Updated Oct. 11
It should surprise no one that Ilya Kovalchuk found a way to stand out during the season's first few days. Just not for the reasons anyone might expect.
|Atlanta's Ondrej Pavelec says he's OK after collapsing on the ice during a victory over the Caps on Saturday. (Getty Images)|
Thing is, that's not something players of Kovalchuk's ilk are supposed to do. That job is intended for players like Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblanc, who was suspended for one game for his part in the fracas that ensued.
Fortunately for New Jersey, Kovalchuk's battle was quick and he wasn't hurt the way Anaheim defenseman Andy Sutton was injured when he fought Detroit's Ruslan Salei in their season opener. Sutton was a key offseason free-agent signing for the beleaguered Ducks blue line, but the incident left him with a broken thumb and sidelined indefinitely.
He won't be alone though. In fact, the story of the early going has been less about what has happened on the ice -- although teams that surprised by winning their first two games like the Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dallas Stars and yes, even the Edmonton Oilers, might beg to differ -- than about the players who were carted off it.
The incident involving Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec's collapsing for no apparent reason was particularly scary, although the good news is that he has been released from hospital, and he says he's doing OK.
Another incident involved the Islanders' John Tavares getting hit from behind by Dallas' Adam Burish. It seemed innocuous, but it wasn't; Tavares suffered a concussion.
Meanwhile, Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov broke his nose when he blocked a shot. A lower-body injury forced Nashville starting goalie Pekka Rinne to leave the Predators' opener early. Blackhawks sniper Patrick Sharp sustained an upper-body injury in his team's opener that caused him to watch the next game from the press box.
They say that no pain means no gain, so we'll see. In the meantime, here are the rankings through Sunday night's games: