With less than a month remaining in the regular season, the playoff structure has yet to take shape. Some teams are shifting positions within the field, while others find themselves in and out of the postseason picture depending on the day.
The best players normally hit their stride at this point of the season, and that was the case last week for some of those teams in the hunt.
A step up
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning: With a pair of goals in a 4-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday, Stamkos reached the 30-goal mark for the fifth time in his eight seasons. The win helped Tampa Bay snap a three-game losing skid. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, only two other players -- Martin St. Louis (six) and Vincent Lecavalier (five) -- have recorded as many 30-goal seasons for the Lightning.
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres: The rookie scored two goals, including the game winner with one second remaining in overtime, to help the Sabres to a 3-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes. It was Eichel's 22nd goal, and he has 48 points in 70 games.
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins: He has four goals and nine assists in his current eight-game points streak. Since Dec. 18, he has 23 goals and 27 assists in 37 games. With the recent news that teammate Evgeni Malkin will be sidelined six to eight weeks with an upper-body injury, Crosby will need to stay consistent if the Penguins are to remain in the playoff structure. However, Pittsburgh is 70-46-11 all time without Malkin in the lineup.
Jussi Jokinen, Florida Panthers: The forward extended his points streak to 10 games, with two goals and 10 assists in that span. It matches a career high set Jan. 28 to March 2, 2010, when he was playing for the Hurricanes.
Zack Smith, Ottawa Senators: Smith extended his points streak to a career-high eight games (six goals, three assists), including goals in five straight games. He is the first Senator to score a goal in five straight games since Jason Spezza scored in eight consecutive games in 2009-10.
A step back
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators: The team captain has just one goal and one assist in the past six games, his longest drought of the season.
A step up
Jason Spezza, Dallas Stars: Spezza extended his goals streak to six games, with seven goals and one assist in that span. It matches a career high set Jan. 23 to Feb. 4, 2010, while playing for the Senators.
Milan Lucic, Los Angeles Kings: Lucic has two goals and five assists during his current five-game points streak.
A step back