Player Power Rankings: Sharks' Vlasic surprises, but Niemi disappoints


Trending up: Bryan Bickell, Chicago Blackhawks -- Though his production has been inconsistent this season, the 28-year-old winger made the most of a promotion to play on a line with veteran center Brad Richards and superstar Patrick Kane. Bickell tallied twice in Chicago’s 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, notching both the game winner and an empty-net goal in the third period. Bickell now has four goals in his past five games for the Blackhawks.

Trending down: Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars -- It’s been a stunning season for the 22-year-old Seguin, who leads the league with 26 goals. But he’s gone cold lately with three straight games without a goal, which not surprisingly coincides with the Stars’ current three-game skid. Seguin has just one goal in his past eight games.

Surprise of the week: Mikkel Boedker, Arizona Coyotes -- The young Dane’s three-point effort propelled the Coyotes to a 4-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night in a performance that few saw coming. Boedker was scoreless in eight of his past nine games, with only two assists during that span, yet he turned it on for the struggling Coyotes.


Trending up: Shea Weber, Nashville Predators -- Before the season, many of the league’s star players took part in an informal poll during which they were asked which players they’d take if constructing their own team. One of the names that was brought up repeatedly? Shea Weber, and it’s no wonder. The star defenseman continues to anchor a competitive Predators squad that is battling for the top spot in the Central Division. Weber tallied twice in the Preds’ 3-2 win against the Dallas Stars on Thursday night, notching the deciding goal to snap a 2-2 deadlock in overtime. It was Weber’s second multigoal performance in his past five games.

Trending down: Matt Niskanen, Washington Capitals -- I still love the addition of Niskanen in Washington as one of the premier offseason signings this summer, but he was in coach Barry Trotz's doghouse Thursday night after the Capitals' 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Niskanen took a hooking penalty in overtime that resulted in NHL scoring leader Jakub Voracek's game-winning goal. Trotz was understandably upset after the game, as his team gave up its fourth power-play goal in overtime.

Surprise of the week: Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks -- No surprise here to see the dynamic Sharks defenseman producing for San Jose, but the fashion in which he was able to contribute this week deserves some extra accolades. Though he was scoreless in the Sharks’ 7-2 rout at the hands of the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, Vlasic had an otherwise fantastic week, notching game-winning goals in back-to-back games for San Jose. He snapped a 3-3 draw with his overtime winner against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday and scored with less than five seconds left in regulation one night prior to help the Sharks edge the Winnipeg Jets.


Trending up: Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers -- Chalk it up to maudlin sentimentality, but Thursday’s 3-1 win for the Panthers gave me the warm fuzzies, knowing what it must have meant to the 35-year-old Luongo in his first game in Vancouver since being traded last March. For all the scrutiny and criticism Luongo endured while playing in one of hockey’s most notorious fishbowls, he was greeted with a standing ovation from the Vancouver crowd and delivered a 32-save performance to boot. Luongo ranks among the top 10 in the league in both goals-against average (ninth, 2.23) and save percentage (sixth, .926) and is a huge reason for Florida’s remarkable resurgence this season.

Trending down: Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks -- It’s been a rough stretch for the Sharks goaltender, who has surrendered 13 goals in his past three starts, and in two of them he was chased from his own net. The most recent performance was the Sharks’ embarrassing 7-2 pounding by the St. Louis Blues during which Niemi gave up five goals on 21 shots. Things are starting to look dire in San Jose, and Niemi is at least one of the main culprits.

Surprise of the Week: Niklas Svedberg, Boston Bruins -- Boy, did the Bruins need this win, and Svedberg can take a bow for his stellar effort between the pipes in his 3-0 shutout against the New Jersey Devils. The 25-year-old Swede had to make just 14 saves, but it was a critical performance nonetheless with Boston’s frustration reaching a boiling point earlier this week.