Times columnist Helene Elliott rates the pluses and minuses in the NHL from the last week:
+ The Ducks have won seven straight games despite losing sniper Corey Perry to a sprained left knee. They've won seven straight games five times since the start of the 2013-14 season; no other team has done that more than twice. Their depth up the middle has helped lately and right wing Jakob Silfverberg (three goals in five games) has awakened at the right time.
+ Look who's on a roll: the San Jose Sharks, whose 2-0 victory over Nashville on Saturday was their seventh win in their last eight games. They moved past Calgary and into third in the Pacific Division. Goaltender Antti Niemi, who was injured last week and missed a start, made 29 saves for his 29th career shutout.
+ No tanks: the Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets could have aimed for the draft lottery after their terrible starts but instead have turned things around. The Sabres are 9-3 in their last 12 and the injury-riddled Blue Jackets have won six straight games.
- In firing Coach Dallas Eakins, the Edmonton Oilers made him pay for the organization's poor drafting beyond the first round and failure to develop players. "There's blood all over my hands too," said General Manager Craig MacTavish, who promoted Todd Nelson from Oklahoma City of the American Hockey League and will coach alongside Nelson during a transition period. The Oilers (7-19-5) have lost 15 of 16. The glory days are long gone and MacTavish did nothing to create a new era of success.
- The Kings had regular-season slumps before their two Stanley Cup runs, so losing four of five isn't cause to panic. But are they now paying a price for having played so many games — including the Olympics for some — the last three seasons? Center Anze Kopitar has one goal in his last 13 games and a minus-two defensive rating, stunning for a perennial Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) candidate. Jeff Carter has no goals in his last 12 games and one in 16. The pressure could be on General Manager Dean Lombardi to make another blockbuster trade.
- It's sad to see Vincent Lecavalier become a healthy scratch for the Philadelphia Flyers on a regular basis. Adding injury to insult, he sustained a lower-body injury in practice and on Saturday missed his sixth straight game.