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The Breakaway: Get well wishes

by Shawn P. Roarke

* First of all, best wishes to Richard Zednik for a fast and complete recovery. Get well soon.

* Also, let’s take some time to hail the medical personnel that helped to make sure that Zednik got the best care possible. It’s not often that team trainers are put in the spotlight, but when they are, they never fail to respond.

* Finally, best wishes to Olli Jokinen, too. This terrible incident was a freak accident, nothing more, nothing less. Still, it must be hard for Jokinen – and all the Panthers – to deal with. CTN is sure they will all find a way to handle the situation properly.

* Alexei Zhitnik appears to be playing some inspired hockey for Atlanta after not being very good in the first half of the year. Minus-8 for the season, he is plus-2 in the New Year and plus-4 in the month of February.

* It appears that the Colorado Avalanche are getting healthy faster than expected. Both Ryan Smyth and Joe Sakic are ahead of schedule in their rehabilitations. Smyth could play as early as tonight and Sakic is targeting an early March return. Paul Statsny is also due back from appendicitis surgery, although a groin issue has delayed his return.

* Dan Cloutier cleared re-entry waivers for the Kings this week. That means nobody was willing to take the veteran goalie at a 50-percent discount on his salary. In a feel-good story, Cloutier won Sunday in his first game back in the NHL.

* Speaking of goalies, it was nice to see Nikolai Khabibulin break his own 10-game losing streak last Thursday with a 3-1 win against Calgary. Khabibulin was not good during the 10-game run of futility, but he was not bad enough to go winless in 2008 until Feb. 7.

* Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin has eight goals and 13 assists in the 10 games since Sidney Crosby went down with an ankle injury. Talk about taking ownership of a team.

* In good news for the Penguins, and bad news for the rest of the Eastern Conference, “Sid the Kid” is back on skates. Crosby’s return to game action is not too far off.

* It was a classy move by the Minnesota Wild to honor Mike Modano on his latest visit to play the Wild. Modano played his first four years for the Minnesota North Stars before the franchise moved to Dallas and became the Stars.

* Brent Burns is certainly making a statement that he has become an elite player in Minnesota. Don’t believe CTN? Check out the Wild’s weekend highlights and judge for yourself.


* Speaking of Wild defenseman, Nick Schultz has been quietly spectacular for the Wild this year. Does anybody outside of Minnesota realize that the still-developing 25-year-old is a UFA this season? CTN just thought it should be mentioned two weeks before the trade deadline.

* Raimo Helminen had a memorable farewell game. Last week, the 43-year-old was called up to the Finnish national team for a game against the Czech Republic as a tribute gesture. Helminen, who briefly played in the NHL, made the most of it, scoring a goal in a 6-1 win. The only hockey player to play in six Olympics, Helminen played 331 games for Finland, scoring 221 points.

* The Saskatoon Blades and the Regina Pats don’t like each other. That much should be abundantly clear after the teams played last week and combined to rack up 300 penalty minutes in a 6-2 win for Saskatoon. Oh yeah, by the way, the teams play again in Saskatoon at the end of the month.

* There was some serious defensive talent in Sunday’s game between Detroit and Anaheim. In fact, that game featured four of the five active players bestowed a Norris Trophy -- Nick Lidstrom and Chris Chelios for the Red Wings and Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer for the Ducks. Rob Blake of the Kings is the other active player to win the best defenseman award.

* The Ducks won the last five games of their trip to go 5-3-1 on the longest trip of the season. And Teemu Selanne scored in the last game, in Denver, for his first since returning from retirement. The rest of the West better watch out.

Mike Green has helped the Washington Capitals push for the playoffs.
Watch Mike Green in action

* Lost in the deserved hype surrounding Alex Ovechkin’s part in the revival of the Capitals is the similar role young defenseman Mike Green has played in that process. There are few young defensemen that CTN would pick over Green in starting a team from scratch.

* Jonathan Cheechoo has nine goals since Jan. 15. He had just five goals in his first 37 games. Looking for a reason why? Look at Cheechoo’s shot totals before and after the hot streak began. He has 45 in that 12-game run of form, including two seven-shot games and an eight-shot affair.

* Devils defenseman Johnny Oduya scored a breathtaking goal in Saturday’s 6-1 defeat of the Hurricanes. He threaded his way through all four defenders before scoring a power-play goal in a rush that heavily channeled Scott Niedermayer’s prime in New Jersey.

* Congrats to Slayer on winning a Best Metal Performance Grammy on Sunday night. A well-deserved honor for the boys.

* Iron Maiden is back on tour, in the middle of a 22-date tour that will take the ‘80s metal giants around the globe playing their hits from their heyday. There are only three stops in North America -- Los Angeles, East Rutherford, N.J. and Toronto. Make your plans accordingly, boys and girls. This is a show not to be missed.

* Speaking of tours, there are significant rumors that Britney Spears is preparing for a global tour. Let’s just say that will be a can’t-miss affair for many reasons.


* Vancouver’s Alex Burrows sure looks a lot like Sean Avery in the way he drives opponents to distraction on the ice. And, lest any be fooled, that is a compliment being tossed Burrows way.

* Four losses in a row for the Red Wings? Who would have thought would have happened. Do these struggles force GM Ken Holland to make a trade at the deadline? CTN thinks so and sees either a power forward or stay-at-home D flying into the Motor City.

* The Chicago Blackhawks boast two of the top five shorthanded scorers in the League. Patrick Sharp has a League-leading seven shorthanded goals and two assists. Rene Bourque, meanwhile, has three goals and two assists on the penalty kill.



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