Things can't get much worse for the lowly Canadiens. Goaltender
Jeff Hackett, one of the club's most tradable assets, came back
early from a broken right hand and then reinjured it shortly
afterward. Several clubs that could use an upgrade in net--the Red
Wings, Penguins and Kings among them--may have to wait until
Hackett returns to start trade talks....
Veteran defenseman Marc Bergevin, who was acquired by the
Penguins from the Blues on Dec. 28, should help the thin
Pittsburgh back line. Bergevin, by the way, was picked up at the
airport by Mario Lemieux and is staying at Lemieux's home until
he gets settled in Pittsburgh. Bergevin and Lemieux have been
friends since junior hockey....
Speaking of Lemieux, after he assisted on Jaromir Jagr's goal 33
seconds into his comeback game on Dec. 27, Super Mario told
linesman Ray Scapinello, who had fished the puck out of the net,
to keep it as a souvenir....
The second-year Thrashers' improved play (they were 15-16-6-1
through Tuesday) is largely due to a new defensive system. While
most clubs use man-to-man coverage in the defensive end, Atlanta
has implemented an effective zone that helps insulate its
blueliners, who are not blessed with tremendous skill....
Two players who had scouts buzzing at the World Junior
Championships in Moscow were 19-year-old right wing Jani Rita
and 19-year-old goaltender Ari Ahonen. The two Finns were
first-round draft selections in 1999, Rita by the Oilers and
Ahonen by the Devils.