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NHL: pluses and minuses around the league

The Devils have continued their success from last season and Henrik Sedin sets a record for the Canucks. The Senators' Erik Karlsson suffers a terrible injury and the Sharks are fading ... again.

February 18, 2013
  • New Jersey Devils' David Clarkson (23) celebrates his third period game-winning goal against the Philadelphia Flyers.
New Jersey Devils' David Clarkson (23) celebrates his third period… (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images )

Pluses

+ The defending Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils have been quietly piling up points with a 9-3-3 record. Despite losing Zach Parise to free agency — and losing right wing Dainius Zubrus last week to wrist surgery — they have stayed near the top of the Atlantic Division and the conference. One big reason: David Clarkson's 10 goals, which rank among the league leaders.

+ Goaltender Jake Allen, called on to start twice for the St. Louis Blues last week because of Brian Elliott's struggles and Jaroslav Halak's groin strain, was more than up to the task. He beat the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday to end the Blues' five-game winless streak and followed that Friday with a victory over the Calgary Flames that included a highlight-reel stick save on T.J. Brodie.

+ Henrik Sedin became the Vancouver Canucks' all-time leading scorer Friday with a pair of assists — fittingly, one on a goal by his twin, Daniel, and the other on a goal by their other linemate, Alex Burrows. With 757 points in 905 games, on 171 goals and 586 assists, he passed Markus Naslund's previous record of 756 points. Fans gave him a well-deserved standing ovation … and then the Canucks proceeded to lose, 4-3, to the Dallas Stars.

Minuses

-Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson of Ottawa needed season-ending surgery after suffering a nearly 70% cut of his Achilles' tendon. He was sliced by the skate of Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke on a play that was unfortunate but probably not dirty. Wearing Kevlar socks might have minimized the damage, but the socks aren't hugely popular. Many players won't wear visors, either, and teams can't require them to wear those pieces of protective equipment. "Players want to be able to play at a high speed and they think that some of this stuff is cumbersome, so they take the risk of not wearing it," Senators General Manager Bryan Murray told reporters in Ottawa.

-Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding, who learned in September that he had multiple sclerosis, had to miss a start after experiencing problems with new medication. He told the Minneapolis Star Tribune he felt "a little off" but was confident his body would eventually adjust. "There's going to be some bumps in the road for sure and there's going to be some challenges," he said. "I know things are going to get better." Here's hoping he feels better soon.

-After a 7-0-0 record in January, the San Jose Sharks have reverted to being … well, the Sharks. They're 0-4-3 in February. "I think everybody needs to be concerned about the performance of the team: players, coaches, trainers, managers. We're all in it together," Coach Todd McLellan told the San Jose Mercury News. "When you start pointing fingers at one individual, there's three pointing back at you. ... Let's all clean up what we do, whether we're a coach or a player, and perform to our abilities."

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