It’s a big loss for the Oilers. Being without their prized rookie for a month is one thing, but RNH is the team’s second-leading scorer and key setup-man on the powerplay — his 15 PP assists are double that of the No. 2 guy, Jordan Eberle, who has seven.
The injury also blows the Calder Trophy race wide open. Reigning NHL Rookie of the Month Adam Henrique is charging hard and now just seven points back of Nugent-Hopkins for the rookie scoring lead, but there are plenty of others in the mix. Vancouver’s Cody Hodgson (9G-13A-22PTS) has seven points in his last 10 games and seems to have found his groove, Philadelphia’s Matt Read is getting first-line minutes with Claude Giroux/Scott Hartnell and Craig Smith is still Nashville’s top-scoring forward.
If the Nuge misses up to four weeks of action, he could find himself in a real dogfight for a trophy that was all but his after an outstanding first three months.
GM says Blue Jackets are ‘off the rails’ right now
Apparently Blue Jackets management is a little shaken by the second 0-3-0 start in franchise history, however.
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen shared his shock and dismay with the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline on Tuesday.
“I’m surprised how, in just five days, we’ve gone from a very confident group to something that’s the opposite of that,” Kekalainen told The Dispatch on Tuesday. “Our confidence, our game … it’s off the rails right now.
Maybe losing to the Buffalo Sabres stings a little bit extra?
Kekalainen said “there’s no excuse for how we played in Buffalo,” pointing out that every team in the NHL is a “good team.”
Indeed, just about every squad boasts some dangerous weapons if they catch an opponent sleeping.
Portzline goes deeper on Columbus’ recent history of stumbling out of the gate, but consider the foreboding stretch coming up.
Next four games: Three out of four at home Eight games following that: Seven out of eight on the road.
As you can see, winter is coming for Columbus, so they best get things together. All things considered, this is the right time for a wake-up call.
For bonus chuckles, here’s a photo of Kekalainen on a railing.
He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.
Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).
That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out
This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:
With Ovechkin out, Caps lines look like this: