Let’s build on the debate raging over Alex Ovechkin’s league-worst plus-minus (-36) by bringing some other names into the discussion, shall we?
Following is a screenshot from NHL.com:
Not surprisingly, no shortage of Sabres and Oilers, the two worst five-on-five teams in the NHL.
Coyotes d-man Keith Yandle is a bit of a surprise being so far down, but we suppose he helps make up for it on the power play.
Nashville’s Seth Jones would probably like to see a higher number beside his name, but let’s not forget Drew Doughty finished minus-17 as a rookie and Duncan Keith was minus-11 in his first season with the ‘Hawks.
Alex Edler’s minus-33 is almost impressive considering he’s only played 58 games this season. The next lowest plus-minus on the Canucks belongs to former Selke Trophy winner Ryan Kesler, at minus-15.
Look, we all know plus-minus is a seriously flawed statistic. Good players on bad teams constantly get overly criticized for having a low rating. Unless you think Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek are the worst players on the Ottawa Senators.
That said, there’s no question Ovechkin could be more dedicated in all three zones. Just because he scores a lot of goals, and just because he’s a winger, doesn’t mean he can ignore his defensive responsibilities.
And he knows that.
“We make easiest mistakes,” Ovechkin said after last night’s costly 5-0 loss to Dallas. “We turn puck over in our zone, in the neutral zone. It cost us the game.”
You know how goalies claim they prefer to be busy rather than risking rust in seldom seeing shots? If that’s true, Henrik Lundqvist was really, really happy in the first period.
The Ottawa Senators generated chance after chance in a busy opening frame of Game 1, generating a 21-12 shot differential against the New York Rangers. The game remains 0-0 in large part because Lundqvist has carried over his momentum from the Montreal Canadiens series so far.
As you can see from the video above, Lundqvist made some absolutely fantastic saves, especially in somehow stopping Mark Stone.
In a duller game, 21 shots on goal could a team’s entire output.
That’s impressive stuff from what appears to be a “vintage” Lundqvist. We’ll see how much more the Rangers lean on him as this one goes along.
Oh, and here’s a GIF of the best stop of the bunch, because seriously.
The Pittsburgh Penguins get a familiar face back in the lineup, as Chris Kunitz is good to go against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.
The 37-year-old has been sidelined since March 31, ending his regular season with just an assist in his final nine games. His last goal came on Feb. 16.
So, in other words … he’s not quite as big of a deal for this series as he had been in the past.
He’ll draw into a solid fourth line with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnackl, while Carter Rowney will be a healthy scratch. Check out the Penguins’ line combos heading into Thursday’s showdown:
The NHL announced the three finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award: Nick Foligno (Columbus Blue Jackets), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) and Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames).
In case you’re curious about the process, the league explains how it works (and how the buck stops with Messier):
Mark Messier solicits suggestions from club and League personnel as well as NHL fans to compile a list of potential candidates for the award. However, the selection of the three finalists and ultimate winner is Messier’s alone.
So, yes, it might come down to steeliness/60.
Anyway, the most fun part of this award is that Getzlaf and Giordano just engaged in a first-round series, with Getzlaf’s hit on Giordano (see above) being one of the standout moments.
Perhaps Giordano will at least get the best of Getzlaf in this one?
It’s really happening.
For all the griping about having the Penguins and Capitals meet in the second round (again), it’s easy to forget the bright side: upsets didn’t dislodge this juicy matchup from taking place.
The West’s duo of Game 1 matchups kicked into gear last night, and now the East provides that battle between Sidney Crosby‘s squad and Alex Ovechkin‘s loaded team. Don’t sleep on Rangers – Senators, either, though; there should be plenty of intrigue in seeing superhuman Swedes Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson try to one-up each other.
Here’s what you need to know to follow the action:
New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Network: CNBC (Stream online here)
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)