THIS WEEK'S HOT SEAT
Garth Snow: To be certain, the Islanders general manager is in no danger of losing his job for many years. However, the seat is hot because his Islanders, in the third year of a very slow and often unsteady rebuilding program, have lost 17 of their last 18 games. Having fired coach Scott Gordon, Snow has seen his team lose seven of eight under interim coach Jack Capuano. The Islanders, with just five wins and 15 points on the season, are already an astounding 16 points behind the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference. Snow's team will get some help with the return of right wing Kyle Okposo in a few weeks, but the general manager cannot have the Islanders' fanbase looking at the top of the draft before Christmas arrives. In the three previous seasons under Snow, the Islanders finished 26th twice and last overall once.
Rookie Colorado defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, just out of Boston University, has a nine-game points streak. The 5-11 defenseman is 4-9-13 in those nine games.
Sidney Crosby: It's like Crosby had heard enough of Steven Stamkos approaching his greatness and thought, "Approach this." Just two games this week. Two Penguins victories, six points. Three goals against Atlanta on Thursday, two goals and an assist against Columbus on Saturday.
NHL teams almost never say no to "Hockey Night in Canada," but Brian Burke did. The general manager declined an interview before the CBC broadcast of his Maple Leafs' home game against the Boston Bruins because he did not agree with recent criticism of his floundering team. A surprisingly weak move by Burke.
"I love it. It's like playing two home games." -- New York Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky on his team's home-and-home series against the New York Islanders.
NORRIS TROPHY WATCH
This week, the Cycle looks at some early candidates for the Norris Trophy. And we mean very early.
1. NIcklas Lidstrom: A contender for the Norris until the day he retires, the 40-year-old Lidstrom is off to a brilliant start for the first-place Red Wings. As blue line royalty, he deserves the spot for now over ...
2. Dustin Byfuglien: Leads defensemen in goals, points and shots on goal. Who knows if Byfuglien can keep this up, but his incredible play in his full-time move to defense in Atlanta is one of the great early-season stories of the year.
3. Kris Letang: May not get the respect he deserves at year's end from cynics believing he's a product of playing with stars, but Letang may be blossoming as one himself. He is second among defensemen in scoring. Among the top 30 players on that chart, no one has a higher plus-minus.
Ones to Watch: Several of the usual suspects -- Zdeno Chara, Duncan Keith, Mike Green, Chris Pronger -- and at least one very happy surprise -- John-Michael Liles of the Colorado Avalanche.
1. Ondrej Pavelec, Atlanta at Washington, Saturday: Seems like you're seeing many of the same names over and over in the NHL Cycle, right. Pavelec -- last week's Player of the Week -- had arguably the best performance by a goaltender so far this season, stopping 45 of 46 shots in a 3-1 win over the high-powered Capitals in DC.
2. Marian Gaborik, Rangers at Islanders, Thursday: In one of many recent insults to the Islanders, the Ice Girls for the home team had to scoop up a few dozen caps after the Rangers' Gaborik scored three goals at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
3. Chris Kelly, Ottawa at Rangers, Sunday: It was Kelly 3, Rangers 1 as the Senators grinder opened the scoring early in the second period, scored the game-winning goal with 2:24 left in regulation and completed the hat trick with an empty-netter with one second left on the clock.
1. Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins: This is, to this point, the best save of the NHL season. Just unbelievable. Still wasn't enough however as the Bruins ended up losing in the shootout. That shouldn't take away from the beauty of the play.
2. Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks: More great goaltending, this time from Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, who was outstanding on Friday night as he and his teammates helped overcome some of their past demons in Chicago. This was one of Luongo's better saves during his shutout performance.
3.Nazem Kadri, Toronto Maple Leafs: Nice hands in the shootout for the rookie.
Lowlight Of The Week: Mike Smith, Tampa Bay Lightning. Goaltending has been a bit of a problem for the Tampa Bay Lightning this season, and, well, Mike Smith had a rough play here against Dennis Seidenberg.