Santa can make this NHL season a whole bunch merrier

RANDY SPORTAK

, Last Updated: 11:28 AM ET

Just think, in these parts, we were all over Todd Bertuzzi for his scoring slump.

Sure, he went 19 games without a goal, but when the Calgary Flames hit the ice for last night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Bertuzzi had collected eight goals and 22 points.

In the big picture, that's a really solid pace for the big winger, especially compared to the past couple of seasons he's had.

Around the league, there are plenty of players who would love to have slumped on the way to Christmas the way Bertuzzi had.

Feeling generous this time of year -- Ho! Ho! Ho!, must be the egg nog and spiced rum -- and hoping to just once be a little positive, we'd like Santa and his elves to whip up a batch of good luck and scoring touch for some NHL players.

For example, Anaheim's Brendan Morrison has not been enjoying his start to life in Disneyland. Maybe it's because he's always been willing to chat with reporters throughout his career, but you can't help but like to see Morrison do better than the four goals and four assists he's garnered. (Bobby Ryan has played half the games and put together more points).

Morrison isn't alone in the dumps.

Look at Maxim Afinogenov in Buffalo, one goal in 28 games this season and only two in his last 43 contests. A guy with that kind of breakaway speed shouldn't struggle like that.

Edmonton has a few players struggling, but the most surprising are Erik Cole (3-5-8) and Sam Gagner (2-5-7). Cole is a proven veteran scorer who had so much success in the Southeast Division over the years, but can't seem to find his form in the Northwest. Gagner was the one among the Oilers three kids -- Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson -- I didn't expect would struggle in his sophomore season because he arrived in the league with such a complete game.

There are others, too,

Here is just a sampling of players struggling to score like they have in seasons past: Derek Morris, Chris Clark, Antoine Vermette, Mike Comrie and Christopher Higgins, although the last two have been in and out of sick bay.

While we're at it, how about Santa give some good health to those top-level players in need of it. How about this lineup of skaters hindered by being in the M*A*S*H unit: Jere Lehtinen, Brian Rolston, Joe Sakic, Sergei Zubov and Daniel Briere.

With all the negativity around the world these days thanks to the slumping economy, the NHL world could really use some good news.Getting those players back in action or back to high gear would be a first step.

FLAMING C-NOTES

The NHL could follow the lead for policing itself shown by the Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues regarding Cam Janssen. The Blues energy forward broke Brandon Prust's jaw the last time the teams met and in the return meeting had to fight both Cory Sarich and Andre Roy this week. Janssen actually called Prust to apologize, but knew he had to answer the bell when they met. If only more players around the NHL would live by the code of honour like that ... By the way, too bad the Blues weren't wearing their new third jerseys that night. It's the best of the new duds out so far. The Flyers and Oilers retro uniforms are good, but there's something classic about the look of the Blues.

HOCKEY TALKY

Anybody shocked Marian Gaborik is again injured though. Seriously, after one game he was feeling "some discomfort" yesterday and was the first off the ice. Sure it doesn't mean he'll miss two months again (he actually played last night), but it doesn't mean he won't. Maybe he needs to learn to suck it up more ... Karl Alzner won't be the NHL's Calder Trophy winner but that doesn't mean he's not the rookie of the year. In 12 games since being summoned, the former Calgary Hitmen is plus-8 and has four points in playing 20 minutes per game. No surprise, he hasn't taken a penalty yet, either.

YOU DON'T SAY

"I was clearly excluded and I'm extremely disappointed. I would have flown from anywhere on the planet to be there last night."

-- New Toronto GM and former Vancouver GM Brian Burke, who wasn't invited by the Canucks to attend Trevor Linden's sweater retirement ceremony. Can't wait to see how long before the Leafs and Canucks swing a trade.


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