League Leaders in scoring – Week 1 Edition

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It’s ludicrously early in the NHL regular season, but why not take a look at some of the statistical leaders after one week of action? I’ll also ponder which players might be likely to continue their success and which ones are probably just enjoying a brief moment in the sun.

In this post, I’ll glance at the most common stat categories: points, goals, points for defenseman and so on. Expect a post on goalies and some of the off-the-beaten path stats in a bit, too.

Top 5 Points leaders

1 (tied). Alex Ovechkin – 7 points (4 Games Played); Brad Richards – 7 pts (3 GP)

3 (tied). Steve Stamkos – 6 pts (3 GP); Marian Hossa 6 pts (4 GP); Todd Bertuzzi 6 pts (4 GP)

Comments: The least surprising name is Ovechkin’s. Stamkos, Hossa and Richards aren’t exactly earth-shattering, but seeing Todd Bertuzzi’s name on there is both shocking and unsettling. I’m not exactly the world’s biggest supporter of Bertuzzi, yet it does seem like he found himself a good fit in Detroit. I don’t expect him to be a top point generator for the whole season, though.

Six players are tied for the league lead with four goals scored: Ovechkin, Stamkos, Clarke MacArthur (!), Derek Roy, Steve Sullivan and Brenden Morrow.

Comments: Again, Ovechkin and Stamkos aren’t shockers. Morrow, Sullivan and Roy will probably slow down considerably but might be in for good seasons, although Morrow and Sullivan will need some luck, health-wise. The biggest surprise is obviously Toronto Maple Leafs forward MacArthur, a player who the Atlanta Thrashers allowed to walk rather than pay him an arbitration award. He shouldn’t be a contender in the Maurice Ricahrd Trophy sweepstakes, but if he scores 20 goals or more, he’ll be a fantastic addition by Leafs GM Brian Burke.

Top 5 scorers among defensemen

1 (tied). John Carlson 5 pts (4 GP); John-Michael Liles 5 pts (3 GP)

3 (tied). Alex Goligoski 4 pts (4 GP); Paul Martin 4 pts (4 GP); Jordan Leopold 4 pts (4 GP)

Comments: None of these players were high-end fantasy hockey defensemen, but they all have talent (with Leopold probably ranking as the most surprising to appear on this scoring list). Interestingly enough, Leopold is a former Penguins defensemen while Goligoski and Martin currently patrol the Pittsburgh blue line. Carlson might be the least experienced of the five, but he might also be the most likely to rank high among scoring defensemen at the end of this season considering the fact that he plays for the Washington Capitals.

Five players lead the league in plus/minus with a +5: Loui Eriksson, Stephane Robidas, Brian Rafalski, Hossa and Richards.

Comments: Rafalski cheats his way onto this list (only two games played thanks to injuries and missed that 4-1 shellacking against the Stars), while the list is dominated by Dallas Stars; Niklas Grossman, James Neal and Brenden Morrow are just behind Robidas, Eriksson and Richards with +4 ratings.

PHT Morning Skate: Zdeno Chara shot catches emergency goalie in a sensitive spot

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–Sean McIndoe looks at five players who became the unlikeliest first 50-goal scorers in their franchise’s history. McIndoe chose Rick MacLeish (Flyers), Rick Vaive (Maple Leafs), Vic Hadfield (Rangers), Guy Chouinard (Flames) and Mickey Redmond (Red Wings). (The Hockey News)

–A lot of people think hockey players are the toughest athletes, but Islanders forward Anders Lee is here to tell you that they aren’t tough at all. In his story for The Players’ Tribune, Lee writes about a tough, young friend, who is battling cancer. “In the seven years since he has been diagnosed, he has gone through multiple surgeries. He’s had countless radiation treatments. He’s gone through chemotherapy, immunotherapy and stem cell transplants. And he does it all with a smile on his face. So when I hear people refer to me as tough because I play hockey, I think of Fenov and kids like him.” (The Players’ Tribune)

–The Boston Bruins needed an emergency goalie for their practice yesterday, and they settled on Massachusetts state trooper Kevin Segee. Surely, it was the experience of a lifetime for him, but it didn’t come without pain. Segee was clearly shaken up after getting a Zdeno Chara in the…well, you know. (CSN New England)

–Blackhawks forwards Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane and Tanner Kero each had multi-point games in Wednesday’s 5-1 thumping of the Pittsburgh Penguins. You can watch the highlights from the game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–What was the world like the last time the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs? Thanks to Sports Illustrated, we don’t have to wonder. In 1990, J.K. Rowling had just started writing the Harry Potter series, Donald Trump walked out of an interview with CNN because they were asking tough questions about his casino, the first known webpage was written and much, much more. (Sports Illustrated)

–Edmonton Oilers players and their significant others came together to make 400-500 bowls of homemade soup for charity. It’s pretty cool to see most of the team be involved in such a nice event, even though the onion chopping station gave some of the guys a hard time. (Edmonton Oilers on Twitter)

–Sportsnet has assembled the top hits of the week for your viewing pleasure. Hits from that Toronto, Columbus game made the video a couple of times:

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.