- Scott Burnside, NHL
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Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils: It goes without saying this hasn’t been a banner season for the greatest goaltender of all time or the New Jersey Devils, but the Martin Brodeur we’ve seen in the past couple of weeks is certainly more familiar to fans. Brodeur was at it again Thursday night, as he collected his 114th career shutout and his fourth win in his past five starts in a 2-0 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Brodeur turned aside all 23 shots and was especially heroic in the third period, when the Devils were outshot 10-3. The Devils are 4-0-1 over this recent span and playing their best hockey of what has been a lost season.
Darren Helm, Detroit Red Wings: As usual, Detroit has found a way to win despite its injury-depleted roster. Helm has seen his opportunities increase and has taken full advantage. The Winnipeg native has 11 points in his past 11 games, including the overtime winner Thursday night against St. Louis, and has four multi-point games over that period. The Red Wings continue to hang around the top of the Western Conference standings despite of missing key personnel (Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Cleary, Brad Stuart and Chris Osgood).
Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning: After being held scoreless in the Lightning’s 3-2 shootout win versus Atlanta on Thursday, Lecavalier has managed just one goal in his past 11 outings. Lecavalier has eight goals on the season and is on pace for his worst goal production since his rookie season in 1998-99. Lecavalier did miss some time earlier this season with a hand injury, but his struggles highlight the burden being carried by Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. The Lightning continue to hold down top spot in the Southeast Division, but it’s hard to imagine a long playoff run without Lecavalier contributing at a more significant level.
Nikolay Zherdev, Philadelphia Flyers: As the NHL ploughs into the second half of the regular season, you have to figure the Zherdev experiment is pretty much a flop. Maybe it doesn’t matter when you’re as good as the Flyers are? The gifted Russian has scored just once in his past nine games and saw his ice time diminish during Thursday’s 6-2 thrashing of the Ottawa Senators (he ended up playing some on the fourth line). Ostensibly signed to replace veteran Simon Gagne, who is enduring his own struggles in Tampa, Zherdev has 14 goals; but his streaky play makes it difficult to imagine him having much of an impact come playoff time.
Stock UpMartin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils: It goes without saying this hasn’t been a banner season for the greatest goaltender of all time or the New Jersey Devils, but the Martin Brodeur we’ve seen in the past couple of weeks is certainly more familiar to fans.