Canadiens wing Dainius Zubrus scored his first NHL hat trick in
a 5-4 win over the Blackhawks last Saturday, but four nights
earlier his teammates weren't so thrilled with him. Immediately
following a home win against the Oilers, the Canadiens were
leaving for a game the next evening against the Rangers when
Zubrus realized that he'd forgotten his passport and working
papers at his home. Montreal's flight was delayed 40 minutes
while Zubrus's papers were brought to the airport; the Canadiens
arrived at their New York hotel at 2:45 a.m. Seventeen hours
later Montreal fell to the Rangers 3-1....
The Blues can thank scout Teddy Hampson for discovering Russian
defenseman Alexander Khavanov, who has quickly become St.
Louis's No. 3 blueliner, behind Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis.
Khavanov, 28, played in the East Coast Hockey League in 1992-93
and then returned to Russia for seven seasons. (He had a short
stint with a Finnish club team four years ago.) He was drafted
232nd by the Blues in 1999 on the recommendation of Hampson, who
heard about him from sources in Europe....
Attendance is usually soft early in the season when baseball's
playoffs are in full swing, so why doesn't the NHL schedule more
games between rivals to boost fan interest? For example, if the
Canadiens had hosted the Maple Leafs instead of the Oilers,
maybe Montreal would have sold out opening night. Likewise, if
the Mighty Ducks had played the Kings instead of the Wild, maybe
they would have filled their house. These are just two of many
examples of poor scheduling in the league....
Don't be surprised if the NHL's most improved team turns out to
be the Blackhawks. New coach Alpo Suhonen has installed a
high-tempo, puck-possession style that relies on speed, skill
and puck movement. Chicago is already one of the more
interesting clubs to watch.