Alex Ovechkin

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Boeser channels Bure, leads NHL rookie scoring

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Brock Boeser has no intentions of letting Clayton Keller or Mathew Barzal walk away with the Calder Trophy.

Boeser, 20, has been lights out over the past four games for the Vancouver Canucks, scoring six times during his current four-game goal-scoring streak (he also has points in five straight) as Keller’s stock has cooled.

The Arizona Coyotes 19-year-old rookie has failed to score in each of his past eight games after a blistering start that saw him score 11 times in 16 contests.

Keller’s slump has allowed Boeser to grab hold of the rookie scoring lead, which he did on Wednesday, scoring twice — the second time he’s done so in as many games — in a 5-2 rout of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

He’s now one point ahead of Keller and Barzal, the latter of which is heating up as well with points in his past four games.

As you can see by the above video, Boeser’s release puts his name on a pedestal with few others in the NHL. The Athletic’s Justin Bourne wrote glowingly of Boeser’s shot ability on Wednesday.

Don’t see the Alex Ovechkin or Patrik Laine in that shot? Here’s more proof:

Boeser’s scoring prowess has him in the conversation with another talented Russian in Pavel Bure.

Bure, who won the Calder Trophy in 1992, scored 34 times for the Canucks that season. Boeser is on pace to hit the 40-goal mark, which would smash that record.

Boeser is the first rookie to score in four consecutive games this season. According to the NHL, only one rookie in Canucks franchise history has scored in more than four consecutive team games – Dennis Ververgaert had a six-game goal streak in 1973-74.

Boeser is scoring on nearly 21 percent of his shots, and while TSN’s Scott Cullen points out that that number isn’t likely to hold, his 2.8 shots per game are still very much conducive to goal scoring.

And winning. Boeser has three game-winning goals for the Canucks, who are 11-8-3 this season, two points out of first place in the Pacific Division in the Western Conference.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck


NHL on NBCSN: Barry Trotz, Washington Capitals visit Nashville Predators

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues with a meeting between the Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET. To watch the game online, click here.

Both the Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals enter Tuesday night’s matchup in good form. The Capitals have won five of their last six games, while the Predators have taken four of their last five.

Kyle Turris impressed in his Predators debut Saturday night, scoring a goal and assisting on another during a 5-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. While one Nashville center looks to continue being productive, another one looks to finally get going.

Ryan Johansen has eight points on the year, but zero goals. Carrying an $8 million cap hit, he’s the highest paid forward without a goal this season.

“As an individual, I’ve just got to find ways to create more,” Johansen told Adam Vingan of The Tennessean. “It’s a role that I’m counted on from the guys here to contribute offensively.”

Tonight’s game will be the fourth time Barry Trotz returns to Nashville after leaving the Predators in 2014. The franchise’s first head coach helped build the team into a playoff contender and now he’s trying to make the most out of a Capitals side that sees its championship window closing.

They’re middle of the pack in scoring (2.82 goals per game) and on special teams (18.6 percent PP, 78.6 percent PK) and surprisingly next-to-last in shots per game (28.5). These aren’t the regular season Capitals we’re used to, but when changes happen on your roster, this can be expected.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Kremlin hails Alex Ovechkin for starting pro-Putin group

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MOSCOW (AP) — Alex Ovechkin‘s new “social movement” to support President Vladimir Putin received Kremlin backing Friday.

The Washington Capitals captain said Thursday on Instagram he was starting a group called Putin Team to “show everyone a strong and united Russia.” Ovechkin added that he has never hidden his feelings about Putin and has “always supported him openly.”

The Russian presidential election is scheduled for March 18. Putin hasn’t confirmed he will run for a fourth term, but is widely expected to do so.

“We obviously welcome in general Sasha’s desire to express support for our president, especially from abroad,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, referring to Ovechkin.

Peskov added that Ovechkin is “a very famous Russian, a very successful Russian, and we really know that he values our president highly.”

Ovechkin, speaking after the Capitals’ game against the New York Islanders on Thursday, said he didn’t mean his post as a political gesture, but as a sign of Russian patriotism.

He hasn’t said what exactly the movement will do or how it will be organized.

Putin is a hockey fan who takes to the ice for annual televised exhibitions games using the branding of the NHL – though in that case it stands for “Night Hockey League.” Putin plays alongside former star players and government officials, and regularly scores several goals, though his opponents seem reluctant to challenge him for the puck.

Alex Ovechkin creates ‘Putin Team’ movement supporting Russian president

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has not announced whether he’ll seek re-election in March, but he has one high-profiled superstar athlete on his side.

On Thursday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin posted on Instagram that he’s creating a movement, the Putin Team, to support the country’s leader.

Личные награды и призы – все это здорово, но в хоккее, как и в любом деле, для победы важнее команда. Только команда способна переломить ход игры, сделать невозможное. В последнее время в западной прессе я встречаю сочетание Putin’s team, то есть команда Путина. И знаете, мне очень понравилось это определение. Лично я готов быть частью такой команды. Я никогда не скрывал своего отношения к нашему Президенту, всегда открыто его поддерживая. Я уверен, что нас, поддерживающих Владимира Путина, много! Так давайте объединимся и покажем всем сильную и сплоченную Россию! Сегодня я хочу объявить о том, что создаю общественное движение под названием Putin Team. Быть частью такой команды – для меня гордость, это похоже на ощущение, когда ты надеваешь майку сборной России, зная, что за тебя болеет вся страна. #putinteam

A post shared by Alexander Ovechkin (@aleksandrovechkinofficial) on

Here’s the translation via Washington Post Capitals beat writer Isabelle Khurshudyan:

“Personal achievements and medals – all of this great, but in hockey, like with everything, to win it’s important to have a team. Only a team is capable of changing the course of a game, achieve the impossible. Lately, in the Western Press, I’m noticing a comparison to Putin’s team. And you know, I really liked that comparison. Personally, I’m ready to be a member of that team. I never hid my relationship with our president, always openly supported him.

“I’m certain that there are many of us that support Vladimir Putin. Let’s unite and show everyone a strong and united Russia. Today, I want to announce a social movement in the name of Putin Team. Be a part of this team – to me it’s a privilege, it’s like the feeling of when you put on the jersey of the Russian team, knowing that the whole country is rooting for you.”

Ovechkin has had a good relationship with Putin for a long time now, so despite all that is currently going on in the world the Capitals star won’t be relenting his support for the Russian leader.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS that Putin was unaware of the endorsement.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Caps’ Backstrom won’t rush return from hip surgery

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Nicklas Backstrom is “not in a rush” to return from hip surgery and his status for the Washington Capitals’ season opener is very much in question.

“I’m going to be back to 100 percent before I start playing,” Backstrom told the Washington Post. “I’m not going to play on 90 percent. We’ll see how it goes. We don’t know yet.”

The Washington Capitals forward has been skating since the start of August and is feeling much better, but he realizes that he’s still very much in the recovery process and it’s hard to put a timetable on it.

When he’s healthy, Backstrom is Washington’s top center and one of the best playmakers in the world. He led the NHL with 60 assists in 2014-15 and has finished in the top-three in helpers on five separate occasions. The 27-year-old is projected to once again skate alongside Alex Ovechkin on the top line.

If he’s not healthy for the start of the season, then it will be interesting to see how Washington alters its lines in the short-term. Evgeny Kuznetsov is penciled in as the second line center, so we might see the sophomore play with Ovechkin in Washington’s first game.