Rumor Roundup: Columbus shopping Wisniewski, Carolina squashes Staal talk

James Wisniewski (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets made defenseman James Wisniewski a healthy scratch for Sunday’s game against the New York Rangers. At the time it was reportedly a coach’s decision. Of course, whenever a notable healthy player becomes a late scratch at this time of year, it’s assumed he’s about to be traded.

NBC Sports’ James O’Brien thought it was an odd move, citing the 31-year-old Wisniewski’s solid puck-possession stats. He pointed out the veteran blueliner has two years remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. O’Brien also cited a tweet from TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie speculating Wisniewski could be traded. Read more

Ovechkin and Backstrom the two-headed monster powering Capitals

Jared Clinton
Chicago Blackhawks v Washington Capitals

Hockey fans awoke this morning to a sight that’s not usually seen outside of the first few weeks of the NHL season: the goal scoring leader, a Washington Capital; the assist leader, a Washington Capital; and sitting atop the Art Ross Trophy race, a Washington Capital.

It has been more than a decade since teammates from a single team have dominated the NHL points race together, the last duo to do so coming in 2002-03 when Avalanche teammates Milan Hejduk scored 50 goals and Peter Forsberg paced the league with a 77-assist, 106-point season. But the Washington tandem of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom is looking poised to duplicate feat and changing the Capitals’ fortunes in the process. Read more

Jamie Benn scores first career hat trick – here are five players waiting for their own

Patric Hornqvist and James Neal

Multi-goal games happen on a near nightly basis, but it takes a special night for a player to complete a hat trick. There have been strange hat tricks in NHL history – heck, Mason Raymond has three in his career – but even most gifted offensive talents have struggled to net their own.

Take Jamie Benn, for instance. Tuesday night marked his first career hat trick and it was his 401st NHL game. Shane Doan was drafted in 1995 and scored his first trio in 2012. Brad Richards was nearly 33 before he scored his first.

Two players on this list have had playoff hat tricks, but the regular season feat remains out of their grasp. The names will shock you, too. These are five players waiting for their first career hat trick: Read more

Blatant slash, or innocent swing at the puck: what has Alex Ovechkin done now?

Adam Proteau
Alex Ovechkin (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

Capitals superstar winger Alex Ovechkin had already made a mark on Tuesday’s Penguins/Capitals game by scoring a tremendous breakaway goal late in the first period. But early in the third period, he found another way to add to the rivalry between the two Metropolitan Division teams: by taking a two-handed swing – either at Pens star defenseman Kris Letang’s ankle, or at the puck, depending on your perspective – that has led to strong feelings among both fan bases.

Letang had to leave the game for a brief stretch, when, during a chase for a loose puck, Ovechkin’s slash crumpled him and sent him smashing into the end boards: (GIF via @PeteBlackburn)

From the perspective of many Capitals fans, Ovechkin was merely swinging his stick in desperation at the puck, and there was no penalty called on the play. From the point of view of irate Pens fans, the slash made direct contact with Letang’s ankle, and that’s all that counts.

All things considered, this is the type of play that perfectly illustrates the inherent subjectivity of sport. Ask yourself this: if the roles were reversed – if it were Sidney Crosby swinging for the fences and connecting with the ankle of, say, Caps defenseman John Carlson – would Washington fans currently conducting a passionate defense of Ovechkin do the same thing for Crosby?

To ask it is to answer it. Fans are going to see what they want to see. Read more

Alex Ovechkin’s pretty breakaway goal extends his lead in the NHL’s scoring race

Adam Proteau
Alex Ovechkin (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Capitals star winger Alex Ovechkin entered Tuesday night’s game against the Penguins with a one-goal lead over Rangers winger Rick Nash. But he extended that lead after taking advantage of a Penguins defensive collapse and converted a beautiful breakaway goal on Marc-Andre Fleury.

The play took place late in the first period with Washington on the power play and both teams still looking for their first goal: the penalty was on the verge of expiring, and a bad line change by the Pens allowed Ovechkin to skate unmolested through the middle of the ice, directly at Fleury. The 29-year-old made the rest look easy, going to his backhand and flipping the puck up into the net: Read more

Getzlaf calls Ovechkin out, says he was diving “all over the ice”

Jared Clinton
Ryan Getzlaf. (Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

Alex Ovechkin had quite the game Sunday evening. The Washington superstar scored two goals, added two assists, and, if you ask Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf, Ovechkin can even add a dive to his accomplishments.

After the game between the Ducks and Capitals, Getzlaf was speaking to media when he let Ovechkin really have it. There’s some NSFW audio, so beware of that before you listen. Read more

Ovechkin vs. Nash could become one of the great Rocket Richard races

Josh Elliott
Alex Ovechkin

It’s been five years since we’ve seen a scoring race this exciting.

Flash back to 2009-10, when the ‘Greatest Player in the World’ debate was in full swing and Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin were neck-and-neck-and-neck in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy.

The whole contest came down to the last game of the season on Apr. 11, when Crosby scored two goals, Stamkos tallied one and Ovechkin failed to score. Ovechkin had the lead going into the day, but couldn’t keep up as Crosby and Stamkos passed him.

Crosby and Stamkos ended up splitting the hardware with 51-goal seasons, while Ovechkin fell one goal short in 10 fewer games played.

Not since then have the goal scoring leader and the runner-up been one goal apart at the end of the season.
Read more

Sharks’ star blueliner Brent Burns scores twice…in 22 seconds

Adam Proteau
Brent Burns (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

San Jose defenseman Brent Burns scored a career-best 22 goals for the Sharks last season, but in less than half-a-minute Wednesday, he scored two goals against the Washington Capitals to push him closer to that number for a second straight year.

On his first goal of the night (and 13th of the season), Burns uses a screen in front of Caps goalie Braden Holtby to fire home a shot from the point on the power play, just 21 seconds into the second period:

Twenty-two seconds after the ensuing center ice faceoff, Burns took a pass from teammate Patrick Marleau inside Washington’s blueline and wristed the puck past Holtby at the 43-second mark: Read more