Last night Sidney Crosby joined about as elite company as it gets, becoming the third youngest player in NHL history to hit 500 points behind two nobodies named Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.
The only players younger than Crosby (22 years, 244 days) to hit the 500-point mark faster were Wayne Gretzky (21 years, 52 days) and former Penguins star Mario Lemieux (22 years, 172 days).
Condemn me for being a hockey lab rat if you want to, but I couldn’t help but wonder where Alex Ovechkin fits into this whole picture (and Evgeni Malkin too). There’s an inherent danger to such context-sensitive stats though as Ovechkin came into the league as an older player (the lockout shelved what may have been his real rookie year). In other words, Ovechkin (and Malkin, actually) debuted later in life so they didn’t have as good of a chance to hit that very specific milestone as Crosby. (Conversely, when people make their hasty comparisons, they often forget the fact that Crosby is indeed quite a bit younger than his Russian peers. It’s funny that people are so eager to judge these players before they even hit age 25.)
Anyway, I wanted to find out how Ovechkin, Crosby and other young players have been doing since the lockout. I decided to narrow the spotlight onto the highest scoring forwards and to make the cut-off point the Ovechkin/Malkin 2004 Entry Draft. Since certain players have obviously played less than others (like Steven Stamkos, who is in only his second season compared to Crosby and Ovechkin’s fifth), I sorted the list by points per game. Check it out below and note the paper-thin margin between Crosby and Ovechkin – not to mention the fact that Malkin and Nicklas Backstrom round out the top four. (One other note: these are regular season only, just to keep things simple. Ovechkin trumps Crosby in playoff points per game, for what it’s worth.)
Now, naturally, points don’t mean everything. Players such as Jonathan Toews bring other skills to the table. And obviously there are some only-slightly older players with some impressive point paces too. Still, it’s nice to see that for all the flak the NHL receives for promoting Crosby and Ovechkin, at least the two tend to show up when it matters – whether that’s in trophy voting, scoring lists or (most importantly) the playoffs.
Desperate for a win and hosting the NHL-leading Washington Capitals, the Minnesota Wild be without defenseman Jared Spurgeon for a second straight game.
“No Spurgeon tonight,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said this morning. “He’s not ready.”
Spurgeon has already missed one game, Tuesday’s 4-3 OT loss to Dallas. He suffered a “deep bruise” Saturday in St. Louis, and his status for this Saturday’s game against Boston is uncertain.
The Wild are also missing d-man Jonas Brodin, currently on injured reserve with a broken foot.
That’s two significant injuries on the back end, as Spurgeon and Brodin each average over 20 minutes in ice time.
In a related story, Ryan Suter played a season-high 33:15 against the Stars, while AHL call-up Mike Reilly was out there for just 12:27.
Related: Yeo was ‘disappointed’ to see Hoppy the rabbit holding a ‘YEO MUST GO’ sign
Perhaps Joel Quenneville was right to storm out of Tuesday’s press conference after expressing frustration with a disallowed goal.
On Thursday, Quenneville told reporters the NHL didn’t agree with the call made during Chicago’s 2-0 loss to San Jose — a decision in which Brandon Mashinter’s tally was wiped out, after officials judged Dennis Rasmussen had interfered with Martin Jones.
Mashinter’s disallowed goal came just days after Chicago was on the wrong end of another overturned marker. Last Thursday the ‘Hawks had one during an eventual win over Arizona, a call that sent Quenneville into histrionics on the bench.
Coach Q said storming out of Tuesday’s postgame presser was a culmination of calls going against his club, adding that the league provided a more detailed explanation of how and why these decisions are being made.
“I just think, we had a couple of occurrences in a short amount of time so obviously a little frustration there,” Quenneville said, per ESPN. “But we did speak to the league and got some [clarification] on the play.
“I just think there’s education across the board and you have a lot of people in the middle of the process making the decisions. As long as we’re getting right is what we’re looking for.”
From our friends at CSN Chicago:
Artemi Panarin will miss his second consecutive game due to illness and Corey Crawford will start when the Blackhawks host the Dallas Stars Thursday night at the United Center.
Coach Joel Quenneville said Panarin’s illness is “hopefully not long term, but he’s definitely out tonight.” Quenneville added that it’s comparable to what ailed Jonathan Toews prior to the All-Star break. Toews played through his illness for about a week but finally had to sit out the third period of the Blackhawks’ Jan. 26 game at Carolina. Toews also missed the All-Star weekend due to that illness and was suspended against Colorado on Feb. 2.
Panarin has 18 goals and 34 assists in 56 games, his 52 points by far the most among NHL rookies. Detroit’s Dylan Larkin is a distant second with 38.
This morning, Richard Panik skated in Panarin’s spot with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane.
Christian Ehrhoff has cleared waivers, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
The Kings made the 33-year-old defenseman available yesterday. It’s expected he’ll be assigned to AHL Ontario, with 23-year-old d-man Kevin Gravel getting called up.
“Nothing wrong with Christian Ehrhoff,” coach Darryl Sutter told reporters Wednesday. “We’re not exactly world beaters here. We don’t have the best defense in the league or the best team in the league. We’re trying to get better in a hurry.”
In addition to the Ehrhoff news, goalie Peter Budaj has been added to the Kings’ roster on the NHL’s media website, meaning Jonathan Quick (reportedly “day-to-day” with an injury sustained Tuesday in Boston) could miss some time.