Crosby-Hossa combination finally is put into motion

When news broke that Marian Hossa was headed to Pittsburgh, visions of the All-Star forward teaming with reigning MVP Sidney Crosby flooded the minds of hockey fans and put fear into future opponents.

However, injuries to Crosby's ankle and Hossa's knee have prevented the two from being on the ice in the same game until Thursday. Now that they are together, it will soon be known if the blockbuster deal pays off.

A CHRISTMAS STORY: The Canadiens' surprise surge to the top of the Eastern Conference standings took root in a road trip around Christmas, when the team went 3-1-2 and started its rise in the Northeast Division.

The same time last year, a 1-3 skid on the road sent Montreal on the road to missing the playoffs.

FEELING BLUE (AND WHITE): Each of the NHL's Original Six teams have at least reached the Stanley Cup Finals since Toronto's last championship in 1967 -- except for the languishing Maple Leafs.

REELING THEM IN: Boosted by playoff races that had 22 of the 30 teams within six points of a playoff berth heading into this weekend, the NHL is on pace to break attendance records for March, when games have been played in front of crowds averaging 17,900 fans -- 97 percent of capacity.

COACHING QUINN: Former NHL coach Pat Quinn will coach Canada's national team in April in the world under-18 tournament, held in Russia.

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