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Flames' Morrison is starting to come to life

by John Kreiser /
Brendan Morrison showed teammates and opponents that there's still some life left in his 36-year-old legs.

Morrison has missed most of November recovering from knee surgery, played two games and was scratched for the next five because the knee still wasn't right. With his offense struggling, Calgary coach Brent Sutter put Morrison back in the lineup Tuesday night against Carolina -- and was rewarded with two goals and a pair of assists in a 7-6 victory.

Brendan Morrison
Center - CGY
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 8
SOG: 19 | +/-: 2
The veteran center added two more assists in Thursday's 3-2 win against Colorado and set up Jarome Iginla for a goal in Saturday's 3-0 victory against Edmonton. That's seven points in three games from a player who had scored only one point before last week.

Five up -- Five players who are playing well:

Claude Giroux -- Giroux's seven points last week moved him into the top spot in the NHL scoring race with 39 -- and that was without playing the third period on Saturday night. The Philadelphia Flyers are hoping Giroux was not seriously injured when teammate Wayne Simmonds accidentally kneed him in the head late in the second.

Jarome Iginla -- The Flames hope that Iginla's best week of the season, in which had had a pair of two-goal games, is a harbinger of better things to come -- he had four goals in six days after getting just seven in the season's first eight-plus weeks. Having Morrison return didn’t hurt.

Jiri Hudler -- The Red Wings are firing on all cylinders offensively, and Hudler is more than doing his part. He scored a pair of goals Saturday night against Winnipeg and has four goals and six points during a three-game scoring streak.

Dennis Wideman -- Washington's veteran defenseman gets an "A" for honesty -- he went on TV after Friday's game to tell everyone that the goal that would have given him his first career hat trick realty belonged to Brooks Laich. The change was made a day later, but Wideman still had a four-point night and a five-point week for the Caps.

Matt Hackett -- The nephew of former NHL goaltender Jeff Hackett will never forget his first week in the NHL. The 21-year-old came off the bench for his NHL debut 1:11 into Minnesota's game at San Jose on Tuesday and stopped all 34 shots he faced to earn a 2-1 win. Two days later, he stopped 42 shots to win 4-2 at Los Angeles in his first NHL start. He had a 1.01 goals-against average and .974 save percentage.

Five down — Five players who are struggling:

Patrick Marleau -- San Jose's offense is struggling to score, and a lack of production from Marleau is a big reason why. Marleau has been moved around this season and is going through a slump in which he hasn’t had a point in his last six games.

Ed Jovanovski -- "Jovo" isn't the offensive force he used to be, but the Florida Panthers had to be expecting more than they've gotten so far. Jovanovski has gone without a point for 13 games and has just five in 28 games.

Patrick Marleau
Left Wing - SJS
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 10 | PTS: 20
SOG: 78 | +/-: 2
Simon Gagne -- Los Angeles is having all kinds of trouble putting the puck in the net despite the presence of a number of well-known offensive players. One of them is Gagne, who's gone without a point in his last five games and hasn't had a goal in his last 10.

David Jones -- The big winger was one of the few bright lights in Colorado last season, when he led the Avs with 27 goals. But his scoring touch has vanished this season -- he's gone six games without a point and hasn't scored in his last 12.

Craig Anderson -- He doesn't get a lot of help from his defense in Ottawa, but Anderson is also struggling to stop the puck. He allowed four goals in each of his starts last week -- losing both -- and while he's 12-10-2, his goals-against average is up to 3.42 and his save percentage is down to .895.

Injuries, news and notes -- Will Sidney Crosby be ready this week, or won't he? The Penguins sat their captain for games Thursday and Saturday after he "didn't feel 100 percent" following a collision in Monday's game at Boston. The Penguins have been quiet about when Crosby might be ready to play again.

Out -- Another Pittsburgh center, Jordan Staal, sat out Saturday with a lower-body injury and is day-to-day. … In addition to Giroux, who will be evaluated Sunday, Philadelphia goalie Ilya Bryzgalov also left in the third period Saturday with a lower body injury. … Martin St. Louis went from getting ready to play his 500th consecutive game to being out indefinitely when he took a puck in the face during Tampa Bay's morning skate on Thursday in New York. He's sidelined with facial and nasal fractures. … Boston captain Zdeno Chara left Saturday's game in the second period with a lower-body injury. Forward Daniel Paille left Thursday's game with a mild concussion and didn't play Saturday. … New Jersey lost defenseman Andy Greene until after the new year with a broken toe. Another defenseman, Anton Volchenkov, miss Saturday's game with a hand injury. … Minnesota forward Cal Clutterbuck missed the Wild's games Thursday and Saturday with a leg injury. … Buffalo center Paul Gaustad missed the Sabres' three games last week with an upper-body injury. The Sabres lost forwards Corey Tropp (possible concussion) and Jochen Hecht (lower body) on Friday; neither played Saturday. Coach Lindy Ruff said Hecht's injury could be short-term; Tropp may be out for a while. … Montreal captain Brian Gionta missed Saturday's game with a lower-body injury sustained on Thursday; he reportedly won't play this week. … Carolina goaltender Brian Boucher didn't play this past week due to a lower-body injury and the team says he could miss another couple of weeks. Defenseman Joni Pitkanen sustained an upper-body injury on Tuesday and sat out the Hurricanes' next two games. … Rangers defenseman Michael Sauer sustained a concussion on Monday and hasn't played since. … Vancouver forward David Booth suffered a sprained MCL on Monday and will miss at least a month.

Returning -- Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell (groin) returned Saturday after missing 10 days. … Washington got defenseman Roman Hamrlik back on Friday after he missed 11 days with a lower-body injury. … Ottawa forward Peter Regin was in the lineup Saturday for the first time since Oct. 20, when he went down with a shoulder injury. Defenseman Matt Carkner also made his season debut Saturday after missing more than two months following knee surgery. … Mikael Samuelsson, out since Oct. 18 with a groin problem, played Thursday for the first time as a Florida Panther, though he sat out Friday's game at Buffalo.

Chris Pronger
Defense - PHI
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 11 | PTS: 12
SOG: 23 | +/-: 1
Still out -- Philadelphia captain Chris Pronger, already out with a knee injury that required surgery, is now out indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms. He will see the same doctor who treated Crosby. … Los Angeles center Mike Richards (concussion) was able to skate Friday but is still not near returning. … Washington defenseman Mike Green missed his 14th straight game on Friday and is not close to returning from a groin injury that has kept him out since Nov. 11. He didn't skate Friday or Saturday. Caps forward Jay Beagle, out for almost two months with a concussion, has increased his skating but hasn't been cleared for contact. … Dallas said goaltender Kari Lehtonen (groin) won't be back until after Christmas, but forward Adam Burish (broken hand) could be back this week. … Phoenix defenseman Rostislav Klesla, out since Dec. 3 with a lower-body injury, will start skating on Monday. … Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov (groin) and forward Nino Niederreiter (concussion) are skating again. … Tampa Bay put defenseman Pavel Kubina on IR with a lower-body injury, though he could come off this week. … Devils center Travis Zajac will accompany the team on its two-game swing through Florida this week as he works to return from Achilles tendon surgery. He could be back before Christmas. … Montreal center Scott Gomez (groin) missed his eighth straight game Saturday; he's resumed skating at practice in a non-contact jersey.

The week ahead -- Twenty-six of the 30 teams play three games; Edmonton is the only one to play just twice.

Games to watch:

Detroit at Pittsburgh (Dec. 13) -- The Wings have been terrors at home but not on the road this season -- and they've dropped their last five visits to Pittsburgh, including three in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final.

Chicago at Minnesota (Dec. 14; Versus/TSN2) -- Minnesota, the leader in the overall standings, returns from successful a road trip that included the first three-game California sweep in franchise history to face the Hawks.

Philadelphia at Montreal (Dec. 15; NHLN-US/TSN/RDS) -- Viewers in both the U.S. and Canada can tune in to see if NHL scoring leader Claude Giroux and the Flyers will be able to continue their success away from home when they visit the Bell Centre.

Colorado at San Jose (Dec. 15) -- The Sharks and Avs meet in the back end of a home-and-home series that began Tuesday in Denver. San Jose also begins a six-game homestand that will carry it through the end of 2011.

Boston at Philadelphia (Dec. 17; NHLN-US) -- The Bruins pay their first visit of the season to the Wells Fargo Center in the teams' first meeting since the Flyers spoiled the B's Stanley Cup banner-raising ceremony with a 2-1 win on Oct. 6.

Tough week ahead:

Calgary Flames ­-- The Flames are one of just three teams to play four games this week -- and they'll play all four of them in a six-day span on the road, beginning Tuesday night in Nashville.

Dallas Stars -- After splitting two games in California, the Stars come East this week for three games in four nights against the New York-area teams, starting Tuesday night against the Rangers.

Vancouver Canucks -- It's another week on the road for the Canucks, who started a trip with games at Montreal on Thursday and Ottawa two nights later and make stops this week in Columbus and Carolina before ending up in Toronto on Saturday.

Easy week ahead:

Florida Panthers -- The Panthers have spent most of their season on the road, but they're back at the BankAtlantic Center this week for games against New Jersey, Calgary and Carolina.

Montreal Canadiens -- It's a week at home for the Habs, who welcome the Islanders, Flyers and Devils to the Bell Centre with a day off in between each game.

Winnipeg Jets -- As part of a month that sees them at home for all but two games, the Jets will be well-rested for visits from Minnesota, Washington and Anaheim.
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