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Original Issue

In The Crease

Blackhawks coach Lorne Molleken should be ashamed of the
bush-league move he made in the waning moments of last Friday's
5-3 loss to the Predators. After Nashville scored an empty-net
goal, Molleken sent out his fiercest players--Bob Probert, Brad
Brown, Reid Simpson and Dave Manson--for the ensuing face-off in
an obvious attempt to instigate a fight. Give Predators coach
Barry Trotz credit for keeping his tough guys on the bench and
thus avoiding an ugly brawl. Molleken's Dark Ages mentality
doesn't belong in the NHL anymore....

Bigger, faster players combined with the seamless glass that
came with most arenas built in the 1990s has caused an increase
in the number of head, neck and shoulder injuries suffered along
the boards. (The seamless glass doesn't give nearly as much as
the old-fashioned sectioned pieces, which occasionally popped
out or shattered.) In fact, the NHL board of governors is so
concerned about the injuries that at its last meeting it
discussed requiring all teams to install the CheckFlex system of
boards and glass by next season. CheckFlex, which three teams
(the Canadiens, the Flames and the Islanders) have already
switched to, uses spring-loaded end boards that compress as much
as three inches on impact....

Speaking of injuries, a number of NHL trainers feel that some
knee and leg injuries can be traced to skates that are too
sharp. Because of the soft ice at many venues, players with very
sharp blades have a better chance of cutting deeply into the ice
and having their blades become embedded in ruts....

Three of the best foot soldiers in the NHL this season are
Patrick Poulin of the Canadiens, Magnus Arvedson of the Senators
and Scott Pellerin of the Blues. While these players don't make
big money, they're as valuable to their teams as the top scorers
on those clubs are....

St. Louis, which, at week's end, had the league's worst save
percentage (.882), is one of only three teams to use five or
more goalies this season. The Blues' latest netminder, Jim
Carey, who signed after he was released by the Bruins three
weeks ago, bombed in his first three games (4.65 goals-against
average, .788 save percentage), and some observers are wondering
whether he'll ever regain the form that earned him the 1996
Vezina Trophy.