Sponsored by The U.S. Marines
By Dave Doyle
Erik Karlsson, D, Ottawa Senators — The Senators are on a roll and for that they can thank their 21-year-old offensive defenseman from Sweden. Karlsson had a red-hot week from Feb. 20-26, leading all NHL scorers with eight assists and 12 points. Then for an encore on Feb. 28, he had the only goal in the Senators’ 1-0 road win over the Boston Bruins, which lifted Ottawa to fifth in the East Conference and one point behind in the Bruins in the Northeast Division.
In the interim, Karlsson potted two goals in a 6-0 win over the New York Islanders, had a goal and an assist in a victory over the Washington Capitals, and repeated those numbers in a home loss to Boston. With 66 points, he’s already set the franchise single-season mark for points by a defenseman.
Ray Whitney, LW, Phoenix Coyotes — The Coyotes just completed the hottest month in their history, and it’s in large part because of the veteran leadership of a man who will turn 40 during the playoff season.
Whitney had the game-tying goal in the third period of the Coyotes’ 3-2 shootout win over the Western Conference-leading Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 28. This was on the heels of potting the game-winner in a 3-1 victory at Edmonton on Feb. 25. With six points in his past five games, Whitney helped key a tremendous February in which the Coyotes went 11-0-1 and surged to the top of the Pacific Division.
Kari Lehtonen, G, Dallas Stars — The Stars are getting their act together at the right time, as they head toward the final full month of the season on a four-game win streak that put them into the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
That’s been in large part due to the play of Lehtonen. The seventh-year pro from Helsinki was at his best in late February with wins in three of the Stars’ four wins. He stopped all 31 shots the hapless Montreal Canadiens could muster on Feb. 21; stopped 28 of 29 in a 4-1, Feb. 24 victory over a Minnesota Wild team that was coming off back-to-back wins over the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers; and finished the run two nights later with 24 more saves in an overtime win over Western Conference-leading Vancouver Canucks.