Tomas Hertl

Here are five pleasant scoring surprises so far this season

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Nobody’s shocked that Sidney Crosby leads the NHL scoring race with 12 points in six games, or that Martin St. Louis is second with 10 points in six games. However, the following five guys have been pleasant surprises early in 2013-14:

Tomas Hertl (7G, 2A): You may have heard about this guy already. No player has more goals this season than the Sharks’ 19-year-old rookie. While his shooting percentage is rather high (33.3%) and unsustainable, it’s not so inordinately high to suggest he can’t keep producing at a decent rate. The challenge will be handling the NHL schedule, which is far longer and with far more travel (especially out of San Jose), than he played in the Czech league.

Mason Raymond (4G, 4A): Quite the bargain for $1 million. The speedy Raymond is a former 25-goal scorer whose production fell off the past couple of seasons in Vancouver. He’s been a timely addition for the Leafs though, especially after David Clarkson was suspended for the first 10 games of the season and Nikolai Kulemin ran into injury problems.

Teddy Purcell (4G, 4A): The Lightning winger did have 65 points in 2011-12, so we can’t be too astounded he’s off to a hot start. But there’s no question he’s easy to overlook on a team that also has Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. In addition to his point totals, another Purcell stat that jumps off the page is his average ice time — just 14:01 per game. Among the top 30 scorers, he and Hertl (14:31) are the only ones below 15 minutes.

Jason Garrison (2G, 5A): Second in scoring among NHL defensemen, behind only Montreal’s PK Subban (2G, 6A). Garrison is seeing considerably more time on the power play under new Canucks coach John Tortorella than he did last season, his first in Vancouver, under Alain Vigneault. But that doesn’t explain his increased production; actually, he’s only got one PP point, with two of them coming shorthanded. No Canuck has played more than Garrison this season. The 28-year-old with the booming shot logged a big 28:29 last night in Philadelphia, picking up a second assist on the game-tying goal by Chris Higgins.

Jiri Hudler (2G, 5A): Coming off a frustrating 27-point campaign in 2013, the 29-year-old former Red Wing leads the surprising Flames in scoring after five games. In fact, he hasn’t been held without a point yet. “The way we play, it’s a lot of fun,” he said Saturday, per the Calgary Sun. “Every game is exciting. Everybody’s buying in, playing hard. Of course, we’re going to make mistakes, it’s going to happen and totally normal, but you can tell the bench, everybody’s in.”

Ducks likely to recall Khudobin after Gibson injury

Chicago Blackhawks' Richard Panik (14), of Slovakia, collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Chicago. Anaheim won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.

The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).

The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.

Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:

The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”

Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.