This article is part of our NHL Barometer series.
This week's article includes a pair of veterans centers on fire, the return of the 'Canes captain, a young blueliner showing signs of rebounding, Detroit's sniper possibly lost for the season and one of the Devils' big offseason acquisition scuffling.
First Liners (Risers)
Eric Staal, C, MIN – Minnesota, despite several injuries and underperforming players, is just five points out of a wild-card spot with a pair of games in hand. A big reason for the Wild remaining in playoff contention has been the play of Staal. He ended the pre-All-Star break portion of the schedule with a four-game point streak and is up to 17 goals and 21 helpers in 50 games. Staal is first in games played and points amongst those selected in the amazing 2003 NHL draft.
David Krejci, C, BOS – Injuries have cost Krejci nine games this season, but when on the ice, he has been fairly productive, especially lately. Krejci, Boston's second- or third-line pivotman, has 12 goals and 22 assists in 42 games, with four of those markers and a pair of apples in his last six games. A healthy Krejci lengthens a strong Bruins offense, taking pressure off Patrice Bergeron and the elite first line. He won't match the 73 points he tallied last season, but a strong last two-plus months could result in Krejci landing in the 60-point range.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW, CLM – The All-Star break likely comes at the worst possible time for Bjorkstrand. After missing