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Ice Chips: Week 26

March 30, 2007 | By Mike Chen | comment on this post
Pittsburgh Penguins left winger Evgeni Malkin looks like a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year.
If Evgeni Malkin, background, isn’t the Rookie of the Year, there should be an inquest.

With one week left, let’s do a little prognosticating for some of the final statistics:

Art Ross Trophy

Sidney Crosby: 37 goals, 87 assists = 124 points

Rocket Richard Trophy

Vincent Lecavalier: 53 goals

Calder Trophy (I know it’s not based on stats, but come on)

Evgeni Malkin: 37 goals, 53 assists = 90 points

There’s just a handful of games left, but Dany Heatley still has a shot at 50 goals. Facing Martin Brodeur won’t help things, but a Rick DiPietro-less Islanders squad and a hapless Bruins team just might.

Speaking of DiPietro, the does he/doesn’t he saga has concluded and with it, so too has a big chunk of the Islanders hopes. DiPietro does appear to have post-concussion symptoms and that means that journeyman Mike Dunham takes over the reins for the final week of play. Remember when everything seemed so rosy on Long Island after the Ryan Smyth acquisition?

Just in time for the playoff push, Cristobal Huet could return Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres. If he’s healthy and his hamstring feels good, expect Huet to push the rest of the way.

The highly-touted Jack Johnson debuted for the LA Kings. Johnson’s first game was solid but unspectacular — almost 19 minutes of ice time, one shot on goal, and a -1. However, the key for Johnson is getting him game experience. Look for him to be on the fantasy radar come next season.

Staying in LA, does anyone outside of Southern California know that Michael Cammalleri is close to a point per game? Keep him on your sleeper list for next year’s draft.

It looks like any hopes of Tim Connolly seeing any ice time this season are all but dashed. Fantasy owners that kept him on injured reserve, we salute your patience.

Martin Biron signed a nice fat contract to stay in Philadelphia. With dollars committed to Biron, the future is uncertain for Antero Niittymaki, though you never know just how the goaltending situation in Philly will turn out.

Here’s a quick look at the players who underperformed this season so far: Eric Staal with just 66 points in 77 games; Brad Richards with just 69 points in 77 games; Simon Gagne with 60 points in 70 games; Rick Nash with 54 points in 70 games; and Jonathan Cheechoo who will drop from 56 goals to about 35.

Who’s the best young defenseman in the NHL? The talk of the hockey world is now Pittsburgh’s Ryan Whitney with 56 points in 78 games. As the entire Penguins team matures, look for Whitney’s point total to go up even further.

The Week Ahead

Here’s your playoff-critical games of the week:

For the teams jockeying out west, watch out for Stars-Red Wings (Friday), Stars-Predators (Saturday) and Sharks-Ducks (Wednesday).

The Colorado Avalanche still have a slim hope of making the playoffs. They’ll have to take the game against Calgary (Tuesday) and hope there’s still a chance when they play the Flames again for the season finale.

There’s still a logjam at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Keep an eye on Lightning-Hurricanes (Friday, Tuesday), Rangers-Islanders (Tuesday) and Canadiens-Rangers (Thursday).

Will the Stanley Cup Champions miss out on the playoffs? The ‘Canes will try to run the table against Tampa (twice) and Florida.

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