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    Notes on Phil Kessel, Nazek Kadri, Nathan MacKinnon, Thomas Vanek, Raphael Diaz and more in Scott Cullens latest blog. Authentic Sheldon Rempal Jersey . 1. While the Toronto Maple Leafs were on on a nice run, 9-1-1 in their previous 11 games, prior to Tuesdays 4-1 loss in Florida and a couple of their most skilled forwards have been at the forefront of the Maple Leafs charge. In the past 13 games, during which he has recorded points in 11, Kessel has 10 goals and 13 assists. He ranks second in the league with 30 goals and fifth with 61 points. The thing about Kessels hot streak is that hes not even generating as many shots as he typically does -- 3.39 per game over the past dozen, 3.79 per game for the season -- so hes on a pretty good run with percentages, and currently has the second-best shooting percentage (13.6%) of his career. While those percentages may be higher than normal, its hardly unusual for Kessel to score goals. Since the start of the 2008-2009 season, he ranks fifth in the NHL in goals, behind Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry and Patrick Marleau. Also, not surprisingly, Kessel isnt the only Leafs forward on fire. Nazem Kadri has tallied four goals and 11 assists in the past 10 games, doing good work primarily with Joffrey Lupul and Nikolai Kulemin on the Leafs second line. This run has left Kadri with 41 points in 54 games, which is, incidentally, right around the pace of the points projection I had for him in the preseason, when I forecasted 58 points in 76 games. It also turns out that, on a team with disastrous puck possession numbers, Kessel and Kadri have been two of the best at driving play towards the offensive zone. This is relative, of course, but it turns out that the Leafs skilled forwards are the ones leading the way. 2. Predators D Shea Weber has gone on a scoring binge, putting up eight goals and 17 assists in the past 26 games. Percentages are working in Webers favour, as he is scoring on a career-high 11.3% of his shots, while his 2.46 shots per game is his lowest rate since 2006-2007, but Weber leads defencemen with 15 goals and is tied for fifth among blueliners with 38 points. Webers 0.70 points per game is a career-best. Considering that Weber does this while facing the oppositions best lines, night after night, hes forcing his way into Norris Trophy consideration again. 3. Januarys Rookie of the Month was Tampa Bay Lightning LW Ondrej Palat, who scored 16 points (5 G, 11 A) in 15 games in January. Palat was a seventh-round pick in 2011, after scoring 96 points in 61 games with Drummondville of the QMJHL as a 19-year-old. Its pretty serious draft value to secure a player who can play top-six forward minutes two seasons later. Following his impressive January, Palat played a career-high 23:00 against Montreal on February 1. Palat and fellow rookie C Tyler Johnson have been thriving on a line with veteran RW Martin St. Louis, a situation that figures to change soon when Steven Stamkos returns to the lineup, and Palat has been benefitting from strong percentages at both ends of the rink, but even if his role changes, Palat has established that he can be a contributing part of the Tampa Bay attack. 4. Palat may have been the rookie of the month, but the current frontrunner for Rookie of the Year sure appears to be Avalanche C Nathan MacKinnon, the first overall pick in last summers draft. MacKinnon was eased into the NHL, playing 14:33 per game in October, scoring a goal and seven points in 11 games, but hes been up over 17 minutes per game since, tallying 19 goals and 16 assists in 45 games since the beginning of November. MacKinnons possession numbers still have room to improve, but hes 18-year-old and already emerging as an offensive force. 5. The top scorer for the past two seasons with the Florida Panthers, LW Tomas Fleischmann has fallen on hard time this year. Hes gone 20 games without a goal, registering just five assists since he last lit the lamp on December 17. Fleischmann has been shuffled around the lineup, playing at times with C Nick Bjugstad and one of Jonathan Huberdeau and Scottie Upshall on the wing, though Fleischmann has most recently found himself skating with Marcel Goc and Tomas Kopecky, not exactly recipe to get his offensive game back. At 29-years-old and under contract throught next season, at $4.5-million, Fleischmann might be better in a new location, but its not easy to get a team to take on that salary for a player with five goals in 54 games, even when hes scoring on a career-low 3.8% of his shots. 6. Canadiens C Lars Eller got off to a strong start this season, scoring nine points in the first dozen games, putting to rest any fears of lingering effects after suffering a concussion in last years playoffs, but hes been crashing since. Eller has 12 points (5 G, 7 A) in 45 games since and his ice time has steadily decreased. Ellers assist against Calgary Tuesday ended a 15-game scoreless drought, and he played 12:04, his second-lowest ice time of the season. 7. The Los Angeles Kings are having an incredibly difficult time scoring goals, yet made the decision to demote winger Tyler Toffoli to the AHL, even though he was the teams top point producer per minute of play at even strength. But, necessity being the mother of invention, Toffoli has since been recalled and has found his way to the top line with Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter. Toffoli had two points against Chicago Monday, and Saturday he had a season-high six shots on goal while playing 18:42, his most since opening night. Its one thing for a contender to want a young player to round out his game or play more soundly, but Toffoli has strong possession stats, strong enough that the Kings need to see whether he can be part of the solution to their goal-scoring woes. 8. Last season, Blues RW Chris Stewart was his teams leading scorer, with 36 points in 48 games. This year, hes playing 14:37 per game, his lowest since his rookie season, and finding his name in trade rumours. The Blues have terrific depth and the emergence of younger scorers Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko could make it easier to part with a player who, even with relatively poor possession stats this season, ranks 35th with 104 goals scored since 2009-2010. 9. Islanders LW Thomas Vanek has made it clear that he intends to test the free agent market on July 1, which assures that he will be traded before the deadline, potentially even before the Olympic Break if the right deal comes along. Any team could use a scoring winger with Vaneks credentials, but his salary could complicate matters somewhat for teams that are pushing up against the salary cap. Dealing for Vanek is complicated because he intends to test the free agent market July 1, which is entirely fine, but there has long been suspicion that his preferred destination could be Minnesota, which could make him nothing more than a rental (which is also fine) for whichever team acquires him this season. While the Islanders might want a lot, having surrendered Matt Moulson a first and second-round pick to get Vanek, it may be a lot to expect three assets of similar value for the last quarter of the season plus playoffs. Here are some teams that might be able to provide a package that will suit the Islanders as they attempt to replenish the franchises talent base. Pittsburgh - With all due respect to Brian Gibbons or, potentially, a healthy Beau Bennett, the Penguins could use a top-tier winger to play with Sidney Crosby. The Penguins have some prospect depth on the blueline, with D Simon Despres, D Derrick Pouliot, RW Jayson Megna some potentially moveable parts. The bigger challenge for Pittsburgh could be finding a way to fit Vanek under the salary cap. Los Angeles - If any team needs scoring help, the Kings would fit and putting Vanek on the wing with Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter would be interesting. Presuming that the Kings wouldnt be inclined to move Toffoli for a rental, then prospects like Linden Vey, Tanner Pearson and Derek Forbort could be part of the package. Anaheim - The Ducks have had plenty of success as is, but Vanek would be an upgrade to the left wing spot on the number one line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, a spot that has seen Dustin Penner, Patrick Maroon, Kyle Palmieri, Matt Beleskey and Jakob Silfverberg rotate through this season. The Ducks have plenty of prospects, including some of the aforementioned young forwards along wiht C Rickard Rakell, RW Emerson Etem and LW Devante Smith-Pelly, a couple of which could form the nucleus for a Vanek deal. Minnesota - There is some presumption that the Wild would be Vaneks eventual landing spot, the question is whether or not the Wild would be prepared to offer prospects to acquire Vanek now when they might have the inside track to get him on July 1. It would also be easier to make that move once winger Dany Heatleys $7.5-million comes off the cap. Montreal - Goal-scoring, and general puck possession, has been an issue for the Canadiens and there would certainly be room to include Vanek on Montreals top line. Some combination of picks and prospects including forwards Sven Andrighetto, Tim Bozon, Mike McCarron, Louis LeBlanc and Christian Thomas could get discussions started. Ottawa - There has been plenty of talk of the Senators adding scoring help for Jason Spezza, and while they dont appear to be inclined to add salary, maybe taking a rental like Vanek (or Matt Moulson or Mike Cammalleri) would be feasible. The Senators have all sorts of options, from relatively inexperienced NHLers like Colin Greening and Patrick Wiercioch, to wing prospects Shane Prince, Matt Puempel and Andre Petersson. 10. The Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks made a deal this week, with the Canadiens sending D Raphael Diaz to the Canucks for fourth-line LW Dale Wiese. While Diaz isnt a dominant defender, hes a capable puck-mover who has averaged nearly 20 minutes per game in 129 career NHL games (he played 25:26 in his Canucks debut at Boston). With the Canucks missing Kevin Bieksa, Chris Tanev and Dan Hamhuis due to injuries, Diaz fills an immediate hole but, long-term, can be a useful third-pair defenceman who can play the power play. Hell be an unrestricted free agent at seasons end. Weise is a fourth-line winger who will be a restricted free agent in the summer. He has 26 points and 185 penalty minutes in 163 career games and has been consistently beaten in terms of puck possession. Basically, hes a fourth-line forward who is as replaceable as most other fourth line forwards. FIRST NHL GAMES Greg McKegg, C, Toronto - A third-round pick in 2010, McKegg had started to pick up offensively, scoring 16 points in 15 games prior to his call-up, but he only saw 4:$3 in his NHL debut before getting returned to the AHL. Simon Moser, C, Nashville - 24-year-old Swiss forward had 25 points in 40 AHL games and played more than 10 minutes, alongside Colin Wilson and Taylor Beck, in his NHL debut. Colton Sissons, C, Nashville - A second-round pick in 2012, Sissons had 16 goals and 28 points in 42 AHL games to earn his promotion, and has spent most of his first three games skating with Paul Gaustad and Rich Clune, contributing one assist while playing under nine minutes a game. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. Los Angeles Kings Shop Free Shipping . On Thursday theyll learn even more. Despite the cloud of uncertainty that has followed them around from the moment general manager Masai Ujiri was brought in to put his stamp on the franchise, the Raptors have surpassed all pre-season expectations. Los Angeles Kings Jerseys China .com) - Damian Lillard poured in 40 points on 11-of-21 shooting to go along with 11 assists, and the Portland Trail Blazers stunned the Oklahoma City Thunder, 115-111, in overtime on Tuesday.VANCOUVER -- The B.C. Lions believe they are a better football team than their 6-4 record indicates. The Lions realize a win against the Montreal Alouettes Sunday at BC Place Stadium would help give some credence to that belief. But the players also know the road to proving themselves isnt going to get any easier as the CFL season progresses. "We can talk until were blue in the face but at the end of the day we know that numbers are the only thing that dont lie," defensive end Keron Williams said Saturday after B.C. held a light practice. "We cant keep going up and down the slope. We have to stay on an even keel ... to get on top of that mountain. Its not going to happen with us wavering and teetering." The Lions, who were beaten 37-29 by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last weekend, have lost two of their last three games. In their last meeting against Montreal on Aug. 22, the Lions blew a 27-1 half-time lead and lost 39-38. Nickleback Korey Banks said the Lions have been their own worst enemy. "Everything that possibly could go wrong went wrong," said Banks, who was involved in a fight with teammate Khreem Smith during practise this week. "Our quarterback is getting hit. Were messing up on every phase of the game at certain parts of the game. We havent played a full game yet." Coach Mike Benevides said his team must "find a level of consistency." "Now that we are in the second half of the season, we really need to assert ourselves as to who we are and what we want to be," said Benevides. Football players like to say their next game is the most important of the season. This week its more than a cliche for the Lions. Only two of B.C.s wins this year have come against teams with winning records. The Lions are third in the West behind the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders. Heading down the stretch the Lions play Saskatchewan three times and Calgary twice. "This is the biggest game of the season," said veteran halfback Ryan Phillips. "Im not saying that because its the next one. Im saying that because of the scenario that we are in. "We are behind two teams. These next games are important before we go into that stretch run against those two teams. Its very important for us to take care of the next few games. That way we are on the right track and go into that stretch with confidence. One player anxious to make a contribution is tailback Andrew Harris. After rushing for 1,112 yards last year, Harris has seen his production drop recently. He had just five carries for 10 yards in the loss against Hamilton. Los Angeles Kings Outlet Store. In his last four games Harris has carried the ball 35 times for 123 yards and no touchdowns. "The last four games have been the worst of my career as far as numbers," said Harris, who has rushed for 582 yards on 118 carries this season. "Its frustrating. "You want to bounce back and make an impact. Thats something I havent done the last couple of games." One reason Harris isnt seeing the ball as much is hes been asked to block for quarterback Travis Lulay. Defences have been exposing weaknesses in the B.C. offensive scheme, resulting in the Lions giving up 26 sacks this year compared to 30 all last season. "We have stuff in place to counteract that stuff," said Lulay. "Its going to be a matter of recognition and execution early in the game. "Its a group effort in beating that stuff." Montreal (4-7) is coming off a tough 37-30 loss to Toronto last week but still can climb into a second-place tie with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats with a win over the Lions. "I expect a very tough ball game," said Jim Popp, Montreals coach and general manager. "Both teams are better than their records and both teams are still trying to find themselves." With quarterback Anthony Calvillo still sidelined with a concussion, Tanner Marsh will make his third CFL start. Marsh had a Cinderella performance when he threw for 329 yards after coming on in relief in the comeback win over B.C. Against Toronto last week, the clock struck midnight when he was intercepted three times. "They (Toronto) took us out of things that worked the last time, like the run game," said Popp. "We still made some big plays, just not consistently. Were still working on that. Theres still too many turnovers." Marsh took the Lions by surprise the first time the teams met. Phillips said that element of surprised is gone. "When you have film on people you get a better indication of what makes them successful and it gives us opportunities to make big plays on defence," said Phillips, who is tied with Banks for the lead among active CFL players with 37 interceptions. "You can play toward some peoples tendencies and things like that. You get a better read now that they are trying to do things and things they are comfortable doing." Montreal has chosen a tough place to try to avoid going 4-7 for the first time since they re-entered the league in 1996. 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