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Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson gets knocked into the boards by Calgary Flames' Jarome Iginla during first period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, March 13, 2013. (Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson gets knocked into the boards by Calgary Flames' Jarome Iginla during first period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, March 13, 2013. (Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

NHL Notebook

Duhatschek: Jarome Iginla to the Kings? Not so fast Add to ...

With two top-six forwards, Kris Versteeg and Stephen Weiss, out for the season and the Columbus Blues Jackets on an unexpected hot streak (5-0-4 in their last nine), it looks as if the Florida Panthers are the new favourites for 30th overall in the NHL and the best odds to win the draft lottery. If that happens, do the Panthers opt for defenceman Seth Jones, or one of the two forwards, Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon, who top the draft ratings? In 2009 and 2010, the Panthers used their No. 1 picks on defencemen, Dmitry Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson, so they have some defensive depth in the organization. It’ll be an interesting call, if it ever comes to that …

The San Jose Sharks are challenging the Nashville Predators’ lead as the lowest-scoring team in the league, producing on average just 2.16 goals-per-game through Thursday, but they hope a tactical change by coach Todd McLellan will improve their scoring balance (only five players in double digits, scoring-wise). McLellan moved the versatile (but thus-far injury prone) Brent Burns to forward for Tuesday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues and plans to stick with the experiment for a while. Burns played both forward and defence in the NHL, and can provide a physical forechecking presence, which has been lacking at times with the Sharks this season. Burns missed 10 games at the start of the year recovering from sports hernia surgery and then seven more waiting for a leg injury to heal, but scored his second of the season in the win over the Kings Thursday night, playing forward …

The Sharks had just one regulation loss at home through their first 13 games this year and one reason is their vastly improve penalty-killing year over year. They were No. 30 last year but are No 3 this year. Assistant coach Larry Robinson is getting much of the credit …

The irrepressible and always quotable Philadelphia goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was lamenting how tired he was of losing, after a 5-2 defeat to New Jersey this past week, which kept the Flyers firmly outside the top eight in the Eastern Conference. Bryzgalov is a fascinating study. He is in the second year of a nine-year, $51-million contract which was supposed to cure, once and for all, the Flyers’ perennial goaltending woes. Bryzgalov has had moments of brilliance and other times, his confidence flags so badly, you wonder if he’ll ever stop the puck again. But with Sergei Bobrovsky, last year’s back-up, now helping the Columbus Blue Jackets get on the road to respectability, Bryzgalov has been coach Peter Laviolette’s only option for much of the year. Through Thursday, Bryzgalov led all NHL goaltenders in minutes played (1469:51 – Nashville’s Pekka Rinne was second), and his 12 wins were tied for third overall. However, his save percentage is just .896, a far cry from the .921 he posted in his final season in Phoenix, which is what earned him that contract in the first place. The Flyers could potentially give Bryzgalov a compliance buyout in the off-season, after burning off $16.5-million of what they owed him in the first two years, though it would be admitting an expensive mistake …

Scott Gomez, who received a compliance buyout from Montreal just after the lockout ended, started slowly for San Jose (two points in his first 14 games), but has been better of late (five points in his next six) …

Revisiting trades is always a useful exercise once the first blush has worn off because what looked like a horribly one-sided exchange a year ago – that swap of goaltender Jaroslav Halak from Montreal to St. Louis for forward Lars Eller and defenceman Ian Schultz – doesn’t look quite so bad now. Halak is right there with Bryzgalov in the save-percentage department (an ugly .881) and has been largely supplanted by rookie goalie Jake Allen (7-1, 2.33, .915 SP) for the moment anyway. Goaltending woes, along with injuries, have contributed to St. Louis’s recent slide. Eller, meanwhile, is scoring on a more consistent basis (15 points in 25 games), one of the reasons the Canadiens are the unexpected feel-good story of the first half in the Eastern Conference …

The best recent news from St. Louis was that the versatile Alex Steen was activated Thursday from injured reserve, though his two injured linemates (Andy McDonald and Vladimir Tarasenko) remain sidelined. Steen responded with a three-point game in his return to the line-up, Allen earning the shutout. Some of last year’s mojo seems to be returning to the Blues. Coach Ken Hitchcock is not afraid to use a youngster in goal. The one year in franchise history that Columbus made the playoffs, 2008-09, Hitchcock heavily rode a youngster who’d started the years in the minors in the same fashion. That was Steve Mason, who went 33-20-7, posted 10 shutouts and eventually won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year. Mason has never been able to scale those heights ever since, but Hitchcock is canny enough to know how to deploy his goaltenders.

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