It's surprising enough that the Penguins, Ducks, and Sharks -- teams not typically at the top of the league -- are having such great seasons. But do you know that the Atlanta Thrashers are on top of the NHL this morning? Yeah, sorry. I guess I should have waited for you to sit down.
They beat the Senators last night, 5-4, on the strength of Slava Kozlov's hat trick. That's right. That's 34-year-old Slava Kozlov, who's on pace for 36 goals this year. That would tie his career high, a number set all the way back in '95-'96, although it is his second hat trick this year alone. Talk about a surprising third scoring threat, but Kozlov's production is telling.
Successful hockey teams always get production from unlikely sources. Every team has its one or two key scorers, but you also need goals to come from your second and third lines to survive throughout the season and into the playoffs. WIth Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuck, the Thrashers are set with front-end snipers. With a solid defense that features Greg de Vries, Garnet Exelby and Niclas Havelid, they just need guys like Kozlov, Bobby Holik, and Steve Rucchin to produce.