Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals
Never quite sure what to make of talented Washington forward Alexander Semin, the Other Alex in the nation's capital. Pretty sure the Caps feel the same way as Semin will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and frankly doesn't really fit into their long-term plans. But Semin sure goes when he's hot, and he's hot now with seven goals in his past five games as the Caps have won six straight and sit atop the Eastern Conference standings. Only Steven Stamkos has more than Semin's 12 goals on the season, and, as of Friday morning, Semin's 21 points were good enough for fourth in the NHL scoring race.
Antero Niittymaki, San Jose Sharks
There hasn't been much to get excited about from the up-and-down Sharks through the first part of the season, but journeyman netminder Antero Niittymaki has quietly laid claim to the starting job between the pipes. Niittymaki is 6-1-2 with a .929 save percentage. Although he was expected to take a backseat to Stanley Cup-winning netminder Antti Niemi, Niittymaki has yet to give up more than three goals in any one outing thus far and his 1.80 GAA is fifth in the league. Given how poorly Niemi has played thus far, the Sharks owe a debt of gratitude to Niittymaki for keeping them afloat.
Jamie McBain, Carolina Hurricanes
Remember late last season when the young native of Edina, Minn., came up from the AHL and immediately potted three goals and 10 assists in just 14 games for the Canes? No? It does seem like a long time ago. Entering his first full-time NHL season, Jamie McBain, 22, has found the going significantly more difficult as he has yet to score this season, has just three assists and is without a point in seven straight contests. For a team that relies on its back end to produce points, that's not good news.
Kris Versteeg, Toronto Maple Leafs
You can't swing a cat without hitting someone in the Leafs' room whose stock is down, down, down. But for a team that ranks 29th in goals per game and has one win in its past 11 outings, looking for scoring isn't a bad place to find ways to improve. And taking a look at former Chicago Blackhawk Kris Versteeg is also a good place to look. A former rookie of the year candidate, Versteeg has just two goals on the season and has managed to dent the twine just once in his past 12 games.