Some Monday morning musings on the shortened 2013 NHL season.
A start to remember
What are the chances the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks can get through another week with their perfect records intact? It certainly would set up quite a heavyweight match on Feb. 5, when the Blackhawks visit San Jose.
The Blackhawks (6-0-0) and Sharks (5-0-0) are off to the best starts in their history. Chicago has all its top players in form, including former Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith. The same goes for the San Jose, notably nine-goal sniper Patrick Marleau.
But in order to get to our dream matchup next week, the Blackhawks will need road wins against Minnesota, Vancouver and Calgary. The Sharks will have to get by Anaheim, Nashville and Edmonton at home and beat the Ducks in Anaheim next Monday.
Veteran defencemen Wade Redden and Andrei Markov have made storybook returns to the NHL this season.
The 34-year-old Markov was limited to only 20 regular-season games the past two seasons with the Montreal Canadiens because of knee problems. In his first four games this season, he has scored four times, including all three game-winning goals in the Canadiens' current three-game win streak.
The 35-year-old Redden had been banished to the AHL by the New York Rangers for two years. In his first three games with the St. Louis Blues, he has scored twice in three wins. Redden checked in with only two goals in his last full season with the Rangers in 2009-10.
Flames need more from JayBo
After his team's first win of the season -- a 4-3 decision at home against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday -- there was Jay Bouwmeester wearing the firefighter hat given to the hardest working Calgary Flames player after each victory. The Flames can only hope this will be a regular occurrence this year.
The 29-year-old Bouwmeester scored a goal and an assist in Calgary's win. When he signed with the Flames in 2009, he was coming off seasons of 12, 15 and 15 goals, respectively. In three-plus seasons with the Flames, he has scored only 13 goals.
Bouwmeester is durable. He has played 592 straight games, which is the longest current streak and sixth longest in NHL history. But he needs to return to his scoring ways if the Flames want to lasso a playoff spot.
And then there were eight.
The Philadelphia Flyers returned Scott Laughton to the OHL Oshawa Generals and the Minnesota Wild sent back Matt Dumba to the WHL Red Deer Rebels over the weekend. That means only eight junior-aged players remain in the NHL.
Alex Galchenyuk (Montreal), Nail Yakupov (Edmonton) and Dougie Hamilton (Boston) are good bets to stay in the NHL the rest of the shortened season. The others -- Mikhail Grigorenko (Buffalo), Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida), Stefan Matteau (New Jersey), Rickard Rakell (Anaheim) and Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg) -- are 50/50 to play a sixth game in the NHL this season. A sixth game means losing a season off their three-year, entry-level contracts.
There also is the possibility that because the NHL regular season doesn't end until April 27, more junior-aged players could be promoted to NHL clubs after their junior seasons conclude.
The AHL all-star game is set for Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence, R.I., on Monday, but the showcase will miss several of the league's top performers.
A total of 126 players who began the season in the AHL this year were on opening-day NHL rosters, including Cory Conacher (Tampa Bay), Chris Bourque (Boston), Justin Schultz (Edmonton), Jordan Eberle (Edmonton), Sven Baertschi (Calgary), Jakob Silfverberg (Ottawa), Nazem Kadri (Toronto), Mike Kostka (Toronto), Zack Kassian (Vancouver), Cody Hodgson (Buffalo) and Brendan Gallagher, who scored his first NHL goal for Montreal on Sunday.
Before the game, Harvey Bennett, Ken Gernander, Jim Morrison and Peter White will be inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame.
By the numbers
0 -- Time the Oilers have led in their first four games. The Oilers' two wins were come-from-behind victories that were decided in a shootout in Vancouver and overtime against Los Angeles.
18 -- Of the 30 home openers were won by the visiting team this season.
200 -- Wins in only 333 games behind the San Jose bench for Todd McLellan to pass Don Cherry (200 wins in 341 games) as the second-fastest head coach to 200 wins. The fastest in NHL history was Bruce Boudreau's 200 wins in 326 games.
361 -- WHL and AHL regular season and playoff games defenceman Thomas Hickey played after he was selected fourth overall in the 2007 NHL entry draft by the Los Angeles Kings and before his NHL debut with the New York Islanders on Sunday.
900 -- Points for 36-year-old Patrik Elias (all with the New Jersey Devils) after he checked in with a goal and two assists in his team's 4-3 overtime loss in Montreal on Sunday.
Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?