* When the supposedly objective -- as in fair -- Dan Bylsma-Ray Shero team pick their Penguins defenseman Paul Martin over the more worthy Andy Greene for Team USA you have a hockey definition of nepotism.

* My choice for The Most Overachieving NHL Team is Anaheim. Good players? Yes. Superb coach? Bruce Boudreau has done a deluxe job putting the Ducks into Cup-contending position.

* Another plus for Anaheim: best off-beat names. To wit: Hampus Lindholm, Ben Lovejoy, Jakob Silfverberg, Luca Sbisa and Viktor Fasth, just to name a few.

* I love Claude Julien's candid post-game analyses after a loss. Ditto: Jack Capuano, John Tortorella and Peter DeBoer.

* Four players I expect to be traded sooner rather than later: 1. Mike Cammalleri; 2. Nail Yakupov; 3. Michael Del Zotto; 4. Jack Johnson.

* With all deference to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, the best Chicago forward this season is Patrick Sharp.

* Yes, Scotty Bowman -- who's rarely wrong -- is right about Brandon Saad belonging on Team USA's roster. 

* Here's what's really wrong about the cockamamee Team USA selection process. Many members of the current roster were named -- or virtually sure-things -- as far back as pre-NHL season training camp. Locked-in by the David Poile-Dan Bylsma-Brian Burke-Ray Shero bunch, their present season faults were more overlooked than others.

* Why in the world would Team USA executives allow a Canadian-born writer to sit in on the selection process in the first place? Do you think the Team Canada counterparts ever would allow an American hockey guy to do it when the Canadian brass starts evaluating their choices? Heck NO!

* Have you noticed how many new back-up goalies -- Cam Talbot, Antti Raata, Curtis McElhinney, just to name a few -- have starred this season? 

* Boy, did Jim Rutherford ever pull a coup e'tat when he purloined Andrej Sekera and Nathan Gerbe in the off-season. That pair alone could put the Canes in the playoffs.

* Blue Jackets scoring leader Ryan Johansen is but one of many Portland Winterhawk graduates to gain prominence in today's NHL. Credit Mike Johnston and Travis Green -- now coach AHL Utica -- for their development. 

* It's going to be an NHL challenge to do an encore after the sensational Winter Classic in Ann Arbor. Best bet: the two games at Yankee Stadium: Isles-Rangers; Devils-Rangers.

* Hands-down winner of the Build-up-To A Letdown Award goes to the Edmonton Oilers. Owner Darryl Katz really must love his general staff to put up with their inefficiency without a major-major shakeup.

* It sures looks as if Matt Cooke has made good on his promise to reform. Hey, he's even a plus-seven.

* Really, it's sad that Lubomir Visnovsky has been only able to play eight games for the Islanders. That almost ignored concussion still has this worthy backliner on the sidelines.

* Among the Little Men doing a big job, put Mats Zuccarello at the top of your list. At last look he was the Rangers leading scorer.

* Something tells me that we're going to see a lot less "staged" fights from here to the end of the season, whether Donald Fehr likes it or not. 

* By the way, can anyone tell me what Fehr is doing these days to help the game of Hockey?

* Or, to put it another $ way; once the CBA is done and the players are wealthier than ever, is there a Donald Fehr?