MANY COACHES call steady Avalanche defenseman Jeff Finger (right) the NHL's most improved player. Taken 240th in the 1999 draft by the Avs, Finger did his chores in the NCAA (St. Cloud State), in the East Coast Hockey League and with three AHL teams before his NHL debut last year. Now 28, he was at +11 and playing 19 minutes a game at week's end.... Here's a trade that would make sense before the Feb. 26 deadline: Toronto sends puck-moving defenseman Tomas Kaberle to the Sharks. San Jose needs a quarterback for its 11th-ranked power play.... Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom form the league's best line not only because they dominate offensively, but also because they defend a lead late in the third period.
DAVID E. KLUTHO (FINGER)