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updated: 1/5/2010 2:27 PM

Are Hawks' Keith, Madden halfway to hardware?

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  • Chicago Blackhawks' John Madden celebrates after scoring against the New Jersey Devils in the third period during an NHL Hockey game in Chicago, Thursday, Dec. 31.

    Chicago Blackhawks' John Madden celebrates after scoring against the New Jersey Devils in the third period during an NHL Hockey game in Chicago, Thursday, Dec. 31.
    Paul Beaty | Staff Photographer


We're already halfway through the NHL season with the games coming fast and furious thanks to the condensed schedule because of the Olympics.

Let's get right to it.

Best teams: 1. Blackhawks; 2. New Jersey; 3. San Jose.

And the Hawks are 3-1 against the Devils and Sharks. Could this finally be the year the Hawks win their first Stanley Cup since 1961? All the pieces are in place.

Worst teams: 1. Carolina; 2. Edmonton; 3. Toronto.

The Oilers signing of Nikolai Khabibulin to a four-year contract sure was the dumbest decision of the year so far.

Surprise teams: 1. Phoenix; 2. Colorado; 3. Ottawa.

Everyone keeps waiting for the Coyotes to drop off, but it's not happening.

Disappointing teams: 1. Columbus; 2. Philadelphia; 3. Anaheim.

How did the Blue Jackets make the playoffs last year?

Hart Trophy: 1. Alex Ovechkin; 2. Ilya Bryzgalov; 3. Ryan Miller.

The Capitals aren't nearly as good without Ovechkin, but how good has Bryzgalov been in goal for the Coyotes?

Norris Trophy: 1. Duncan Keith; 2. Zdeno Chara; 3. Mike Green.

If Keith's second half is anything like his first, he's a lock for his first Norris as the NHL's top defenseman.

Calder Trophy: 1. Tyler Myers; 2. Matt Duchene; 3. John Tavares.

Myers, the big Sabres defenseman, has been a difference maker and was only 6 points out of the rookie scoring lead through the weekend.

Adams Trophy: 1. Dave Tippett; 2. Joe Sacco; 3. Barry Trotz.

Is what Tippett is doing in Phoenix mean Wayne Gretzky wasn't a very good coach?

Vezina Trophy: 1. Ilya Bryzgalov; 2. Ryan Miller; 3. Martin Brodeur.

This could go either way, but Miller plays behind a better team in Buffalo.

Selke Trophy: 1. John Madden; 2. Jonathan Toews; 3. Zach Parise.

Madden is the best defensive forward on the best defensive team, but not by much over Toews.

Party boys

The general manager of a Calgary restaurant went public Jan. 1, accusing a group of 45 Edmonton Oilers players and guests of refusing to pay the full amount of their bill following a New Year's Eve party.

Maurizio Terrigno, the GM at Osteria de Medici, claimed team members "went ballistic" when they got the bill for nearly $18,000.

Oilers spokesman Allan Watt said the team considers the matter closed. Watt said when the bill arrived players thought it was "outrageous" and complained. He said restaurant staff reduced it by about $7,000 and team members paid the amended amount and left a $1,900 tip.

Around the rinks

• Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock has received another vote of confidence from general manager Scott Howson.

"He has our 100 percent support," Howson told

The Blue Jackets had just 3 wins in their last 23 games before playing at Vancouver late on Tuesday.

• The Hawks won't have to face Boston center Patrice Bergeron on Thursday.

Bergeron has a thumb injury and could miss the next two to six weeks, putting his spot on the Canadian Olympic team in jeopardy.

• Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa will miss the next two to three months after severing tendons in his ankle.

The list

Five Blackhawks games you don't want to miss the second half of the season.

1. Jan. 28 at San Jose

This is the final meeting of the regular season between the two top teams in the Western Conference.

2. March 5 vs. Vancouver

Canucks defenseman Willie Mitchell plays his first game at the United Center since that hit on Jonathan Toews. Let's hope Hawks fans are ready for him.

3. March 14 vs. Washington

Alex Ovechkin makes his only appearance on the West Side.

4. April 2 at New Jersey

This game could have President's Trophy implications.

5. April 11 vs. Detroit

How sweet would it be for the Red Wings to need this game to make the playoffs only to have the Hawks knock them out?

Ex-Hawk of the week

The last place Michael Leighton expected to be on New Year's Day when the season began was starting the Winter Classic at Fenway Park in goal for the Flyers.

Claimed earlier on waivers from Carolina, Leighton has a chance to play a lot in Philadelphia with Ray Emery injured and Brian Boucher mostly inconsistent in his starts.