Hurricanes thump Capitals…Patrick Sharp among league shooting leaders…Bruins move Krejci to right wing…Blues struggling on the road…Kings coach seeks more from Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown…Joey MacDonald new Wings backup…Lightning still optimistic about playoffs…Hurricanes extends GM David Poile’s contract…Bryan McCabe’s transition from player to scout.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes recent improvement, including a big 5-0 win over the Washington Capitals, has them thinking playoffs.

WASHINGTON POST: Alexander Ovechkin left the Capitals bench during the second period due to what he and head coach Dale Hunter called a skate problem, but he was seen limping after the game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It also prompted hockey analyst Mike Milbury ,after the second period, to wonder  if Ovechkin left the bench in a fit of petulance. Evidently, that wasn’t the case. The Capitals, however, are in a bad place right now, winning only 3 of their last ten games. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are 6-2-2 in their last ten, and are now only 7 points back from eighth overall, even though they sit 15th overall in the Conference. It’s a long road, but if the Hurricanes continue their improvement, they stand as good a chance as the currently surging Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference of moving into playoff contention.

Sharp shooter.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Despite missing eight games this season, Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp is third in the Western Conference and 12th overall  in shots.

CSNNE.COM: The Bruins moved David Krejci to right wing on a line with Chris Kelly and Milan Lucic during their recent game against the Minnesota Wild in hopes of sparking their struggling offense. Coach Claude Julien hinted it’s a combination he might go with again.

STLTODAY.COM: Despite the Blues improvement this season, they have a sub-.500 road record (10-13-3), and are 4-13-3 against Western Conference team, including a 1-7-2 record against Divisional opponents in their last ten games.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings coach Darryl Sutter is seeking more from forwards Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Their production is down of late, but I suspect that’s because rival teams are keying on them, understanding if those two are shut down, they shut down the offensively anemic Kings. These two have probably given all they can give and need help, either from their current teammates, or by management bringing in another scorer to help these two carry the load.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Call-up goalie Joey MacDonald has taken over the backup role for the Red Wings, who’ve demoted Ty Conklin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good to see the Pictou-born MacDonald making the most of this opportunity.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning are only six points out of a playoff berth, prompting GM Steve Yzerman to suggest he might change his strategy heading toward the trade deadline if the club keeps winning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yzerman probably won’t turn into a buyer, but he might not feel the need to be in “sell” mode if they keep winning.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators have extended the contract of GM David Poile to 2015.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t say I’m surprised, what he’s done for several years putting together a playoff club on a tight budget is deserving of a new deal.

MIAMI HERALD: Former Panthers player Bryan McCabe is now working as a scout for the club.