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NHL plus and minus: Blackhawks have come a long, long way

The 15-0-3 Blackhawks, who once wouldn't televise home games, have such fan demand that they just aired a practice on TV.

February 24, 2013|By Helene Elliott

+ The Chicago Blackhawks keep rolling. On Friday they set a record for most consecutive games with a point from the start of the season at 14-0-3 and they extended that Sunday with a 1-0 decision over Columbus. They have sold out 198 consecutive games and fan interest is big enough to warrant televising practices. Said team historian Bob Verdi on the Hawks' website: "The franchise that once would not put home games on the tube, the franchise that refused to air the first period on the radio from the old Stadium, showed Chicago's boys of winter doing drills Friday morning."

+ Lindy Ruff, fired last week in his 16th season as the Buffalo Sabres' coach, handled his dismissal with complete class and urged fans to support the team and owner Terry Pegula. "We'll get it right here," Ruff said at a news conference. "You've got to trust him because he's a competitor. My biggest disappointment is not getting it done for them." A slow start this season and a lack of playoff success were the reasons for his firing. The only surprise is that General Manager Darcy Regier didn't get the boot too. That could happen if the Sabres miss the playoffs this season.

+ Washington's Alexander Ovechkin on Saturday recorded his first hat trick since Jan. 22, 2011, leading the Capitals to a 5-1 pasting of the New Jersey Devils. The once-dynamic Ovechkin has lost his dazzle and turned into a drudge, but he has thrived lately on the right side with Jason Chimera and Mike Ribeiro.

Minuses

- Reigning league MVP Evgeni Malkin missed the Penguins' game against Tampa Bay on Sunday and will miss at least three more games after being diagnosed with a concussion, the result of a hard slide into the boards on Friday. Penguins Coach Dan Bylsma told reporters that Malkin had experienced some short-term memory loss, but that his memory has returned.

- New York Rangers Coach John Tortorella, asked about Rick Nash's status after the prolific forward missed a morning skate, snapped back, "None of your business." He could have simply said that club policy prohibits discussing injuries and Nash's absence was a legitimate issue. Tortorella treats the media with contempt — but when he needs a broadcast job, watch him try to become everyone's buddy.

- It took the New York Islanders too long to recognize their mistake in signing Rick DiPietro to that outlandish 15-year, $67.5-million deal in 2006. They waived the oft-injured goalie last week and when he cleared, they assigned him to Bridgeport (Conn.) of the American Hockey League. He has eight years left at $4.5 million per season.

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