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IN THE CREASE
Pierre McGuire
January 25, 1999
After a horrible start (0-6-2) the Sharks are in the playoff race, and a lot of the credit for that should go to second-year center Marco Sturm. He has improved offensively—with 11 goals through Sunday, he's already surpassed his rookie total—and his speed makes him an effective forechecker. He has also been more physical, and as NHL observers like to say, he has a lot of Western Hockey League in him....
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January 25, 1999

In The Crease

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After a horrible start (0-6-2) the Sharks are in the playoff race, and a lot of the credit for that should go to second-year center Marco Sturm. He has improved offensively—with 11 goals through Sunday, he's already surpassed his rookie total—and his speed makes him an effective forechecker. He has also been more physical, and as NHL observers like to say, he has a lot of Western Hockey League in him....

The pulled groin muscle that has sidelined Capitals star center Adam Oates since Nov. 27 is more serious man first thought. He's scheduled to visit Rae Brown, a Montreal-based trauma surgeon, next week for another evaluation....

Predators 12-year veteran center Cliff Ronning, who was acquired from the Coyotes for future considerations in December, has done such a good job that management has offered him a contract extension. He has not only provided offensive punch (25 points) but also has set a good example for Nashville's younger players....

In the off-season the Islanders expanded their coaching staff to a football-like six assistants (most NHL teams have two or three), but the move has had a negative effect. Many current and former members of the team say the players are sometimes confused by conflicting advice, and it shows: New York was winless in its last 10 games and had the second-worst record in the league....

Buffalo, one of the NHL's smaller teams, has struggled recently because opponents have found that the Sabres aren't nearly as effective if an opponent hits them first....

Speaking of Buffalo, general manager Darcy Regier is shopping center Derek Plante, who is small but offensively gifted. Regier wants a second-round draft pick in return....

There are two reasons that the Red Wings are flashing championship form again: First, rugged winger Kirk Malt-by has returned from a knee injury and is playing with grit, which makes linemate Kris Draper more effective; and second, coach Scotty Bowman and his staff put together the explosive line of Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov and Slava Kozlov. These guys could run wild in the second half of the season.

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