News: Justin Williams stayed hot Wednesday against the Wild, finding the net on one of his two shots on goal. Analysis: After producing a mere four points over his first 16 games, Justin Williams has since cobbled together a six-game point streak, during which he's provided three goals and four assists. The surge in production has allowed him to keep pace with last season's 43-point showing (19 goals, 24 assists), which figures to be close to the ceiling for his scoring again.
News: Mike Richards tallied his first game-winning goal of the season in Wednesday's victory over the Wild. Analysis: Mike Richards only has a modest four goals in 23 games on the season, but even that level of production might be a little unsustainable. He's currently sitting on a 15.4 shooting percentage for the season, over four points above his career mark. The former 80-point scorer has seen his production essentially get cut in half since joining Los Angeles three seasons ago, and his point totals may only dip further in 2014-15.
News: Alex Goligoski (illness) was back at practice Thursday, NHL.com's Mark Stepneski reports. Analysis: As anticipated, the illness only kept Alex Goligoski out for one day of practice. He looks like a pretty safe bet to play Friday against the Wild.
News: David Warsofsky (groin) skated prior to Thursday's practice. Analysis: While both David Warsofsky and Zdeno Chara (ankle) worked out on their own rather than with the team's healthy skaters, their presence on the ice could allow them to join the rest of the team for practice perhaps at some point next week. Warsofsky is about at the midway point of the two-to-four week recovery timetable he was given back on Nov. 9.
News: Antti Niemi allowed one goal on 18 shots in Wednesday's 2-0 loss to the visiting Flames. The second goal was an empty netter. Analysis: That's four straight losses for the Finnish netminder, although this one can be chalked up to a lack of goal support from the Sharks offense. Despite traditionally being a workhorse who usually piles up his fair share of wins, Antti Niemi is just 7-7-3 on the season with a .917 save percentage and 2.49 GAA, making him one of the weaker options among the league's number one netminders.
News: Liam O'Brien (lower body) surprisingly returned to action Wednesday versus the Islanders, delivering three hits and one shot attempt over his 6:42 of ice time. Analysis: It seemed implied during morning skate that Liam O'Brien would sit out after he worked as extra during line rushes, but coach Barry Trotz evidently felt he was ready to go. The fourth liner missed the Caps' previous five games while dealing with the lower-body injury.
News: Jiri Hudler scored the game's both goals in Wednesday's 2-0 road win over the Sharks. Analysis: Jiri Hudler is sizzling, as the goals were his fifth and sixth points in the last five games. He's now quietly posted 20 points -- split equally between assists and goals (10 each) -- in 23 games this season.
News: Karri Ramo turned aside all 32 shots in a 2-0 blanking on the Sharks on Wednesday. Analysis: Karri Ramo weathered a constant storm of shots and together with Jiri Hudler's two goals led the Flames to victory at the Shark Tank. He's now 5-2-1 on the year with a .911 save percentage and 2.54 GAA and has been a dependable option when called upon in relief of Jonas Hiller.
News: Patrick Kane chipped in three assists in Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Avalanche. Analysis: Patrick Kane continued to tear it up in this one, factoring into all of Chicago's goals and bringing his recent hot streak to 11 points over the last six games. Owners who were frustrated with Kane's lack of production early in the season have been rewarded for their patience of late, as No. 88 appears to be firing on all cylinders with linemates Kris Versteeg and Brad Richards.
News: Darren Helm collected two helpers in Wednesday's victory over the Flyers. Analysis: The all-center line of Darren Helm, Pavel Datsyuk and Stephen Weiss powered the Detroit offense Wednesday, as all three players gathered at least two points. Those accomplishments should be enough for coach Mike Babcock to keep that trio together for at least one more game, which could prove quite fruitful for Helm. He's bounced back from a season marred by injury to produce two goals and eight assists over 22 games.