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Around the East: Hannan enjoying spotlight in D.C.

by Dan Rosen /
Little did Scott Hannan realize what he was walking into when he was traded from Colorado to Washington.

Hello spotlight. Hello microscope.

"The west coast seems to have a smaller following in terms of media, and to get here and have '24/7' come through, it is a little bit different," said Hannan, who became a Capital on Nov. 30. "The '24/7' thing was definitely not something you're used to as far as cameras in the room, in meetings, wherever. It's been different, but at the same time it's good, it's exciting."

Hannan's timing couldn't have been any better, or any worse.

The defenseman arrived in D.C. just in time for the Capitals to start an eight-game winless streak that finally ended Sunday in Ottawa. He also arrived in D.C. just in time for HBO's camera crews to begin capturing the Capitals in their daily lives as a lead-up to the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

Suffice to say Hannan's transition from Denver to D.C., from Western Conference to Eastern Conference, from up-and-comer to Stanley Cup or bust, has been a bit, shall we say, uneasy.

"We got here with '24/7' starting up, so I think I had a camera follow me the first day," he said. "It was a little bit different way to get traded, that's for sure."

Hannan said he was so caught up in the whirlwind of being traded for the first time in his career that he never stopped to think about the HBO cameras and the Winter Classic until the day after he got moved.

"The trade kind of came as a shock … and the only thing that was my concern was coming to Washington would be exciting, to be on a team that had a chance to win a Stanley Cup," Hannan said. "I kind of forgot about it until the next day when I had a friend call me up and say, 'You know, they're playing in that Winter Classic.' Then when we got here I've seen everything involved, but it's exciting."

Hannan finally got to experience his first win as a Capital this past Sunday when they came back to beat Ottawa, 3-2. The Caps were 0-6-2 in Hannan's first eight games (he sat out the 4-1 win against St. Louis on Dec. 1), and the veteran defenseman didn't help much, contributing zero points and a minus-9 rating, including a minus-3 in a 7-0 loss to the Rangers.

However, Hannan was solid in 19:27 of ice time Sunday, finishing with an even rating while helping the Capitals go 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.

If he thinks that was exciting, just wait.

Now let's go around the Eastern Conference to check out the news and notes from all 15 markets. The teams are listed in order of where they are in the playoff race as of Tuesday morning.

 Philadelphia Flyers (22-8-5, 49 points)

The Flyers missed an opportunity to become the first team to reach 50 points this season by losing to Florida on Monday, 5-0. It was their worst performance a 3-0 loss to Boston on Dec. 1. It also snapped their five-game winning streak. But perhaps more noteworthy was it being their second game without Chris Pronger, who broke a bone in his right foot last week and is out 4-6 weeks. The Flyers' defensive depth arguably is the best in the East, if not the entire NHL, and its being tested now.

Atlanta Thrashers (19-11-5, 43 points)

They just keep proving how legit they are. The first step toward that is beating teams you're supposed to beat, and that's precisely what the Thrashers are doing. They crushed New Jersey 7-1 Saturday and followed that with a 6-3 win against Toronto on Monday. The Leafs and Devils combined have only five more points than Atlanta. The rest of the week offers a good test for the Thrashers. They host St. Louis on Tuesday and head to Boston on Thursday. The Blues have fewer points than the Thrashers, but they're rested.

Montreal Canadiens (19-12-2, 40 points)

Montreal should feel lucky that Boston has played two fewer games because that might be the only reason the Habs are still in first place in the Northeast Division. They've lost four out of five, including 3-2 in Denver on Sunday. That game started a seven-game road trip that will test the Habs every which way possible before they return home New Year's Eve. They play the streaking Dallas Stars on Tuesday and then go to Carolina on Thursday. Games at the Islanders, Capitals, Lightning and Panthers follow.

Pittsburgh Penguins (22-10-2, 46 points)

Sidney Crosby's point-scoring streak hit 21 games Monday when he assisted on Evgeni Malkin's goal with 35 seconds left in the first period. Crosby added a goal in the second period and now has 20 goals and 19 assists during his streak. He has 29 goals and 27 assists this season, but just as important is the play of Malkin, who had 2 goals and 3 assists Monday. He has 6 goals and 3 assists in three games since returning from a knee injury.

Tampa Bay Lightning (19-10-4, 42 points)

Maybe it just took a churning rumor mill to get the Lightning some real quality goaltending because ever since the rumors of Evgeni Nabokov going to Tampa Bay started, Dan Ellis and Mike Smith have been superb. They've given up only one goal in each of the past three games, including Monday's 5-1 win against Carolina. Smith made 27 saves to beat Atlanta last Wednesday and then 22 to beat Buffalo on Saturday. Ellis stopped 21 Hurricanes shots on Monday. Steven Stamkos scored another goal Monday, giving him 26 on the season, only 1 fewer than Crosby. He has 5 goals in the last four games.

Washington Capitals (19-12-4, 42 points)

One win doesn't end a slump. The Capitals have to do it again Tuesday against New Jersey in order to feel like they're on a roll heading into Thursday's preview of the Winter Classic against Pittsburgh at Verizon Center. That game and the Penguins can't be at the forefront of their minds right now. though. Washington finally broke an eight-game winless streak Sunday in Ottawa, but it won't mean a thing with a loss Tuesday. Alexander Semin (lower body) is doubtful for the game, and Eric Fehr will miss it due to a family funeral.

New York Rangers (20-14-1, 41 points)

The comeback kids couldn't do it again in Philadelphia on Saturday, but that's OK because the Rangers still have to be feeling good about their game and their resiliency. They had third-period comeback wins against the Penguins and Coyotes before falling in Philly, 4-1. They don't play again until Thursday, against Tampa Bay at MSG. Chris Drury is back in the lineup, but the Blueshirts will have to deal with life without Ryan Callahan for a while. The sparkplug forward is out with a broken hand.

Boston Bruins (17-11-4, 38 points)

The Bruins ran into Jonas Hiller on Monday and they were no match. Boston got 45 shots on goal, and Anaheim's goalie stopped every one of them. The Bruins had another 23 shots blocked. Not much you can do when you run into a hot goalie like that, especially one who is helped by his teammates lying out in front of him. What's alarming now is the Bruins have gone five straight periods without a goal. But they had only 10 shots in the last 40 minutes of their 3-2 win against Washington on Saturday. They had 36 shots in the final 40 minutes against the Ducks.

Carolina Hurricanes (15-13-4, 34 points)

Carolina's four-game winning streak came to a screeching halt Monday, but a 5-1 loss at Tampa Bay hopefully won't ruin what the Hurricanes built in wins against the Blues, Panthers, Thrashers and Ducks. They allowed only eight goals over the four games and were resilient enough to win two of them in a shootout. Eric Staal, who had a hat trick in the win against Anaheim, was named the NHL's Third Star of the Week. They host Montreal on Thursday and then Washington on Sunday. We'll see how they rebound from the loss at Tampa.

Ottawa Senators (14-17-4, 32 points)

December hasn't been pretty for the Senators, who are 3-4-3 with four more games to play before the calendar flips to 2011. Sunday's loss was maybe their worst. Ottawa held a 2-0 lead after the first period, but couldn't close out the slumping Capitals and lost, 3-2. Considering that one came after Friday's overtime loss to Colorado, when they blew three one-goal leads, including one in the final 10 minutes of the game, and the Senators have to be reeling. They're in Nashville on Thursday.

Florida Panthers (15-16-0, 30 points)

Huge win for the Panthers on Monday. Dare we say a statement win? A 5-0 blasting of the first-place Flyers should get the attention of the rest of the NHL, especially considering it comes only three nights after the Panthers rolled to a 6-2 win against Buffalo. These Panthers may not make a lot of noise and they may be a game under .500, but they've just spent 120 minutes showing us that they can whip it up pretty good when they on a roll. Ten different players combined for the 11 goals.

Buffalo Sabres (13-16-4, 30 points)

It's not good when the most exciting thing in Buffalo right now is the hype for the World Juniors. The Sabres have lost two in a row and three of four since going 3-0-1 to start the month. They've scored eight goals in the last four games after scoring 13 in the first four of this month. Kudos to the Buffalo News for figuring out this stat: The Sabres are 11-8-2 when any member of their top line (Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Drew Stafford) scores a goal. They're 2-8-2 when the top line gets shut out.

Toronto Maple Leafs (12-17-4, 28 points)

The Leafs are in another slump. They lost their third straight game in regulation Monday when Atlanta came to town, put up a six-spot on the Leafs and walked away with two points. Toronto has allowed 15 goals in the last three games. But, there is good news. The Leafs have off until after Christmas, and when they return they'll actually be the favorite -- they play at New Jersey on Dec. 26.

New Jersey Devils (9-21-2, 20 points)

With each loss comes more speculation that coach John MacLean's job is in serious jeopardy. GM Lou Lamoriello so far has held true to his word that MacLean is his coach and it's his job to get the Devils out of this season-long rut. However, Saturday's 7-0 loss in Atlanta left MacLean speechless. He walked out of his press conference saying, "I've got nothing else for you guys." The Devils re-jiggered their lines and called up defenseman Matthew Corrente on Monday. We'll see if it makes any difference Tuesday in D.C.

New York Islanders (6-18-6, 18 points)

They've got points in consecutive games for the first time in three weeks, so that's progress. Granted, this past Saturday they blew leads of 2-1 and 3-2, letting Phoenix's Martin Hanzal score the equalizer with 1:28 left in regulation, but, hey, three points in two games is progress. One of the biggest problems is star center John Tavares hasn't scored in nine straight games and he has just 3 goals in 22 games since recording a hat trick at Florida.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl
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