DETROIT - Johan Franzen is back in the Detroit Red Wings' lineup after missing one game because of a head injury.
Franzen was injured last Thursday when he was hit by Dallas defenceman Mark Fistric in the first period and had to be helped to the bench. He then sat out on Saturday at Phoenix, but returned for Thursday night's home game against Calgary.
The Red Wings also say that centre Kris Draper will be sidelined for 4-to-6 weeks after having sports hernia surgery on Thursday.
Detroit defenceman Jonathan Ericsson, out since the season opener because of back spasms, had a slight setback on Wednesday but hopes to return next Thursday. Centre Justin Abdelkader (ribs) is scheduled to make his season debut on Saturday, and defenceman Brian Rafalski, who had arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 12, is expected to return in about two weeks.
Steve Mason respects Alex Ovechkin’s one-timer enough that the assumption the blast was coming drew the Flyers goaltender all the way out of his crease, leaving an empty-net for Matt Niskanen to tap home a simple tally.
Lack was on to something, too, because later in the same game Ovechkin scored his 1,000th point, he blasted home a shot from the newly minted OviZoid. But don’t go thinking Ovechkin isn’t aware that he’s often firing from the same position on the ice, and don’t assume that the ‘Great 8’ isn’t a cerebral enough player to use that against opposition netminders.
Early in the third period of Sunday’s meeting with the Philadelphia Flyers, the Capitals were breaking up ice on a 2-on-1 with Ovechkin as the apparent triggerman for a pass from Nicklas Backstrom. As Ovechkin opened up his body and a pass came across, he wound up like he was going to lay another blast on goal from the OviZoid, but instead of releasing the one-timer, Ovechkin tapped a one-timed pass into the middle of the ice for the easiest non-empty net goal Washington blueliner Matt Niskanen will ever score:
There’s committing to a save, there’s overcommitting to a sniper’s shot and then there’s whatever Ovechkin made Flyers netminder Steve Mason do on that play. The assumption that Ovechkin wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to rifle a one-timer on goal was enough to literally yank Mason all the way out of his crease. That’s a special kind of respect given to a player’s shooting ability.
The marker was Niskanen’s third of the year, which would be followed only minutes later by his fourth of the campaign, but neither tally would really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. Niskanen’s goals, the third and fourth of the night for Washington, were simply the icing on the cake in a 5-0 victory over Philadelphia.
The Chicago Blackhawks superstar is climbing up the scoring charts again and his ability to beguile goaltenders with his intentions is helping him get there
Don't look now, but Patrick Kane is gunning for another Art Ross Trophy. The Chicago Blackhawks superstar has 10 points in his past six games and currently sits just behind Edmonton wunderkind Connor McDavid for the NHL scoring lead.
The Blackhawks just dropped a 3-2 contest to Minnesota (no shame there; the Wild are a heavy outfit), but Kane was a terror, throwing two goals past Vezina favorite Devan Dubnyk. What's most interesting about Kane's attack is how he put the shots past Dubnyk. Here's the first one, which admittedly, probably came with some luck:
OK, Kane's not an evil genius for knuckling one under Dubnyk because the puck was rolling, but let's go to the second goal for a better example of his craftiness:
There we go. Firing a rocket that Dubnyk clearly wasn't prepared for, and doing so amidst a bunch of skates when most shooters would have pulled the puck out of the fray first. Few players are as confident as Kane is with the puck and that's a weapon he uses to exploit goaltenders time and again. Historically, just look back to the most famous goal he ever scored, the overtime Stanley Cup game-winner against Philadelphia – as we've all seen countless times, Kane was basically the only person in the arena who knew the puck had gone in. Interesting side note – Colorado's Matt Duchene once told me that he knew the puck had gone in right away because he had been studying the older Kane and seen the trick once before. But for those of us who aren't elite hockey players, Kane's maneuvers are consistently quite impressive.
In an era where goal-scoring is at a premium, there's a reason why Kane has still been successful and his obfuscation is a big part of it. Same goes for Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and Auston Matthews – they're thinking about offense on a different level from mere mortals. On the other end of the spectrum, you still have a couple of elite scorers who can overpower netminders with their shots: Patrik Laine and Alex Ovechkin, who are currently tied in both goals and points, which I believe is a nice bit of cosmic alignment.
Last year, Kane won the scoring crown with 106 points and he was the only NHLer to hit triple digits. Right now, no one is on pace to break 100, though Crosby is in the ballpark if he has a hot second half. Defensive schemes and excellent goaltenders are suppressing offense right now, but at least we still have a few artists like Kane working on the assembly line.
The Breakaway Challenge is no more, but the often ridiculous event at the skills competition offered up some fantastic moments and great laughs. Take a look back at the five best attempts.
The highlight of the NBA’s all-star weekend, almost without fail, is the Slam Dunk Contest. The event has delivered moments like Michael Jordan’s foul line dunk, Vince Carter’s forearm in the rim jam and last season’s phenomenal showdown between Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine.
It would only make sense then that the NHL would try its hand at imitating the event, creating the Breakaway Challenge as its version of the dunk competition. The goal was simple: wow the crowd with incredible displays of puckhandling or win them over with props and creativity. Most players went for the latter, and it’s been one of the more ridiculous and comical events at the all-star weekend over the past six skills competitions.
However, after its six-season run as one of the weekend’s events, the NHL has decided to do away with the Breakaway Challenge, according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos. The news only a couple of weeks before the league is set to head to Los Angeles for the All-Star Game and is at least a slight indication that some new competitions could be part of the format.
With the Breakaway Challenge no more, though, let’s take a look back at five of the very best and most memorable moments from the contest:
5. Johansen gets some help, but Voracek one-ups him
Ryan Johansen had the Columbus crowd in the palm of his hands by using an Ohio State jersey as a prop, and he really got the crowd on its feet by getting a youngster to help bury a shot. It was a great moment, for sure, but Jakub Voracek really got the crowd laughing by stealing Johansen’s idea with the help of another kid on hand: diminutive Flames star Johnny Gaudreau.
4. Ovechkin is the new Captain Canada
If this is the end of the Breakaway Challenge for good, then Alex Ovechkin will go down as the greatest participant the competition has ever had. He won the first ever event in 2008 and with the chance to defend his crown in 2009, he pulled out all the stops, getting a hand from fellow countryman Evgeni Malkin and endearing himself to the Montreal crowd with an interesting choice of headwear.
3. The transformation of Burns
It almost doesn’t matter which team you support when it comes to Brent Burns. He’s an absolute stud on the blueline for the Sharks, he’s one of the most exciting players in the game, he’s got a unique love of animals and he has a Harry Potter tattoo. That last one will only please a certain generation of fan, but it’s indicative of the personality he brings. Burns also isn’t afraid to make light of his grizzled appearance, and he pulled off the perfect gag at the 2016 All-Star Game.
2. SuperKane takes center stage in Ottawa
Ovechkin was the king of the Breakaway Challenge for three straight All-Star Games, and it took a superhuman performance by Patrick Kane for someone to finally take the crown from the ‘Great 8.’ Kane went prop heavy with his attempts, but the clever use of an “exploding” puck was really the topper.
1. Subban pays tribute to greatness
As he continues his career well into his 40s, Jaromir Jagr’s status as one of the game’s most beloved players grows, and that seemingly goes for both players and fans alike. So, how do you win over an entire crowd and one of the greatest players the game has ever seen in one breakaway attempt? Well, you throw on a mullet, a Jagr jersey, some Cooperalls and cap it off with a salute.
The Penguins and Capitals were involved in a modern classic on Monday night, combining for 15 goals, including nine in the second period, in a game that had just about everything.
Washington rolled into Pittsburgh on Monday night riding a nine-game win streak, but the Capitals’ run of dominant play was snapped in incredible fashion with the Penguins picking up an 8-7 overtime victory in a game that will likely go down as one of the more fun contests of the season.
The game had just about everything a fan could ask for. There were comebacks, a goalie change, a hat trick, a nine-goal (!) second period, tallies coming at 4-on-4, 5-on-5, on the power play and shorthanded, reviewed tallies and, from where Capitals fans are sitting, there were even a few missed calls. The game had it all, save a shootout to decide the winner. No one captured that as succinctly as Washington’s Justin Williams, who had a goal in the game.
"All around, it was like a 1988 Smythe Division game out there, I think,” Williams said post-game.
That’s a fairly accurate assessment of the outing, too, because during the high-scoring 1980s, there were more than 130 games where both teams scored at least seven goals.
If you missed the action, check out all 15 goals and a recap of the game:
The game was highlighted by Evgeni Malkin’s hat trick, which was the 11th of his career and puts him into second all-time among Penguins players. Malkin has no chance when it comes to taking over top spot, though. That record is held by Mario Lemieux, who scored 40 hat tricks — not a typo — with Pittsburgh. All of Malkin’s goals came in the second period across a span of 10:51, and the second frame featured five goals — three for Pittsburgh, two for Washington — in 3:32.
The Penguins rode Matt Murray for the entire outing, but he finished with an ugly 21 saves on 28 shots, good for a .750 save percentage. The Capitals, however, switched it up in goal after Braden Holtby allowed five goals in little more than eight minutes in the second. He finished his night with a .808 SP, which was the best mark of any goaltender to suit up Monday. Philipp Grubauer stopped eight of the 11 shots he faced for a .727 SP.
The eventual game winner came from Conor Sheary, and it was his first career regular season overtime-winning goal. It should be a familiar feeling for Sheary, though, considering he has two post-season OT goals, including one against the Capitals in the second round of the past playoffs.