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Daniel G. Habib
November 11, 2002
Neutral-Zone RapThe slick-skating Wild is winning games and fans by defying the notion that a trapping team has to be dull
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November 11, 2002

The Nhl

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"With Bryan, Nick and myself, they've brought in people who play aggressively," says Girard, "and we've also got others who work hard on their defense. The six defensemen work together as duos." Indeed, by placing an offensive-minded blueliner with a stay-at-home type on each pairing—Girard with Hal Gill, Boynton with Don Sweeney, Berard with Sean O'Donnell—Bruins coach Robbie Ftorek has gotten a scoring boost from his defensive corps (eight of the team's 37 goals), one reason the club was off to an unexpectedly good start, 7-2-2-0 at week's end.

Blues' Injured Goaltenders
The More the Merrier

After his club's meek second-round playoff loss to the Red Wings last May, Blues general manager Larry Pleau vowed to improve his team from within. He was able to do that until last week, when an unfathomable string of injuries to his goalies forced Pleau to get outside help.

During the preseason, No. 1 netminder Brent Johnson suffered a high left ankle sprain that will sideline him another three weeks. In the season's second week backup Fred Brathwaite and No. 3 Reinhard Divis suffered groin pulls. ( Brathwaite returned on Oct. 26.) Fourth-stringer Curtis Sanford, called up from the club's AHL affiliate in Worcester, Mass., won his first start on Oct. 19 but strained his left Achilles tendon in his third game. That left the job to Cody Rudkowsky, who had been toiling for Trenton ( N.J.) in the ECHL Last week Pleau, desperate for someone with NHL experience, signed a sixth netminder, 37-year-old free agent Tom Barrasso, to a one-year, $900,000 contract.

Miraculously, St. Louis had equaled a franchise-best 8-1-1-0 start through Sunday and was in first place in the Central Division. Why? Those goalies had a combined 1.76 goals-against average—second best in the league. Says Pleau, "We've got no complaints."

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