The Chicago Blackhawks continue to gather strength.
It helps having the league leader in points in Patrick Kane, who also took over the league lead in goals from Alex Ovechkin on Friday. It helps having a core led by Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. It helps having Corey Crawford, the league leader in saves (1,036) and shutouts (6), as your goalie, although he didn’t play Friday.
The defending Stanley Cup champions have now won 10 straight games. They also take over top spot in the Central Division, moving ahead of the Dallas Stars with 64 points — at least for the time being. The Stars play the Anaheim Ducks later in the evening Friday.
When this streak began on Dec. 29, the Blackhawks were in a Wild Card spot.
On Friday, the Blackhawks defeated the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs by a final score of 4-1.
Kane had the hat trick, with one of those goals coming on the power play (see below).
He’s now up to 28 goals on the season, which is two short of his previous single-season career best of 30. That’s now two goals ahead of Ovechkin. Kane also had a four-point night, which moves him to 67 points on the season.
Chicago’s rookie forward Artemi Panarin assisted on two of Kane’s goals, and scored his own on a perfect set-up from Kane on a five-on-three power play in the third period.
Patrick Kane has already opened a sizable lead in points over his NHL peers. And on Friday, he took over the lead in goals from Alex Ovechkin.
Kane had two goals through two periods for the Chicago Blackhawks against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday, bringing his total so far up to 27 on the season.
That’s one better than Ovechkin.
Kane has never scored more than 30 goals in an NHL season. He hit that mark in 2009-10 — his third season in the league.
With his status for the upcoming NHL All-Star Game in jeopardy, John Scott will be on his way to St. John’s in the AHL following Friday’s trade from the Arizona Coyotes to the Montreal Canadiens organization.
“At 33, John Scott is a seasoned veteran with 285 NHL games under his belt. He will be bring experience to our group of forwards with the IceCaps in St. John’s,” said Habs GM Marc Bergevin in a statement.
So, it certainly seems like the Habs have no intention of bringing Scott, with 11 points in 285 NHL games, back up to the big league any time soon.
Twitter lit up in the afternoon, after the trade was announced, when Bob McKenzie of TSN reported on Twitter that both the Coyotes and NHL had asked Scott to bow out of the event and that he refused. After getting voted into the event by the fans, Scott confirmed he would be attending the All-Star Game in Nashville.
“This wasn’t about the All-Star Game,” said Coyotes GM Don Maloney, as per ArizonaSports.com.
“John was a good soldier for us and did his job well, but we have to run our business. To make the finances of this deal work we had to include John Scott in the deal.”
While Scott’s All-Star plans may be on hold, what does this mean as far as a representative from the Pacific Division’s Coyotes at the All-Star Game?
It sounds like Patrick Roy is getting back into the swing of things at the goalie position for the upcoming Colorado Avalanche – Detroit Red Wings alumni game at Coors Field on Feb. 26.
As per NHL.com, preliminary rosters for the alumni game, which is part of the NHL Stadium Series, were released Friday. A four-time Stanley Cup champion and Hockey Hall of Fame goalie, Roy will strap on the pads for the Avalanche alumni team. And he’ll be joined, on both sides, by elite company.
“Not bad, it’s getting there,” Roy said, as per NHL.com, after recently taking shots from current Avalanche players. “My second day today. It’s coming. If I could lose 30 pounds, that’ll help.”
The Avalanche roster also includes Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Rob Blake, Ray Bourque, Adam Foote and Claude Lemieux. Detroit’s preliminary roster included Nicklas Lidstrom, Kris Draper, Tomas Holmstrom, Martin Lapointe and Kirk Maltby.
It was a blockbuster trade — Ryan Johansen going from Columbus to Nashville for defenseman Seth Jones.
But, based on a report Friday, it seems there were other suitors for Jones, who was selected fourth overall in the 2013 draft and is already more than 200 games (15 goals, 64 points) into his NHL career.
That includes the Edmonton Oilers, according to a report from Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, who wrote that multiple sources confirmed Oilers’ GM Peter Chiarelli offered Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to Nashville in hopes to land Jones.
From Mark Spector of Sportsnet:
Chiarelli had no comment on this report, neither confirming nor issuing a denial when reached. And of course, Nashville general manager David Poile chose to deal Jones to Columbus for Ryan Johansen instead. What it tells us is that Chiarelli sees Nugent-Hopkins as the one player from the Oilers former core that can command the greatest return — yet at the same time is expendable.
Meanwhile, Taylor Hall has played himself into the “going forward” group of Oilers Top 6 forwards, with an excellent season thus far.
Nugent-Hopkins, 22, is one numerous first overall picks for the Oilers. He has eight goals and 29 points in 44 games this season.