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icago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman (32) fall to the ice during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012. The Blackhawks are one of several NHL teams to have fallen on hard times writes Eric Duhatschek. (AP Photo/Lori Shepler)

Lori Shepler/AP


"I'm not going to lie. I'm not real happy about the way it all turned out, but that's the business of hockey."

~Ryan Miller

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The Buffalo Sabres goaltender was unhappy to lose Paul Gaustad, a friend, a defensive specialist and an excellent faceoff man, to the Nashville Predators for a first-round pick at the NHL trade deadline.

"What I really like is the way the guys are fighting and the way they're getting points. Some nights it's not good enough and some nights it is, but I can live with that if they compete and play hard on a consistent level, which they've been doing."

~Kirk Muller

The Carolina Hurricanes coach, who wants his team to be a tough out the rest of the way, even if they are essentially out of the playoff hunt, with a month and a half remaining in the season.



Number of shutouts for both Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak, the first time in NHL history that two goaltenders on the same team have combined for six or more shutouts each. The Blues' 12 shutouts leads the NHL this season and is one short of the franchise record set in the 1968-69 by a pair of legends, Jacques Plante and Glenn Hall.

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Games in a row without a goal for Ryan Getzlaf, the Anaheim Ducks' captain, who is stuck at eight for the season and on pace for the lowest total of his career.


"9am: rent u haul. 10am: pack bags. 11am: take 2 Tylenol to relieve stress. 12pm: watch tradecenter. 2pm. Cancel u haul#pepperpot"


How the Dallas Stars' Sheldon Souray, a subject of much trade speculation, spent Monday, awaiting news about his future destination. In the end, the Stars retained Souray, a soon-to-be-unrestricted free agent, for their playoff push

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By Eric Duhatschek

Blackhawks down

On Christmas Day, the two top teams in the Western Conference standing were the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild, both of whom have fallen on hard times because of injuries to their captains. Minnesota has pretty much played itself out of the playoff race, largely because Mikko Koivu is out again with a shoulder injury, one that was reaggravated recently and now requires two weeks on the sidelines. Chicago, meanwhile, is hanging onto a playoff spot by the skin of its teeth, with no end in sight to Jonathan Toews's convalescence. The Blackhawks tried Patrick Kane at centre, an experiment that met with just middling success earlier this year. Chicago's goaltending has faltered this season, after Corey Crawford had a good rookie year, something fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs' James Reimer might take note of. But Toews's presence is so large that he cannot be replaced. On Christmas, he and Tampa's Steve Stamkos had put up identical scoring lines – 20 goals, 17 assists, 37 points. Now? Stamkos is up to 44 goals in what looks as though it will be the NHL's only 50-goal performance this season this year. Toews is at 29.

Wounded Sharks

Has there ever been a year when so many coaches joined their players on the injury list? First, it was Edmonton's Tom Renney (concussion), then the Buffalo Sabres' Lindy Ruff (broken ribs). Now the San Jose Sharks are muddling along without Todd McLellan, who is also dealing with concussion symptoms after getting hit in the head by an errant stick in last Sunday's loss to Minnesota. In McLellan's absence, assistant coaches Matt Shaw and Jay Woodcroft ran the bench and earned a 1-0 victory over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers last Tuesday, significant because struggling netminder Antti Niemi picked up the shutout and a badly needed boost to his confidence. The Sharks held top spot in the Pacific Division all season, but were overtaken by the Phoenix Coyotes this week. Question for the goal-starved Sharkies: When does former Senator Martin Havlat return? When he first tore his left hamstring on Dec. 18, the prognosis was two months on the sidelines. Two months have come and gone and there are still no signs of Havlat in the Sharks' lineup.

Bolstering the Bruins

Not sure what the Boston Bruins hope to gain by adding 39-year-old Brian Rolston to their lineup, unless they're trying to duplicate the magic they got from 43-year-old Mark Recchi during last year's run to the Stanley Cup. Rolston has struggled for the better part of two seasons, but Recchi was thought by some to be past his prime last spring too. Instead, he was a remarkably good fit for Boston, on the ice and in the dressing room, providing leadership throughout the ups-and-downs of the playoff marathon. It's likely that the two defencemen landed at the deadline – Greg Zanon from Minnesota and Mike Mottau from the Islanders will provide a more substantial pop, Zanon especially, a stay-at-home rearguard from Burnaby, B.C., who is also extremely durable, having missed just six games over the previous four years, divided between the Wild and the Nashville Predators. The Bruins needed reinforcements on the blueline because Johnny Boychuk is out with a concussion.

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About the Author

Eric was the winner of the Hockey Hall Of Fame's Elmer Ferguson award for "distinguished contributions to hockey writing" in 2001. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario's grad school of journalism, he began covering hockey in 1978 and after spending 20 years covering the NHL and the Calgary Flames, joined The Globe in 2000. More

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