Alex Ovechkin

Ovechkin named NHL’s first star of the week


After racking up five goals and eight points in four games, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was named the NHL’s first star of the week on Monday.

Most of Ovechkin’s damage was done in back-to-back thumpings of Winnipeg — he put up five total points (3G, 2A) as the Caps beat the Southeast division leader 4-1 on Mar. 21 and 6-1 on Mar. 22.

Those wins were huge for the Caps, as they now sit just five points back of Winnipeg (and two back of eighth-place New York Rangers) for playoff jockeying.

As for Ovechkin, he’s currently in the midst of a season-long scoring streak (five games) and now leads the Caps with 16 goals on the year.

Second star of the week went to Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom, the second time this season the Finnish netminder has won a star of the week (he was third star on Mar. 4).

Backstrom went a perfect 3-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA and .972 save percentage for the Wild as the club extended its season-long winning streak to five games.

The highlights of Backstrom’s week included a season-high 36-save performance in a 4-2 win over Detroit, and picking up his 27th career shutout with a 33-save effort in a 2-0 win over San Jose.

Third star of the week went to Toronto’s Nazem Kadri.

Kadri finished second in the league last week with seven points in three games. He also recorded his third three-point performance of the season in a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay, racking up three assists and a plus-3 rating.

The 22-year-old now leads the Maple Leafs with 34 points in 32 games this season and is tied for first on the team in goals (14) and assists (20).

After years of hype, McDavid to play first NHL game

Connor McDavid
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The hype surrounding Connor McDavid couldn’t be much greater, but finally expectations will start to give way to results.

The NHL career that’s been talked about for years will begin tonight when his Edmonton Oilers face St. Louis.

“It’s something that you dream of for so long,” McDavid told “The draft is one thing, but to finally be in this situation is another, so I’m really excited. It’s been a long road; it’s been a lot of hard work. I think a lot of guys’ stories are different in how they get here, but the one common theme is hard work and my story is not any different that way.”

McDavid has transformed the Oilers with his mere presence. Its breathed fresh optimism into a city that have watched this team struggle in its efforts to dig out of the NHL basement. One also has to wonder if Peter Chiarelli would be the team’s new general manager and Todd McLellan its new head coach if Edmonton hadn’t won the draft lottery.

But where will he lead Edmonton? Will he be just the sixth 70-point rookie of the salary cap era? Will he struggle out of the gate, putting the hype into question? Perhaps he’ll draw comparisons to Steven Stamkos, who had a modest rookie campaign by the standards of a highly regarded top pick, but has nevertheless gone on to become a superstar.

That would surprise Stamkos as the Lightning captain feels McDavid is better than he is currently. Just further proof that those lofty expectations are coming from all sides.

“You don’t want to put too much weight on his shoulders; he’s an 18-year-old kid,” Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I don’t care how good he is or how good he’ll be, it’s a lot to shoulder if you’re supposed to be the guy and you’re the only guy. Fortunately we have a lot of high-pedigree players that are high picks who have gone through similar situations that he’s going through.”

Edmonton certainly has no shortage of first overall picks, but none as highly regarded as McDavid. But then, few ever are.

Related: There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

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Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.

Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”

The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.

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Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.

But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.

“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.

“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”