NHL Report

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TOP HEADLINES

\ ** NEIDERMEYER TO RETURN\

\ Anaheim will fortify its bid to repeat with the return of Scott Niedermeyer, but clearing the necessary cap space to welcome back his $6.75 million contract could be tricky.\

\ ** CROSBY HEADS WEST\

\ The Sidney Crosby Show swept through Western Canada for the first time to much fanfare. He had a great period against Edmonton, but Kris Letang stole the show in Vancouver and Calgary.\

\ ** WAS BERTUZZI FOLLOWING ORDERS?\

\ Steven Moore’s camp says former Vancouver coach ordered Todd Bertuzzi to take a run at him, which the Canucks of course denied. The NHL has had plenty of bad press from this incident already, but this could be dicey.\

\ ** DEVILS ROAR BACK\

\ Experts said the Rangers and Penguins had passed them in the preseason, but nine straight wins and New Jersey is back atop the Atlantic Division.\

\ ** THRASHERS PICK UP MARK RECCHI\

\ Recchi will be 40 in February and has two goals in 19 games this season, but Atlanta wants to find out if it can squeeze anything more out of the tank from a member of the 500-goal club.\

\ COUNTING THEM DOWN: SURPRISES\

\ Ranking the NHL teams with a look at each club’s biggest surprise to this point\

\ 30. Los Angeles Kings: Dustin Brown had 32 goals in first two full NHL seasons \0x2013 he could more than double that this year (Last week: 30)\ \ 29. Washington Capitals: John Erskine has six points in 17 games - more than seven of his teammates who have played at least 22 half his career total of 12 before this season in 170 games (29)\ \ 28. Edmonton Oilers: Don’t think many people would have though Tom Gilbert would lead the team’s blue line corps in goals with four and points with nine (24)\ \ 27. Florida Panthers: Richard Zednik is having a nice bounce-back year with eight goals and 14 points (22)\ \ 26. Phoenix Coyotes: Radim Vrbata’s goal totals before this season - 18, 16, 12, 15 and 14 - and he is at 11 one-third of the way in this year (28)\ \ 25. Buffalo Sabres: Jaroslav Spacek is one power play goal from his career high (20)\ \ 24. Tampa Bay Lightning: Mathieu Darche (four goals, eight points) is 31 years old and had one NHL goal in 28 career games before this year (25)\ \ 23. Atlanta Thrashers: Hard to argue with Tobias Enstrom going from eighth-round pick to Calder Trophy contender (26)\ \ 22. Calgary Flames: 34-year old defenseman Adrian Aucoin is almost back to his pre-lockout pace (27)\ \ 21. New York Islanders: Josef Vasicek had 10 goals since the lockout in two years; he is tied for the team lead with nine (16)\ \ 20. Toronto Maple Leafs: Andy Wozniewski went undrafted out of Wisconsin, but has played all but one game and has two goals and eight points for a team with a veteran-laden (and expensive) defense corps (21)\ \ 19. Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Sharp netted 20 last season, but he is near a 40-goal pace and has five shorthanded tallies (11)\ \ 18. Columbus Blue Jackets: He had gone from a league-leading 41 goals to 31 and to 27, but Rick Nash is back as a dynamic offensive force (18)\ \ 17. Nashville Predators: Radek Bonk was an under the radar signing this summer, but he leads the team with 10 goals (15)\ \ 16. Montreal Canadiens: So Sheldon Souray leaves town and Les Habs still have the league\0x2019s top power play; one reason is Souray’s replacement Andrei Markov (12)\ \ 15. Pittsburgh Penguins: With all of that young talent, Tyler Kennedy was buried on people’s prospect lists the past few years, but he has been a bright spot with four goals in 16 games (23)\ \ 14. Colorado Avalanche: There was little doubt that Paul Stastny could be a good player in this league, but not everyone thought he could be [ital] this [end ital] good (13)\ \ 13. St. Louis Blues: Erik Johnson and David Perron are more heralded rookies, but undrafted Steve Wagner has been a solid defenseman - and he was playing for Minnesota State-Mankato at this time last year (7)\ \ 12. Philadelphia Flyers: His biggest impact this season was the hit on Patrice Bergeron, but Randy Jones is the team’s second-highest scoring defenseman (9)\ \ 11. Anaheim Ducks: Kent Huskins once played for four AHL teams in four years, but the 28-year old defenseman has found a regular gig (and eight points) for the defending champs (19)\ \ 10. New York Rangers: Daniel Girardi never score more than nine goals in juniors or the minors, but he has four this year for the Blueshirts (4)\ \ 9. Boston Bruins: Manny Fernandez was suppose to supplant Tim Thomas but has been hurt and Thomas has looked the part of a No. 1 guy (9)\ \ 8. San Jose Sharks: This is one of the youngest and deepest forward groups in the league, and soon-to-be 38-year-old Jeremy Roenick is tied for second with 14 points (17)\ \ 7. Minnesota Wild: Aaron Voros is a tough guy, but with five goals in 14 games, has shown a bit of a scorer’s touch as well (2)\ \ 6. New Jersey Devils: Defensive specialist John Madden has two more goals than Patrick Elias and two of his five career power-play markers (10)\ \ 5. Vancouver Canucks: Alex Burrows had nine points in 81 games last year; he has 10 in 30 in 2007-08 (8)\ \ 4. Dallas Stars: Mike Riberio has never topped 20 goals, but 13 is the team\0x2019s best (6)\ \ 3. Carolina Hurricanes: Matt Cullen was expected to be a nice fit in his return to Raleigh, but he’s on an 80-point pace; his career high is 49 (3)\ \ 2. Ottawa Senators: Ray Emery seized control of the job last year, but Martin Gerber is 13-4-1 with a 2.50 GAA (4)\ \ 1. Detroit Red Wings: Tomas Holmstrom had a career-high 29 goals in 2005-06, a career-best 30 last year and could approach 40 this season - and he is about to turn 35 (1)\

\ TROPHY HUNTING\

\ HART TROPHY, PLAYOFF EDITION\

\ 1. Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa\ 2. Henrik Lundqvist, N.Y. Rangers\ 3. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh\

\ HART TROPHY, NON-PLAYOFF EDITION\

\ 1. Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta\ 2. Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay\ 3. Jarome Iginla, Calgary\

\ CALDER TROPHY\

\ 1. Pat Kane, Chicago\ 2. Tobias Enstrom, Atlanta\ 3a. Jonathan Toews, Chicago\ 3b. Nicklas Backstrom, Washington\

\ VEZINA TROPHY\

\ 1. Henrik Lundqvist, N.Y. Rangers\ 2. Roberto Luongo, Vancouver\ 3a. Chris Osgood, Detroit\ 3b. Evgeni Nabakov, San Jose\

\ JACK ADAMS TROPHY\

\ 1. Andy Murray, St. Louis\ 2. Claude Julien, Boston\ 3. Brent Sutter, New Jersey\

\ — Corey Masisak

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