Strange things are going on in Boston's crease right now. Goalie

Manny Fernandez

underwent left knee surgery on Wednesday and is not expected back this season.

Tim Thomas

, who has been spectacular, is sidelined with an injury, as well, but he is expected back soon. All of which prompted Boston to acquire

Alex Auld

from Phoenix. . . .

All three games this season between Nashville and Detroit have been decided by one goal. . . .

Detroit always seems to "win" the Cup during the regular season, then fall just short in the playoffs.

Mike Babcock's

squad is on pace for 60 victories this season. "When someone told me the other day we were ahead of the pace from three years ago (58 wins in 2005-06), I was shocked," Babcock said on a conference call last week. "But the league is tight, and we have to hope we stay healthy so we can maintain the good pace." . . .

Speaking of the Red Wings, general manager and vice president

Ken Holland

now has the title "executive" added to the veep part of his job. He got the promotion this week. . . .

So how did western Canada react to

Sidney Crosby's

first appearance out there? "Everywhere we go he gets this attention,"

Georges Laraque

said. "He's a great ambassador. Hockey is lucky in the fact

Mario

[

Lemieux

] and

Wayne

[

Gretzky

] were great ambassadors, on and off the ice. Crosby is taking over from them. He handles himself really good in front of the cameras. We're just lucky the NHL has such a great kid to be the face of the NHL." . . .

The Stanley Cup will make its first appearance on New Year's Day in the Rose Parade through Pasadena, Calif. The float will depict Disneyland, Anaheim and Honda Center, where the Ducks play. . . .

Finally,

Bill Barber

was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame on Wednesday. During his acceptance speech, not once but three times he said he was "on a different" path in his life - meaning his job with Tampa Bay - but that he hoped to be "coming home" someday. It seems Barber still bleeds orange 'n' black and nothing, not even a Cup with the Lightning, is ever going to change that.