Justin Williams, Los Angeles Kings
It seems like it’s taken a long time for Justin Williams to get his footing on the West Coast. Injuries have certainly played a key role in Williams’ stop-and-start experience since arriving from Carolina during the 2008-09 season. After being a big part of the Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup run in 2006, Williams hasn’t managed to play more than 49 games in each of the past three campaigns and dressed for just three playoff games this past spring. But he has been on a tear this season, recording points in six straight games, including the only goal in the Kings’ 1-0 victory over red-hot Tampa Bay on Thursday night. It was the Kings’ fourth straight win, and Williams’ six goals and 12 points leads Los Angeles in both departments.
Raffi Torres, Vancouver Canucks
Torres has had a difficult time finding a groove since he helped the Edmonton Oilers to an unexpected Stanley Cup finals berth in 2006. There were a couple of miserable seasons marred by injury in Edmonton before stops in Columbus and Buffalo, where Torres was a healthy scratch in the playoffs. But this season, Torres seems to have rediscovered his mojo in Vancouver, where he has seven points in his past five games. He scored his seventh of the season (a power-play goal) in the Canucks’ 3-1 victory over the Avalanche on Thursday night.
James Wisniewski, New York Islanders
The Isles have lost six straight games in regulation, so this isn’t just about the Islanders defenseman who gained notoriety for his obscene gesture toward New York Rangers forward Sean Avery that netted him a two-game suspension. But after recording points in his first seven games this season, a key contribution given the absence of the injured Mark Streit, Wisniewski has become dormant and has gone without a point in four straight games. He is also minus-8 over that span.
Jason Demers, San Jose Sharks
One of the players expected to step forward after the retirement of veteran Rob Blake was talented young defenseman Jason Demers. But the Sharks have received little production from their back end -- Dan Boyle and Niclas Wallin are the only defensemen to have bulged the twine through 11 games -- and Demers has, at least offensively, been a big disappointment. The 22-year-old has two assists and has just one assist in his past nine games while averaging more than 18 minutes a night in ice time. He was minus-2 in Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues, as the Sharks have lost two in a row and are a pedestrian 5-5-1 on the season.