Ken Campbell

Ken Campbell, The Hockey News' senior writer, is in his second tour with the brand after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native once tried out for the Ontario League's Wolves as a 30-year-old. Needless to say, it didn't work out.

Forget about bridge with Nathan MacKinnon – pass Go and collect a big-money, long-term contract

Ken Campbell
Nathan MacKinnon (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

Even Nathan MacKinnon would be surprised if you told him that almost a quarter into the season, the guy that nobody recognized at the Tim Hortons drive through in those television ads would be 10 points ahead of the guy everyone seemed to know.

Such is life for MacKinnon these days. In his third year in the NHL, MacKinnon seems more comfortable in his skin than ever and it’s showing. The No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft is on pace for 92 points this season and finds himself firmly ensconced in the top 10 NHL scorers. And the other guy in those commercials? Well, Sidney Crosby is off to a miserable start, with just nine points.

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Power Rankings: Rangers looking to hang 10 (and 11) in Florida trip

Ken Campbell
New York Rangers  (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

The first time the New York Rangers won 10 games in a row, it was 1939-40 and they went on to win the Stanley Cup. The second time they accomplished the feat, it was 1972-73 and they lost in five games in the semifinal to the Chicago Black Hawks.

The Rangers will try for the third 10-game winning streak in franchise history Thursday night when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning. In fact, when the Rangers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 Sunday night, it marked a full month since the last time they’ve been defeated in regulation time.

The Rangers have been dominant at times, at other times just good enough to win games. But the bottom line is they’re winning them and find themselves earning top spot in’s weekly Power Rankings. Last week’s rankings are in parentheses.

1. New York Rangers (2)
2. Dallas Stars (3)
3. New Jersey Devils (7)
4. Montreal Canadiens (1)
5. Chicago Blackhawks (13)
6. Los Angeles Kings (10)
7. Nashville Predators (9)
8. Minnesota Wild (8)
9. Washington Capitals (4)
10. St. Louis Blues (5)

Are there flaws in John Klingberg’s game? Of course there are. Does he legitimately deserve to be among the early favorites for the Norris Trophy? You bet he does…At the GM meetings last week, Devils GM Ray Shero acknowledged his greatest fear going into the season. “Your fear is that you’re going to be terrible,” he said. “And who wants to be terrible? Nobody.” Turns out those fears were unfounded, at least early in the season. You might have questioned the Devils credentials over the weekend, then they went out and beat Chicago on the road and Pittsburgh at home…Carey Price went out and took some shots before Montreal’s morning skate Monday, but there’s still no firm timetable on a return that has now hit the two-week mark…The Kings start a five game road trip through the Eastern Conference in Philadelphia Tuesday night that will take them to American Thanksgiving…Braden Holtby will have had five days between starts, which Mike Vogel of points out is not a great thing, saying Holtby’s numbers are far superior when he’s more busy…Speaking of the GM meetings, David Poile said there he’d be in favor of seeing more scoring. Then his team went out and scored seven goals in two of three games.

11. Colorado Avalanche (30)
12. New York Islanders (21)
13. San Jose Sharks (19)
14. Ottawa Senators (15)
15. Boston Bruins (14)
16. Florida Panthers (26)
17. Toronto Maple Leafs (27)
18. Columbus Blue Jackets (28)
19. Tampa Bay Lightning (17)
20. Arizona Coyotes (25)

A backup goalie and a player allegedly on the trade block are the two players fuelling Colorado’s recent hot streak. Reto Berra has the best save percentage and goals-against average in the NHL and Matt Duchene was named first star of the week after scoring four goals and eight points to lead the Avs to three straight road victories…There’s no reason to think Patrick Marleau will be moved anytime soon, or at least until he loosens up the number of teams to which he’d accept a trade, and as long as he continues being one of their better forwards and scores overtime winners the way he did in Buffalo on the weekend, the Sharks will see value in keeping him around…Kyle Turris, who has been the Senators best forward by a country mile this season, was knocked out Ottawa’s loss to the Rangers Saturday, did not practice Sunday and is questionable for tonight’s game. The Senators also lost backup goalie Andrew Hammond to a head injury in Sunday’s practice…Go ahead, NHL, just rub the salt into Jonathan Bernier’s wound by naming James Reimer the third star of the week…After missing 10 games with a broken bone in his hand, Aleksander Barkov is scheduled to return to the Panthers lineup tonight against Tampa Bay…Even though his team has won two straight, John Tortorella doesn’t want his Blue Jackets players looking at the standings. “It’s not pretty right now,” Tortorella told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, “and it’s not the way for us to think.”

21. Pitsburgh Penguins (11)
22. Buffalo Sabres (24)
23. Vancouver Canucks (16)
24. Anaheim Ducks (6)
25. Detroit Red Wings (18)
26. Philadelphia Flyers (22)
27. Carolina Hurricanes (23)
28. Edmonton Oilers (18)
29. Calgary Flames (20)
30. Winnipeg Jets (12)

It has sure taken the Lightning a while to get going this season. They have just nine first-period goals this season…Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian, who has yet to play this season after a mysterious injury in training camp, is getting closer to returning to the lineup. The next step is for him to take part in a morning skate, which the Sabres will have Tuesday before facing the Dallas Stars at home…The Canucks were 4-0-1 on the road before embarking on their current road trip, on which they’ve gone 1-3-1 going into tonight’s game in Montreal…Hey, here’s one possible reason the Ducks have struggles do mightily this season. It might have something to do with the fact that Ryan Getzlaf has zero goals in 13 games this season and Jakob Silfverberg has the same number in 17 games…After scoring a career-high 15 goals last season for the Red Wings, Darren Helm has no goals in 13 games this season…We can only hope and pray that this injury isn’t as painful as it sounds: Over the weekend, the Flyers announced that Mark Streit, their all-round best defenseman, would miss six weeks to recover from surgery on a pubic plate detachment…One bright spot for the Oilers has been the play of Leon Draisaitl, who must really, really hate Oklahoma City. Since his call-up, he’s scored five goals and 13 points and is on pace to score 117 points in 72 games this season. He won’t, but it’s fun to dream…In a statement that ranks right up there with “Water is wet,” Jets coach had this to say after practice Sunday, hours after his team was skunked 7-0 by Nashville for it’s fourth straight loss: “We’re not a confident group right now.”

Are Shero’s New Jersey Devils really a playoff team?

Ken Campbell
Travis Zajac (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Holding down the last playoff spot in a weak Eastern Conference might not be considered much of a triumph for some teams in the NHL, but when you’re the New Jersey Devils, it’s all about exceeding expectations. And the Devils are doing just that in their first season under new GM Ray Shero.

In many ways, Shero is playing with house money here. Projections for the Devils were so low and he’s had so little time to make an impact on the roster that the stink of a bad finish this season would not be sticking to him. But sometimes and organization needs to hit the Refresh button and there was not a team in the NHL that needed to do that more than the Devils. For them to be competing for a playoff spot rather than the Auston Matthews Sweepstakes – and it’s still early here – is nothing short of remarkable.

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Was Crosby’s performance vs. Montreal a statement game?

Ken Campbell
Sidney Crosby scores on Mike Condon in the shootout.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

So, what did we learn from the Pittsburgh Penguins shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday night? Well, we know Mike Condon isn’t perfect. We also know that Sidney Crosby isn’t perfect, but he’s getting better.

Crosby went into his team’s 4-3 shootout win tied for 175th place in NHL scoring. Two assists later, he moved up more than 50 spots to tied for 124th. But the best part of Crosby’s performance was that he had an impact on the game right at the beginning and right at the end. His shootout goal on Condon, the second the young Canadiens gave up in two shots, put the game out of reach.

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Don’t expect bigger nets in the NHL anytime soon

Ken Campbell
Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Before we all go off getting all excited, yes, GMs talked about the possibility of making nets bigger at their annual November meeting Tuesday afternoon. But they talk about a lot of things and the vast majority of them never end up coming to fruition.

But if you think the men who run the hockey operations departments in the best league in the world are going to go off half cocked and propose more white space around their goaltenders, not happening. First, the GMs have to come to a consensus on whether or not about 5.3 goals a game constitutes a lack of offense in the NHL. Some would like to see more scoring, others think the game is just fine. For these guys, it’s more about scoring chances than it is how often pucks are being put behind the goalies today.

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Flint Firebirds prove major junior player union is possible

Ken Campbell
Flint Firebirds vs. Mississauga Steelheads (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)

Let’s just take a moment to ponder what those courageous young men who play for the Flint Firebirds accomplished Sunday night when they marched up to the team’s front office and dropped their sweaters on the floor. Because both the character and gumption they displayed and the results they accrued are nothing short of remarkable.

Not only did they manage to get their fired coaches reinstated, the coaches were minted with new three-year contracts. And league commissioner David Branch rushed to the scene to staunch the bleeding and ensure that all the affected had their feelings assuaged. The owner of the team publicly apologized for making a rash and irresponsible decision to fire his coaches, apparently because they weren’t giving his son enough ice time. And it seemed to happen in record time. Good for those young men who, in some ways, displayed the same courage Ted Lindsay, Doug Harvey and a small cabal of players did when they stood up to the owners almost 60 years ago to plant the seed that germinated into the NHL Players’ Association.

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Power Rankings: Price-less Canadiens keep rolling with Mike Condon

Ken Campbell
Mike Condon (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Montreal Canadiens announced Monday that goalie Carey Price, who has been out a week with a lower-body injury, went out of the country to seek treatment. It’s all very secretive, but this can’t be terribly good news for the Canadiens or Price.

Luckily for the Canadiens, Mike Condon has stepped in and not missed a beat, helping the Canadiens take seven of eight points and posting a .940 save percentage. Should Price be out for any significant amount of time, the Canadiens will not have to worry about their goaltending tandem of Condon and Dustin Tokarski. Oh yeah, and in case you haven’t noticed, they have a pretty good team playing in front of those guys.

And for that reason, they’re once again on top of’s Power Rankings. Last week’s rankings are in parentheses.

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Sunday Long Read: Pronger and Lidstrom polar opposites as Hall of Famers

Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Pronger shake hands after their 2009 playoff series. Photo by Tom Turrill/NHLI via Getty Images)

During what is now a Hall of Fame career, Nicklas Lidstrom garnered so much respect that he earned the nickname, The Perfect Human. Not The Perfect Hockey Player. Not The Perfect Defenseman. The Perfect Human. People called Chris Pronger lots of things during what is now a Hall of Fame career, too. None of them is suitable for publication on a website that might be viewed by young people. Many of those words begin with the letter ‘F’.

It was not easy to play the game the way Lidstrom did, but he made it look that way. Playing the game and preparing for it the way Lidstrom meticulously did and maintaining a ridiculously high standard on and off the ice presented its fair share of challenges. But it’s also not easy going to the opposing rink from the time you’re a kid and knowing that you’re going to be the most hated guy there. But like Lidstrom, Pronger embraced his role and status. Lidstrom wore the white hat and Pronger donned the black, and both of them managed to do it while becoming two of the most dominant defensemen of their generation.

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