Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Streaking-Slumping: Lepisto on the rise
By Jesse Rogers
Patrick Kane continues to excel at center while the usually dependable Dave Bolland struggled.
1. Sami Lepisto, defenseman: He's not a big name but he's worked his way into the lineup and hasn't left. He's plus-4 over the last five games and has been steady enough that he might continue to dress even with the return of Duncan Keith from injury. On Sunday, Vancouver scored five power play goals but Lepisto wasn't on the ice for any despite 1:33 of penalty-killing time. The four other defensemen who killed penalties were all scored on, including Sean O'Donnell, who took one shift shorthanded, spending 35 seconds killing a penalty and the Canucks promptly scored.
2. Patrick Kane, center: He was shut down on Sunday against the Canucks but has been on fire in the middle. Five more helpers over the last four games and a two-goal night mixed in has kept the Hawks afloat as they work through some defensive issues. Kane was the best player for the Hawks in October and has carried it over to the start of the new month.
1. Niklas Hjalmarsson, defenseman: Unlike Lepisto, he was on the ice for nearly every Canucks' goal, including the final four on the power play. He did record his first point of the season Sunday but it came on a fluke goal and doesn't erase his second consecutive slow start to a season. Hjalmarsson hasn't been physical nor has he been in the best position to make plays in his own zone helping the opposition to 17 goals over the last four games.
2. Dave Bolland, center: The usually reliable Bolland simply hasn't been dependable over the last few games. He was minus-3 against Tampa Bay on Friday and the only minus player for the Hawks on Sunday as well as being on the ice for two power play goals against. His defense has been suspect in front of the net, uncharacteristically allowing the opposition time and space. He also has just one point over his last seven games.