Around the League
It came in a losing effort, but with 484 goals Alex Ovechkin is now officially the NHL’s all-time leading Russian goal scorer. He’s played in 471 fewer games than Hall of Famer Sergei Fedorov, which just shows how dominant Ovechkin has been since he entered the league.
Many are already calling Ovechkin the greatest Russian goal scorer of all-time, and there’s certainly plenty of evidence to support that. It is only an opinion, however, and greatness can be measured in lots of different ways. In my mind, Ovechkin is the most unstoppable goal scorer of all-time, a mix of brute strength, speed and skill that is so very rarely seen from someone of his size. The NHL lists Ovechkin at 6-foot-3 and 239 pounds, which is the same height as Milan Lucic but four pounds heavier, and if you think about how Lucic plays, that Ovechkin can do what he does at that size is mind-boggling.
There is one other Russian who I feel plays a similar power/skill game and that’s Ilya Kovalchuk, who has 417 goals in 816 career NHL games. At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, his size is comparable to Ovechkin, and you could argue that maybe with a better team he would’ve been the first to crack Fedorov’s record. It’s too bad that Kovalchuk left for the KHL, because he was truly underappreciated and had a little more flair, cleverness and creative scoring ability than Ovechkin, who prefers to beat you with power.
Pavel Bure deserves a mention, too, with 437 goals in 702 career NHL games, a 0.6225 goals-per-game pace that is just shy of Ovechkin’s 0.6229. That difference is miniscule, but Bure’s game was more explosive, and perhaps even a little more versatile, in that he had a pretty underrated slap shot (that he seldom used for whatever reason) and some of the most dazzling dekes the league has ever seen.
I wouldn’t be so quick to say that Ovechkin, Kovalchuk or Bure was the greatest Russian player of all-time, however, because none of them were considered “complete” hockey players, and their deficiencies (particularly on defense for Ovechkin and Bure) have been well-documented. If I had a vote for the greatest Russian NHL player of the modern era (outside of Fedorov), it’d probably be Alexander Mogilny, the original Alexander the Great. He never won a lot of individual awards, so people forget how good he was in all facets of the game – like Marian Hossa – but injuries prevented him from ever playing a full 82-game season.
There are other names out there – Larionov, Fetisov, Kharlamov, to name a few – that could certainly vie for that title. It just depends on how you want to define “greatest.” One thing’s for sure, though, is that I’m glad they got a chance to show the world what they can do. We’re all the better for it.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid
Maple Leafs (James Reimer) at Hurricanes (Cam Ward), 7:00 PM
Predators (Pekka Rinne) at Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky), 7:00 PM
Kings (Jonathan Quick) at Red Wings (Petr Mrazek), 7:30 PM
Canadiens (Carey Price) at Islanders (Jaroslav Halak), 7:30 PM
Blackhawks (Scott Darling) at Flames (Karri Ramo), 9:00 PM
Devils (Keith Kinkaid) at Oilers (Anders Nilsson), 9:00 PM
Injury News For Teams Playing Friday
Toronto Maple Leafs
Stephane Robidas, D (knee) – no timetable for return.
Ryan Murphy, D (concussion) – no return date set.
James Wisniewski, D (torn ACL) – no return date set.
Eric Nystrom, LW (upper body) – did not play Tuesday; questionable.
Paul Gaustad, C (lower body) – did not play Tuesday; questionable.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Brandon Dubinsky, C (elbow) – no return date set.
David Clarkson, RW (lower body) – placed on IR; no return date set.
Jared Boll, RW (foot) – placed on IR; no return date set.
Alexander Wennberg, C (foot) – out two weeks.
Los Angeles Kings
Matt Greene, D (upper body) – did not travel on road trip, will not play.
Dwight King, LW (foot) – out two weeks.
Detroit Red Wings
Kyle Quincey, D (right ankle) - out 9-12 weeks.
Johan Franzen, RW (concussion) – placed on IR; no timetable for return.
Landon Ferraro, RW (knee) – day-to-day; doubtful.
Zack Kassian, RW (suspension) – no timetable for return.
Michael Bournival, C (concussion) – skated Monday; questionable.
Alexei Emelin, D (lower body) – will not play.
New York Islanders
Mikhail Grabovski, C (upper body) – practiced Wednesday; questionable.
Thomas Hickey, D (lower body) – skated Monday; no return date set.
Eric Boulton, LW (lower body) – did not play Tuesday; doubtful.
Teuvo Teravainen, C (upper body) – will not play.
Jonas Hiller, G (hip) – skated Monday; no return date set.
Lance Bouma, C (broken fibula) – out three months.
New Jersey Devils
Patrik Elias, LW (knee) – practiced Monday; no return date set.
Tuomo Ruutu, LW (fractured foot) – out 4-6 weeks.
Michael Cammalleri, LW (illness) – did not practice Thursday; no return date set.
Stefan Matteau, LW (illness) – did not play Tuesday; no return date set.
Connor McDavid, C (upper body) – returned to exercise but no return date set.
Justin Schultz, D (back) – skated Monday; no return date set.
Luke Gazdic, LW (illness) – placed on IR; no return date set.
Rob Klinkhammer, LW (lower body) – placed on IR; no return date set.
Matt Duchene, C, COL – A childhood fan of the Avs, it was a dream come true for Duchene to wear the burgundy threads, but a stretch of poor play threatened to take away that privilege after it was rumored he was on the trade block. With two goals in a losing effort against the Pens on Thursday, Duchene now has 11 points in his past five games. He has 15 points for the month of November.
Tyler Bozak, C, TOR – While Nazem Kadri has become the No. 1 center, Bozak is helping take some pressure off the kid with seven points in his past five games. Criticize Bozak all you want, but he’s got the chops to be a very good No. 2 center in the NHL. He needs to shoot the puck a bit more but he’s getting all the bounces right now.
Anze Kopitar, C, LA – Just when you thought the big Slovene had rediscovered his scoring touch amidst the Kings’ winning streak, he goes cold again with just one assist and four shots in his past four games. The good news is that the Kings keep winning, but only because Milan Lucic, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli have been tremendous. Kopitar’s in his contract year but stuck in a rut and without an extension. It just hasn’t been going well this season.
Devan Dubnyk, G, MIN – This is the worst case scenario for the Wild. Dubnyk, who salvaged the team’s season last year and was rewarded with a big extension, has reverted back to his old ways with 11 goals allowed in his past three starts, all of them losses. As talented as the Wild defense may be, they can’t solely be responsible for keeping the puck out. The Wild have a four-game home stand but host Nashville, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Dallas. Not easy.
Boone Jenner, RW, CLB – He’s certainly not one of the league’s flashiest, but like the other big Blue Jackets forwards, Jenner plays a physical, all-round game. Despite being given an ‘A’ to begin the season, Jenner’s ice time was limited, but he’s getting more opportunities under John Tortorella, who certainly has an appreciation for hard-nosed players such as Jenner. He scores in spurts, but has five points in his past five games and 13 points on the season to go with 52 shots on goal. He’s a peripherals monster, too, with 43 hits and six power-play points.