Tonight’s games have heavy playoff implications, but there’s also a historic aspect to some of the proceedings – especially if you’re a fan of European players. Here are the milestones that were set, in order of highest to lowest “quantities.”
Hossa hits 900
The Chicago Blackhawks point out that Marian Hossa is now one of nine active players to hit the 900-point mark, which he reached on a power-play goal. The 33-year-old winger is in the middle of his 970th regular season game, so one could argue that he could very well put together a Hall of Fame career.
Kovalchuk scores No. 400
Putting together a HoF career Part II of III: Ilya Kovalchuk’s redemptive season keeps humming along. He scored the 400th goal of his career and he’ll turn 29 on April 15. Tom Gulitti points out that Kovalchuk is just the third NHL active player to reach the 400-goal mark before game No. 900. Kovalchuk pulled it off in game No. 771 while Teemu Selanne (700) and Jaromir Jagr (742) beat him by a few but also didn’t play their entire careers in a lower-scoring era.
Considering Kovalchuk’s sturdiness – he’s barely missed any games since becoming a full-time player – and young age, the sexy question is: how many more goals does he have in him? If you ask me, 600+ isn’t a crazy mark to shoot for, but what do you think?
Geno goal 200
Speaking of Russians primed to be bronzed, Evgeni Malkin shared some of Sidney Crosby’s spotlight as he scored the 200th goal of his impressive NHL career. He also had his 201st goal (not to mention three more assists) in a positively bonkers Pittsburgh Penguins-Winnipeg Jets game that currently has Pittsburgh up 8-4.
In case you want to prognosticate about Geno’s goal-scoring future, he scored those 201 in 417 games (with a few minutes left, mind you) and is just 25 years old. He’s been more of a passer at times but seems to be a dual threat more than ever before – he now has 43 games this season and might just be the only guy who can hit the 50-goal mark along with Steven Stamkos.
Either way, it’s been an outstanding night of milestones for guys who still have bright futures to look forward to.
The Buffalo Sabres will be down a defenseman for the remainder of Friday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.
Jake McCabe has left the game due to a shoulder injury suffered during the first period and will not return, the club stated during the second period.
Signed to a three-year, $4.8 million contract extension last summer, the 23-year-old McCabe has one goal and 10 points in 44 games this season for Buffalo
More recently, McCabe drew the immediate ire of the Winnipeg Jets after he delivered an open-ice hit on rookie Patrik Laine, who suffered a concussion on the play.
Darren Helm is back in the Detroit Red Wings lineup Friday, after missing the last two months with a shoulder injury.
Helm last played on Nov. 15, and was initially expected to miss at least six weeks with a dislocated shoulder. According to reports, he’ll make his return to game action against the Buffalo Sabres.
The Red Wings are searching for a fourth consecutive win, as they look to gain ground in the Eastern Conference wild card race.
“He’s ultra-fast, he’s ultra-competitive,” said coach Jeff Blashill, per MLive.com. “I thought he had an excellent start to the year. It was obviously unfortunate he got hurt, but we all deal with it. The good thing with him is he’s such a skater and such a competitor that when he gets back into the lineup after a long layoff I expect him to be pretty good.”
In 17 games this season before his injury, Helm had four goals and seven points.
There was a positive development for the Winnipeg Jets and their rookie scorer Patrik Laine on Friday.
Per reports, Laine was back skating with his teammates during Friday’s practice, albeit while wearing a yellow non-contact jersey, marking another step in his return from a concussion suffered on an open-ice hit from Jake McCabe on Jan. 7.
“It doesn’t matter how long you’re out of the games. I’m still young, and I have a lot of games ahead of me. I don’t have to rush anything,” said Laine, per NHL.com. “It’s easier to work out now, and be able to go out on the ice with the team. Hopefully I can get back soon.”
Laine has missed the last six games, and the Jets have lost four times in his absence. There have been rumblings about the future of head coach Paul Maurice in Winnipeg due to his team’s struggles.
Selected second overall last June, Laine has been as advertised in his freshman campaign: A scoring forward with a terrific and accurate shot. He leads Winnipeg in goals with 21. Certainly, the Jets have missed his ability to finish over this recent stretch. But at age 18 and given the nature of his injury, it’s imperative he not be rushed back.
“He comes back in (Saturday) and if he’s right where he left off and felt good, we would start to push the heart rate a little bit and gradually work up from there,” said Maurice, per the Winnipeg Sun. “If he feels good (Saturday), he’ll get some light bumps in.
“He’s absolutely not getting back into a game until he’s at 100 percent and clear. And then I’m more interested in getting him in the next game.”
The Jets play the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, the Anaheim Ducks on Monday and the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Forward Jakob Silfverberg will not travel on the Anaheim Ducks’ upcoming two-game road trip to Minnesota and Winnipeg while recovering from an upper-body injury.
The Ducks are leaving for Minnesota on Friday without Silfverberg, who was injured late in their 2-1 victory over Colorado on Thursday.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Silfverberg left Thursday’s game in the third period, shortly after a hit from Colorado’s Nikita Zadorov, and is considered day-to-day. Silfverberg’s head is believed to have hit the ice but it is not known if he suffered a head injury.
Anaheim recalled right wing Corey Tropp and defenseman Shea Theodore from its AHL affiliate in San Diego.
Silfverberg has 13 goals and 16 assists in a strong season with the Pacific Division-leading Ducks. The Swede is on pace to surpass his career highs in goals and assists.
Silfverberg has teamed up with All-Star center Ryan Kesler and Andrew Cogliano on the Ducks’ most effective line this season.