Who will be next to hit 600 goals?

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Iginla.jpgTeemu Selanne is just two goals away from reaching the 600 goal mark on his career, becoming just the 18th player in NHL history to do so. With Selanne entering the final years of his career, and representing the end of an era of the 1990’s superstars, I decided to look at who might be the next to reach 600 goals.

Mark Recchi is the closest active player, with 558 goals in his career and 13 so far this season. He hasn’t scored more than 13 in a year since 2006, so it would take at least two more seasons before he would hit 600. At 42 years old and most likely in the final season of his long career, it’s doubtful Recchi makes it.

Mike Modano is in the same boat, with 556 in his career but he is almost certainly retiring this summer. Even if he decides to keep playing, I’m not so certain he’ll be able to keep up his 15-20 goal pace for two more years.

So who’s next? Keith Tkachuk (537) is the most likely option. He’s certainly in the twilight of his career, but he is still capable of 20-25 goals a season. Could he put together a couple of more seasons at the same pace, especially if he’s focused on that goal? Currently he’s on injured reserve for the St. Louis Blues, so he’s not adding anything to his total this year. But it’s still doubtful, especially considering how long he’s already played. But he has a few years left. Maybe.

The next active player is Rod Brind’Amour with 450 goals. Nope. He’s not an option.

Bill Guerin (425), Owen Nolan (420) and Alexei Kovalev (411). Not a chance.

So now we turn to Jarome Iginla. The Flames captain has 440 career goals and has scored at least 31 goals every season since 1999, hitting 50 twice.  He’s on pace for close to 40 this season. He’ll be just 33 years old this summer, and certainly has at least five more years under his belt. 30 goals a season for the next five years, and he’ll be scratching the surface of 600. If you factor in the inevitable drop in production towards the end of a career, then you’d expect him to need at least 6 seasons to hit 600.

After Iginla? Well there’s Ilya Kovalchuk (331). But we’re a ways off from thinking about his eventual career accomplishments.

Then of course there’s Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. I can’t wait to start tracking their race to 600.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.