If the Detroit Red Wings miss the playoffs for the first time in 20 years, a primary contributing factor will be their inability to win games in overtime. Detroit is just 6-12 overall in extra time, with eight of the losses in shootouts. Only the Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins (9) have lost more. The Calgary Flames, Detroit's closest challengers, aren't much better in extra time (5-9, with six shootout losses), but the Nashville Predators are (8-5), the primary reason they're seventh and still in the thick of the race with two more talented squads. At this past week's general managers meetings, the Blue Jackets' Scott Howson tried to interest his colleagues in changing the NHL's point system and grant 11/2 points for an overtime win instead of the usual two, but sadly, his proposal fell on deaf ears. THE WEBER WATCH Shea Weber returned to the Predators' lineup in time for Thursday night's game against the San Jose Sharks, missing just two games, and picked up an assist in the first period on Patric Hornqvist's power-play goal. Weber's short stay on the injury list is considered pivotal to the Predators' playoff hopes, not just because he is arguably their MVP, but because the player they picked up to provide insurance on defence, Denis Grebeshkov, is injured as well. Grebeshkov took a puck in what is euphemistically known as the groin area during last Sunday's game v. Vancouver and required surgery on one of his testicles. He is out indefinitely with what can fairly be described as a lower-body injury. THE FIRST MAN What you need to know about Chicago Blackhawks' centre Adam Burish : A pesky and important agitator during last year's run to the conference final, Burish once worked as a guest bouncer on the Jerry Springer show. On Wednesday, Burish made his season debut in a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings after missing the first five months recovering from off-season knee surgery. Within the first three minutes, Burish recorded his first assist of the season and also got into a fight. Burish, speaking to the Chicago Daily Herald: "I wanted to get in a fight, it's been so long. I got out there for the first shift, jumped out there quick with [ Patrick ] Kane and [ Patrick Sharp ]and, boom, we get a goal right away. I said, 'All right, this is easy, now I'm going to grab the first guy I can find who wants to go,' and [Richard]Clune came over. It was a fun way to start the game. I couldn't have had it any better other than if I would have scored." CHELLY MADE ME SMILE No, not a song by the immortal Lisle , but news that Methuselah - a.k.a. former Blackhawk Chris Chelios, 48 - is back in the NHL, replacing injured defenceman Christoph Schubert on the Atlanta Thrashers' defence. Schubert is out a minimum of three weeks with a hip injury. The Thrashers, desperate to make the playoffs in the East, despite the loss of Ilya Kovalchuk , figured Chelios's leadership couldn't hurt - and might even provide a push for a team floundering at this important stage of the season. Chelios had been playing for the AHL Wolves, Atlanta's primary minor-league affiliate. The Thrashers are also without rookie Evander Kane , who fractured his left foot. Depending upon where they are in the three weeks or more that it may require Kane to heal, Atlanta might just shut him down for the season. Kane was ninth overall in rookie scoring, just ahead of the New York Islanders' Rob Schremp and just behind the New York Rangers' Michael Del Zotto . SCHREMP OUT Schremp, the former Oilers' prospect who got a chance to play in the NHL as a waiver addition with the Isles, tore cartilage in his right knee in a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers this week and is not expected to play again this season. The Islanders played Schremp fewer than 14 minutes a night and were using him mostly as an offensive specialist. Five of his seven goals came on the power play (which gave him the third highest total on the team behind John Tavares and Mark Streit ). Overall, he had 25 points in 44 games, respectable totals given his ice time, and most important, was just minus-four, not bad on a team where five players were minus-13 or worse, including Tavares at minus-18. As for Del Zotto, he had an exceptional first month, but - like Tavares - is struggling in even-strength situations, with an overall minus-20 rating. Among Rangers' defenceman, the next lowest is Dan Girardi at minus-5. The leader, at plus-five, is the much maligned Wade Redden . WILD ABOUT DONE After an awful start under new coach Todd Richards , the Minnesota Wild have been respectable since about November, but their chances of making the playoffs became more distant this past week after losing a 3-2 shootout decision to the out-of-contention Florida Panthers. Florida went into the game having allowed more shots than any team in the league. They emerged with a franchise record for fewest shots allowed - 11 overall, including two in overtime. Or, to put it another way, Minnesota had nine shots in 60 minutes of regulation, at home, against the most porous defensive team in the league. Not nearly good enough. AND FINALLY …Usually, the cover boys for sports video games are in the Alexander Ovechkin stratosphere, but this week, 2K Sports struck a blow for the common man - or at least the all-round player - when it signed Ryan Kesler as its cover athlete for NHL 2K11. Kesler was featured in the promotion of last year's game - he and Ovechkin did a motion-capture session outdoors on artificial ice at Caesar's Palace during NHL awards festivities last June - but apparently Kesler's play in the Olympics (and presumably his high profile among the American players) convinced them to choose him. In a statement, 2K Sports described him as "a vital member of the upstart 2010 U.S. Olympic hockey team [who]captured the collective attention of sports fans around the world with his gritty and awe-inspiring performance, and will now look to bring the same electrifying play to NHL 2K11." Kesler, in a statement, said: "Having the opportunity to participate in the Olympics and play in front of my home crowd was one of the best experiences of my life. To now be chosen as the next cover athlete for NHL 2K11 is another dream come true."
Eric was the winner of the Hockey Hall Of Fame's Elmer Ferguson award for "distinguished contributions to hockey writing" in 2001. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario's grad school of journalism, he began covering hockey in 1978 and after spending 20 years covering the NHL and the Calgary Flames, joined The Globe in 2000. More