The 5 hole: A five-step trip through the stars and numbers of the week of Dec. 8-14

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Doug Pensinger, Getty Images
The Marrying Man? Even in Denver, Carolina's Eric Staal has fans. This wife-to-be attempts to get his attention during warmups before the Avalanche-Hurricanes game Monday.

1. Stand Up

LW Rick Nash, Col. Blue Jackets
3 goals, 4 assists ... +4
Nash scored two goals, both on a power play, in a 6-2 rout of the Senators Sunday.

C Sidney Crosby, Penguins
3 goals, 7 assists ... +4
Crosby had six points (one goal and five assists) as the Penguins beat the Flyers, 8-4, Wednesday.

RW Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames
3 goals, 4 assists ... +4
In a 5-2 defeat of the Wild Tuesday, Iginla had two goals, including the winner, and two assists.

D Sergei Gonchar, Penguins
2 goals, 3 assists ... +2
Gonchar also had a big game against the Flyers, contributing two goals and three assists.

G Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Anaheim Ducks
4-0-0 ... 2.25 GAA, .925 save pct.
Stopping 34 shots, Giguere led the Ducks to a 2-1 win against high-scoring Atlanta Wednesday.

D Sheldon Souray, Montreal Canadiens
1 goal, 4 assists ... Even
Souray had two short-handed assists for the Habs in a 4-2 win against the Lightning Thursday.


2. Calder comparison

How young Penguins standout Evgeni Malkin compares to last season's leading Calder Cup contenders Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin at similar stages of their rookie seasons (Through Thursday):

Evgeni Malkin:'06-07
26 games, 15 goals, 15 assists, even
The skinny: Malkin scored the winning shootout goal in 5-4 win in Washington Monday.

Sidney Crosby: '05-06
26 games, 12 goals, 16 assists, -5
The skinny: Crosby failed to score in a 2-1 loss in New York to the Rangers Dec. 1, 2005.

Alexander Ovechkin: '05-06
26 games, 16 goals, 13 assists, -2
The skinny: Ovechkin had a goal and three assists in a 5-1 rout of the Rangers, Dec. 3, 2005.


3. Scoring early

If Sidney Crosby were to win the Art Ross Trophy this season, he would join elite company. Only eight players have led the NHL in scoring their first or second NHL campaigns. And only one has done it since the Great Depression:

First SeasonPlayer, TeamSeasonBill Cook, New York Rangers1926-27Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton Oilers1979-80*-Joe Malone, Montreal Canadiens1917-18Nels Stewart, Montreal Maroons1925-26Second SeasonPlayer, TeamSeasonNewsy Lalonde, Montreal Canadiens1918-19Gordie Drillon, Toronto Maple Leafs1937-38David Schriner, New York Americans1935-36Ralph Weiland, Boston Bruins1929-30*-NHL's first season

4. He said what?

"It was X-rated."

-- Mike Peca, Toronto Maple Leafs center describing the contents of a speech by coach Paul Maurice during a 5-4 win against Tampa Bay Tuesday.


5. The fan's hat trick

Ducks at Sharks, 10:30 p.m. today
"Big" Joe Thornton, "Little" Joe Pavelski and San Jose will try to avenge a 5-0 loss Nov. 21 to Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks in one leg of the "Battle of California."

Islanders at Rangers, 7 p.m. Tuesday
Any time Jaromir Jagr and the Rangers meet Jason Blake and the Islanders it's intense. But with both teams now in playoff contention, look for each to be hungrier.

Penguins at Thrashers, 7 p.m. Thursday
Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins beat Kari Lehtonen and the Thrashers, 4-3, in an overtime thriller Dec. 9. Expect more of the same. (TV: FSN Pittsburgh)



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