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A MIDSEASON REPORT // HOW THEY GRADE

FORWARDS

No. Name Comment

7 Rob Zamuner Improved skating, and works harder than virtually anyone. Unsung but hardly unnoticed, superb penalty killing. Grade: 3{ pucks.

11 Shawn Burr Yaps at opponents, offering an impassioned sense teammates should have. Great penalty killing. Grade: 3{ pucks.

12 John Cullen Rarely flashy, but steadiest player so far. Centering for Selivanov makes acquisition worthwhile, while Langkow waits in wings. Grade: 3 pucks.

14 John Tucker Has accepted reduced role and penalty-killing assignment with class and has worked admirably under trying personal circumstances. Grade: 2{ pucks.

15 Paul Ysebaert Team captain has 14 goals but bad plus-minus (minus-19) is indicative of soft two-way play. Grade: 2 pucks.

19 Brian Bradley Scoring co-leader nearly meeting point-a-game promise (38 in 41). Good on improved power play, but worst plus-minus (minus-23). Grade: 3 pucks.

20 Rudy Poeschek Takes enforcement seriously. Great role player, but produces few points, and slowness hurts on defense. Grade: 2{ pucks.

22 Aaron Gavey Solid two-way play from team's only rookie. Accepts variety of tasks and performs admirably. Grade: 3 pucks.

23 Brian Bellows Veteran seems to have accepted varying role. Still scoring (11 goals, 10 assists) and strong lately in neutral zone. Grade: 3 pucks.

24 Jason Wiemer Came to training camp in less-than-ideal shape and has struggled. Working hard to regain favorable status, but short of second-season expectations. Grade: 1{ pucks.

29 Alexander Selivanov 16 goals in first 27 games, before slumping to a healthy scratch. Broke out with two goals in tie Monday at Montreal. Weak on defense. Grade: 2{ pucks.

34 Mikael Andersson No goals as occasional scratch and fourth-line forward. Kills penalties well. Grade: 2{ pucks.

77 Chris Gratton Struggling after decent start. Needs to regain confidence to have hoped-for breakout season. Grade: 2 pucks.

85 Petr Klima Refreshing version of Klima is doing all asked of him and putting up points to boot (co-leader with 38, including 17 goals). Grade: 3{ pucks.

DEFENSEMEN

No. Name Comment

2 Bill Houlder Up-and-down. Not a huge scoring factor, but veteran holds a point on second-unit power play. Grade: 2{ pucks.

4 Cory Cross Smart, still learning the game, but needs strength to succeed in the NHL. Grade: 2{ pucks.

27 David Shaw Slow afoot, but veteran stay-home play helps free Hamrlik. Grade: 2{ pucks.

39 Enrico Ciccone Improving skills and amazing restraint, knowing when to fight and when to avoid penalty. Sacrifices self, and plays hurt. Grade: 3 pucks.

44 Roman Hamrlik All-Star great on offense (eight goals, 27 assists), lacking on defense. Lost confidence since last season. Grade: 3 pucks.

95 Michel Petit Some inconsistency, but sparked team upon arrival from Los Angeles. Huge improvement over Steven Finn. Grade: 3 pucks.

GOALTENDERS

No. Name Comment

1 Jeff Reese Despite injuries and assorted problems, fit in nicely, carrying team through Puppa-less stretch. Grade: 3 pucks.

30 J. C. Bergeron Fighting to keep job, but erratic. Salvaged points in relief appearances against Hartford and Montreal but shelled in some outings. Grade: 1{ pucks.

93 Daren Puppa Lengthy, oft-ugly negotiations produced new contract. Sometimes played like he deserves big bucks, other times like he's just cashing the check. Grade: 2{ pucks.

KEY 4 pucks = Excellent 3 pucks = Good 2 pucks = Fair 1 puck = Poor

NOTE: The Grades are based on how a player has performed his role on the team, factoring experience, injuries and ability.

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