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By the numbers

1

Wins needed by Florida Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun to become the 41st NHLer to win 250 games in his career, tied with Toronto Maple Leafs legend Johnny Bower. Jose Theodore (Minnesota Wild) and Miikka Kiprusoff (Calgary Flames) are two victories away from the prestigious plateau.

500

Points by Joe Thornton, as of Wednesday, since joining the San Jose Sharks from the Boston Bruins in a deal five years ago this past week.

It's no longer a one-man show.

Andrew Ladd

The Atlanta Thrashers' new captain explains why his team has won six in a row and suddenly looks like a playoff contender in the Eastern Conference. Ladd's reference is to Atlanta's former captain Ilya Kovalchuk, who turned down $100-million (U.S.) to sign with the New Jersey Devils instead.

Not a lot of guys follow a goal with a fight off a faceoff. That brought momentum for sure.

Ryan Getzlaf

The Anaheim Ducks centre says a rare two-goal performance by enforcer George Parros was key to a 5-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Wednesday.

LEIGHTON EYES RETURN

Mchael Leighton, the playoff hero for the Philadelphia Flyers last season, is scheduled to play a couple of conditioning games in the American Hockey League this weekend, and if all goes well, should be ready to return to NHL duty early next week. Two problems: First-year goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has been a more than adequate replacement (he was the November rookie of the month) and Leighton's $1.55-million (all currency U.S.) contract will put them over the $59.7-million salary cap. One possible solution: Put Brian Boucher, the team's backup, on waivers, with a view to sending him to the minors.

LUPUL GETTING CLOSE

Joffrey Lupul, another player who has disappeared off the NHL map these past few years, in the same way concussion victim Pierre-Marc Bouchard of the Minnesota Wild did, is inching closer to a return. Lupul was placed with the Anaheim Ducks' affiliate in Syracuse, N.Y., last week and scored a goal in his minor-league debut. Lupul, a former first-round draft choice who scored 28 goals for the Ducks in 2005-06, has been recovering from an infection that set in following two off-season back surgeries. For a time, he wondered if his career might be over. He was also the principal player that came Anaheim's way from the Philadelphia Flyers in the big Chris Pronger trade.

SCHENN BACK IN THE NHL

Luke Schenn's younger brother, 19-year-old Brayden, is back with the Los Angeles Kings following a two-week minor-league conditioning stint, but he didn't play during a game against the Florida Panthers on Thursday. Schenn has played eight NHL games this season. The Kings have 10 games to make a decision about whether to keep him in the NHL. If they don't, Schenn's presence would be a huge boost to Canada's world junior team for the tournament this month in Buffalo.

A DEVILISH TIME OF IT

Anybody feeling sorry for the New Jersey Devils yet? No? The NHL's greatest underachievers in the early going do have one reasonable explanation for their collective fall from grace. Ilya Kovalchuk's slump notwithstanding, they have been devastated by injuries. Including Zach Parise, their most important forward, the Devils had nine regulars missing for a game earlier this week. One, Patrik Elias, was absent because his wife was about to give birth. Another, captain Jamie Langenbrunner, had received the green light to play after missing eight games with a neck injury. And goaltender Martin Brodeur, who has had remarkably few injuries in his lengthy career, is finally getting over an elbow problem that pushed Johan Hedberg temporarily into a starting role.

Follow on Twitter: @eduhatschek

 

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