Jay Kopinski/Icon SMI)
Erik Karlsson, D, Ottawa Senators: There’s not much else to say about Erik Karlsson that hasn’t already been said. He made the NHL aware of his offensive ability last season, scoring 45 points in 75 games. But this season, Karlsson has been lethal offensively, and a minute-eating defenseman for the Senators. He’s averaged a point-per-game, scoring 16 goals and 51 assists for 67 points in 67 games. He also averages 25 minutes a night, which puts him among the top-10 for minutes by an NHL defenseman. Karlsson is a restricted free-agent this summer.
David Desharnais, C, Montreal Canadiens: The 25-year-old Desharnais, who was playing in the ECHL just a few seasons ago, has turned into quite the free-agent signing by the Montreal Canadiens. The forward is tied for the team lead in points with 51 in 67 games, with Desharnais surpassing every expectation placed on him since he signed with the club in 2008. He’s a key piece on the Canadiens top line, where he is flanked by power-forwards Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole. As a 5’7 forward, he’s made a name for himself with the Canadiens in only his second season.
Tyler Seguin, C, Boson Bruins: Tyler Seguin didn’t rack up high offensive numbers straight out of the gate in his rookie season, but he’s starting to hit his stride in 2011-12. As a rookie, Seguin scored 11 goals and 11 assists in 74 games. He gained valuable experience as the Bruins went on win the Stanley Cup, and he’s channelled that into a productive second season. The former second overall selection is tied for the team lead in points this year with 54 and, thanks to a two-goal performance against the Maple Leafs, he’s the team leader in goals with 24. He’s also the team leader in +/- with a +35 rating, and is versatile in his ability to play both the wing and center. The 20-year-old is on pace for 30 goals and 67 points and is starting to develop at an accelerated pace for the Bruins.
Honorable Mention: Joffrey Lupul, LW, Toronto Maple Leafs; Max Pacioretty, LW, Montreal Canadiens
Jay Kopinski/Icon SMI)
Northeast Division Notes
Buffalo Sabres: Jason Pominville snapped a six game pointless streak, scoring the OT winner and adding an assist in Buffalo’s 3-2 OT victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Pominville’s two point performance pushed him past the 60-point mark on the season. Defenseman Andrej Sekera was a scratch due to the flu. Forward Cody Hodgson and defenseman Alexander Sulzer made their home debuts with the Sabres on Wednesday night.
Boston Bruins: Goaltender Marty Turco cleared waivers on Wednesday and can now play for the Bruins. He is not eligible to play in the post-season as the club signed him after the NHL trade deadline. Turco will wear #1 for the Bruins. On Wednesday, the Bruins recalled forward Max Sauve on an emergency basis from Providence (AHL) and sent goaltender Michael Hutchinson down to the AHL club.
Montreal Canadiens: Both Scott Gomez and Aaron Palushaj will return to the Canadiens lineup tonight. Both were sidelined recently with eye injuries. As a result, rookie forwards Louis LeBlanc and Andreas Engqvist have been re-assigned to Hamilton (AHL). The Canadiens signed forward prospect Patrick Holland on Wednesday. Holland was acquired in the Rene Bourque deal. He has 101 points in 66 games this season with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL.
Ottawa Senators: Ben Bishop will make his second start as a Senator tonight vs. the New York Rangers. Jason Spezza and Karlsson were both absent from practise yesterday (maintenance day), but are in the lineup tonight for the Senators. Chris Phillips has a broken nose and isn’t expected to play tonight with Matt Carkner likely to slide into the lineup in Phillips’ place. Jim O’Brien is battling an upper-body injury.
Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs playoff hopes took a big hit yesterday when the club announced Joffrey Lupul would be out 3-4 weeks with a separated shoulder. Forward Colby Armstrong is day-to-day with a broken nose. Added to the infirmary in Wednesday night’s contest was Mike Brown (leg) and Cody Franson (eye). Carter Ashton was re-called on an emergency basis and played in his first NHL game on Wednesday. Dion Phaneuf scored his 40th point of the season on Tuesday. It’s the fifth time in his six year career that he’s eclipsed the 40-point mark.