How Things Shape Up at NHL All-Star Break
Craig Custance - SportingNews.com
Jan 27, 2011
As the hockey world turns its focus to Raleigh, N.C., in anticipation of the first All-Star Game in which teams will be picked by a fantasy draft, we take a quick look at the standings:
Hot at the break
While the Western Conference playoff race is the more wide open, a strong pre-break surge by two Eastern Conference teams makes things interesting.
The Buffalo Sabres, who are 10th with 51 points, and Carolina Hurricanes, ninth with 56, both enter the break on a two-game winning streak with the Sabres feeling optimistic after a 9-3-1 run. The Tampa Bay Lightning have all but secured a playoff spot and enter the break with the league's longest winning streak -- five games. The San Jose Sharks eked into a playoff spot with a 4-0-1 surge.
Cold at the break
The bottom dwellers in the East -- the Senators Senators and New York Islanders -- are a combined 3-13-4 heading into the break.
Despite a huge win over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, the Atlanta Thrashers have opened the door for the Hurricanes and Sabres with their recent struggles. Ondrej Pavelec's impressive shutout (36 saves) of the Capitals was just the Thrashers' second win in their last nine games.
The St. Louis Blues have dropped to No. 14 in the West and have just two wins in 2011.
Using the break to heal
Reinforcements are coming for the Detroit Red Wings, with three major contributors expected to return when they take the ice on Feb. 2 in Ottawa. Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom and Danny Cleary will give Detroit a huge boost.
The banged-up New York Rangers, who activated forwards Vinny Prospal and Ryan Callahan from injured reserve right before the break, have been the league's most resilient team and deserve a couple days off. "I think it's a team that needs a break," John Tortorella said. "We have handled ourselves well."
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