NHL pluses and minuses: Pittsburgh on top in the East

Pascal Dupuis
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis, center, is helped off the ice by teammates Matt Niskanen, left, and Chris Kunitz after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament against the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 23. Despite being plagued by injuries, the Penguins are winning games.
(Sean Kilpatrick / Associated Press)

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


+ Despite being plagued by injuries — they lost four of their top six defensemen at one point — the Pittsburgh Penguins have won 12 of their last 14 games and lead the East. Their latest injury was to first-line winger Pascal Dupuis, whose season might have ended when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament last Monday. But they did get valuable defenseman Rob Scuderi back from a broken ankle Sunday.

+ Henrik Zetterberg returned to the Detroit Red Wings’ lineup Saturday after sitting out 11 games because of a herniated disk in his back. The Swedish winger was their leading scorer when he left the lineup, with 30 points in 28 games, and was still their leading scorer when he came back. Johan Franzen (concussion) is still out.


+ Philadelphia winger Wayne Simmonds scored two goals in each of three straight games last week, only the third Flyer to do so. He scored twice against Columbus, Minnesota and Edmonton, duplicating the success of Reggie Leach (1976 and 1981) and Ross Lonsberry (1976).


- By squandering a 3-0 lead over the New York Islanders on Sunday and losing, 5-4, Minnesota extended its losing streak to five and has lost seven of its last 10. “It’s hard to find words for this because it’s beyond disturbing,” Coach Mike Yeo told the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Saturday.

- The NHL set prices too high for the Jan. 25 outdoor game between the Kings and Ducks at Dodger Stadium, and last week it was forced to cut prices in the $249 category to $189 or $199. Those who paid the higher sum will get the difference refunded. Six outdoor games this season, ticket prices the market won’t bear — is the NHL sabotaging one of its best innovations?


- Buffalo Sabres forward John Scott’s goal against Toronto on Friday was his first in more than four years. It also doubled his career total to two in 200 games. At that pace it’s a safe bet he won’t break Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894 regular-season goals.