Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin, Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek and Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.
Ovechkin tied for first in the NHL with five goals in four games to power the League-leading Capitals (32-7-3, 67 points) to four straight wins. … He capped the week by again scoring twice, including his 500th and 501st NHL goals, in a 7-1 win over the Ottawa Senators Jan. 10. In doing so, Ovechkin (801 GP) became the fifth-fastest player in NHL history to reach the 500-goal milestone, behind Wayne Gretzky (575 GP), Mario Lemieux (605 GP), Mike Bossy (647 GP) and Brett Hull (693 GP).
Mrazek went 3-0-0 with a 0.67 goals-against average, .978 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Red Wings (22-13-7, 51 points) to three straight wins for the week as well as their fourth consecutive victory overall, all on the road.
Barrie led all defensemen and shared second in the League with 3-3-6 in four games to lift the Avalanche (21-19-3, 45 points) to six of a possible eight points.
Ovechkin received even more praise this morning from Capitals owner Ted Leonsis.
“As a fan first and an owner second, we are lucky to have Alex in Washington,” Leonsis wrote in a blog post. “There are and have been a lot of great athletes in our city, but none like Alex. He’s a generational talent.”
Among active NHLers, only Jaromir Jagr and Jarome Iginla have more career goals than Ovechkin. Jagr has 737 in 1,589 games; Iginla has 601 in 1,435. Ovechkin, as mentioned, has only played 801 games.
The banged-up Blues have recalled winger Ty Rattie and defenseman Chris Butler from AHL Chicago.
The two “emergency” recalls come after St. Louis — already without Paul Stastny, Jay Bouwmeester and Jake Allen — suffered a couple of new injuries Saturday against the Kings. Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson left the game with an undisclosed injury and Magnus Paajarvi left after this hit by Brayden McNabb:
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is expected to provide an injury update later today.
Rattie, 22, leads the Wolves in scoring with nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points.
The Blues host New Jersey tomorrow.
Edmonton forward Matt Hendricks will have a phone hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for a hit he delivered last night on Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad.
Hendricks was not penalized on the play, though he was immediately challenged to a fight by Logan Shaw.
He was asked about the hit after the game.
“I don’t hit dirty,” he said. “I’ve never been known to hit dirty. I thought it was a clean hit. I’m glad he came back and played. I’d feel bad if he was injured from that.”
He was also asked if the hit on Ekblad was in retaliation for a play earlier in the game when Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson had stepped up into Oilers forward Taylor Hall.
“No, it wasn’t,” Hendricks said. “That’s what I do. That’s my game. I’ve got to forecheck hard. I don’t want to talk about another player, but he was in a position he could have avoided, in my opinion.
Mike Reilly seems likely to make his NHL debut Saturday for the Minnesota Wild.
Wild coach Mike Yeo didn’t completely commit to playing the 22-year-old defenseman tomorrow in Dallas, but he made some pretty strong hints that that was the plan.
“I want to see him show us what he’s got … if he plays,” Yeo told the Star Tribune. “At this point, he should be pretty familiar with the type of game we want to play structure-wise, system-wise, our philosophy in what we’re looking for from our defensemen. With young players coming up, you get one chance to play your first NHL game and if [Saturday] is his opportunity, then I want him to take advantage of it and play to make a difference.”
Reilly was originally drafted 98th overall in 2011 by the Blue Jackets. However, the ex-Gopher opted not to sign with Columbus. He chose the Wild instead.
An offensive defenseman, Reilly has five goals and 13 assists in 32 games for AHL Iowa this season.
It’s his defensive play that many still wonder about. As noted by the Star Tribune, Reilly is last in the AHL with a minus-26 rating.
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, a “special” meeting will be held later this month in New York where the NHL’s executive committee will discuss the two formal expansion bids from Las Vegas and Quebec City.
“Details of the meeting are limited,” writes Dreger at TSN.ca. “It’s highly unlikely the executive committee will emerge with a formal decision, but the fact the NHL has called this meeting suggests it is inching toward a conclusion. The meeting is designed to be somewhat secretive, so the NHL won’t provide a post-meeting progress report or announce its direction until the process is finalized, which could still be months away.”
Certainly, the ongoing plunge of the Canadian dollar does not bode well for Quebec City’s chances. The loonie is worth just $0.71 USD today. And it may go lower still, with Canada’s resource-dependent economy facing serious headwinds over the next few years.
It would not surprise anyone if the league opted to tell Quebec City thanks, but maybe later. In the meantime, that would give Seattle the opportunity to get an arena built (or renovated).
As for Vegas, the big news there is that T-Mobile has purchased the naming rights to the city’s new arena.
“If the NHL comes, we would obviously love it,” T-Mobile’s chief marketing office, Andrew Sherrard, told the Review-Journal. “It would be nice icing on the cake, but it was not a driver.”