Hot and Not: Zuccarello and Kane trending up, Ovechkin and Miller down

Here are the players who have been hottest and coldest over the past week.


Stepping up

Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers: If the Rangers were concerned at the start of the season about whether Zuccarello would be able to bounce back from a serious head injury suffered in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring, he proving that he’s healthy and ready to be highly productive.

The high-flying Norwegian has nine goals and nine assists in 18 games this season. Last week, he produced a pair of three-point games as the Rangers extended their winning streak to nine games. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said this about Zuccarello’s success after Sunday’s 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs: “We’ve gotten some great goaltending so far since the beginning of the season, but there’s no doubt that he’s our top scorer right now. There’s no doubt that he’s been playing real well and his enthusiasm is contagious.”

Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils: The goaltender improved to 9-4-1 overall with a pair of wins in three starts last week. During a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, Schneider made 27 saves. Then he followed it up with a 21-save performance en route to a 4-0 shutout win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. It was his first shutout of the season. After starting the season 0-3-1, the Devils have won 10 of the past 13 games, and goaltending has been key for New Jersey.

James Reimer, Toronto Maple Leafs: The Leafs enjoyed their best week of the season and produced a three-game winning streak. Reimer, who started seven consecutive games (4-1-2), was in net for all three wins last week, against the Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks. Reimer made 43 saves during Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Canucks.

A step off

Jonathan Bernier, Toronto Maple Leafs: During Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Rangers, Toronto’s goaltender allowed a goal on a shot from center ice that slipped through his legs. It was just another indication how bad this season is going for Bernier, who drops to 0-7-1. He made 26 saves in the loss, which was his first game since Oct. 31. He has missed four games this season with a lower-body injury, but his lack of confidence is evident.

Mike Condon, Montreal Canadiens: One tough game doesn’t qualify as struggling, but the rookie goalie suffered his first regulation loss in nine games this season when he allowed four goals on 11 shots during Saturday’s 6-1 loss to the Avalanche. Condon, who has started seven consecutive games with Carey Price sidelined with a lower-body injury, was replaced by backup Dustin Tokarski to start the third period. If Condon’s adrenaline tank is running low, Price’s return would help fill it.

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals: Since tying Hall of Famer Sergei Fedorov for most goals by a Russian-born player in NHL history (483) on Nov. 7, Ovechkin did not score a goal in three games last week. Maybe he’s pressing a bit to break the record, but he will reach that milestone soon enough.


Stepping up

Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks: Kane is playing some motivated hockey these days. He’s on a 13-game point streak (one shy of his career best) with 10 goals and 12 assists. He’s also produced a career-high seven-game goal streak. Kane leads the league with 13 goals and 15 assists for 28 points in 18 games. He scored what proved to be the winning goal with 1:05 remaining in the second period of Saturday’s 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues. His current point streak is the longest in the NHL this season. He set his previous 14-game point streak from Nov. 30-Dec. 28, 2013, when he registered eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points.

Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche: MacKinnon scored a pair of goals in a 13-second span to help the Avalanche to a 6-1 victory over the Canadiens on Saturday night at Bell Centre, and he added an assist in the win. In fact, his line with Duchene and Mikhail Grigorenko combined for nine points against the Canadiens. Since reports surfaced that Duchene could be on the trading block, he has four goals and four assists in the past three games.

Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks: Also responding to possible trade rumors, the veteran forward scored at 2:59 of overtime to give the Sharks a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. It was his franchise-best ninth career overtime goal. He’s two points shy of becoming the first player in Sharks history to reach 1,000 points. He currently has 461 goals and 537 assists in his career.

Stepping down

Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets: The goaltending tandem of Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson was supposed to be a strength for the Jets. Pavelec has been in net for three consecutive losses and a no-decision in the last four games. He has allowed 14 goals in that span and has been pulled twice.

Drew Stafford, Winnipeg Jets: The team is on a four-game losing skid, and the veteran forward has not registered a point in the past 10 games. His last point came on Oct. 25, when he scored two goals against the Minnesota Wild. He’s been logging nearly 18 minutes of ice time per game, and during this drought he has recorded 20 shots.

Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks: The veteran goalie has not posted a win in a span of five games since beating the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 2. He suffered back-to-back losses to the Ottawa Senators and Maple Leafs last week. Overall, he’s 5-6-5 with a 2.48 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage in 16 games.