All it takes is nothing to happen for the NHL world to get into an uproar.
The aftermath of the Tampa Bay Lightning-Philadelphia Flyers still life Wednesday night is still reverberating in the hallways of rinks and the NHL offices.
The circumstance where two teams decide not to play the game -- hey, the Columbus Blue Jackets are actually trying -- is expected to be discussed next week when the NHL's general managers are in Toronto for the Hall of Fame proceedings.
"I haven't seen a final agenda, but I'm sure it will be a hot topic," one senior executive said. "But the last thing I want to see is something implemented quickly. You want to make sure if you do something -- and I'm not sure we need to do anything -- is make sure whatever you do is going to have a long-lasting, positive effect on the game."
The Lightning often uses a 1-3-1 defensive system in which the lead player seldom crosses the offensive blue line. The Flyers defencemen countered on several occasions by not bothering to move the puck out of their zone -- playing the game of chicken -- and the Bolts didn't come after them.
Teams have been playing different sorts of passive defences since Jacques Lemaire had a full head of hair.
The slippery slope the NHL wants to avoid putting a foot on is dictating how teams should play the game. Implementing a rule about how players should move on the ice in even-strength situations is not something the league wants to do nor should it.
At this point, according to a couple of team executives, the course of action likely will be to put together a small working group to look at the issue, a group that would include a couple of coaches.
Detroit Red Wings star Henrik Zetterberg summed things up for most right-thinking fans of the game.
"Hilarious," Zetterberg said. "It was a good way to show how boring it could be if the other team doesn't do anything. That's the way we played in Sweden 10, 12 years ago. A 1-3-1, really strict, and the game became really boring.
"With the skill we have in this league, you shouldn't be able to play that way. If a team wants to do it (fine), but it's a waste of talent."
HEAR AND THERE: New Jersey Devils forward David Clarkson was having dinner three years ago in West Orange, N.J., when the restaurant owner wanted to introduce him to somebody. "It was pretty cool for me," Clarkson said the other day. The person the owner wanted him to meet was Joe Frazier, the former heavyweight champ who died Monday. "We posed for a photo. He was wearing a big cowboy hat. I had my arm around him with the biggest smile. When I heard he passed away I looked at the picture." The owner told Frazier Clarkson was a pretty good scrapper. "He looked at me and said, 'A fighter? You're pretty small to be a fighter.' " ... The Florida Panthers are off to an 8-4-3 start, their best since 1996-97. One of the big reasons? The offence they're getting from their defence, led by Brian Campbell. The Panthers "D" has 46 points as a group, tops in the league. Campbell has thrived as a front-line guy after playing behind Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook in Chicago.
THE BUZZ: Brent Burns, traded to San Jose from Minnesota during the summer, said what a lot of traded players think, which was he hoped the Wild went "0-82" this season. "It should be anybody (who thinks that way)," Burns said. "It doesn't matter if they work at Ford. They get fired from Ford, you think they're going to buy a Ford truck anymore? It's the same thing. I got traded. You don't want them to do well without you and have people think it's because they got rid of you." ... Denver Post hockey writer Adrian Dater wandered into the American Jewelry and Loan pawn shop in Detroit (it's featured on "Hardcore Pawn" on TruTv) and who does he run into? Ex-Wing Darren McCarty. He's learning the pawnbroker business. Maybe he'll be able to help the NHL with the Coyotes.
JUST SAYING: Winter has come early to Calgary judging by the cold front that seems to have drifted in between the coach and the general manager ... It didn't take long for defenceman Tomas Kaberle to wear out his welcome in Raleigh. Word is he's being shopped ... A nice moment: Barry Trotz will coach his 1,000th game Saturday night, all with the Nashville Predators. GM David Poile has been right there beside him the whole time. They're a class act.
JUST WONDERING: Do players like playing a passive 1-3-1 system like the one employed by Tampa coach Guy Boucher? Has a player ever complained to him about standing around? "Never, you know why?" Boucher asked. "Because they like to win above anything else." ... Is there some rule we don't know about that says the Blue Jackets have to have a Nikita somewhere in the system?
THE LAST WORD: Speaking of Jacques Lemaire, he had some great comments aimed at broadcasters who criticized the Lightning for its 1-3-1 system. "They couldn't coach so they go behind the mike because they couldn't find a way to win."
THE HOT TEAM
DALLAS STARS, 11-3 (going into Friday night's game).
The season started with ownership issues, the loss of free-agent centre Brad Richards and a new coach whom many fans had not heard of.
It didn't sound like a winning formula for the Dallas Stars.
But here are the Stars with the most wins (11) and the fewest losses (three) going into Friday's games.
A few interesting stats:
* They lead the league in 5-on-5 scoring.
* Eight of their wins have come when they have been outshot, so they know something about weathering a storm or two.
* They lead the league in hits with 400 and are third in blocked shots behind Toronto and Nashville.
Talk to people around the league and the AHL about Stars rookie coach Glen Gulutzan and two descriptions that keep coming up are "prepared" and "hard working."
He's prepared and his teams are hard working.
"I've seen just about every team in the league and the Stars were the hardest-working team I've seen. Even (Stars forward) Mike Ribeiro was coming back," one pro scout said with a laugh. "The coach is doing a good job there."
Preparation and teaching are Gulutzan's strengths which shouldn't be surprising since he holds a teaching degree from the University of Saskatchewan.
THE LOCKER ROOM
When you think about hockey players, you think about their equipment being pretty static, for the most part.
Skates are sharpened as needed. And there are some players who like to switch to dry gloves during the course of a game. For instance, you often see some Boston Bruins carrying their gloves across the ice at the Bell Centre -- their dressing room is on the other side -- to a trainer during a stoppage in play.
But Ottawa Senators defenceman Sergei Gonchar is one of those players who makes changes depending on the situation. Gonchar goes to a shorter stick when the Senators are on the power play. He prepares four of his Easton sticks for each game, two of which are one inch shorter than the other two. The shorter stick allows him better puck handling, he said. "When I'm on the blue line with the shorter stick, I can bring the puck in closer to my legs and it creates more room for myself," Gonchar said. He said he noticed the difference when he gripped down on his stick in practice and then slowly worked it into game situations. In 5-on-5 situations, the extra reach is a benefit for defending.
Vancouver Canucks Power Play
Power plays: 78
Power-play goals: 21
The Canucks power play has been sizzling this week, going 7-for-12 in wins over the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings. The Canucks went 5-for-6 against the Blackhawks. Interestingly, the Canucks power play is humming along by getting contributions from many different players. Seven different players have scored the seven goals during the past two games -- three defencemen (Sami Salo, Aaron Rome and Dan Hamhuis) and four forwards (Andrew Ebbett, David Booth, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin). Eleven players have figured in the power-play scoring the past two games -- the Canucks have had two units going which makes it tough to defend. Cody Hodgson is coming into his own, too, with three assists, joining the Sedins and Alex Edler with three power-play points in the two games.
Scorers in the NHL since Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby went down with a concussion.
Crosby led the scoring race with 32 goals and 34 assists for 66 points in half a season when he went out with a concussion Jan. 5. Here are the top five scorers since Jan. 6, 2011:
1. Daniel Sedin 59GP 25G 48A 73PTS Has brought more finish to his game; scoring up a bit
2. Corey Perry 54GP 34G 30A 64PTS Took charge to win Hart after Crosby looked like a lock
3. Thomas Vanek 55GP 27G 35A 62PTS Buffalo Sabres forward has been one of the best wingers
4. Martin St. Louis 56GP 17G 45A 62PTS Veteran forward never slows down -- except in 1-3-1
5. Henrik Sedin 59GP 15G 48A 63PTS Other half of twins is falling off brother's pace
5. Phil Kessel 60GP 31G 32A 63PTS Hot start for Leafs gunner has put him among elite
18: The number of combined goals scored by Anaheim Ducks forwards Corey Perry (five), Teemu Selanne (five), Ryan Getzlaf (four) and Bobby Ryan (four) going into Friday's game against Vancouver. The other 12 forwards have combined to score four. Makes figuring out how to beat the Ducks pretty easy, huh?
59: Average length of shift in seconds for New Jersey Devils rookie defenceman Adam Larsson, a pretty big number given the average most coaches like is 45 seconds. The 18-year-old, taken fourth overall in last summer's draft, is third in the league in shift length behind teammate Ilya Kovalchuk (61 seconds) and Pittsburgh's Kris Letang (60).
25:29: Average time on ice per game for Kovalchuk. He is the only forward in the NHL to lead his team in ice time. Of course, when he is signed for the rest of the century, or something like that, you can't blame a franchise for wanting to get its money's worth. All that ice and only two goals to show for it.
323: Projected number of goals the Columbus Blue Jackets will allow this season, which would be the most given up by a team in a single season since the 2004-05 lockout. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who gave up 316 goals in 2005-06, and the Philadelphia Flyers (303 in 2006-07) are the only other teams to give up more than 300.