Novechkin, no win. The Caps played last night without their top two scorers (Alex Ovechkin and Dainius "Glass Joe" Zubrus) as well as without Matt Bradley and Steve Eminger (and Jeff Halpern for the second half of the game) but suprisingly had a pretty decent night offensively, scoring three goals, including two on the power play. In the end, however, they were simply outmanned and outmatched (and, truth be told, not helped by the officials).
Call-up Mike Green looked good, and Brendan Witt played a very strong game (are you listening Dave Nonis?), but the stat line of the night belonged to Caps blueliner Nolan Yonkman, who skated one six-second shift - to the bench after serving a Too Many Men minor. I wonder who's going to be scratched once everyone's healthy.
For more, head over to the WaPo's and the WTimes' coverage.
In other NHL news:
- On this day in 1993, Gary Bettman took office as Commissioner of the NHL. Since the Cornell alum's reign began, the NHL has renamed its divisions and conferences, dispensed with the division-based playoff format, seen four teams relocate (Minnesota, Quebec, Winnipeg and Hartford), added six teams (Anaheim, Florida, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota and Columbus) and seen its first European-born scoring champion (Jaromir Jagr) and Conn Smythe Trophy winner (Nicklas Lidstrom). The League has also added a skills competition at the end of regular season overtime games to determine a winner (after the gimmicky four-on-four failed to do the trick often enough) and lost its major cable television contract. Oh, and there have also been two work stoppages costing nearly half of the 1994-95 season and all of the 2004-05 season. "Happy Anniversary, Gary! We know that with you at the helm, the NHL is in good hands. Signed, NHL Owners"
- Today is St. Louis Blues bench boss Mike Kitchen's 50th birthday. Kudos in advance to Mike for being the first Blues coach to miss the playoffs since 1978-79 (and in his first full year, too!). I hope he wished for more veterans to be traded off his roster for mediocre prospects and buckets of pucks, because that's what he's going to be getting.
- Also celebrating a birthday today, Tommy Salo, who turns 35. Salo had a pretty good NHL career (210-225-73, 2.55 GAA, .905 SV%), but likely will be better remembered for his Olympic performances (the stop on Paul Kariya in the final round of the shootout in the 1994 Gold Medal game to lead Sweden to its first gold and the 70-footer he gave up to Belarus's Vladimir Kopat in the quarter-finals of the 2002 games).
- Henrik Lundqvist should be the NHL's Rookie of the Month for January. There, I said it. Happy?
- Know what would make a great design for a goalie mask? An homage to a convicted rapist and wife-beater. At least that's what Ray Emery must have thought before being straightened out by Sens brass (the same brass, incidentally, that just months ago traded for a player convicted of vehicular homicide). Making the offending equipment's retirement that much easier was the horrendous game Emery played behind it, losing 5-0 at home to the Bruins.
- Sometimes the vagueness of an NHL injury report can be frustrating. "Upper body injury" can mean anything from a headache to a sprained ankle. Then again, sometimes you're thankful for the generalization and even wish the description was less specific. Take this example from the Pitt Post-Gazette: "Defenseman Lyle Odelein... has an injury to his lower buttocks." Apparently it's not just Odelein's ass that hurts, it's his lower ass - his bleg, if you will. Eww. (Thanks to FJC33 for pointing out this beauty).
- Hart:Erik Cole (3 goals, 1 assist, +3, 3 hits, 3 takeaways, 2 blocked shots)
- Ross: Erik Cole (4 points)
- Norris: Henrik Tallinder (Assist, +4)
- Vezina: Ryan Miller (W, 35 saves on 37 shots against)
- Richard: Erik Cole (3 goals)
- Calder: Ryan Miller (W, 35 saves on 37 shots against)
- L'Aiken: Jose Theodore (L, 5 goals on 10 shots against in 25:23 before being lifted)