Five things to watch: Jagr closing in on Lemieux

The Hockey News
Jaromir Jagr

By Garrett Perry, Nic Carafa and Curtis Ng

Each day, THN gives you five things to watch out for in the games ahead. There are four games up on Wednesday night, with the Ducks looking to stay perfect at home, the Wild looking to get back on a winning track and Jaromir Jagr inching closer to Mario Lemieux’s goal mark.

1) Ducks perfect on their pond (8-0-0)
The Anaheim Ducks put their perfect home record on the line against the New Jersey Devils tonight. Anaheim is the only undefeated team at home in the league and is only three consecutive victories shy of Chicago’s NHL record of 11 straight back in the 1963-64 season. Coming off a horrendous East Coast road trip in which they only managed one point in four games, the Ducks should be pleased to be back on home ice. They were outscored 14-6 in losses to Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina and Pittsburgh and only managed one goal in 12 attempts on the power play. At home, however, it’s a much different story with the Ducks having outscored their opponents 36-13. Prior to their dreadful road swing, the Ducks were winners of five consecutive games and held a nine-game points streak. Look for the Ducks to get back in the win column and continue their best start in franchise history. Keep an eye on Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, as he has five goals and five assists in his past three games at the Honda Center.

2) Wisniewski leading the pack for Jackets
When the Columbus Blue Jackets make their way into the Saddledome to take on the Calgary Flames tonight, James Wisniewski will look to add to his team-leading 16 points. The Jackets have lost eight of their past 10 games and have averaged 2.1 goals a game during that span, slipping to last in the Metropolitan Division. Columbus is only one of four teams to have a defenseman lead their team in scoring – the other three are the Florida Panthers (Brian Campbell), Montreal Canadiens (P.K. Subban) and Ottawa Senators (Erik Karlsson). The Canadiens are the only one of those four teams that are currently sitting in a playoff spot – and that’s a wildcard spot.

3) Crosby vs. Ovechkin…or is it Ovechkin vs. Crosby?
Since his 65-goal season in 2007-08, Alex Ovechkin’s goal totals haven’t approached those heights again and that led to a feeling perhaps the Crosby-Ovechkin rivalry was losing steam. Not this year. Ovechkin is on pace for 73 goals, while Crosby is tied with Alexander Steen at 26 points to lead the league. The Penguins and Capitals are Nos. 1 and 2 in the Metropolitan Division, with a single point separating them. Washington has momentum, however, with three straight wins and is 7-1-1 in November. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, has only two wins in their past six and scored only 11 goals during that stretch.

4) Not-so-happy trails
Part of the reason for the Ottawa Senators’ mediocre 8-9-4 record is the fact they keep digging themselves early holes. Including yesterday’s 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Sens have trailed by a score of 2-0 in four straight games and for the 11th time this season. Ottawa has lost two straight and three of four, scoring just seven goals over that stretch. Tonight, they face a hot Minnesota Wild team, which had its point streak snapped at eight games last night. Prior to the Wild’s 6-2 loss in Montreal yesterday, they were 7-0-1. Josh Harding was riding a 9-0-1 streak going into yesterday, while Jason Pominville and Zach Parise are among the league leaders in goals. Oh, and by the way, Matt Cooke and Dany Heatley are back in town. Interestingly, Cooke has 10 points to Heatley’s five.

5) Jaromir Jagr set to pass Mario Lemieux
Heading into tonight’s game against the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center, Jaromir Jagr sits at 688 goals and 1,704 points on his career. Jagr is just two goals shy of tying his former Pittsburgh Penguin teammate Mario Lemieux (690) for ninth on the all-time NHL list. “Mario Jr.,” as he was often referred to, is currently leading the New Jersey Devils in scoring with 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) at the tender age of 41. Last season with the Dallas Stars, Jagr went three games without a point against the Ducks, but look for that trend to end. The Czech sniper is coming off a two-goal performance in a 4-1 win against the Penguins, the team that drafted him fifth overall back in 1990.