Author: Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images
Alexei Kovalev makes comeback after two-year retirement, registers assist
By: Jared Clinton
Oct 18, 2016
Alexei Kovalev hadn’t played professional hockey in two seasons, but he suited up as an injury replacement Tuesday and picked up an assist. His night didn’t end well, though.
Alexei Kovalev has spent the past two years enjoying retirement, but duty called in the Swiss second league and the 43-year-old answered.
ECH Visp announced ahead of Tuesday’s game against EV Zug’s Academy team that Kovalev, who retired after a season with the team in 2013-14 was hired on to be the team’s manager this season, was going to be coming out of retirement as an injury replacement.
While Kovalev coming out of retirement may seem completely out of left field, it may not have been so shocking to those within the club. According to the team’s release, Kovalev had been suiting up with the squad in practice since the start of the season and with 26-year-old winger William Rapuzzi injured, Kovalev decided to jump back into the lineup.
And in his return to the ice after a two-year absence, Kovalev had quite the outing.
Just eight minutes into the game, Kovalev picked up an assist on the game’s opening goal by Jon Rheault, but it was mostly downhill from there for the veteran winger. Kovalev ended the first frame with a hooking minor and then found himself out of the game come the final minutes of the third period.
With less than five minutes remaining, Kovalev was whistled for a check from behind, handed a minor and game misconduct. After the misconduct, Kovalev would watch from the sideline as EV Zug won the contest in overtime.
Kovalev’s might get a second chance at suiting up for Visp, though. If Rapuzzi is out for the rest of the week, there’s a chance that Kovalev will suit up against HC Red Ice on Saturday, as that falls within the same one-week period.
During Kovalev’s final pro season with Visp, he was as dominant as one might expect, posting a gaudy 22 goals and 52 points in 44 games as a 41-year-old and adding another seven goals and 17 points in the post-season. Over the course of his NHL career, Kovalev played more than 1,300 games, scoring 430 goals and 1,029 points.
Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine.
Author: Dave Sanford/Getty Images
THN Roundtable: Which rookie not named Matthews or Laine has been most impressive so far?
By: The Hockey News
Oct 21, 2016
The top two picks from the 2016 draft aren't the only rookies worth talking about. Here are our picks for the most impressive performances from players other than Matthews and Laine.
The 2016-17 NHL season may become known as the Year of the Rookie. It's still very early days, but there are a number of first-year players playing big roles, and impressing in big ways.
A total of 29 teenagers began the season on NHL rosters, and two of them already have scored hat tricks. Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine went No. 1 and 2 in the 2016 draft and so far they've not disappointed. Matthews made headlines by scoring four goals in his first game, and Laine bested Matthews on Wednesday by scoring three goals in a Jets win over the Maple Leafs.
But they're not the only rookies worth talking about. Here are our picks for the most impressive rookie performances so far -- from players other than Matthews and Laine.
Zach Werenski, Blue Jackets
Zach Werenski has carried over the momentum from his dominant AHL playoffs, in which he stepped in for his first pro action right out of the University of Michigan. He played seven regular season games for Lake Erie and was a crucial reason why it won the Calder Cup. Now he seamlessly has transitioned to the NHL with the Jackets, already playing major minutes and toiling on the top power play. He has been an elite prospect since even before the Jackets drafted him eighth overall in 2015, so none of this is a fluke. Werenski is a stud and a legit Calder Trophy candidate. Or, he at least would be in a non Matthews/Laine year. (Matt Larkin)
Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs
He’s ninth in rookie scoring, the third-highest scoring first-year player on his team, and currently sits second-last among freshmen in plus-minus, but Mitch Marner is everything the Toronto Maple Leafs could have hoped he’d be, and more. Auston Matthews scored four goals in Toronto’s first game this season, but there were large swaths of that game when Marner was the best player on the ice. His skill level is breathtaking. There have been shifts where he has controlled the entire ice surface. And when you have that kind of skill, it’s only a matter of time before the numbers start coming. Some players are rushed into the NHL, but not Marner. There would be nothing, absolutely nothing to be gained by sending him back to junior hockey. The kid is where he belongs. (Ken Campbell)
Mike Matheson, Panthers
The acquisitions of Keith Yandle and Jason Demers marked two big steps forward for the Florida Panthers’ blueline, but it’s the development and play of Mike Matheson that has impressed most early in the season. Matheson, 22, spent the entire 2015-16 campaign in the AHL after finishing up three years at Boston College, and the 2012 first-rounder has come a long way in one short pro season.
Averaging more than 20 minutes per game, Matheson looks more than capable of handling a top-four role in Florida, and his offensive instincts have been on display early. His opening-night overtime assist was a thing of beauty and he’s scored in back-to-back games against top Eastern Conference competition. Maybe this could have been seen coming, though, after Matheson was named top defenseman at the 2016 World Championship with a remarkable two-goal, six-point performance in 10 games with Team Canada. (Jared Clinton)
Travis Konecny, Flyers
Travis Konecny was so far off the Calder Trophy-race radar, he wasn't included in Bovada's pre-season odds. But he's looked perfectly capable of sticking in the show after his first four professional games. Konecny jumped straight from junior to the Flyers this season, and is already getting important minutes on the second line with Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek. He's yet to find the back of the net, but he has four assists in his first four games, and is averaging over 15 minutes of ice time per game. And the goals will come. The 2015 first-round pick scored 23 goals in 31 games last season after being traded from Ottawa to Sarnia. If he continues to get put in a position to contribute offensively, there's no reason to believe he won't. (Ian Denomme)
Stars’ Sharp sidelined after suffering ‘concussion-like symptoms’ following huge hit
By: Jared Clinton
Oct 21, 2016
The Stars don't know exactly when they can expect Sharp’s return, which means yet another player has been added to Dallas’ growing injury list.
The Dallas Stars are going to be without Patrick Sharp, but they don’t know just how long the veteran winger will be on the shelf.
Sharp, 34, was forced to leave Thursday’s game against the Kings during the second period after being walloped along the boards by Los Angeles blueliner Brayden McNabb. Early in the frame, with Dallas on a power play, Sharp took a pass from Devin Shore and stepped over the blueline with Jeff Carter giving chase. In order to sidestep Carter, Sharp moved along the right wing boards where he was met with a solid jolt from McNabb.
No penalty was called on the play, and the replay shows that McNabb caught Sharp about as square on the shoulder as possible.
Regardless of how clean the hit may have been, though, Sharp immediately grabbed his head and was slow to get to his feet. He remained out on the power play for another 20 seconds before leaving the ice, but after heading to the bench, Sharp left the game. The Stars later announced he wouldn’t return due to “concussion-like symptoms,” and Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Sharp’s absence will go beyond Thursday’s game.
“Sharp will be out,” Ruff said, according to Mark Stepneski. “He missed the rest of the game on the hit but I don’t know what the time frame is.”
And even if Sharp is diagnosed with a concussion, that won’t make his timeframe for return any more clear. Unlike other injuries where it’s easier to gauge recovery times, a concussion can sideline a player for a few games or for months at a time.
The good news for Sharp, though, is that he doesn’t have a long history of serious head injures. In October 2010, Sharp, then with the Chicago Blackhawks, was forced out of the lineup with what was at the time called a “slight concussion,” but he returned after missing just one game and hasn’t missed any time with head injuries since.
The timing of the injury is brutal for Dallas, especially after an off-season in which seemingly none of their key top-six players could stay healthy. Already, the Stars are without Jiri Hudler (flu), Ales Hemsky (groin), Cody Eakin (knee), Mattias Janmark (knee) and Jason Dickinson (hip), so losing Sharp — and possibly Patrick Eaves, who also left the contest Thursday after a blocked shot — would be another serious blow to the dynamic Dallas offense.
Through four games this season, Sharp had mustered just one assist but had put 10 shots on goal.
Capitals winger Daniel Winnik went into Thursday’s game with two ears but didn’t leave with both intact. A shot block in the third period “chewed up” a piece of Winnik’s right ear.
If blocking shots is an art, Washington Capitals winger Daniel Winnik put his body on the line to deliver the van Gogh of shot blocks in the Capitals’ 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday.
Midway through the third period, with the Panthers on the power play and Winnik out on the penalty kill, the puck found Florida winger Reilly Smith’s tape. Smith worked his way to the middle of the ice to unleash a shot as Winnik dropped to the ice to block the attempt.
Smith’s shot stayed low and went right at Winnik’s head, and though the veteran winger was able to turn in time to avoid any serious damage to his face, the side of his head took the impact. After blocking the shot, Winnik stayed down for a short while before climbing to his feet and leaving the ice, but he was able to return before the end of the contest. Only problem was that when he returned he was missing part of his ear.
Yes, you read that right: Winnik went into the game with two whole ears, and left the contest with one and a bit. To hear Barry Trotz tell the story, one would be led to believe this is a completely normal occurrence.
Given that things could have ended much worse for Winnik had he not turned his head in time, he’ll probably be thankful that a small piece of his ear was the only casualty of the shot block. And no one can ever say he’s not willing to pay a physical price to win a game.