. And he brings the pain every night, leading the league with 287 hits. Take heart, Royalty fans. With Brown, Kopitar, Frolov, Cammelleri, and O'Sullivan up front, better days are ahead. Just try to hold on until Jonathan Bernier arrives.


Alexei Kovalev, Montreal Canadiens: The Habs have been the poster boys for overachievement, and Kovalev has been leading the way, pacing the club with 31 goals and 74 points in 71 games. It's his first 30-goal campaign since 2002-03, and it could prove to be his first point-per-game effort since 2001-02.

It's been quite the renaissance for the 35-year-old Kovalev, who nearly played his way out of Montreal last season with a dreadful 47-point, minus-19 debacle. In testament to his renewed commitment to the team, not to mention improved health, Kovy is also leading the team with a plus-13, which is the first time he's been on the plus side of the ledger since 2001-02.

Kovalev is truly one of the coolest players in hockey history, so it's great to see him back playin' like a champ.


Tomas Plekanec, Montreal Canadiens: A third-round pick in 2001, Plekanec finally broke through this season, posting career-highs in goals (27), assists (37), and points (64). And his numbers are legit. Plekanec, who hails from Jagr's hometown of Kladno, has exceptional hands, great speed, and a quick release. He could be a fixture in the 30-goal, 70-point neighborhood from here on out.



Mark Streit
photo by Matthieu Masquelet

Mark Streit, Montreal Canadiens: The former Swiss captain is the human equivalent of his army's beloved knives, proving extremely versatile in switching back and forth between offense and defense. He's been skating on a line with Bryan Smolinski and Tom Kostopoulos of late, but he still mans the blue line when needed.

Streit's true value, though, has been on the power play, where he's filled in nicely for the departed Sheldon Souray. Streit's been logging nearly five minutes a night on the point, piling up four goals and 23 assists on the man-advantage. The power-play production has bumped his scoring to an impressive 12 goals 52 points. He's been an integral part of the Montreal resurgence, and he also comes in handy whenever you need to open a bottle of wine or add a hole to your belt.


Mike Komisarek, Montreal Canadiens: The Habs keep on rolling. At 26, Komisarek has quietly established himself as one of the NHL's best defensive defensemen. At the moment, he's second in the league with 263 hits, more than 50 hits ahead of the nearest defenseman. He's also leading the league with 225 blocked shots, which are 49 more than his nearest competitor. A case could be made that Komisarek has been Montreal's most valuable player.


Dan Ellis, Nashville Predators: Trading Tomas Vokoun was supposed to open the door for Chris Mason to be the No. 1 man in Nashville. No one bothered to tell Ellis. The 27-year-old has thrived in his first full season in the show, going 19-9-0 with a 2.40 goals-against and a .920 save percentage.

Since March 1, Ellis has started seven games to Mason's one, and he's responded with a 1.97 GAA and a .941 SV%. He's single-handedly keeping the Preds in the playoff hunt.

Ellis' time in Music City could be brief. He's scheduled to become unrestricted this summer. Expect those filthy Red Wings to make a run at him. Ellis just beat them 3-1 the other night, stopping 34 shots in what could prove to be a very rewarding audition.


Radim Vrbata, Phoenix Coyotes: When Vrbata broke in with Colorado in 2001, it was evident he had a goal-scorer's touch, as he deposited 18 goals in 52 games. But the Avs thought he was a bit soft and shipped him to Carolina, where three terrible seasons with the Hurricanes nearly killed his career. A trade to Chicago rejuvenated him somewhat, but he may have finally found his home in the desert.

Acquired from the Hawks over the summer for Kevyn Adams, Vrbata has been an offensive sparkplug for the Coyotes, leading the team with 27 goals and ranking second in scoring with a career-high 53 points. If anyone out there knew Vrbata was Phoenix's leading goal-scorer, well, you're a better man than me, Gunga Din.


Brad Boyes, St. Louis Blues: Okay, this one is just bizarre. During his time in Boston, Boyes was known as a crafty playmaker, using his slick passing skills to rack up 43 assists in his 2005-06 rookie campaign. The Bears lost patience during a slight sophomore slump and booted Boyes to St. Louis late last season, and he finished out the schedule with four goals and eight assists in 19 games as a Blue Note.

Before this season, Boyes had 43 goals and 72 assists in 164 career games. That's 0.597 goals for every one assist. In 2007-08, he's notched a remarkable 37 goals to just 18 assists. That's 2.06 goals for every one helper. That is some wild, wild stuff.

The goal-scoring outburst couldn't have come at a better time for the 25-year-old Boyes, who was slated to become a restricted free agent this summer. The Blues inked him to a new four-year, $16-million contract, ensuring he'll stay in town through 2011-2012. I guess that almost makes up for giving Paul Kariya $6 million a year. Almost.


Mike Green, Washington Capitals: The first round of the 2004 Draft is stating to look pretty good for the Caps. They had three first-round picks that year. At No. 1 overall, they got some guy named Ovechkin. The jury is still out on that stiff.

At pick 27, Washington took the gigantic Jeff Schultz, who's emerged as a pretty steady defender this season, appearing in 63 games and demonstrating tremendous promise as a 6'6" defensive stalwart.

Finally, at No. 29 overall, the Caps nabbed blueliner Mike Green. Jackpot. After a middling rookie season that saw the youngster record just two goals and 12 points, Green found his stride this year, using his phenomenal skating and wicked wrister to ring up 17 goals and 46 points. He loves to jump into the play late, taking full advantage of Ovechkin, Semin, and Backstrom occupying the opposition's attention.

Best of all, Green is just fun to watch. He isn't scared to bust out the individual effort. Considering the talent around him, Green should be near the top of the defensive scoring charts for the next decade.




LCS Hockey: Born Again
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