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IN THE CREASE
Pierre McGuire
December 04, 2000
HOW GOOD is Avalanche defenseman Raymond Bourque? Just ask Hal Gill of the Bruins. Until Bourque was traded from Boston to Colorado last March, he was paired with Gill in the latter's first three years in the league. Gill's plus-minus rating over that time was-9. Through Sunday, Gill's rating was-11 since Bourque's departure....
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December 04, 2000

In The Crease

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HOW GOOD is Avalanche defenseman Raymond Bourque? Just ask Hal Gill of the Bruins. Until Bourque was traded from Boston to Colorado last March, he was paired with Gill in the latter's first three years in the league. Gill's plus-minus rating over that time was-9. Through Sunday, Gill's rating was-11 since Bourque's departure....

Speaking of the Bruins, if they miss the playoffs this season (as of Sunday they would not have qualified) and end up in the draft lottery, the Oilers could be the beneficiary. As part of the Anson Carter-Bill Guerin deal two weeks ago, Edmonton, which doesn't figure to be a lottery team, can switch first-round picks with Boston in 2001 or 2002. Scouts say this June's crop of draftees will be unusually strong at the top....

One reason the Senators' Jacques Martin is an outstanding coach: Knowing his defense wasn't as deep as in past seasons, Martin gave his assistants, Roger Neilson and Perry Pearn, responsibility for changing the defenseman pairings during games. Having four extra eyes concentrating solely on defense has helped Ottawa get matchups that it favors....

A couple of scheduling quirks: The Maple Leafs, an Original Six team, have never played in Nashville, even though the Predators are now in their third NHL season, and the Canucks and the Hurricanes don't meet this year. "It won't happen again," NHL scheduling guru Steve Hatze Petros says of the latter situation....

Toronto, which finished 23rd in the NHL in penalty killing last season, was first through Sunday. The difference? During the off-season the Maple Leafs hired Keith Acton as assistant coach and permitted him to oversee the penalty-killing unit. During his 17-year NHL career Acton was always a top special teams player, and he has the team playing better fundamentals, such as closing down passing lanes.

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