Mumps and Maple Leafs making noise in the Eastern Conference

Trending up

  • Mumps: Recently, four more players in the Eastern Conference were diagnosed with the disease, as the puzzling outbreak continues to wreak havoc among the hockey community. And now, it has affected the league's biggest star, as Sidney Crosby was confirmed as testing positive for the illness. On Sunday evening, Rangers forward Derick Brassard was the latest of NHL players to be diagnosed, increasing the count to 14.

  • Toronto Maple Leafs: It's anyone's guess as to which Leafs team we'll see on any given night, but for now it's been a good stretch for Randy Carlyle's squad. Toronto has recorded five straight wins and won nine of its past 11 (9-1-1). Goaltenders Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer, who single-handedly stole two points in the Leafs' win against Detroit on Wednesday night, have been sharp. Hats off also to Daniel Winnik, who seems to have earned Carlyle's trust in a number of situations. The veteran forward chipped in with a pair of assists in the team's 4-1 win over the Wings on Saturday and added a helper in the club's 4-3 shootout victory over the Los Angeles Kings the next night.

  • Boone Jenner: Fantasy freaks, take note. Jenner is on a nice little tear for a once-struggling Columbus Blue Jackets team that has recently turned things around. The 21-year-old forward has six points in his past six games, neatly coinciding with the team's current six-game winning streak.

Trending down

  • Carolina Hurricanes: It's an uphill battle for GM Ron Francis and first-year coach Bill Peters with the Canes currently mired in a five-game losing streak that has them 29th overall in the league, ahead only of the beleaguered Edmonton Oilers. Most recently, they were smoked 5-1 by the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. Cue the Eric Staal and Jordan Staal trade speculation.

  • The Red Wings in the shootout: Asked about the team's 1-5 record in the shootout this season, forward Tomas Tatar said that with all the skill in Detroit's dressing room, he'd figure the team would be one of the best in the league in the skills competition. Instead, it is one of the worst. Mike Babcock has his crew working on it in practice, treating it now as a special-teams unit, but you have to wonder if it's more mental than anything.

Injury report

  • Travis Hamonic: The New York Islanders are feeling the losses of sturdy defensemen Hamonic and Johnny Boychuk, but they may be getting back at least one this week. It appears that Hamonic is nearing a return after missing five straight games with an upper-body injury.

  • Chara back: Speaking of defensemen, hulking captain Zdeno Chara returned to the Boston Bruins' lineup on Thursday after missing extended time with a knee injury. There was no easing him back in, either, as Chara logged over 24 minutes in his first game back since the injury.

What to watch for

  • Switch for Sens: Newly appointed coach Dave Cameron recorded his first NHL win for the Ottawa Senators after replacing Paul MacLean last week, with the Sens getting a 3-2 shootout victory over the Bruins on Saturday. Should be interesting to see whether a new voice gives Ottawa a much-needed jolt to get things moving in the right direction.

  • Pens' roster: Considering the nature of Crosby's mumps diagnosis, it's only fair to wonder how many of his teammates he may have unwittingly exposed to the rampant disease. Crosby participated in the team's morning skate on Friday before general manager Jim Rutherford decided to hold him out for precautionary reasons, making it likely that we could see some more cases crop up in Pittsburgh sometime soon.