Winger Kris Versteeg loves playing for the Chicago Blackhawks. He has didn’t make a mark in Toronto and Philadelphia and he played his way out of Florida this season.
But Versteeg scored a goal and added an assist in his second game back with the Blackhawks after the Panthers shipped him to Chicago.
“It was cool,” teammate Patrick Sharp told reporters. “The crowd gave him a little bit of a cheer there when they put his face on the screen and announced his name. I know he’s happy to be back. He’s going to be a big part of our team.”
This was a case of the rich getting richer. Versteeg adds scoring to an already strong offense. This trade pushed the defending Stanley Cup champions back to the top of NHL Power Rankings.
Here is the breakdown:
GOOD NEWS: Winger Patrick Kane broke out of an early season funk and scored points in seven consecutive games.
BAD NEWS: Back-up goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin hobbled into injured reserve with a lower body injury.
BOTTOM LINE: By losing 7-2 to the Predators, the Blackhawks proved they still need some work on the defensive side of their game.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
GOOD NEWS: The trio of Alexander Steen, David Backes and T.J. Oshie combined for 63 points in their first 19 games.
BAD NEWS: Defenseman Jordan Leopold will miss two months after undergoing hand surgery.
BOTTOM LINE: After playing the lightest schedule in the league for the first six weeks, the Blues are finally entering the grind.
GOOD NEWS: Big winger Dustin Penner had 13 points and a plus-15 rating in his first 15 games. Did anybody see that coming?
BAD NEWS: The Ducks extended their losing streak to four games by falling at Pittsburgh Monday night.
BOTTOM LINE: This team played 15 of its first 23 games on the road. Now that the schedule turns in Anaheim’s favor, look out Western Conference.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
GOOD NEWS: They have the league’s second-best scoring offense, producing 3.4 goals per game.
BAD NEWS: They lost steam at the end of a five-game road trip and fell 5-1 at Chicago.
BOTTOM LINE: Their plus-22 goal differential after 21 games speaks to their early dominance.
GOOD NEWS: Power forward James Neal is regaining his legs after returning from an apparent oblique injury.
BAD NEWS: How can center Evgeni Malkin go 14 games without scoring a goal?
BOTTOM LINE: This highly skilled team is getting by with some lackluster effort in the Eastern Conference. The Pens would be scuffling if they played in the West.
GOOD NEWS: Center Peter Stastny scored 14 points in his last 15 games, reversing a years-long offensive decline.
BAD NEWS: Center Matt Duchene is sidelined for the near term with a strained oblique muscle.
BOTTOM LINE: Goaltender Semyon Varlamov finally cooled down and suffered his first bad week of the season.
GOOD NEWS: Venerable power forward Shane Doan scored six goals in a span of six games.
BAD NEWS: The Coyotes won just five of their first 11 road games.
BOTTOM LINE: This go-go team is winning with offense. They ranked fourth in the NHL scoring and fifth on the power play after 21 games entering this week’s play.
GOOD NEWS: Young defenseman Torey Krug had six power-play points in his first 19 games.
BAD NEWS: Nobody on this team is scoring at a point-per-game pace.
BOTTOM LINE: The Bruins have a much better offense than they have shown. Coach Claude Julien is eager for it to click in.
GOOD NEWS: This team’s 30 points after 21 games were the most in franchise history at that juncture of the season.
BAD NEWS: This team still lacks secondary scoring, no matter how coach Mike Yeo juggles his forward lines.
BOTTOM LINE: Thanks to goaltender Josh Harding, they entered the week with the NHL’s second-best goals-against average. That makes them a Cup contender.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Ben Bishop continued his brilliant play with narrow victories over Montreal and Anaheim.
BAD NEWS: The long-term absence of Steven Stamkos is bound to catch up with this team.
BOTTOM LINE: That reality check came in the form of a 6-3 loss at Phoenix to open a four-game trip to the far Western Conference.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
GOOD NEWS: Fill-in goaltender Ben Scrivens earned back-to-back shutouts on the road to win the confidence of his new teammates.
BAD NEWS: Goaltender Jonathan Quick could miss another four to five weeks with a significant groin muscle injury.
BOTTOM LINE: LA finally seems to be settling into the tight-checking scheme favored by coach Darryl Sutter.
GOOD NEWS: Eddie Lack (2.41 goals-against average, .911 save percentage in his first five games) has emerged as a viable back-up to veteran goaltender Roberto Luongo.
BAD NEWS: The Canucks entered the week with the league’s 27th-ranked power play. It’s not like the Sedin Twins are lacking chemistry.
BOTTOM LINE: They fell back into the Western Conference pack by losing four consecutive games. Slumps are magnified on that side of the league.
GOOD NEWS: Tyler Seguin is loving Dallas. The former Boston Bruin lit up the Flames for four goals in the midst of the Stars’ six-game road winning streak.
BAD NEWS: This talent-laden team had the league’s third-worst power play entering the week. Go figure.
BOTTOM LINE: The Stars finally broke free of the .500 mark, escaping that gravitational pull with a three-victory surge.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
GOOD NEWS: Prospect Peter Holland arrived from the Ducks organization to add some depth at center.
BAD NEWS: He can hardly be expected to produce as much as wounded pivotmen Dave Bolland and Tyler Bozak.
BOTTOM LINE: The Maple Leafs must tighten up their defensive play until their offense gets closer to full strength.
GOOD NEWS: Alex Ovechkin scored 17 goals in his first 19 games, picking up where he left off are the end of last season.
BAD NEWS: Top offensive defenseman Mike Green is on injured reserve with a lower body injury.
BOTTOM LINE: After another slow start under coach Adam Oates, the Capitals are finding traction.
DETROIT RED WINGS
GOOD NEWS: Pavel Datsyuk (23 points in his first 21 games) and Henrik Zetterberg (22 points) are still two of the NHL’s best all-around forwards.
BAD NEWS: Despite their efforts, the Red Wings lost six games in a row.
BOTTOM LINE: The Eastern Conference was supposed to provide an easier path for the Winged Wheel. It has not.
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Carey Price (2.05 goals-against average, .926 save percentage entering the week) looks like he wants to represent his country at the Olympics.
BAD NEWS: Center David Desharnais had no goals, one assist and a minus-2 rating through 19 games. Ouch!
BOTTOM LINE: Coach Michel Therrien needs to unleash puck-rushing defenseman P.K. Subban and his other weapons.
NEW YORK RANGERS
GOOD NEWS: Power forward Rick Nash is finally back to work after recovering from post-concussion syndrome.
BAD NEWS: He returns to an offense that ranked 26th in the league heading into Tuesday night’s game.
BOTTOM LINE: Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has gained midseason form. Now the Rangers forwards need to find their stride as well.
GOOD NEWS: Bobby Ryan had 10 goals and 10 assists after 20 games, providing the top-line offense this team sought through his acquisition.
BAD NEWS: Promising young defenseman Patrick Wiercioch is struggling to earn a regular spot in the lineup.
BOTTOM LINE: Coach Paul MacLean is feeling the heat. The Senators are way too talented to play .500 hockey.
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Marek Mazanec won his first NHL game, taking some pressure off fill-in netminder Carter Hutton.
BAD NEWS: Young defenseman Seth Jones had no points and a minus-7 rating over a five-game span.
BOTTOM LINE: A four-game losing streak knocked the Preds well back into the Western Conference pack. Life without goaltender Pekke Rinne is most difficult.
GOOD NEWS: Since their 7-0 loss to the Capitals, the Flyers allowed more than two goals just once during a span of seven games.
BAD NEWS: Top forward Claude Giroux scored just one goal in his first 19 games.
BOTTOM LINE: Little by little, the Flyers are finally getting their act together.
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Cam Ward finally made it back after missing 10 games with his lower body injury.
BAD NEWS: Winger Alexander Semin’s bad season got worse when he suffered another concussion. Uh, oh.
BOTTOM LINE: Poor Eric Staal is getting no offensive help from anybody.
GOOD NEWS: They pulled out of their tailspin with a four-game winning streak.
BAD NEWS: Top defenseman Zach Bogosian could miss multiple weeks with a groin muscle strain.
BOTTOM LINE: Losing a 5-4 shootout at home to the undermanned Flames is no way to stay alive in the Western Conference playoff hunt.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
GOOD NEWS: Goaltenders Cory Schneider and Martin Brodeur had goals-against averages below 2.00 coming into this week.
BAD NEWS: Top centers Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique combined for just 14 points in their first 20 games.
BOTTOM LINE: Lou Lamoriello is darned proud of his team’s defensive work. But this feckless offense is doing nothing to sell tickets.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
GOOD NEWS: Center John Tavares scored eight points in a five-game span.
BAD NEWS: Veteran goaltender Evgeni Nabokov went on injured reserve after suffering a groin muscle strain.
BOTTOM LINE: After making strides last season, the Islanders are shaping up as one of the league’s huge disappointments this season.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
GOOD NEWS: After losing five consecutive games in regulation, the Blue Jackets stabilized to earn points in five consecutive games (2-0-3).
BAD NEWS: Winger Marian Gaborik suffered a knee injury that could sideline him for several weeks. Did anybody really think he could stay healthy?
BOTTOM LINE: Todd Richards appears to be a Dead Coach Walking. But who could win a bunch of games with this lineup?
GOOD NEWS: Mike Cammalleri has punched in nine games in 14 games, continuing his quest for one more decent contract.
BAD NEWS: They went a couple of weeks without winning a game, suffering five regulation losses during that span.
BOTTOM LINE: A long and very cold winter awaits this team.
GOOD NEWS: Oddball goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov signed as a free agent. This was a worthy gamble, given the sorry state of this team.
BAD NEWS: Top center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is minus-13 after 20 games. Yikes!
BOTTOM LINE: This team is shaping up as one of the great underachieving squads in modern times.
GOOD NEWS: New owner Vincent Viola has had enough of this crap.
BAD NEWS: The franchise had to eat a big chunk of Kris Versteeg’s contract to move him back to the Blackhawks.
BOTTOM LINE: GM Dale Tallon fired coach Kevin Dineen and he could be the next to go.
GOOD NEWS: Owner Terry Pegula hit the restart button, hiring Pat LaFontaine to oversee his hockey department. Ted Nolan returned as interim coach.
BAD NEWS: LaFontaine has no team managerial experience and Nolan has been out of the NHL loop for ages.
BOTTOM LINE: This franchise faces a steep climb up from the league basement. But at least it took the first step.