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John Kreiser | columnist
Jan 29, 2007, 10:05 AM EST

The St. Louis Blues are among the NHL's best teams over the past six weeks, and Manny Legace is one of the big reasons why.

Following a stunning first-round loss to Edmonton last spring, the Detroit Red Wings opted not to re-sign Legace despite a 37-8-3 record and 2.19 goals-against average. He wound up signing with St. Louis, the NHL's worst team last season.

Neither Legace nor his team got off to a good start. He went 5-10-3 in the first 10 weeks of the season as the Blues sank to the basement of the Central Division, getting coach Mike Kitchen fired in the process.

But new coach Andy Murray has sparked a revival in St. Louis, and Legace is a big reason for the improvement. Since back-to-back overtime losses to Nashville on Dec. 16 and 17, Legace is 11-2-2 in his last 15 appearances with a 1.96 goals-against average and three shutouts. Legace is 4-0-1 in his last five appearances and has stopped 93 of the last 95 shots he's faced - including 28 of 29 in a 2-1 victory over his old team Friday night, the second time he's beaten then this season. Not coincidentally, the Blues have gotten back into the playoff race in the Western Conference.

Five Up: Our top five fantasy players of the week:

Mark Recchi: Recchi finished up before the All-Star break by scoring three times in the Pittsburgh Penguins' 8-2 win over Toronto. He picked up right where he left off by scoring twice, including his 500th career goal, in a 4-3 win in Dallas Friday, then added another goal and three assists the next night in a 7-2 blowout victory in Phoenix. He's 7-6-13 in his last six games.

Ryan Smyth: The Edmonton Oilers scored five goals in their first two games after the break, and Smyth had a hand in all five, including a two-goal, two-assist performance in a 4-3 victory over Los Angeles Saturday in which he scored the game-winner.

Steve Sullivan: Sullivan, like the rest of the Nashville Predators, is flying under the radar. But he's riding a seven-game points streak that includes a two-goal performance Saturday night against St. Louis, and has 50 points in 46 games for the NHL's No. 1 team.

Alexander Semin: There's another "Alexander The Great" emerging in Washington. Semin had a pair of unassisted goals and added an assist in Saturday night's 7-3 win over Carolina. It was his second two-goal game against the Hurricanes in 10 days. He's 19-12-31 in 25 games since returning from a knee injury.

Ilya Kovalchuk: The Atlanta sniper is finding the range again. He came back after the All-Star break with two goals (including the winner in overtime) against the Islanders and added another on Sunday against Philadelphia. Kovalchuk has four goals in his last three games and now has 27 for the season.

Five Down: Five fantasy players who've been struggling:

Sergei Samsonov: The Montreal Canadiens had big hopes for Samsonov when they signed him during the summer. Samsonov has one goal and three assists in his last 16 games and has gotten no more than 13:11 of ice time in the Canadiens' last five games. For the season, he's 7-13-20 in 49 games, with only 91 shots on goal.

Adam Hall: The New York Rangers didn't expect Hall, a 14-goal scorer last season with Nashville, to be a sniper when they acquired him during the summer. But his assist on the game-winning goal against Philadelphia Saturday was his first point of 2007, he hasn't scored a goal since connecting twice against Atlanta on Nov. 28, and his 4-8-12 line has led to him being scratched three times before getting back in the lineup against the Flyers.

Petr Nedved: He scored on his first shot in his first game with the Edmonton Oilers, but Nedved has reverted to the form that led the Philadelphia Flyers to waive him. He's gone 0-3-3 in his last nine games and has taken only seven shots on goal in those nine games - not what the Oilers were looking for.

Mike Knuble: The Philadelphia Flyers have struggled to score all season, and Knuble's slump has been a big factor in their recent nine-game losing streak. Though Knuble is second on the team with 17 goals, he hasn't scored in his last eight games (0-3-3) despite averaging nearly 20 minutes of ice time a night.

Nikolai Khabibulin: He allowed three goals on just 18 shots, but got the win Sunday when Chicago rallied for a 4-3 overtime triumph over Calgary. That ended an 0-7-2 personal slide for Khabibulin. Four of those losses came in games in which he faced less than 20 shots.

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