Here are some ups and downs of the season's first half (all stats through Sunday):
?All the Original Six teams have a good chance of making the playoffs for the first time since the 1995-96 season.
?The league has its first black stars who are not goaltenders: the Flames' Jarome Iginla and the Oilers' Anson Carter.
?Numerous players have made successful comebacks, including Rangers defensemen Bryan Berard and Vlad Malakhov and goalie Mike Richter (all from injuries) and Islanders center Michael Peca (missed last season because of a contract dispute).
?Thrashers rookie forwards Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk lead first-year players in goals and points, a positive sign for bedraggled Atlanta.
?No high-profile player remains unsigned.
? Mario Lemieux of the Penguins had hip surgery and missed 27 games.
?The Flames and the Mighty Ducks put on a third-period goon show on Dec. 1 in which 291 penalty minutes were assessed and nine players were ejected.