Times columnist Helene Elliott rates the pluses and minuses in the NHL from the past week:
+ Displaced from the United Center for their annual circus trip, the Chicago Blackhawks were an impressive 5-1 after finishing with back-to-back victories over the Ducks and Kings. "Halfway through the trip we were right around a playoff spot, kind of on the bubble," center Brad Richards said Saturday. "We talked about trying to gain ground and momentum going into the second 20 games and we did a great job of that."
+ Congratulations to New York Rangers forward Martin St. Louis for recording his 1,000th NHL point last week. He became the sixth player to reach that level after not being drafted by an NHL team, joining Wayne Gretzky (2,857), Adam Oates (1,420), Peter Stastny (1,239), Dino Ciccarelli (1,200) and Joe Mullen (1,063).
+ The Calgary Flames held a playoff position on U.S. Thanksgiving, and history says teams that are in the top eight during that holiday are likely to be there in April. Coach Bob Hartley continued the holiday theme in discussing his surprising team. "At the start of the year, we were getting rocks thrown at us. Right now, it's a bouquet of flowers. It's way too early for Valentine's Day," he told the Calgary Sun.
- The Sharks' 6-4 victory over the Ducks on Saturday might have saved San Jose Coach Todd McLellan's job for now. The Sharks continue to underachieve, and before beating the Ducks hadn't held a lead while losing their previous four games. The Sharks' problems stem more from a lack of heart than anything McLellan has or hasn't done.
- Edmonton Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens gets points for honesty, but his team isn't earning many points in the standings. The Oilers lost nine straight games and 13 of 15 before facing Arizona on Monday. "I think we're getting what we deserve right now," Scrivens said Friday, after a 4-3 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues. "I don't think we're playing good enough to win in the NHL."