Patrik Elias doesn’t want to be Devils captain; Is it time for Zach Parise?

We’ve discussed some of the vacant captaincies around the NHL and while there are six teams without a captain, the New Jersey Devils available “C” was one situation that seemed automatic to make a pick on. The most veteran player left in New Jersey was Patrik Elias having been a Devil since 1996 and winning two Stanley Cups with the team.

Unfortunately for the Devils, Elias doesn’t appear to be as keen on being the team’s captain as some would hope to be.

Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice talked to Elias about the available position as the team’s visible leader and he’s less than enthralled with the idea of once again being the Devils captain and that might have a bit to do with the past.

“I don’t need a letter to know what I’m supposed to do,” he said this morning during a break from his training camp physical. “I had the C. I didn’t like the situation the way it was handled when it was taken away. I don’t want to be put in that position again. I think I can help all the young guys and be a leader no matter what. It won’t matter to me.”

Elias was named Devils’ captain before the 2006-07 season by then head coach Claude Julien. He was stripped of the C by Brent Sutter at the start of the 2007 training camp. Sutter told the media about it before discussing it with Elias.

While Elias has worn the “A” ever since then, the idea of being captain again is one that he hasn’t been comfortable with. Who can blame him after what happened under Sutter. So if not Elias… Then who?

In our look at open captain positions around the league, our suggestion was for Zach Parise to get the call as the Devils captain. Of course, the problem there is that he’s signed up for one more year in New Jersey and could hit unrestricted free agency in July. If you think that’s not a situation that’s hanging around in the mind of the Devils, Elias made it clear when asked if Parise should be the guy to be named captain.

When I asked Elias if he thinks Parise will be given the C, he replied,“Hopefully. Then again, you don’t want to have a captain for one year.”

Here’s to hoping Devils fans won’t have a hard time sleeping for the rest of the season thinking about that one.

If it’s not going to be Elias and if it’s too tenuous of a situation to give the “C” to Parise… Then who? The choices there are slim.

If you want to stick with a lifetime Devils player, then perhaps Travis Zajac is your guy. If you want to go with a guy who was a captain with another team, Ilya Kovalchuk is going to be with the Devils for a little while longer. If you’re looking for a dark horse candidate, then how about Anton Volchenkov who’s as much of a leader on defense as anyone on the team.

Of course, there’s also the possibility the Devils could end up being “that team” and going without a captain for the season or, more confusingly so, go with a captaincy that changes from month to month. What’s the fun in that though? No matter how the Devils choose to handle it, there’s going to be some manner of controversy beneath the surface. If it’s Parise, the pressure to get him signed to a long-term deal mounts. If it’s someone aside from Parise, the questions about whether he bolts in the offseason are there unless he gets a deal done.

Maybe Elias might want to take the captaincy just to keep the drama from blowing up in Newark.

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.