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The Breakaway: Heatin' up down the stretch

by Shawn P. Roarke
* Brad Richards, with his five-point night in his first game with the Stars, made the loudest Dallas debut since Stevie Ray Vaughan first picked up a guitar.

* It's been more than 30 years since a player registered five points in his debut with a team. Philadelphia's Al Hill had two goals and three assists in his NHL debut against the Blues on Valentine's Day, 1977.

* Jonathan Cheechoo has 15 goals in his last 22 games. Only Washington's Alex Ovechkin has more goals (18) during the same time span.

* Before running into the Ovechkin-led buzz saw Monday, the Bruins were 7-0-1 in their last eight games, putting them right on the heels of the Ottawa Senators and division-leading Canadiens in the Northeast.

* From the Time Flies Dept.: Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the day Wayne Gretzky passed Gordie Howe as the all-time assists leader in the NHL.

* It was good to see Jiri Fischer back on skates. The former Red Wing defenseman, who had his promising career cut short by heart problems, played in a charity game Saturday afternoon in Saginaw, Mich.

* According to reports, Fischer was a tad slow in the game, but he still moved with the grace and economy that defined his career in Detroit.

* CTN finds little use for basketball and rarely follows it. But even CTN knows what is happening in Seattle with the franchise's threatened move to Oklahoma City is an affront to sports fans everywhere.

* CTN is reading A Fighter's Heart: One Man's Journey Through the World of Fighting. It's a terrific read, although author Sam Sheridan never strapped on the skates to test his mettle against hockey's heavyweights. Still, it is a captivating read.

* Islander Wade Dubielewicz is a pretty good late-season goalie, isn't he? His shootout win Tuesday night against the Rangers was reminiscent of the last-game performance he turned in against the Devils last year, the one that got the Isles into the playoffs.

* Ranger Petr Prucha, a regular scratch these days, certainly has had a fall from last year's grace, has he not?

* The curse appears over. In Montreal's first five games against Quebecoise goalies this season, Montreal lost. Saturday, the Canadiens finally figured out their bugaboo, beating New Jersey's Martin Brodeur.

* When the Detroit Red Wings get healthy, their blue line will be a beast. Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronvall likely will be their No. 2 pairing. CTN can think of a few teams that would happily take that pair as a No. 1 pairing.

* Cam Janssen had quite the debut in his hometown of St. Louis the other night. He hit everything that moved and almost scored on a breakaway. If he keeps that up, he'll be an All-Star before too long.

* It's not too often that you get a chance to overshadow Junior wunderkind John Tavares, but Taylor Hall did it Tuesday with a five-point night as his Windsor Spitfires took a wild 7-6 decision from the Oshawa Generals in an Ontario Hockey League game.

* Not for nothing, but Anaheim just physically outclassed Ottawa Monday night in the rematch of last year's Stanley Cup finalists.

* Anaheim goalie J.S. Giguere is 9-1-1 in his last 11 starts, posting a 1.26 goals-against average and .950 save percentage during that span. That's good news for the Ducks, bad news for the rest of the Western Conference.

* Speaking of goalies, it doesn't appear Ray Emery is too popular a guy in Ottawa right now. It will be interesting to see if Bryan Murray has the ability to get him back in everyone's good graces.

Mathieu Garon has stopped 30 of 32 shootout attempts he has faced this year. Watch Mathieu Garon pile up shootout saves

* Edmonton's Mathieu Garon has stopped 30 of 32 shootout attempts he has faced this year, a 96.9-percent success rate. That's almost a mind-blowing number when you think about it.

* Chicago's Kevyn Adams is close to playing again this season. He was thought done for the year when he underwent major knee surgery in early November. Now, he is skating with the team and close to returning to game action. CTN always has said Adams is one of the classiest and hardest-working guys in the League.

* But it's is not all good news in Chicago. Martin Havlat's troublesome shoulder is acting up again and it is feared he might be out for the remainder of the season.

* CTN would like to think that's record day for traffic on the trade deadline had at least a little to do with people looking for Crashing the Net, but it's hard to plausibly take credit for all of the 16,953,053 page views the site experienced Tuesday.

* The loss of Marek Svatos to a season-ending knee injury is a painful blow, one that can't be fully addressed even by the return of Peter Forsberg to the lineup.

* This week's Talking Metal on Fuse show has both Judas Priest's Rob Halford and Danzig on the show. It's a must-see event for CTN on Friday nights.

* Bret Michaels, Krokus, Vixen, L.A. Guns (featuring Tracii Guns), House of Lords, Warrant (with Jani Lane), Vain, Tora Tora and Jetboy all are rumored to be on this summer's Rocklahoma festival bill. That's some quality 1980s hair metal right there, boys and girls.

* Lou Pearlman, the man behind the creation of the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync is going to prison. Unfortunately, it is not for the crimes he committed against music, but rather for money laundering in an unrelated case.

* Is it CTN, or is the primary-season donnybrook between Obama and Hilary as entertaining and compelling as the epic 1994 Eastern Conference Final between New Jersey and the Rangers?


* Brian Boucher sure has a thing about shutouts, doesn't he? He returned to the NHL this week, after a long hiatus, by posting a shutout in his debut with the Sharks. This is the same goalie who put together five straight shutouts with Phoenix back in the 2003-04 season.

* Leland Irving, a top prospect with the Flames, tied the Western Hockey League record for career shutouts, registering No. 21 Friday night in a 2-0 decision against rival Seattle.

* Now that “Sid the Kid” is back in Pittsburgh, we can total up Evgeni Malkin's brilliance in plugging the hole in the Pittsburgh lineup. Crosby missed 21 games before returning Tuesday night, and the Pens went 11-6-4 and took over the Atlantic lead. Malkin had 36 points in that stretch.

* It's too bad to see Martin Gelinas have to shut things down in Nashville for the year because of a knee injury. He is the kind of character guy the Preds will need if they hope to sneak into the playoffs.

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