|With Matt Greene down with an injury, Michal Handzus stepped up and wore the A. |
After his controversial departure from Ottawa, Dany Heatley has had a happy and productive season so far with the San Jose Sharks.
The Sharks landed Heatley during training camp after he had requested a trade from the Senators, after he previously turned down a deal that would have sent him to Edmonton. He's already reached the 30-goal mark and is on pace to reach his average of 45 goals over the last four seasons, with a third 50-goal season a distinct possibility.
"Offensively, he's met expectations," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "'Heater' will always be evaluated (from the outside) on how often he lights the lamp."
McLellan said one surprise has been Heatley's willingness to go to the net.
"I was more under the impression he scored a lot of one-timers from the top of the circle," he said. "He has a willingness to battle for pucks (in close). He must have 18 to 19 like that."
He's also impressed McLellan with his abilities in other areas of the game -- he's even become a penalty killer, teaming with linemate Joe Thornton as a dangerous pairing on the NHL's best man-down unit.
"It's the other parts of his game he should get credit for," McLellan said.
Heatley feels he hasn't made a lot of alterations to his game, even though he's scoring from some different areas than he did in Ottawa and getting time on the penalty kill, as well as the power play.
"I don't feel I've changed things," Heatley said. "The bottom line is you've got to find ways to produce."
"A" Suprise in LA -- When Los Angeles defenseman Matt Greene went down with an injury, leaving the Kings short an alternate captain, there were a few eyebrows raised when center Michal Handzus got the "A."
It was something of a surprise because Handzus isn't exactly the most outgoing guy in the dressing room.
"You know what? He does speak up," said forward Wayne Simmonds, a frequent linemate of Handzus'. "He may not be the loudest guy outside of the locker room, but in the dressing room he voices his opinion. He's a big leader on this team and a lot of guys look up to him, me especially. I played with him for my whole first year, and a bit of this year, too, and I learned a lot.
"A lot of us young guys look up to him because not only does he talk in the locker room, but he also leads by example. He goes out on the ice and he leaves it all on the ice."
Handzus isn't a big scorer (11 goals in 51 games) and isn't flashy. He doesn't get a lot of media attention, but he's just as happy to let his play speak for itself.
"One of the biggest things for a leader is that you have to show it on the ice," Handzus told the Kings' Web site. "You have to lead by example. That's the most important thing. You can talk as much as you want, but if you don't show it on the ice yourself, it doesn't really matter. So I think it's about being strong in practices and games and being consistent.
"I will try to be a little more vocal, too. Over the past, in my career, I've been quiet and I think here I'm more vocal than I've ever been. That's one thing that I've tried to do. You can be vocal, but it's still about whether you're doing everything right or not."
Hat's off -- Phoenix forward Scottie Upshall still doesn't know what to do with all the hats that littered the ice after his natural hat trick against Nashville on Jan 21.
The natural hat trick was the first 3-goal game of Upshall's NHL career. It was special because it came against Nashville, the team that drafted him in 2002 and subsequently traded him to Philadelphia in 2007.
"I had a couple hat tricks in the minors, but to be able to get one at this level on home ice against my old team was pretty special," Upshall told the Coyotes' Web site.
Nearly a week later, he still was pondering what to do with the hats Coyotes fans tossed onto the ice after his third goal.
"It was exciting to have a big bag of hats waiting for me when I got back to my stall," Upshall said. "It was pretty overwhelming. In a way, I wish I could sign them all and give them all back to the people who owned them but that's pretty far-fetched so I will probably end up giving them to some kids who would enjoy a new hat."
Comeback kids -- Don't leave an Anaheim Ducks game early -- you might miss something.
The Ducks are building a reputation as the NHL's comeback kids. Their latest rally came last Saturday, when they trailed the Blues 3-0 in St. Louis with less than 15 minutes to play but rallied to force overtime and won in a seven-round shootout.
The unlikely shootout hero was defenseman James Wisniewski, who scored the deciding goal in the seventh round on his first career shootout attempt.
"He's a confident guy and those situations don't rattle him," coach Randy Carlyle said. "He made a hell of a move."
Anaheim improved to 6-16-0 when trailing after two periods, tying Minnesota for the most wins in the NHL when trailing after 40 minutes. They've come from behind to win 11 times, including seven in the third period.
Saturday's win against the Blues equaled the largest comeback win in club history and marked the first time in team history the Ducks have rallied from a three-goal deficit in the third period. It was the second time in club history the club has won a game after trailing by three goals on the road.
At last -- Talk about going from despair to euphoria. The Dallas Stars couldn't hold 2-0, 3-1 and 3-2 leads in Edmonton, with the Oilers tying the game by scoring a sixth-attacker goal with 62 seconds left -- only to have James Neal capitalize on a turnover 39 seconds later to give the Stars a 4-3 win to end a 10-game road losing streak.
It was the Stars' first regulation win on the road since Nov. 18 in Detroit.
"It's been a long time coming for our club on the road," goalie Marty Turco said. "I'm pretty happy getting the win, finally, because enough's enough."
Despite allowing three goals, Turco was the hero -- he was named the game's first star and denied Dustin Penner
in the final seconds after Neal had put the Stars ahead. Penner nearly tied the game after the puck came to him on a bad bounce off Mike Modano's skate.
"It was one of those things where it was, 'Why here, why now?'" Turco said about the unfortunate bounce. "But to get out of something like the streak of losing on the road like we're in, we knew it wasn't going to be easy, but we didn't know it was going to be that hard coming down at the end."Around the Pacific --
With four days off before their showdown with Chicago Thursday, San Jose coach Todd McLellan gave many of his Olympic players two days off in a row as he tries continues to manage their ice time. The Sharks have an NHL-high eight Olympians. … The game against Chicago will be Haiti Relief Night, with collections taken and charity auctions to benefit UNICEF's relief efforts. … The Coyotes reached 30 wins after 53 games by beating Detroit on Jan. 26. No other team in franchise history has won 30 games so early in a season. … Through those 53 games, the Coyotes are getting good production from their defensemen. Of their 144 non-shootout goals, 31 (21.5 percent) have been scored by defensemen. … Anaheim got one of its two injured Finnish Olympians back Tuesday when Saku Koivu returned after missing four games with a knee injury. Teemu Selanne remains out with a broken jaw. ... The win against St. Louis gave the Ducks a 7-1-1 mark in their last nine meetings with the Blues. … Los Angeles broke an 0-for-27 power-play drought with a goal on their first try in a 5-3 win at Toronto. The Kings had gone six games without a power-play goal. … Drew Doughty
, the youngest member of Canada's Olympic team, said he's trying not to look ahead to next month. "Right now I'm just focusing on the Kings, and we're in a big battle for playoff spots right now," he told the media before Tuesday's game at Toronto. "That's my main focus, but the Olympics is always definitely in the back of my mind, and I can't wait to get it going." … Dallas' win at Edmonton improved the Stars' record against the Oilers to 12-3-2 in their last 17 meetings. … Dallas rookie center Tom Wandell will miss the rest of the season. He tore his ACL last Tuesday in Vancouver and will require surgery.
Author: John Kreiser | NHL.com Columnist