Matt Calvert, Columbus Blue Jackets: The playoff ship may have sailed for the Blue Jackets, who are winless in three including a disappointing loss Thursday to Edmonton, but what a find Matt Calvert has been. The 21-year-old, a fifth-round draft pick in 2008, has been lighting it up with 11 goals in 23 games since being called up from Springfield of the AHL. He has seven goals in his last six games for the Blue Jackets, three of which have come on the power play. For a team with the 26th ranked power play, that bodes well for the future.
Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks: Talk about smokin' hot. Both netminder Antti Niemi, he of the new contract extension, and the Sharks are on fire. With their big win over Detroit Thursday, the Sharks are just three points back of Detroit for the second seed in the Western Conference. Niemi, by the way, has won eight straight starts. He has allowed just 13 goals over this period, including two wins over Detroit and victories over Pittsburgh, Washington, Calgary and Nashville.
Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh Penguins: Bereft of top scoring talent like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz, the Penguins are struggling to find enough offense to cobble together wins. The Pens are 1-2-3 in their past six games and have scored just 13 times over that period and six of those goals came in their lone win over Toronto. One guy who will have to pick up the pace if the Pens find themselves without Crosby come playoff time will be center Jordan Staal who has just one goal in his last eight games. Still one of the premier two-way forwards in the game, Staal also has top end offensive skills and needs to bring them to bear more often.
Tim Connolly, Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres missed a golden opportunity to jump into the playoff bracket in the Eastern Conference Thursday night, losing in overtime to Carolina. Brad Boyes looks early on to be an astute trade deadline pickup with his second goal in as many games for the Sabres, but it's another forward, Tim Connolly, who will need to help out as well if the Sabres are going to push their way into a postseason berth. Blessed with great skill but hampered by injury much of his career, Connolly was rumored to be on the block at the deadline but remained a Sabre. He has gone 11 straight games without a goal and has only eight goals on the season.