Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd is doing his utmost to get his team into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years.
With his team waging an uphill battle to avoid being the odd team out in the Eastern Conference race, Ladd upped his game in what has already been one of the best stretches of his career. Ladd had a goal and seven assists in Winnipeg's three games last week, helping the Jets go 2-0-1 and stay alive going into their final three games.
Ladd enters the last week of the season riding a seven-game points streak in which he's piled up 14 points, moving him into a tie for 10th in the League scoring race with 46 points -- only four fewer than he managed all last season. He was also plus-4 last week and is plus-10 for the season, his best showing in four years.
Five up -- Five other players who had a good week:
Brad Richards -- Richards had played 895 NHL games before taking the ice for the New York Rangers on Friday night and scoring three goals for the first time in his career. That was the highlight of what might have been Richards' best offensive week in his two seasons in New York -- he had four goals and seven points as the Rangers closed in on a playoff berth.
Logan Couture -- The fourth-year center continues to be a consistent producer for the San Jose Sharks. Couture had three goals and six points for the Sharks last week; two of the goals were game-winners.
Blake Wheeler -- Ladd isn't the only member of the Winnipeg Jets who's been putting up points. Wheeler had back-to-back three-point games against Tampa Bay and Carolina, then added an assist Saturday for a seven-point week.
Mike Ribeiro -- Alex Ovechkin's breakout during the past month has overshadowed the contributions Ribeiro is making to the Washington Capitals' sprint to the top of the Southeast Division. Ribeiro had six points in Washington's four games last week -- and with 47 points, he's eighth in the NHL in points.
Miikka Kiprusoff -- If, as many suspect, Kiprusoff is going to hang up his pads after this season, he gave the home fans at Scotiabank Saddledome something to remember him by. Kiprusoff turned back the clock in the Calgary Flames' final two home games, allowing only three goals on 71 shots to beat the Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Ducks.
Five down -- Five players who struggled:
Shane Doan -- An offensively challenged team like the Phoenix Coyotes can't afford to have one of its few scorers go cold, but that's what's happened with Doan. The Coyotes' captain hasn't had a point in his team's past six games despite averaging nearly 20 minutes of ice time a night.
Jacob Markstrom -- The Florida Panthers' goaltender of the future is having a tough time in the present. Markstrom was the loser in three of Florida's four defeats last week, allowing 11 goals on just 89 shots. His goals-against average rose from 2.93 to 3.26 in seven days.
Pekka Rinne -- Rinne and the Nashville Predators probably can't wait for this season to be over. Rinne went 0-2-1 last week and surrendered 12 goals on 84 shots; overall, he's 0-6-1 in his past seven decisions.
Matthew Lombardi -- The Anaheim Ducks acquired Lombardi from the Phoenix Coyotes at the NHL Trade Deadline in hopes he could provide some offense down the middle. It hasn't happened yet. Lombardi has not had a point since the trade and was a healthy scratch on Tuesday.
Matt Cooke -- The Pittsburgh Penguins have locked up the Eastern Conference title by winning the past six games -- but not because Cooke has been giving them a lot of help. The feisty forward hasn't had a point in the Penguins' eight games this month, and he's minus-5 in April -- including minus-3 during the winning streak.
The week ahead -- We're down to the final week of the regular season that was extended a day because of the Boston Marathon tragedy that led the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators to postpone last Monday's game until April 28. Seven teams have a busy final week with four games; 22 more play three times and the Columbus Blue Jackets are the only team that enters the final week with just two games remaining on its schedule. The Winnipeg Jets become the first team to complete its season when they host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.
Games to watch:
Phoenix at Detroit (April 22; NBCSN/TSN/RDS) -- The loser of this game at Joe Louis Arena may find the road to the Stanley Cup Playoffs closed. If the Detroit Red Wings come up short, it will be the first time since 1990 that they're not part of the postseason.
Boston at Philadelphia and Dallas at San Jose (April 23; NBCSN) -- The NBC Sports Network's East-West doubleheader begins with a visit by the Boston Bruins to the City of Brotherly Love, where they need a victory to stay on top of the Northeast Division (this game can be seen in Canada on TSN). In the nightcap, the Dallas Stars continue their playoff push as the San Jose Sharks try to wrap up a playoff berth.
Los Angeles at Detroit and San Jose at Phoenix (April 24; NBCSN) -- The final Rivalry Night of the season is an all-Western Conference doubleheader. In the opener, the Los Angeles Kings play the second game of a back-to-back when they visit Joe Louis Arena, where the Detroit Red Wings are scrambling for a playoff berth. The Phoenix Coyotes hope they're still in the playoff race when the San Jose Sharks come to the desert for the nightcap.
Anaheim at Vancouver (April 25; NHLN-US) -- The Anaheim Ducks wrap up a four-game trip to Western Canada when they visit the Vancouver Canucks in a battle between two of the three division leaders in the Western Conference.
Calgary at Chicago (April 26; NBCSN/TSN/RDS2) -- The Chicago Blackhawks figure to spend the night being bathed in cheers as they wrap up the home portion of a season that is likely to see them win the Presidents' Trophy.
New Jersey at New York Rangers (April 27; NBC) -- The New Jersey Devils will go home for the summer after their second visit to Madison Square Garden in seven days; the New York Rangers hope they will have clinched a playoff berth by then.
Detroit at Dallas and Los Angeles at San Jose (April 27; NBCSN) -- The first game of the NBC Sports Network's doubleheader could be an elimination game for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference; the second may be a preview of a first-round playoff series -- with the winner possibly locking up the home-ice edge.
Ottawa at Boston (April 28; NBCSN) -- The 720th and final game of the regular season brings the Ottawa Senators to TD Garden for a meeting with the Boston Bruins, who've won five in a row and 13 of 14 against their Northeast Division rival.
Author: John Kreiser | NHL.com Columnist
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