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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The goals just keep on coming.

    According to Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press, via the National Post, scoring is up by more than 12 percent in the NHL this year. That’s fuelled in part by an influx of skilled players and coaches’ willingness to push the pace offensively. This year’s crackdown on slashing has also helped free up players to create better five-on-five scoring chances and spiked the number of power-play and short-handed goals.

    As Whyno mentions, it’s not unusual to see plenty of goals during the first month of a season, before coaches start digging into tape and refining defensive structures that make it tougher to score. This year, however, the offensive surge is continuing—and some players are getting better as the season rolls along.

    This list looks at the NHL’s current players who have dialled it up over the last few weeks and are most able to sustain it through the rest of the season.

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Here are some noteworthy performances over the last month from players who fell just short of making this list. Some of these players may have a tougher time sustaining their current pace, while others have been terrific all year long (stats cover the period from November 12 to December 11).

    Forwards

  • Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings: 15 GP, 8-10-18
  • Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche: 12 GP, 6-12-18
  • Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues: 13 GP: 11-6-17
  • Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas Golden Knights: 13 GP, 6-10-16

Defense

  • Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings: 15 GP, 2-12-14
  • Colton Parayko, St. Louis Blues: 13 GP, 2-10-12
  • Keith Yandle, Florida Panthers: 13 GP, 1-11-12
  • Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins: 12 GP, 1-10-11

Goal

  • Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators: 11 GP, 8-2-1, .923 save percentage, 2.58 GAA, 1 shutout
  • Jake Allen, St. Louis Blues: 12 GP, 8-2-1, .910 save percentage, 2.46 GAA, 1 shutout
  • Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets: 10 GP, 7-3-0, .938 save percentage, 1.80 GAA, 3 shutouts

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    2017-18 Season Stats: 32 GP, 13-19-32.

    Sidney Crosby is tied for 16th in scoring, averaging a point a game.

    His Recent Surge 

    After starting the season with six points in four games, the Pittsburgh Penguins captain saw his production drop below his usual standards. After a three-game pointless streak that ended November 11, Crosby went 8-11-19 in his subsequent 12 games, leading the league in scoring during that time. The Penguins have gone 7-6-0 over the last month and are staying in the playoff mix in the Metropolitan Division.

         

    Can He Keep It Up? 

    Despite the heavy workload of long postseasons that have earned Stanley Cups over the past two years, Crosby’s recent surge has him back at his usual pace of production.

    Crosby’s best stretch was nine points in four games in late November while teammate Evgeni Malkin was sidelined with an injury. He has continued to score since Malkin returned to the lineup December 1.

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    2017-18 Season Stats: 30 GP, 7-19-26.

    Artemi Panarin is leading the Columbus Blue Jackets in scoring by an eight-point margin.

           

    His Recent Surge 

    After his offseason trade, Panarin didn’t find the same instant chemistry with any of his new teammates in Columbus that he had shown with Patrick Kane in Chicago. An unlikely new top line of rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois and young power forward Josh Anderson with Panarin has clicked in recent weeks. Panarin’s also finding ways to get the puck on the stick of other Blue Jackets scorers.

    Highlighted by a five-assist night against the New Jersey Devils on Friday, Panarin has 10 points in his last five games as the Jackets fend off all comers at the top of the Metropolitan Division.

            

    Can He Keep It Up? 

    Most likely. Panarin’s not working with a scoring machine like Kane in Columbus, but he’s surrounded by plenty of talent—and the Blue Jackets haven’t even gotten their power play on track yet.

    Panarin had 77 and 74 points in his two years in Chicago. Expect him to meet or exceed those numbers by the end of this season and to ramp up his own goal scoring along the way.

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    2017-18 Season Stats: 31 GP, 8-30-38.

    At age 31, Blake Wheeler is on pace to hit the 100-point mark for the first time in his NHL career.

           

    His Recent Surge 

    Though Wheeler did not get on the scoresheet in the Winnipeg Jets’ 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Monday, he has 13 points in the Jets’ last eight games.

          

    Can He Keep It Up? 

    These days, Wheeler is skating alongside Mark Scheifele, who is proving he’s one of the top centers in the NHL. Filling out the Jets’ top line is 21-year-old Kyle Connor, whose 10 goals are tied for fourth among rookies.

    As captain of a Jets team that’s deep in talent and is showing great chemistry this season, Wheeler is set to truly realize the potential that saw him drafted fifth overall in 2004 and earn recognition as one of hockey’s top stars.

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    2017-18 Season Stats: 30 GP, 6-18-24.

    Nick Leddy is tied with Drew Doughty and Kris Letang for second in scoring by defensemen.

           

    His Recent Surge 

    In his last 12 games, Leddy has 12 points, including three goals. He’s on track for 16 goals and 65 points, which would easily crush his previous personal records of 11 goals and 46 points from last season.

          

    Can He Keep It Up? 

    Leddy has been in the NHL since 2010 and has already logged 528 career games, but he doesn’t turn 27 until March 20. His offensive numbers have continued to improve as he has settled in at just over 22 minutes of ice time per game on a New York Islanders team that looks like a serious threat in the Metro this season under coach Doug Weight.

    A great skater with an impressive point shot, expect to see Leddy’s name in the Norris Trophy conversation as voting nears at the end of the season.

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    Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images

    2017-18 Season Stats: 29 GP, 4-14-18.

    After leading all defensemen with 29 goals last season and winning the Norris Trophy, Brent Burns didn’t score for the first time this season until his 21st game of the year on November 24.

           

    His Recent Surge 

    Burns snapped an eight-game pointless drought with an assist on November 22, kicking off a 10-game stretch that has seen him collect 11 points. Burns has been especially productive in his last three games, taking 22 shots while picking up three goals and three assists.

    Even with that, his shooting percentage is still a measly 3.3 percent—less than half of his career average of 6.9 and miles below last year’s 9.1.

          

    Can He Keep It Up? 

    Coming off his Norris win and starting a big-bucks eight-year contract extension that pays him an average of $8 million per season, Burns may have started squeezing his stick when he failed to light the lamp in his first few games of the year. 

    His recent production is much more typical—and the Sharks are getting back in the winning habit after a subpar start. Burns’ recent surge has him seven points behind blue-line scoring leader John Klingberg. That gap should continue to shrink over the next few weeks.

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    Matt Kincaid/Getty Images

    2017-18 Season Stats: 26 GP, 17-8-1, 2.67 GAA, .922 save percentage, three shutouts.

    No NHL goaltender has played more minutes or seen more rubber than Frederik Andersen this season.

            

    His Recent Surge 

    Though he gave up 19 goals in his first five games this season, Andersen has more recently been trending in the right direction. He’s 4-1-0 in his last five starts and has allowed just 11 goals during that span.

    Andersen was also named the NHL’s second star for the month of November thanks to a 9-2-1 record.

          

    Can He Keep It Up? 

    Andersen could use a little help from the team in front of him if he hopes to sustain this hot streak and help keep the Leafs in second place in the Eastern Conference.

    Toronto is allowing 34.3 shots per game. third-highest in the league, so it’s largely thanks to Andersen that their goals against is in the top 10 at 2.80 per game—and dropping.

    Curtis McElhinney’s shutout against the Edmonton Oilers last Sunday was encouraging. Andersen’s doing his bit, but the Leafs need to get him more nights off—and a few more opportunities to breathe when he is on the ice.

            

    All stats from NHL.com, current through games Monday, December 11.



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