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.