Crosby, Ovechkin, Miller rank highest on The Hockey News Top 10 NHL Players list

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crosbyovechkinbattlew.jpgPeople love lists … that’s just science, folks. The Hockey News released its annual yearbook this week, and Mark Stepneski of ESPN Dallas was nice enough to share the top 10 of the well-known publication’s top 50 players list.

 

The top ten players on The Hockey News’ list are:

1. Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh
2. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington
3. Ryan Miller, G, Buffalo
4. Pavel Datsyuk, C, Detroit
5. Jonathan Toews, C, Chicago
6. Henrik Sedin, C, Vancouver
7. Duncan Keith, D, Chicago
8. Evgeni Malkin, C, Pittsburgh
9. Nicklas Backstrom, C, Washington
10. Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay

The top two are the biggest no-brainers in hockey, though the order will be up to debate for … oh, the next 10-15 years.

It gets pretty interesting after Ovechkin, though. Ryan Miller is a worthy selection for the top 10; his placement on this list probably boils down to how much you value goalies in the modern NHL. Considering the team around him in Buffalo, I think No. 3 is a solid choice. Pavel Datsyuk is one of the most dangerous and well-rounded players in the NHL, so a No. 4 spot is acceptable too.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for toewsyoungestcaptain.jpgI think Jonathan Toews is still a few strides short of elite at this point in his career, though he had a sensational 2009-10 season. It’s hard for me to look past the fact that his career high in points is 68, even though I love his all-around game, attitude and general moxie. We’ll see how talented he truly is next season since the burden of scoring will be placed more heavily on the Blackhawks’ top scorers. Henrik Sedin is a wonderful player, but I might have placed him lower on the list. Duncan Keith is an excellent choice and No. 7 seems pretty fair for him.

Evgeni Malkin’s placement at No. 8 is a clear snapshot of the “What have you done for me lately?” mindset of modern sports … yet I can’t say it’s totally wrong. I doubt that “being one-dimensional” is really behind his demotion – my guess is it was a pure points-based rating in his case – but he’ll need to have a bounce back year (relatively speaking) to prove that he’s in the same breath as Ovechkin and Crosby.

Nicklas Backstrom is a fine choice for No. 9 and you could probably cajole me into putting him even higher. Who knows how explosive he’d be without Ovechkin, but my guess is that he’d still be an excellent player.

stamkoscrosbyrichard.jpgMaybe this is just my urge to reward versatility talking, but I wonder if Steven Stamkos really is a top-10 player already. Personally, I might have gone with Chris Pronger, Henrik Zetterberg or Henrik Lundqvist in this spot since those three players have made more long-lasting impacts in the league.

Still, this is all meant to spur debate and fun discussion anyway. Who do you think should have been listed in the top 10? Were there any players ranked far too high? Discuss the rankings – and your own picks – in the comments.

Flames keep showing life, Stars stumble once again

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If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”

There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.

Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.

One team climbing, the other stumbling

With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.

During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.

Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.

Canadiens are facing some turbulence (and mostly passing the test)

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 6: Patrik Berglund #21 of the St. Louis Blues checks Tomas Plekanec #14 of the Montreal Canadiens at the Scottrade Center on December 6, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/ Getty Images)
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The Montreal Canadiens aren’t in crisis mode, but as far as this so-far outstanding 2016-17 season goes, they are finally facing some adversity.

Alex Galchenyuk, one of their most promising young players, is out indefinitely. There are murmurs that captain Max Pacioretty isn’t getting along with head coach Michel Therrien.* Tuesday presented a body blow or two to boot.

For one thing, the Canadiens gave up a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to the St. Louis Blues in overtime. Jaden Schwartz grabbed an assist and scored the game’s last two goals, including the OT-winner:

Losing to a contender like the Blues, especially while still grabbing a “charity point,” isn’t that big of a deal. A possible David Desharnais injury makes things a little dicey, however:

Really, though, it’s not all that bad for Montreal. They managed a 2-2-1 mark during a five-game road trip heavy on quality opponents.

Also: six of their next seven games come at home, where they’re 12-1-1. So things will look brighter soon enough.

Still, with some injuries and a big road trip to end 2016 and start 2017, there may be some moments where Montreal looks vulnerable.

Ultimately, fighting through stretches like these could very well benefit the Habs later on.

* – Ah, the old standby: “Player X isn’t seeing eye-to-eye with Therrien.”

From the Blues’ side:

Ristolainen, Kane, O’Reilly push Sabres past McDavid and the Oilers

EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 16:  Rasmus Ristolainen #55, Matt Moulson #26, Sam Reinhart #23, Kyle Okposo #21 and Ryan OÕReilly #90 of the Buffalo Sabres celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers on October 16, 2016 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.

In particular, high-scoring defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, power forward Evander Kane and two-way center Ryan O'Reilly made the difference in Buffalo’s 4-3 overtime win.

Ristolainen’s first goal of 2016-17 was a big one, as it clinched the contest in OT:

Evander Kane scored two goals of his own, including one in the dying seconds of regulation to allow Buffalo to get a standings point (and then a second) in the first place.

Kane finished with two goals, O’Reilly generated two assists and Ristolainen managed a one-goal, two-assist performance.

It would be wrong to say that the marquee names didn’t show up at all. McDavid generated two assists and Eichel also nabbed a helper.

You’d be correct in saying that other young players stole the show, though, and the Sabres were the biggest beneficiaries.

Video: Brent Seabrook shaken up after awkward fall

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It wasn’t nearly as scary as the falls suffered by Travis Zajac or Philip Larsen, but the Chicago Blackhawks are still holding their breath when it comes to defenseman Brent Seabrook.

As you can see from the video above, Seabrook was tripped up by Jordan Martinook of the Arizona Coyotes during a simple puck battle. Seabrook was shaken up after falling awkwardly on that play.

At the moment, it’s unclear if this will be an ongoing issue or if the Blackhawks avoided a costly injury.

Martinook was not penalized.

CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers notes that Seabrook wasn’t out to begin the third period. So far, not so good.

The Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0, so the silver lining for Chicago is that they won.