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Tuesday 10: Campbell, Eriksson off to strong starts

Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 9:53 AM / NHL.Countdown

By EJ Hradek - NHL.com Analyst

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Tuesday 10: Campbell, Eriksson off to strong starts
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony always is a pretty cool night. But I thought it was particularly special to see (overdue) inductee Mark Howe honor his dad, 83-year-old hockey icon Gordie Howe, by throwing on the senior Howe's legendary No. 9 Red Wings jersey. That was as good as it gets.

Here's this week's edition of the Tuesday 10.

1. While I understand Brendan Shanahan's thinking on not suspending Bruins power forward Milan Lucic for running into Sabres goalie Ryan Miller in the first period of Saturday's game, I can't help feeling he might have been better served issuing a one-game ban as way to send a message about this particular kind of play.

I don't know if we'll see the rash of similar incidents that Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff believes might occur, but I don't know that we won't, either. In this case, the one-game suspension might have been an appropriate outcome.

Shanahan told a media throng in Toronto on Monday that he'll be quick to apply supplemental discipline in such cases if he feels it's merited. The Lucic hit, in his mind, didn't reach that level.

While we can agree or disagree on tough calls like this particular circumstance, Shanahan hasn't been shy about articulating his decision-making process. For me, that's a good thing.

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2. If the Sabres didn't feel they exacted their pound of flesh from the Bruins on Saturday (and they didn't), they can take another run at the Bruins when the clubs meet again Nov. 23. Of course, I'm quite positive the League will be keeping a close eye on how the clubs decide to reacquaint themselves.

After next Wednesday's meeting, the Northeast Division rivals won't see each other again until Feb. 7. From that point on, they'll meet four times, including a season-ending tilt in Boston on April 7.

3. One truly great thing did come out of that Sabres-Bruins game last Saturday. The Bruins' community relations staff was able to pull off the surprise reunion of U.S. serviceman Lt. Charles Jacobs (no relation to the family that owns the club) and his parents, Darren and Laurie Jacobs, during the ceremonial opening faceoff.

Management personnel kept the secret so guarded, the Bruins players on the bench were almost as stunned as Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs.

"We didn't know anything about it," Bruins super sophomore Tyler Seguin said. "It was pretty emotional for everybody. I think some of us almost cried."

4. Through the first five weeks of the season, high-priced defenseman Brian Campbell has proven to have been a great acquisition for the new-look Panthers. The smooth-skating defender is averaging a team-best 27:11 of ice time per game. Campbell's puck-moving ability is helping the Panthers leave their zone much more quickly and he's been a big plus on the club's rejuvenated power play, which currently ranks No. 4 in the League (21.5 percent).

Acquired from the Hawks in a draft-weekend deal this past June, Campbell has piled up 16 points in his first 16 games in Florida.

The Panthers also are getting a nice blue-line contribution from third-year defenseman Dmitri Kulikov. The No. 14 pick in the 2009 draft, Kulikov, 20, has contributed 12 points (all assists).

As a group, the Panthers' defense corps has combined for a League-best 48 points. That offensive support from the blue line is among the biggest reasons they're off to a very competitive 8-5-3 start.

5. The Chicago Blackhawks have to be thrilled with the good work they're getting out of 20-year-old defenseman Nick Leddy, who worked a season-high 27:20 during a 6-3 win Sunday against the visiting Oilers.

The Minnesota native, who originally was selected by the Wild with the No. 16 pick in the ’09 draft before being dealt to the Hawks in February 2010, has emerged as a regular on the blue line for coach Joel Quenneville.

In 18 games, Leddy leads all Hawks defenders with 10 assists and 12 points, averaging 21:25 per night. At this point, I'm pretty sure the Wild would love to have a mulligan on that deal.

6. Another Blackhawks defenseman -- veteran Steve Montador -- has found his scoring touch during the past few games.

Without a goal in his past 30 games, dating back to his time with the Sabres last season, Montador has 3 goals in his past three games. On Sunday, he recorded the first two-goal game of his 10-year career. Montador's two-goal night marked just the third time during the past six seasons that a Hawks defender put up a multi-goal game.

Who were the other two Chicago blueliners to do it in that span? The answer, not surprisingly, is Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith.

Signed as a free agent during the summer to a surprisingly lucrative deal (four years, $11 million), Montador has an impressive plus-8 rating, averaging 15:19 of ice time per game. He's been a good depth addition for the NHL-leading Blackhawks.

7. When the Stars drafted Loui Eriksson with the No. 33 pick in the talent-rich 2003 Draft, they weren't exactly positive what they were getting. Dallas scouts loved his game, but they were a little concerned about his quiet demeanor. In the end, they figured he was too good to pass up. And, they were right.

In 16 games, Eriksson has a team-high 9 goals, and his 17 points places him behind only teammate Jamie Benn on the club's scoring list.

Aside from his obvious offensive abilities, Eriksson is a terrific three-zone player. He currently leads the Stars with a plus-10 rating. Former Stars sniper Brett Hull says Eriksson's two-way game compares favorably to Hull's former Dallas teammate, Jere Lehtinen. “Like Lehtinen, Loui's always in the right place on the ice," Hull said.

8. Here's an odd stat: The Bruins currently boast a League-best plus-17 goal differential, but they currently sit No. 11 in the Eastern Conference standings.

Apparently, the defending champions are in the process of scoring themselves out of a bad 3-7-0 start to the season. In their last five games -- all victories -- Boston has scored 30 times. That's a stunning 6.0 goal-per-game average. It'll be interesting to see if they can hang a six-spot on the visiting Devils on Tuesday in Boston.

9. The Red Wings haven't been getting cheated during their 15 games, averaging a League-best 35.8 shots per game. They've been held below 30 shots just once this season -- during a 4-1 home-ice loss to the Flames on Nov. 3.

At this point, they're averaging 9.9 more shots per game than they're allowing, the widest shot-margin average in the League.

On Tuesday, the shot-happy Wings -- who have won their past four games -- will have a bit of test against the Blues, who allow a League-low 25.7 shots per game. The numbers suggest something has to give in St. Louis.

10. Among the Ducks' current problems is their inability to control the faceoff circle, winning just 46.6 percent of their draws. That ranks them No. 29 in the League, ahead of only the Flames, who are gaining possession on only 45.6 percent of their faceoffs.

Ducks veteran Saku Koivu is doing his part, winning 51.4 percent of his 317 draws. Ryan Getzlaf, however, sits at 47 percent of his 281 dot battles. He could be better.


Quote of the Day

You don't see many. The [Drew] Doughtys, the [P.K.] Subbans, those are guys that create offense from the back and then on top of that ability, the size that he has. In the West you play against some pretty big players, and being able to clear the crease and contain the [Ryan] Getzlafs and the [Corey] Perrys and [Anze] Kopitars and players like that, we're excited about him going back there.

— Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Brent Burns returning back to defense