Category:NHL
Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:07 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 5:15 pm
 

Nash Dash: How would Nash fit with Sharks?

What Nash would look like in San Jose. 

By Brian Stubits

In the days leading up to the trade deadline (Monday, Feb. 27) we're going to keep tabs on the biggest name on the block, Columbus Blue Jackets star and captain Rick Nash.

The list of teams rumored to be in on Nash isn't incredibly long and it's the usual suspects that you'd expect to be in on a big-name, high-priced star like Nash. His wish list -- put into song so wonderfully -- was supposedly five teams long with possible Wild cards in the mix too.

We're going to take a look at each of the rumored wish-list teams and how Nash would fit, looking today at the San Jose Sharks.

The Sharks were on Rick Nash's rumored wish list from the moment it was first reported and speaking only for myself here, I didn't anticipate they'd be in the conversation much. It was holding true with most all of the talk surrounding the Rangers and Kings.

Then TSN's Darren Dreger reported not only that the Sharks were definitely in the conversation, they were making a push.

At the heart of the matter, one of the driving forces in the connection of Nash and San Jose is his relationship with Joe Thornton. Nash and Jumbo Joe are good friends. Not to mention they'd make a pretty damn good pairing on the top line. Remember, Thornton helped Jonathan Cheechoo to some ridiculous numbers in San Jose, imagine what he could do for Nash.

The Sharks are still in first in the Pacific, but it's not unfair to say they could withstand for some reinforcements. They are now tied with the surging Coyotes and are only three points up on the offensively inept Kings. With the Canucks and Red Wings pulling away from the pack atop the West, the Sharks are going to need to find a way to go toe to toe if they want to get back to the Western Conference finals and go further.

What it would do is give the Sharks another left winger, a position where Patrick Marleau resides. But that's not a problem, no team will ever complain about having too many left wingers who could play on the top line. As I touched on yesterday, the Kings would love to have that problem.

As is the question with every team that could potentially land Nash, though, is what would it take to get him? Dreger reported the Jackets asked for Logan Couture but were immediately rebuked by the Sharks on that request. Hey, no harm in asking if you're Scott Howson.

It was speculated from Andy Strickland at True Hockey that they could ask for Joe Pavelski too. I said yesterday that I'm not sure even straight up that would be worth it for San Jose, so let me explain a little more here.

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I'm a big Pavelski fan. I really like his game and he's taking it to a new level this season, already at his career high in goals for one season. He is excellent in the face-off circle. Digging into the advanced stats, Pavelski is second among Sharks forward in Relative Corsi behind only Thornton. He's a valuable player. That's not to say all 30 GMs wouldn't pull the trigger on a Pavelski-for-Nash swap, it's just that I was saying you're already starting at a very high price with Pavelski and we aren't talking about a slouch here.

Purely speculation on my end here, I haven't seen this even rumored, but you'd have to wonder if Thomas Greiss would be in the conversation. The Sharks obviously would like to have a good young goaltender around for many years, but Antti Niemi is their No. 1, the guy they have invested in and he's not necessarily an old guy at 28.

Not that there would be any concerns with how Nash would fit with any team, but it's hard to imagine a better fit than with San Jose considering the relationship with Thornton. The question is do the Sharks have the prospects and gumption to pull it off.

One thing that is important to remember in all of this is that Nash will have a serious decision to make. This is a matter of moving to a new home for many years, it's not something you decide on a whim (most of the time). And San Jose has prided itself in being a good home for hockey players. It's little wonder why not many guys seem to leave San Jose.

Here is what Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area.

“First of all, I didn’t read that story, I haven’t gotten into my clips yet. We don’t talk about other team’s players, and any conversation I do have with a fellow GM would be kept in confidence. Historically, though, one of the most important things we do is make this be a place where players do want to play, and make it an attractive destination for players.”

I've grown skeptical that any team will be able to pull the trigger on a deal before the deadline on Monday and this will drag into the summer. Either way, San Jose sure seems like it could fit well.

More from Eye on Hockey

How would Nash fit with Kings?
How would Nash fit with Blueshirts?
San Jose stepping into Nash talks?
Update on Nash, other rumors
Nash down to five teams?
Nash not untouchable for Columbus

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 23, 2012 3:53 pm
 

How Avs logo came to be and name Extreme avoided

By Brian Stubits

Colorado Avalanche fans, here's a reason to be happy even while your team is not currently in the playoff seedings. Your team name could be the Rocky Mountain Extreme.

A bit of old folk lore in Colorado, it turns out it's true. The team was set to become the Extreme (what's with the non-living, single-entity nicknames, Denver?) until the Denver Post got word and the fan reaction wasn't so favorable.

In an interview with longtime Avs writer Adrian Dater, Dan Price, the man who oversaw the creation of the team's logo, talked about the whole scenario. He explained that they were looking for a name that would draw in the Generation X-ers right when the X-Games were beginning to launch and a name that would match the intense nature of hockey.

Well after the unfavorable reaction, it was back to the drawing board -- the figurative one in this case -- and eventually the Avalanche won in a fan contest.

Dater had a lengthy conversation on his podcast with Price about the design process of the Avalanche logo with the time crunch. It's some pretty cool insight into how these things are done, such as how the Jets just did it themselves after the move from Atlanta to Winnipeg.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 23, 2012 3:18 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 3:23 pm
 

Jonathan Toews OK after minor car crash

Toews' car is taken away from the crash site. (25stanley.com)

By Brian Stubits

The Chicago Blackhawks got more than a scare on Thursday afternoon. Captain Jonathan Toews was involved in a one-car accident in Chicago and was taken away from the scene in an ambulance.

Now before you get too worked up, the Blackhawks did say in a statement that Toews was in an accident but he was not injured.

“Jonathan Toews was in a minor one-car collision in downtown Chicago this morning while driving himself to the United Center. He was not injured."

Toes confirmed the team report himself in a text message to Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune.

When contacted via text following the accident, Toews responded by saying, "It's nothing serious at all" and added, "I'm good."

Phew!

Here's a little more on the specifics of the scene of the accident from CBS Chicago:

Toews’ black AMG Mercedes Benz struck an “L” support beam at the intersection of Lake and Garvey in the loop just before 10 a.m. 670 The Score confirmed the vehicle is registered to the Blackhawks center and witnesses said he was driving the car.

“I saw his car in the pole,” Theron Banks, an employee at Steak Express said. “I came out. People were everywhere. Toews was in the ambulance. People were videotaping and taking pictures and trying to get autographs, but police said they couldn’t get autographs.”

Really? Seeking autographs and trying to take pictures with somebody in an ambulance? I knows fans can get a little crazy from time to time, but man, that's just not one of those times. Obviously he's entitled to some privacy, is he not?

But back to the matter at hand. This has to really have the Chicago fans on edge, even if the team says there was no injury. Toews is already out of the lineup on a day-to-day basis and comes a day after the same CBS Chicago outlet reported that Toews might actually have a concussion. Talk about a bad week.

Toews was already scheduled to miss the team's game on Thursday night against the Stars with the upper-body injury.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 23, 2012 2:05 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 2:26 pm
 

Caps' Hamrlik questions Dale Hunter after scratch

Hamrlik has been statistically much better with Hunter than Boudreau. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The Washington Capitals are imploding right before our very eyes. It's getting downright nasty in the nation's capital.

The most recent -- but check back in an hour -- development in How the Capitals Turn concerns veteran defenseman Roman Hamrlik. On the same day that rumors started to spread that he was on the trading block, coach Dale Hunter had Hamrlik as a healthy scratch in the team's 5-2 loss to the Senators on Wednesday night.

Before the game Hunter gave his reasoning to the Capitals media, explaining why Hamrlik was joining them in the press box.

"We need him playing better defensively," Hunter said. "He's a defensive defenseman and the way we mark scoring chances [against] he's been involved in too many of them. That's why he was sitting out and that's why [Jeff] Schultz was sitting out before him.

"[Hamrlik] is backing in way too much. He's letting [forwards] come through and they're hitting the second tier. Sitting out is a humbling experience. We all went through it. If you played hockey or any sport you sat out. You've just got to go to practice and work hard like he did today. Watch video and learn from it and when you get the chance play well."

Hamrlik was asked about the words of the coach and the scratch after the team's skate on Thursday and, well, he wasn't very coy. Quotes courtesy of Sky Kerstein of 106.7 the Fan in D.C.

Hamrlik said he hasn't talked to Hunter on why he didn't play, asked why he might not of been in "I don't know, you should ask him. You should ask him [Hunter] about the penalties because when he played I think he [Hunter] make lots of penalties in himself so he should know better.

"I know I take bad penalty, but if that's reason I didn't play, but it's his decision"

Well then. I'm not sure how exactly that compares to Alex Ovechkin's infamous words behind Bruce Boudreau's back earlier this season that many think played a massive role in Boudreau's dismissal, but a player almost challenging a coach publicly? Gee, if Boudreau lost control of the locker room, what does that say for Hunter?

As for the trade rumors, Hamrlik shot down any notion that he wanted out. From CSN Washington:

"Nothing I can do about it. I'm happy to be here and do my job. I don't have control over that. I hope I stay here and make the team better and help them make the playoffs. I don't have reason to leave."

Adding to the drama was Hunter's frank assessment of the play of Tomas Vokoun, who was pulled for the second consecutive game in favor of Michal Neuvirth.

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“Tomas would like a few of them back. He wasn’t as sharp as he should’ve been and it was in the back of our net,” the Caps’ coach said. “We were playing well and it’s one of these things where you get deflated. ... We outchanced them, but we need our goaltending better and Tomas wasn’t sharp tonight.

“Just can’t get off to a bad start like that. If somebody’s not playing as well as they should, you have to block more shots and cover up for him more.”

Vokoun's agent Allen Walsh, never shy to stick up for his clients, added a little to the drama in an oh-so-subtle way.

“I’m not going to comment directly on what someone may have said after a game,” Walsh said in a text message to the Washington Times. “I will point out though that hockey’s great coaches throughout history never resorted to publicly singling out a particular player, blaming him for a loss. Where I come from, you win as a team and lose as a team. The oldest, most tired excuse in the book is to blame the goalie.”

But Vokoun didn't add fuel to any fire, saying it's not personal and he'd prefer too that his stats were better.

On top of all of this, Alex Ovechkin is day to day with a lower-body injury and didn't suit up on Wednesday in Ottawa.

When the Caps hired Hunter to replace Boudreau earlier this season it wasn't perfectly clear but it sure sounded like it was for the rest of the season and then they'd go from there. Neither the coach or the franchise knew how the fit would go. It's kind of safe to assume now that Hunter's odds of returning to the OHL London Knights are going up by the day.

By the way, the Caps are still only two points out of the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Thanks, Southeast Division.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 23, 2012 12:41 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 1:04 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Hart awfully tight, Vezina clear

Last year's winner Corey Perry poses with the Hart Trophy. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Welcome to Award Rankings. For every week the remainder of the season, we will break down two of the awards races at a time and see how they are stacking up as the NHL season hits the home stretch.

The Hart Trophy is the king of trophies, the biggest and best (outside of the Stanley Cup and playoff awards, of course) in the game. It goes to the league's most valuable player.

And here's the thing about it this season: It is going to be one heck of a race to the finish to determine it. The top of the points leaderboards are scrunched. So are the playoff pictures. That means the Hart race is in the same squished mode too.

The difference between a lot of guys right now in the Hart race is like differentiating between a Lamborghini or Ferrari, you really won't go wrong either way. Then you have Mercedes Benzs, Audis and Lexuses in the conversation too. So many great choices, so few winners. Just one, in fact. We aren't Jay Leno here and buying them all.

These rankings are reflective of where they stand now. They are certainly subject to change. For example, Steven Stamkos didn't crack the list here, but if the Lightning actually overcome their five-point hole and grab a playoff spot despite selling seemingly half their team, he'd have to be in consideration without a doubt.

Keep in mind the Hart race is incredibly tight with a ton of contenders at this point. There is an argument to be made for a lot of other players as well as for the order here to be changed. I'm sure you'll make those arguments below. This is just one man's opinion.

The Hart starts with a guy who hasn't won it yet despite some awesome seasons recently. But he was hindered by another spectacularly awesome teammate who hasn't been there much to help this season.

We also look at the Vezina, which isn't anywhere near as tight as the Hart race at the top but the fighting for the finalists is fierce.

Award watch
Hart Vezina
Evgeni Malkin The Penguins have had to deal with more injury loss this season than any other team, including two of their top three centers. The third is Malkin. He leads the league in points and is second in goals. He's been the best player in the league. But this race is very tight and has a long way to go. Henrik Lundqvist The Rangers are arguably the top team in the league and Lundqvist is a massive reason why. He is tops in the league in save percentage at a whopping .940 and has a goals against of 1.78. He's separated himself from the field ... and the Rangers from the East field as well.
Henrik Lundqvist Yes, I think he's been good enough to be seriously in this conversation. He's incredibly valuable to the Rangers, that's not a question for anybody. With scoring down so much in the NHL, this is a perfect year for a goaltender to win the Hart again. Jonathan Quick He means as much to the Kings as Lundqvist does to the Rangers and I'm not going to penalize a goaltender for his offense's lack of production. His 1.96 goals against and .931 save percentage are very good. He's the only reason Los Angeles is still fighting for a playoff berth.
Claude Giroux He was asked to carry a lot more of the load in Philadelphia this season and he has. Despite missing a few games with a concussion, the 24-year-old Giroux is set to pass his career highs very soon with 23 goals and 47 assists already despite playing just 55 games. He's had to with Philly's defense. Jimmy Howard Despite recently missing three weeks in February with a broken finger, Howard is still second in the league in wins with 32 (one behind Pekka Rinne). He is having a career season with a 2.03 goals against average and .924 save percentage and is a big reason why the Wings have returned to the top of the West.
Radim Vrbata Why not? He has 30 goals and counting on the season for the Coyotes, a team that otherwise relies on defense. That's 12 more than anybody else on the team. Aside from Ray Whitney, everybody on the team is at least 16 points behind Vrbata. For a team expected to be in the basement, he deserves a lot of credit. Brian Elliott The only thing keeping Elliott this far down the list is the fact that he splits almost 50/50 in St. Louis with Jaroslav Halak. But his 1.65 goals against average and .937 save percentage are obscene. However he'll be hurt by Halak's success as well as the Ken Hitchcock argument ... he makes all goalies look good.
Jason Spezza The assumption before the season was that the Senators were going to be in the running for the best lottery position, not the Northeast Division crown with the Bruins. But here they are and Spezza's 27 goals and 39 assists are a massive reason why. So is Erik Karlsson, but he'll show up elsewhere. Tim Thomas Last year's runaway with the Vezina, Thomas isn't having the season he did a year ago. But in his defense, nobody ever had before him either. He's still excellent with his .929 save percentage and 2.21 goals against. For now he barely beats out Mike Smith and Pekka Rinne in this race for me.

And for a quick look at the rest of the races we'll be checking in on every week.

Norris: Erik Karlsson, Shea Weber, Nicklas Lidstrom.

Calder: Adam Henrique, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Matt Read.

Jack Adams: Ken Hitchcock, Paul MacLean, John Tortorella.

Selke: Patrice Bergeron, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Toews

Top GM: Dale Tallon, Glen Sather, Don Maloney.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 23, 2012 10:30 am
Edited on: February 23, 2012 11:07 am
 

Red Wings re-sign Bertuzzi for two seasons

By Brian Stubits

The Detroit Red Wings have re-signed veteran forward Todd Bertuzzi to a two-year contract. The team made the official announcement on Thursday.

The Wings released the terms on the two-year deal, calling for it to pay Bertuzzi $2.25 million per season.

Bertuzzi has fit in well with the Wings, developing his game to be more of a two-way player in Detroit, something that's more or less required if you're going to play there.

“We’re very happy to keep Todd in Detroit for another two years," GM Ken Holland said. "He [Bertuzzi] fits in really well with our group, both on the ice and in the locker room.”

But where Bertuzzi remains exceptional is in the shootout. For my money, there is no better player in the game right now than Bertuzzi in the skills challenge. He's as creative as it gets, flashing some awesome moves that are normally reserved for All-Star weekend.

But more than his outstanding shootout ability, Bertuzzi will forever be linked with Steve Moore and Bertuzzi's move that ended Moore's career when he was with the Canucks and Moore a member of the Avalanche.

With the news of a new contract and Bertuzzi playing next season, that means the long-awaited civil trial between Moore and Bertuzzi is expected to begin next year. From the CBC in September of last year:

The target date for the Ontario Superior Court trial to begin if necessary is Sept. 24, 2012 if Bertuzzi is still an active player, and Oct. 22 if he's not, according to court documents viewed by CBC.

Court-ordered mediation between the sides has failed to lead to a settlement.

Moore, now 33, has never played again since getting hit from behind in a March 8, 2004 game by Bertuzzi, who was on the Canucks. Moore was in his first full season with the Colorado Avalanche.

Bertuzzi, now 36, is entering his 16th NHL season.

Bertuzzi offered a tearful apology at a press conference a few days after the incident, and would ultimately serve a 20-game suspension. He has gone on to play 445 regular season and playoff games with Vancouver, Florida, Anaheim, Calgary, and his current team, the Detroit Red Wings.

Criminal charges filed against Bertuzzi in Vancouver resulted in a guilty plea and a sentence of one year's probation plus 80 hours of community service.

Like it or not, that will be as much of Bertuzzi's legacy as anything.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 23, 2012 10:01 am
Edited on: February 23, 2012 10:40 am
 

Morning Skate: Playoff ramifications galore


By Brian Stubits

The Morning Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

In this day and age with only two teams -- two! -- in the entire NHL being more than 10 points out of a playoff spot, it's hard to find a game on the schedule that isn't carrying a huge impact on the playoff picture. Save for Edmonton playing Columbus, they all have an impact.

That holds even if you have two teams hanging on by life support. Which is just what is on the schedule on Thursday night.

7 ET, Anaheim at Carolina: This is pretty much hockey's equivalent of a loser leave town match. The Hurricanes are eight points back of a playoff position, the Ducks are six back. So, you know, you can't lose this game if you want to stay in the conversation.

To be sure, both face very long odds. More specifically, the 'Canes have a 2.94 percent chance of seeing the postseason according to sportsclubstats.com while the Ducks have a 5.52 percentage.

For Anaheim it brings an end to one hellacious road trip that has been going since what feels like the All-Star break. And they've done very well on it until their last momentum-killing game, a loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And Carolina? Well they are actually starting to brim with confidence. They just smacked down the Capitals 5-0 -- then again, who isn't these days? -- and are finally getting the expected production from Eric Staal.

So we have two teams near (or at, in Carolina's case in the East) the bottom of the standings playing some of the best hockey in the league. The game is make or break for both. Should be fun.

7 ET, San Jose at Toronto: The Maple Leafs are still in the thick of the futility battle that is the race for eighth in the East/the Southeast Division. It's like everybody has hit a slump together, giving hope to teams that once appeared on the outs. Toronto is no different.

The goaltending was looking good not long ago. Now Leafs fans are begging for help. They are 1-5-1 in the last seven games. In the last six games -- one OT win in there -- they have yielded 27 goals. That's 4.5 per game. They need to take advantage of the home games they have left, starting tonight.

The Sharks, meanwhile, find themselves actually in a battle for the Pacific Division crown. As of now, they are tied with the surging Coyotes. Now the Sharks do have two games in hand on Phoenix, but those do you no good if you don't win them.

On their own whirlwind road trip, the Sharks are riding a four-game losing streak, three in a row without points. Apparently they think the race for eighth looks so interesting they thought they might play their way into it. As of now, they are only three points up on that eighth spot, but again, have games in hand.

7:30 ET, Vancouver at Detroit: Here's the game of the night without a doubt. Neither team is fighting for their playoff lives, instead they are fighting each other for the top seed in the Western Conference.

Oh, and there is something about a 23-game home winning streak being on the line for the Red Wings? I suppose that might garner some interest here too.

But in reality this game is massive on many levels. In addition to the two-point discrepancy between the teams in the standings, it would do the Canucks a world of good to knock off Detroit at the Joe, prove to themselves that they can do it in case it comes up again at playoff time.

Unfortunately for the Wings -- and fans -- Pavel Datsyuk won't be in the lineup for the Wings, sitting out a couple weeks after having his knee scoped.

9 ET, Phoenix at Calgary: This is the West battle being waged in Calgary right here. The Coyotes have been on fire, winning eight of their last nine games and shooting into not only seventh place in the West but in a tie with the Sharks in the Pacific. And they just added Antoine Vermette.

If Phoenix takes two points tonight, you start to wonder if they can prepare for some playoff games in the desert again. Of course that's no guarantee, but they'd be in one good position for it.

But don't sleep on the Flames. They enter the day in ninth place, one back of the Kings and this will be their one game in hand. Here's what makes the Flames a real threat for a playoff berth, if you can believe that. They have 22 games remaining, 14 of them come at home. That's as favorable as any playoff hopeful down the stretch run.

Also worth watching: The Panthers host the Wild with Florida still clinging to the Southeast lead and Minnesota still clinging to their playoff hopes.

The Blues and Predators renew acquaintances in their continued battle for that crucial fourth seed in the West. The Preds have just owned the Blues this season.

The Stars visit the Blackhawks where Chicago has reeled off four in a row after the nine-game losing streak. Dallas is another team that's hanging within striking distance in the West.

The Lightning visit the Jets with Winnipeg entering in a tie for both the Southeast lead and the eighth spot in the East. They need to win these games since they've played more than any team. But the Lightning are still clawing, hanging five points back of the playoffs.

Your promised miscellany

  • Capitals coach Dale Hunter was hard on goaltender Tomas Vokoun after Washington's second big loss in a row on Wednesday. Of course, without Vokoun, there's no telling how low the Caps would be this season. He's been good for them the majority of the season. (Washington Times)
  • Here's a good read from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun about the always interesting P.K. Subban of the Canadiens. (ESPN.com)
  • Now this is entertaining. Check out Maxime Talbot of the Flyers taking on a fan in a Just Dance 3 challenge at the team's recent fair. (Puck Daddy)
  • While Milan Michalek scored one very pretty goal against the Capitals, Mathieu Perreault had one ugly goal that tried to make him ugly (the puck went in off his face). Guess what? They both counted as one score.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 22, 2012 10:17 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 11:38 pm
 

Winners & Losers: Karlsson, Capitals, Ruutu



By: Adam Gretz

There's always a winner and a loser in the NHL, and this is a new nightly look at some of the winners and losers in the biggest games and biggest situations across the league.

You know things are going bad for the Washington Capitals when the only way they can seem to generate some offense is when Mathieu Perreault has to get hit in the face with a puck, as shown in the above video. It was his 10th of the season, and probably the most painful goal he's scored in his brief career.

Unfortunately, that was probably the only highpoint of the night for the Capitals.

Winners

1. Erik Karlsson and the Ottawa Senators: Over their past four games the Ottawa Senators are outscoring their opponents 21-4, and that includes their 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.

It was also another huge performance for defenseman Erik Karlsson as he recorded another three more points, scoring a goal and chipping in two assists, to push his season total to 60. That's now a 20-point lead over the No. 2 scoring defenseman in the NHL, Florida's Brian Campbell.

That is absurd, folks.

The other big star of the night for Ottawa was Milan Michalek as he scored a highlight reel goal in the first period to open scoring, and added another later in the game when he deflected a Karlsson slap shot past Vokoun. Thanks to his two-goal performance he's now set a new career high with 27 goals.

[Related: Senators 5, Capitals 2 -- Karlsson's big year -- Michalek's goal]

2. Tuomo Ruutu's bank account: At this rate trade deadline day is going to come down to whatever the Columbus Blue Jackets do and not much else. For the second time in two weeks the Carolina Hurricanes took one of the most talked about players off the trade market with a long-term contract extension, signing the forward to a four-year contract with $4.75 million per season.

That's a hefty price tag for the Hurricanes, but for a team that's closer to the salary cap floor than the salary cap ceiling, it's probably not that big of an issue.

[Related: 'Canes sign Ruutu]

3. Paul Stastny and the Avs playoff push: Every game down the stretch is important for the Colorado Avalanche, especially when it's against a team that they're chasing in the standings like the Los Angeles Kings. Paul Stastny led the way for Colorado on Wednesday scoring a pair of goals in a 4-1 win to pull to within two points of the No. 8 playoff spot in the Western Conference, which is currently occupied by the Kings.

Stastny and the Avs managed to do what few other teams have been able to do this season, which is get the best of Jonathan Quick, chasing him from the net after the first period, scoring on three of their 11 shots.

[Related: Avs 4, Kings 1]

Losers

1.The Washington Capitals: Already without Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals had to hit the ice on Wednesday without Alex Ovechkin due to what was described as a lower body injury, and it goes without saying that those are two huge blows. But man, this team is quickly going in the wrong direction having won just four of its past 15 games.

Like the other two playoff contenders in the Southeast Division, the biggest thing keeping them in the playoff hunt at this point is the collective mediocrity of the division.

2. The Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets are obviously sellers at this point, but the decision to trade Antoine Vermette, a skilled, very useful player having a down year at what his probably his lowest possible value for what amounts to a throw-in goalie and two draft picks --  a second and a fifth -- is just … bizarre.

Vermette still has a couple of years remaining on his contract and unless the Blue Jackets think the bottom is about to fall out on his career, there shouldn't have been any rush to trade him for such a small return. The most valuable asset they received in return was a second-round draft pick, and as I pointed out last week, the odds of such a pick turning into a useful NHL player at some point down the line aren't exactly high. Especially if it's a mid-to-late pick in the round.

[Related: Vermette traded to Coyotes]

3. The Kings (lack of) offense: If Jonathan Quick doesn't stop every single shot he faces, the Los Angeles Kings don't have a chance right now. After scoring just one goal on Wednesday they've managed to score just 15 goals in their past 10 games. It shouldn't be much of a surprise that they've won just two of those games.

[Related: How would Nash fit in with the Kings?]

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com