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Original Issue

In The Crease

Don't be surprised to see the Flyers cut down on the playing and
practice time of defenseman Kim Johnsson, who is beginning to
wear down. Johnsson was averaging 23:14 per game through Sunday
and also played for Sweden in the Olympics. After a strong start
this season, Johnsson has not been jumping into the play as
often or been as strong with the puck. He is the quarterback on
Philadelphia's power play, and his falloff has coincided with
the Flyers' recent lack of success with the man advantage (4 for
48 in the last 14 games).... Three reasons veteran free agents
won't want to sign with Calgary: Phil Housley, Dave Lowry and
Mike Vernon. Since the start of the season Flames management has
waived Housley, a 38-year-old defenseman who played on the U.S.
Olympic team and has anchored the Blackhawks' blue line this
season; stripped 37-year-old forward Lowry of his captaincy
because of his inconsistent performance; and inexplicably sent
Vernon, a 39-year-old goalie, to the minors. Those moves have
shaken the Calgary dressing room.... Despite his admitted past
use of heroin, the Predators traded for talented Kings
defenseman Jere Karalahti (SI, Jan. 21) last week in part
because of his relationships with defenseman Kimmo Timonen and
forward Stu Grimson. Karalahti played with Timonen one season in
Finland and was a teammate of Grimson's in L.A. for a year....
The Sabres should be embarrassed by their actions against the
Islanders on March 12. Trailing 3-0 with less than a minute
remaining, coach Lindy Ruff sent out tough guy Rob Ray, who
instigated a fight. Then with five seconds left Ruff allowed
enforcer Eric Boulton off the bench, and Boulton initiated
another scrap. The NHL should set a policy to discipline coaches
and teams who intentionally start fisticuffs late in a game.