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NHL: pluses and minuses around the league

The Blackhawks continue to roll and Wade Redden shows perseverance. Meanwhile, Jonathan Quick and the Kings appear to have lost their edge.

February 11, 2013
  • Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks have an NHL-best record of 9-0-2 this season.
Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks have an NHL-best record of 9-0-2… (Thearon W. Henderson / Getty…)

Through Saturday's games, the Chicago Blackhawks (9-0-2) were the only NHL team that hadn't lost in regulation. But they weren't celebrating anything: They led the NHL early last season but fell into a nine-game losing streak. "It's tough to find a weakness in our game right now, but we learned last year it's easy to get complacent," winger Patrick Sharp told the Chicago Tribune. "We know how competitive the league is. The goal in our locker room is to get better every night."

Defenseman Wade Redden, through no fault of his own, became a symbol of the New York Rangers' wasteful free-agent spending. He fell out of favor soon after they gave him a six-year, $39-million free-agent deal in 2008 and they buried him in the minors for two seasons. By all accounts he was a thorough professional. He won a reprieve through a buyout before this season and landed in St. Louis. On Thursday he played in the 1,000th game of his career, an example of perseverance.

You have to be tough to cover hockey, not just to play it. In a video that has gone viral, MSG sideline reporter John Giannone took a deflected shot in the face during a Rangers game last week and continued to report while his bloody cuts were being mended. In hockey-speak, you tape an aspirin to it and get back out there — and bravo to Giannone for doing it with a microphone instead of a stick.

What's wrong with the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings, who are near the bottom in the West? They've had plenty of time to recover from the proverbial Stanley Cup hangover. Yes, they miss defensemen Matt Greene (back surgery) and Willie Mitchell (knee), but their inability to finish is alarming and goaltender Jonathan Quick looks as if he lost something to back surgery. They might need another Jeff Carter-type trade to boost their offense if they don't get going soon.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price might want to move out of the way the next time teammate Lars Eller prepares to shoot on him during warmups. Earlier this season, Eller hit Price in the facemask, denting Price's cage. Last week Eller shot low — and hit Price in the groin. Price was able to recover quickly enough to start, but he probably cringes now when he sees Eller wind up.

The Colorado Avalanche remains locked in a senseless contract stalemate with restricted free-agent forward Ryan O'Reilly, its top scorer last season. O'Reilly wants about $5 million a year on a long-term deal or about $4 million per year on a short-term agreement, but the Avalanche seems stuck at $3.5 million a year and isn't bending despite missing Steve Downie (torn ACL) and captain Gabriel Landeskog (head injury). It might take a trade to resolve this mess.

Helene Elliott

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