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Saturday Daily Puck: 400 For Ovechkin

Jason Chen

Jason Chen

Probably the only Brendan Morrison fan around. Will always be appreciative of Artem Chubarov.

Around the Rink

Alex Ovechkin needed one less game than the best Russian goal scorer ever, Pavel Bure, to score 400 goals in the NHL. The Washington Capitals’ franchise player accomplished it in 634 games, becoming the 89th player to accomplish that feat and the sixth-fastest to do so, trailing Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux, Brett Hull, and Jarri Kurri, players who played in eras in which 70-goal seasons were relatively common. It’s an incredible feat.

Over the past two seasons, spanning 81 regular season games, Ovechkin has scored 61 goals. This year, he’s on pace to score more than 70, which will be the first time since 1991-92 when Brett Hull did it with St. Louis. Ovechkin is shooting at a high clip at 16.8 percent, which is 4.4 points higher than his career average. It means that his scoring rate is likely to dip in the coming months, but he’s the only player in the league who has a shot at scoring 60 goals, especially with Steven Stamkos’ unfortunate injury.

In an Olympic year, which figures to be extra motivation for Ovechkin to win in front of his home crowd, the Russian sniper and Nicklas Backstrom have carried the team. The Caps are aren’t as deep as Pittsburgh to challenge for the division title, but they’ll surely have one of three division spots locked up for the playoffs.

Ovechkin’s goal scoring has drawn attention away from his low assist total and poor plus-minus rating, but few players have been as exciting to watch this year. He’s been excellent at home, scoring 19 goals in 18 games as they host the New Jersey Devils.

Here’s the rest of your Saturday games.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)

For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Calgary Flames (Karri Ramo*) at Pittsburgh Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury), 1:00 PM
Phoenix Coyotes (Mike Smith) at Ottawa Senators (Craig Anderson*), 2:00 PM
Colorado Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov) at Los Angeles Kings (Ben Scrivens), 4:00 PM
New Jersey Devils (Martin Brodeur*) at Washington Capitals (Braden Holtby), 7:00 PM
Philadelphia Flyers (Ray Emery) at Columbus Blue Jackets (Curtis McElhinney*), 7:00 PM
Montreal Canadiens (Carey Price) at Nashville Predators (Carter Hutton), 7:00 PM
Buffalo Sabres (Ryan Miller) at Boston Bruins (Tuukka Rask), 7:00 PM
Detroit Red Wings (Jonas Gustavsson*) at Toronto Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier), 7:00 PM
Carolina Hurricanes (Cam Ward) at Tampa Bay Lightning (Ben Bishop), 7:00 PM
Anaheim Ducks (Frederik Andersen) at New York Islanders (Kevin Poulin), 7:00 PM
St. Louis Blues (Brian Elliott*) at Edmonton Oilers (Devan Dubnyk), 10:00 PM
Dallas Stars (Kari Lehtonen) at San Jose Sharks (Antti Niemi), 10:30 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Saturday

Calgary Flames
Dennis Wideman, D – (fractured hand) will miss 6-8 weeks. (11/28/2013)

Pittsburgh Penguins
Jayson Megna, LW - (lower body) will miss the next six weeks of action. (12/19/2013)
Kris Letang, D - (upper body) has been placed on IR. (12/16/2013)
Tanner Glass, LW - (hand) participated in Friday's light skate, Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. (12/13/2013)
Andrew Ebbett, C – (broken ankle) out indefinitely, Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. (12/6/2013)
Deryk Engelland, D – (suspension) five games for his hit on Detroit's Justin Abdelkader, Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. (12/18/2013)
Beau Bennett, RW – (hand/wrist) will miss the next 8-10 weeks. (11/25/2013)
Tomas Vokoun, G - (blood clot) hasn't ruled out a return to the Penguins this season. (11/30/2013)
Brooks Orpik, D - (concussion) was on the ice for practice Friday. (12/20/2013)
Paul Martin, D – (fractured tibia) out for four-to-six weeks, TSN's Mark Masters reports. (11/27/2013)
Robert Scuderi, D - (ankle) returned to practice Monday for the Penguins, Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. (12/16/2013)
Evgeni Malkin, C - (leg) skated on his own Friday. (12/20/2013)

Phoenix Coyotes
Shane Doan, RW - (illness) is not accompanying his teammates for their four-game road trip, reports the Arizona Republic. (12/16/2013)
Zbynek Michalek, D – (lower body) out indefinitely with his latest lower-body injury. (12/19/2013)
Lauri Korpikoski, LW - (upper body) is traveling with the team for on their four-game road trip, but it's not clear whether he will rejoin the lineup. (12/16/2013)

Ottawa Senators
Mika Zibanejad, C - (upper body) was not present during Saturday's practice, Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen reports. (12/20/2013)
Colorado Avalanche
Alex Tanguay, LW - (knee) remains without a timetable for his return, Adrian Dater of the Denver Post reports. (12/14/2013)
Ryan Wilson, D - (back) remains out of the lineup, the Denver Post reports. (12/16/2013)

Los Angeles Kings
Willie Mitchell, D - (upper body) was back on the ice for Wednesday's optional skate, Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News reports. (12/18/2013)
Jonathan Quick, G - (groin) will remain sidelined until at least the first week of January, the Los Angeles Times reports. (12/20/2013)

New Jersey Devils
Ryane Clowe, LW - (concussion) did not play Friday. (12/20/2013)
Ryan Carter, C - (leg) placed on IR, Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger reports. (12/4/2013)
Peter Harrold, D - (foot) placed on IR, Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record reports. (12/12/2013)
Bryce Salvador, D - (foot) will join the Devils on their road trip, close to returning. (12/20/2013)
Adam Larsson, D - (lower body) expected to miss 4-6 weeks, Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger reports. (12/19/2013)

Washington Capitals
Brooks Laich, C - (groin) skated on his own for the fifth consecutive day, Katie Carrera of the Washington Post reports. (12/20/2013)
Jack Hillen, D - (leg) was placed on LTIR. (10/8/2013)
Tomas Kundratek, D – (torn ACL) out for the season. (11/12/2013)
Michael Latta, C - (lower body) was placed on IR, Katie Carrera of the Washington Post reports. (12/17/2013)

Philadelphia Flyers
Vincent Lecavalier, C - (back) may be able to beat his two-week return timetable, Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly reports. (12/19/2013)

Columbus Blue Jackets
Sergei Bobrovsky, G - (lower body) skated on his own Wednesday morning, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (12/18/2013)
Dalton Prout, D - (upper body) will miss at least the next two weeks, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (12/18/2013)
Nathan Horton, RW - (shoulder) skated in a regular jersey at practice Friday, Dan Kamal of FOX Sports Ohio reports. (12/20/2013)
Derek MacKenzie, C - MacKnzie (lower body) hopes to return by Christmas, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (12/18/2013)
Jack Skille, RW - (hand) held out of practice Friday, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (12/20/2013)
Jared Boll, RW – (ankle surgery) will miss the next 3-4 months. (12/17/2013)

Montreal Canadiens
George Parros, RW - (concussion) skated on his own Wednesday morning, Renaud Lavoie of RDS reports. (12/18/2013)
Davis Drewiske, D – (shoulder surgery) will miss the next five-to-six months, Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette reports. (10/16/2013)

Nashville Predators
Pekka Rinne, G - (hip) will continue to rehab and remain off the ice for the next two weeks. (12/5/2013)

Buffalo Sabres
Cody McCormick, C - (upper body) was the only Sabre not in attendance for Monday's practice and will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks. (12/16/2013)

Patrick Kaleta, RW – (torn right ACL) will miss the rest of the season. (11/30/2013)
Cody Hodgson, C – (hand) out for "a while" with a hand injury, Bill Hoppe of the Times Herald reports. (12/19/2013)

Boston Bruins
Dougie Hamilton, D - (lower body) has been ruled out for 2-4 weeks, Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe reports. (12/10/2013)
Loui Eriksson, RW – (concussion) remains out indefinitely, the Boston Herald reports. (12/19/2013)
Chris Kelly, C - (leg) was placed on LTIR. (12/8/2013)
Adam McQuaid, D – (lower body) could play Saturday. (12/20/2013)
Daniel Paille, LW - (concussion) resumed skating Friday. (12/20/2013)
Shawn Thornton, LW – (suspension) will appeal the 15-game decision, the Boston Globe reports. (12/16/2013)

Detroit Red Wings
Gustav Nyquist, RW - (groin) did not participate during Friday's practice, Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports. (12/20/2013)
Stephen Weiss, C - (groin) will visit a specialist later this week, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports. (12/17/2013)
Henrik Zetterberg, LW - (back) skated with the team Thusday, MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports. (12/19/2013)
Justin Abdelkader, LW - (concussion) could return to the lineup Saturday or Monday, Chuck Pleiness of the Macomb Daily reports. (12/19/2013)
Johan Franzen, LW - (concussion) out until after the Christmas break, Chuck Pleiness of the Macomb Daily reports. (12/19/2013)
Jimmy Howard, G - (knee) hopes to be ready either Dec. 30 or Jan. 1, MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports. (12/19/2013)

Toronto Maple Leafs
Tyler Bozak, C - (upper body) on the ice for Thursday's morning skate, Jonas Siegel of TSN Radio 1050 reports. (12/19/2013)
Paul Ranger, D – (upper body) considered day-to-day, Jonas Siegel of TSN Radio 1050 reports. (12/16/2013)
Dave Bolland, C – (ankle) placed on LTIR, David Alter of Sportsnet 590 The Fan reports. (11/8/2013)
Jonathan Bernier, G – (lower body) practiced well Friday, game-time decision. (12/20/2013)
Trevor Smith, C – (broken hand) no timetable for return. (12/17/2013)
Colton Orr, RW - (elbow) placed on IR, James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail reports. (12/5/2013)

Carolina Hurricanes
Anton Khudobin, G - (ankle) remains on IR, but has been medically cleared to play, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. (12/18/2013)
Joni Pitkanen, D - (heel) out for the season. (10/1/2013)
Elias Lindholm, C – (loan) to the Swedish National Team for the World Junior Hockey Championship, TSN.ca reports. (12/16/2013)

Tampa Bay Lightning
Ryan Malone, LW - (ankle) had a light on-ice workout on Thursday, reports the Associated Press. (12/19/2013)
Brian Lee, D - (knee) is still only doing off-ice workouts. (11/9/2013)
Mattias Ohlund, D - (knee) unlikely to return this season. (10/2/2013)
Steven Stamkos, C - (broken leg) took part in the team's morning skate but will not play Saturday, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reports. (12/14/2013)
Keith Aulie, D - (broken hand) underwent surgery, according to the team's official website. (12/6/2013)
Tom Pyatt, RW - (collarbone) wearing a regular jersey during Thursday's morning skate, Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times reports. (12/19/2013)

Anaheim Ducks
Luca Sbisa, D – (right hand tendon) will miss the next six-to-eight weeks, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Registerreports. (11/23/2013)
Viktor Fasth, G - (lower body) left the Ducks' road trip and returned to Anaheim to increase his activities, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. (12/19/2013)
Sheldon Souray, D - (wrist) skated before Thursday's practice, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. (11/21/2013)

New York Islanders
Lubomir Visnovsky, D - (concussion) still has no timetable for a return to the ice, according to the Newsday. (12/16/2013)
Radek Martinek, D – (back) placed on IR, Newday's Arthur Staple reports. (12/12/2013)

St. Louis Blues
Jordan Leopold, D – (hand ligament) expected to miss at least eight weeks, Lou Korac of NHL.com reports. (11/11/2013)
David Backes, C - (upper body) will travel with the Blues on their two-game road swing in Canada, NHL.com's Lou Korac reports. (12/20/2013)
Vladimir Sobotka, RW - (upper body) will not travel with the team for their two games in Canada on Saturday and Monday, NHL.com's Lou Korac reports. (12/20/2013)
Ryan Reaves, RW - (hand) has resumed skating, and hopes to be cleared to shoot soon, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. (12/19/2013)

Edmonton Oilers
Mark Arcobello, C – (rib) did not play Thursday, questionable for Saturday. (12/19/2013)

Dallas Stars
Trevor Daley, D - (ankle) was placed on IR Friday. (12/6/2013)
Vernon Fiddler, C - (upper body) put in another hard skate Thursday, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports. (12/19/2013)
Aaron Rome, D – (lower body) no timetable for return. (12/17/2013)
Stephane Robidas, D – (broken fibia) out four to six months, TSN's Darren Dreger reports. (11/30/2013)

San Jose Sharks
Adam Burish, RW – (back surgery) out indefinitely, CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz reports. (10/16/2013)
Tomas Hertl, LW – (knee) could miss more than a month, Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area reports. (12/20/2013)
Scott Hannan, D - (upper body) on the ice for the team's morning skate Saturday, David Pollack of the San Jose Mercury News reports. (12/14/2013)
Raffi Torres, LW - (knee) skated on his own Tuesday, the David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports. (10/22/2013)

Hot
Michael Raffl, LW, PHI – The 25-year-old Austrian sensation was signed out of the Swedish leagues and become quite a nice find for the Flyers. With an assist against Columbus on Friday, Raffl now has five points in his past four games. The Flyers have found their offensive groove over the past three games and Raffl is definitely contributing. This production won’t last, so ride the hot streak.

Mike Santorelli, RW, VAN – Santorelli didn’t score against Chicago but played over 24 minutes, which is a season-high. The British Columbia-native had a four-game point streak heading into Friday’s game, during which he collected five assists. The Canucks’ second line with Santorelli, Chris Higgins and Ryan Kesler is on fire, and since being put together has been the team’s most consistent line. He was a very capable offensive player for Florida before suffering a shoulder injury.

Chris Stewart, RW, STL – A former 28-goal scorer with the Avs, Stewart has recovered some of his scoring touch in recent games with five goals in his past five games. Offensively, Stewart doesn’t offer as much as he once did, but he plays a physical game and is one of the better fantasy options for penalty minutes. That he’s scoring at a 20-goal pace is a nice bonus.

Cold
Radim Vrbata, RW, PHX – The Coyotes don’t score many goals, so when the Czech winger doesn’t score, they don’t win many games. Vrbata hasn’t scored since December 3, and has just two assists in his past seven games. He’s on pace for just 23 goals, which would be his lowest total over an 82-game season since 2010-11.

Ryan McDonagh, D, NYR – The former first-round pick looked like a good bet to make the Olympic roster for Team USA, but his recent six-game pointless streak puts that in doubt. The Rangers have lost six of their last seven games and not getting help from one of its top defensemen. McDonagh is minus-8 in that span. He’s a young defenseman with a lot of potential, but along with Michael Del Zotto, it looks the Rangers are having some trouble adjusting to Alain Vigneault’s style.

Cam Ward, G, CAR – Ward allowed three goals on 28 shots in a 4-2 loss against Washington, dropping his record below .500 to 5-6-5. It’s hard to believe the man posting a 3.04 goals-against average was once a former Conn Smythe winner, but it looks like injuries are really hurting his play. Over the past two years Ward has played just 34 games. Friday’s performance was Ward’s third straight game with a save percentage under .900.

Recommended Pickup
Matt Niskanen, D, PIT –The former Minnesota-Duluth Bulldog scored 61 points in his first two seasons with the Stars, but his offensive numbers have fallen by the wayside since. So, his recent outburst, with three points in two games, including a game-winner against Minnesota, shouldn’t be all that surprising. With Kris Letang and Paul Martin out with injuries, Niskanen will be the main benefactor with increased ice time in all situations, and with increased ice time comes more opportunities to collect points.

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