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Canada eyes St. Louis for World Cup

DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published February 3, 2004

PHILADELPHIA - Martin St. Louis would rather not talk about the World Cup. As he said, "It would be pretty selfish of me to think about that right now."

But Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe, the assistant executive director for Team Canada, said Monday that St. Louis is being considered to play in the tournament from Aug. 30 to Sept. 14.

"I would say he's in our sights," Lowe said. "With the way he's played the last couple of years, he certainly is on the radar."

St. Louis, voted a starter in Sunday's All-Star Game, earned another honor Monday when he was named NHL offensive player of the month for January with 13 goals and 12 assists in 16 games. With his assist Monday against the Flyers, the native of Laval, Quebec, has points in a league-high 10 games.

"He rarely takes a shift off," Lowe said. "His hands are good and he does things at a high speed. He is a bit of a threat."

He would love to play for Canada, though his main concern is the Lightning.

"I'm going to do as much as I can to help this team win," said St. Louis, who has team highs of 24 goals and 55 points. "If they like it, good for me. If they don't, tough luck, you know? I have no control over that. The only thing I can control is how hard I'm going to work and what I'm going to do."

NO DISTRACTION: Nikolai Khabibulin said he tries not to think about trade and contract rumors. But he took in good spirits last week's announcement by general manager Jay Feaster that the $6.5-million option on the goalie's contract for next season will be picked up and that he will not be traded.

"If that's the case, then I'm happy with that," Khabibulin said. "Obviously, they have some decisions to make, but at the same time, I'm just trying to concentrate on hockey and not worry about things like that."

ANDY'S MAGIC: Dave Andreychuk has banked the puck into the net off the butt of opposing players. When the captain scored the winner in Saturday's 5-2 decision, he banked it in off the thigh of Thrashers defenseman Ivan Majesky.

That means Majesky was looking at Andreychuk, who had the puck to the side of Atlanta's net with Tampa Bay holding a 2-1 lead.

"The situation was right because (Majesky) had no stick and he couldn't come and get me," Andreychuk said. "It was one of the perfect scenarios. It hit him in the right spot in the pants and the goalie was on the other side of the net."

"He meant to do that," coach John Tortorella said.

"It's one of the greatest plays I've seen all year from any team."

Said Andreychuk of Majesky: "After it went in I think he looked at the goalie and just shrugged like, "What are you going to do?' "

DEFENSIVE MAGIC: Defensemen Jassen Cullimore and Cory Sarich played a big part in holding Thrasher Ilya Kovalchuk to zero shots. The left wing leads the league in shots and, entering Monday, was third with 26 goals.

"You just have to be aware of where he is all the time," Cullimore said. "He tries to slip behind you when you're in their zone and he tries to cut in between you when he comes up the ice. It's a lot of looking around.

"You have to make sure your head's not stiff before the game so you can look around."

A BIG PLUS: The Lightning had three of the league's top six plus-minus players in January. Defenseman Brad Lukowich led at plus-14.

St. Louis was tied for second at plus-12 and defenseman Dan Boyle was sixth at plus-11.

ODDS AND ENDS: John Grahame was runnerup to Ottawa's Wade Redden for defensive player of the month. ... Brad Richards was runnerup to Boston's Glen Murray for offensive player of the week. ... Left wing Andre Roy and Nolan Pratt were scratched.

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