Thoughts as you digest that amazing ending to the college football title game:
*Alex Ovechkin ties Maurice Richard with his 544th career goal in the Capitals 4-1 win in Montreal. Another milestone in the career of what might be the greatest goal scorer in NHL history when it’s all said and done.
*What a unbelievable goal. Coming right out of Ovechkin’s office around the high left circle, he took an off-balance shot that to the naked eye looked like was just lazily throwing it at the net. A closer look showed it was a laser that went high-cheese. Amazing.
*Also amazing to think that Richard is about to be 30th on the all-time goal scoring list.
*Next for Ovechkin is 1,000 points. With three points on Monday night, he now sits at 999.
*That’s not all for milestones. Roberto Luongo recorded his 73rd career shutout in his 448th career win, moving past Terry Sawchuk to move into sole possession of fifth place on the all-time wins list. Next-up is Curtis Joseph at 454.
*How far can Luongo go? Ed Belfour (484) should be attainable. Patrick Roy (551) in second place all depends on what Father Time’s plans are. I don’t envision Martin Brodeur – who leads the pack at 691 – to be losing any sleep.
*I bet you thought we were done with the milestones. Well, Barry Trotz became the ninth coach in NHL history to coach 1,400 games and with the Washington win, won his 684th game to move into seventh place on the all-time coaching wins list with the late Pat Quinn, who interestingly enough coached exactly 1,400 games.
*I like what I’ve seen from this Montreal team in the face of some of the adversity it has faced over the past month or so, but games like Monday against Washington is going to be par for the course for this team, at least until the Habs get closer to full strength. Montreal will struggle with the NHL’s elite, but will have plenty success against the middle-to-bottom of the league’s pack. It helps to have Carey Price as well, of course, a luxury this team didn’t have last year when it went on a free fall over the final few months.
*Big pickup by Windsor, acquiring Jeremy Bracco from Kitchener as the Spitfires load up for a run at the Memorial Cup, which they will be hosting this spring. Bracco brings a much-needed offensive boost up front, a unit led by veteran Aaron Luchuk’s 32 points. The unit was already projecting better as June draft hopeful Gabriel Vilardi continued to come into his own and Logan Brown made his way back from an early-season wrist injury. Bracco can make them dangerous.
*In an arms race in the OHL Midwest, where London, Erie, and Owen Sound are duking it out, Mitchell Stephens and Mitchell Vande Sompel went to the Knights while Cameron Lizotte and Anthony Cirelli went to the Otters. The Attack picked up James Cordell.
*There are currently five active players within 50 points of 1,000 career points: Alex Ovechkin (999), Henrik Sedin (996), Sidney Crosby (982), Daniel Sedin (965), and Shane Doan (956).
*When Maurice Richard retired in 1960, he did so as the goal scoring king with his 544 tallies. Next-highest at the time? Gordie Howe with 446. Of course, Howe passed him a few years later and retired with a then-record 801 goals, which was shattered in due time by Wayne Gretzky.
*Roberto Luongo now has 73 career shutouts, three shy of breaking into the top 10, where Ed Belfour and Tony Esposito are tied with 76 clean sheets. After those two, there’s five bunched between 81 and 84, in Glenn Hall (84) and Jacques Plante (82), along with Alec Connell, Tiny Thompson, and Dominik Hasek, all at 81. Martin Brodeur is the standard setter at 125 while Terry Sawchuk (103) and George Hainsworth (94) trail in second and third.
*The Panthers 3-0 win in New Jersey was its second straight win in Newark, which had followed a six-game losing streak at the Prudential Center that had gone back to 2013.
*The Flames were held without a powerplay goal for the second straight game, the first time that’s happened since Calgary failed to score on the man-advantage in back-to-back games on November 28th and 30th. Calgary is 1-for-8 on the powerplay over the last three games. With that said, they’ve also killed off eight of nine penalties in those three games, and have killed off 76 of 84 (90.4 percent) going back to November 23rd.
*Since allowing a pair of powerplay goals in the third period of its 6-4 win over Tampa Bay last Tuesday, the Jets have killed off 11 straight penalties.
*Gerard Gallant doesn’t feel his firing was because he didn’t adapt to the analytical culture of the Panthers.
*Mitchell Tierney touches upon how the Canadiens are relying upon depth as Montreal tries to weather the storm that has come with the injury bug. Personal opinion: having the best goalie in the world has helped, too.
*Craig Button’s monthly draft prospect rankings came out on Monday. He believes Brandon Wheat Kings pivot Nolan Patrick will still be the first overall pick despite being limited to six games this season because of a groin injury. Meanwhile, Nico Hischier’s stock rose after carry Switzerland at World Juniors, hopping into second place and supplanting Swedish defenseman Timothy Liljegren. Chances are better than not that Patrick goes first overall – especially given he’s expected to return to the ice very soon – but don’t count out Hischier.
*Speaking of Hischier, here’s a good piece on the Swiss forward out of Halifax, where Hischier is currently starring for the QMJHL’s Mooseheads.
*Mark Spector write the Oilers are now acting like contenders. Playing like it, too, I must add.
Storylines for Tuesday
*David Backes makes his return to St. Louis on Tuesday night.
*The Red Wings travel to the Blackhawks as the two former Central Division archrivals faceoff as strangers in an interconference tilt.
*The OHL and WHL trade deadlines come on Tuesday. Neither should be short on action throughout the day.
*Some more Frozen Fenway was the BC takes on Harvard in a NCAA women’s hockey showdown between two Beanpot rivals.
*Team USA takes on Canada at the IIHF U18 women’s championships in the Czech Republic. Both teams head into the matchup 2-0, the Yanks have outscored opponents 10-1 through two games while Canada has outscored the opposition, 9-3.