Times columnist Helene Elliott rates the pluses and minuses in the NHL from the last week:
+ It's not a mirage: Phil Kessel is leading the NHL in scoring and the Toronto Maple Leafs are leading the Northeast Division. Kessel has a league-high 10 goals as part of his 18 points, and his team is 6-3-1 in its last 10 games. Kudos also to the Ottawa Senators, who have managed to win six straight despite scoring six goals fewer this season than they have given up (39-45).
+ The San Jose Sharks tied a franchise record by winning the first five games of a road trip. Their journey ended Monday with a loss against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Joe Pavelski led the way with five goals and nine points in those five games. The Sharks return home Thursday to face the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby has said he won't play at San Jose or at Los Angeles on Saturday.
+ The Edmonton Oilers' "kid" line of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle has been electrifying. RNH, as he's called, has five goals and 11 points, Eberle has three goals and 10 points, and Hall has three goals and nine points. Ryan Smyth, 35, is playing like a kid with five goals and 10 points.