“Hopefully he’s going to stick around next year. From what I see right now, he’s a guy who wants to play and show us the way.”
-- Suddenly, the NHL’s worst team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, is also one of its hottest, thanks to team captain Rick Nash, who Derick Brassard hopes will change his mind and decide to stick around next year, after Nash wasn’t moved at the trade deadline.
“Here is a sentence I never thought I would type. A Lightning player has scored more goals than Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin and Mike Green combined.”
That’s Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, either praising the play of Tampa’s Steven Stamkos, the NHL’s runaway goal-scoring leader with 48, or damning the play of his trio of superstars, who’ve managed just 46 this year (to be fair, Green has missed most of the year because of injury).
BY THE NUMBERS
Points by the Anaheim Ducks’ Teemu Selanne, tying him with countryman Jari Kurri – his childhood hero – as the highest scoring Finn of all time. At 42 and in the midst of another excellent season, Selanne is 19th on the NHL’s all-time scoring list.
Consecutive games by Calgary Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester, the longest Ironman streak in history by a defenceman and the eighth longest streak of all time. If Bouwmeester stays healthy, he can pass Billy Harris (576) and Johnny Wilson (580) and move into sixth place all time by season’s end, which would leave only Doug Jarvis, Garry Unger, Steve Larmer, Craig Ramsay and Andy Hebenton ahead of him.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Grabbing a bite with but gonna poison his food so I can snipe on him tomorrow
Columbus rookie forward Cam Atkinson had plans for fellow Connecticut born (and fellow Avon Old Farms high school grad) Jonathan Quick, in advance of Thursday’s meeting between the Kings and the Blue Jackets.
AROUND THE RINKS
Under NHL rules, if a player starts the season in Europe and then signs with an NHL team later on, he must first clear waivers in order to return to the league. Last year, that prevented goaltender Evgeni Nabokov from playing for the Detroit Red Wings, who’d signed him as a free agent, because the New York Islanders put in a waiver claim first. However, the Boston Bruins sneaked veteran goaltender Marty Turco through waivers this week after their backup, Tuukka Rask, was lost for four to six weeks with a groin injury, while top minor-leaguer Anton Khudobin is out with a wrist injury. Turco had been unable to find NHL employment this season after spending last year with the Chicago Blackhawks, so he did some time as a TV analyst, played for Canada in the Spengler Cup, then signed with the Salzburg Red Bulls, a team coached by former NHL coach and GM Pierre Pagé (the man who handled the Eric Lindros trade for the Quebec Nordiques). Turco had a decent record in Austria, and his role with the Bruins will be to occasionally spell 37-year-old Tim Thomas down the stretch. Because Turco signed after the trade deadline, he is ineligible to play for the Bruins in the playoffs. The hope is that Rask will be ready to return by then.
Souray makes impression
If you were one of the prescient few who had the Dallas Stars at the top of the Pacific Division standings with four weeks to go in the season, take a bow. The Stars, who finished in last place last year and were said to be a seller this year, carried a 7-0-1 streak into Thursday’s date with the San Jose Sharks, and were doing it with defence and goaltending. Kari Lehtonen is back in the groove after missing some time with an injury, but more than anything, the defence pair of Stéphane Robidas and Sheldon Souray, two ex-Habs who might look good on Montreal’s injury-riddled defence, have been excellent in a shut-down role, especially Souray, who is mostly noticed for his shot, but also plays a physical, mean brand of defence. Souray, at $1.5-million (U.S.), is unrestricted after this year and Dallas thought enough of his contributions that they kept him at the deadline but traded away another unrestricted defenceman (Nicklas Grossmann) for second and third-round picks. The plan in Dallas is to get younger faster, so that may leave Souray with an uncertain future, but he is raising eyebrows around the league that at 35, there is still some hockey left to be played.
Sharks have no bite
The San Jose Sharks’ current four-game road trip brings them to Edmonton Monday and Calgary Tuesday. Usually by this time of year, the Sharks are comfortably in the playoff mix, jockeying for home-ice advantage and gearing up for mid-April when they make their annual push to prove, once and for all, they really can win in the playoffs. Well, this year, the Sharks are closer to eighth place in the Western Conference rather than first, and finish the season with home-and-home series against both the Dallas Stars and the Los Angeles Kings, two teams they’re fighting for a playoff position. Sensing something was amiss, GM Doug Wilson reinforced the bottom half of his roster at the trade deadline, adding forwards Dominic Moore, Daniel Winnik and T.J. Gagliardi, but it is trouble at the top end that’s caused their latest skid. All the Sharks’ big scorers (Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski) went ice-cold during their last five-game home stand, and failed to score. The Sharks made a pitch for the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Rick Nash at the trade deadline and may revisit those talks in the summer, depending upon what happens in the playoffs, assuming they make the playoffs. But Marleau, the Sharks’ former captain, called for calm, noting to the San Jose Mercury News: “If you look around the league, there’s 13 or 14 other teams within a 10-point range right now. So it’s not like we’re the only team that goes through this. There has to be urgency in our game, but we know what we can accomplish. Now we just have to do it.”