NHL pluses and minuses: Kings and Sharks headed in opposite directions

While hot Kings have moved back into a playoff position, the slumping Sharks have fallen out of one

Times columnist Helene Elliott rates the pluses and minuses in the NHL from the last week:

+ Just over two weeks ago, the Kings were in a 1-5-2 slump and had dropped out of the top eight in the Western Conference. They've since won seven consecutive games, the NHL's longest active winning streak. "The last seven games we played some good hockey. We played some Kings hockey, like we know how to play," winger Marian Gaborik said. "And we've been getting great goaltending throughout the team. Everybody is contributing."

+ The Minnesota Wild is 11-1-1 since the All-Star break, a remarkable surge that has carried the team into the second West wild-card spot. The Wild scored six goals in the third period against Dallas on Sunday, a club record. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk has a 1.64 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in 17 appearances since Minnesota acquired him from Arizona.

+ Evander Kane, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery before Winnipeg traded him to Buffalo, said he's excited to have a fresh start. The talented 23-year-old forward, who reportedly clashed with teammates in Winnipeg, has time to turn things around. He also said he's eager to be a leader. "I've been ready to do that for a while now," he told reporters in Buffalo. "That's one of the exciting things that I think the opportunity in Buffalo will bring."

- With only three victories in their last 10 games, the San Jose Sharks are out of a playoff spot with 21 games left on their schedule. They have time to regroup, but there's little reason to believe they have the resolve to reverse course. If this continues, General Manager Doug Wilson and Coach Todd McLellan will be on shakier ground.

- What's wrong with the Chicago Blackhawks? They're 2-2-3 on a homestand that ends Tuesday against Florida. It's probably a case of the February doldrums, but they do have one minor cause for concern: defenseman Johnny Oduya suffered an upper-body injury Sunday and might sit out a few games.

- Four days after former NHL defenseman Steve Montador died, his former girlfriend gave birth to the couple's son, the Calgary Sun reported. Friends had said Montador, who had dealt with concussions and depression, was looking forward to fatherhood. His death was attributed to natural causes. Sad all around.

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