I’m always intrigued by how teams respond to losing a star player. There have been so many injuries to stars in the NHL this year that there are lots of interesting examples. For one, Vancouver has played their last four games without all-World goalie Roberto Luongo. Their backup is Andrew Raycroft, a guy who has bounced around and was chased out of Toronto despite their goalie struggles because he was playing so poorly. You’d expect a fall in performance then, but that just isn’t the case – they were just 6-6 with Luongo, but they are 3-1 with Raycroft. Even more surprising, Raycroft has allowed just two goals in those three wins. Atlanta is another interesting case. Ilya Kovalchuk is by far their best player, and he was off to a good start, but now he’s out of action for several weeks. The team lost the last three games with Kovalchuk in the lineup. They lost the first one he was out for as well, but then bounced back and have won two in a row. The natural reaction would be that a team built around one star would struggle without that star, but the Thrashers won a high scoring game in Montreal tonight. Interesting stuff, even if it is anecdotal.

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