Alex Ovechkin

Ovechkin takes comfort in scoring chances


Despite scoring just twice his Washington’s first nine games, Alex Ovechkin is feeling good heading into tonight’s home game versus the Leafs.

“If I don’t have the chances, I say, ‘Okay, what’s wrong with me? What’s stopping me?'” Ovechkin said today, per the Washington Post. “But last two games, last three games, I have chances. I have opportunities, especially against Pittsburgh. I feel like I have really good chances to score. Sometimes I have to be more concentrate on the puck … A couple times the rebound right there and my stick was high.”

Ovechkin has 34 shots, tied for 10th most among NHL forwards. But the shots aren’t going in at the same rate they usually do. Last season, his shooting percentage was 12.5; this season, it’s 5.9.

In that way, it has to be exasperating for Ovechkin. But hey, at least he’s not Phil Kessel — Toronto’s snake-bitten sniper has zero goals on 40 shots.

“I know it’s frustrating for both those guys, I’m sure,” Caps coach Adam Oates said today, per the Washington Times. “But are you getting chances? If you’re not getting chances then you got to look in the mirror and like, ‘What’s going on?’ Figure it out. If you’re getting opportunities then I think you’re doing a lot of good things.”

Related: Neuvirth to start versus Leafs as Holtby’s frustration grows

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.

Canucks say Markstrom (hamstring) out another week — could it be longer?

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Bit of uncertainty out of Vancouver regarding the health of backup goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Markstrom, a late drop from the Canucks’ 5-1 opening-night win over Calgary, has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined for another week, the club announced on Thursday.

With Markstrom out, backup duties will stay with AHL call-up Richard Bachman, who served as Ryan Miller‘s No. 2 on Wednesday.

Now, the focus turns to how long Bachman keeps those duties.

Per a Sportsnet report, Markstrom could miss up to three weeks of action with his injury. If that’s the case, Bachman will almost certainly be called into action; the Canucks will play eight games in 17 nights starting with Saturday’s home-opener against the Flames, which includes back-to-backs in Los Angeles and Anaheim on Oct. 12 and 13.

It would be asking a lot of the No. 1, 35-year-old Ryan Miller, to shoulder that entire load.

Bachman does have some NHL experience, with nearly 50 games to his credit. That includes a 3-2-0 record with the Oilers last year, in which he posted a 2.84 GAA and .911 save percentage.