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HELENE ELLIOTT

NHL: pluses and minuses around the league

The Sharks dominate at home and the Blackhawks dominate everywhere. Scoring is still decreasing, despite rule changes, and the Stars aren't a big draw at home.

December 02, 2013|Helene Elliott
  • The San Jose Sharks sit atop the Pacific Division with 41 points, but the Ducks (40), Kings (36) and Phoenix Coyotes (34) are still within striking distance of the leader.
The San Jose Sharks sit atop the Pacific Division with 41 points, but the… (George Nikitin / Associated…)

Times columnist Helene Elliott rates the pluses and minuses in the NHL from the past week:

+ The San Jose Sharks didn't gain much ground during a 5-0-0 homestand because the Kings and Ducks each earned a loser point in shootouts. "Back in the day, teams would be out by Christmas. With the point system now, teams are in it all year long," Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. "On the other side of that, teams like ourselves, L.A., and Anaheim are playing well — and Phoenix — and have created no separation."

+ What Stanley Cup hangover? The defending champion Chicago Blackhawks have soared atop the standings with 44 points. They began their annual circus trip with a loss at Colorado on Nov. 19 but won the last six games on the 13-day journey, including come-from-behind victories at Vancouver, Calgary and Dallas.

+ It's not necessary to say Jaromir Jagr is productive for a 41-year-old player — he's productive, period. Through Sunday's games, the New Jersey Devils winger had 11 goals and 22 points in 27 games and is tied for eighth all-time with 692 NHL goals. Three of his goals this season have been game-winners.

- Despite making nets shallower and shrinking goaltenders' pads in an effort to boost scoring, the average number of goals per game this season is down compared to previous seasons. Through Sunday's games teams had combined for 5.28 goals, down from 5.31 for all of last season. The average for 2011-12 was 5.32 goals. For 2010-11 it was 5.46 goals. What's next: More restrictions on goalies' pads and movement? Adopting soccer-sized nets?

- Once a great draw at home, the Dallas Stars didn't have a sellout this season until their 10th game at the American Airlines Center, against Chicago on Friday. In that game, the Stars lost key defenseman Stephane Robidas for four to six months because of a broken leg.

- Goalie Cory Schneider thought his understudy days were over when he was traded from the Vancouver Canucks to the Devils, but the excellence of 41-year-old Martin Brodeur has Schneider sitting more than he anticipated. Schneider vented his frustration last week but talked to Coach Peter DeBoer and said he's OK with the situation. Apparently so: Schneider had a 15-save shutout against Buffalo on Saturday.

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