Monday musings after the third weekend of the 2013 NHL shortened season.
Could Canadian billionaire Bill Gallacher be interested in buying the owner-challenged Phoenix Coyotes?
The Calgary oil magnate, who reportedly made attempts to buy the Dallas Stars and New Jersey Devils in the past three years, was mentioned in a Fox Sports Arizona report over the weekend that he was part of a group interested in purchasing the Coyotes.
Besides his healthy oil industry portfolio, Gallacher also owns the WHL's Portland Winterhawks and the BCHL's Nanaimo Clippers. His 20-year-old son Ben, a defenceman, was a 2010 fourth-round selection of the Florida Panthers.
The report speculated that Gallacher likely would want an out clause in his arena lease deal to buy the Coyotes because of his connection to the city of Portland, Ore.
Not so great eight
Alex Ovechkin enjoyed a strong game for the Washington Capitals in a 6-3 loss at home on Super Bowl Sunday. He led his team in shots on goal with five and in hits with three. But the slumping Capitals fell to 2-6-1 on the season, 15th in the East.
Playing on a line with Capitals newcomer Mike Ribeiro and Wojtek Wolski, Ovechkin helped Ribeiro score the game's first goal with some solid work along the boards. Ovechkin didn't get an assist, but he did pick up the second assist on the Capitals' final goal to give him four points in nine games.
Whether he doesn't play with the same passion as he did earlier in his career or with the same speed, Ovechkin's production is way down compared to the first nine games of his previous seven seasons.
Sure, we knew injuries would play a major role in this shortened and condensed schedule, but the number of concussions had been reduced significantly. That was until the past five days.
All of sudden players have gone down with an assortment of neck and head ailments and that's distressing. Here's a list: Shawn Thornton, Boston (concussion in a fight); Patrick Kaleta, Buffalo (neck); Cam Fowler, Anaheim (undisclosed, but was knocked head-first into the boards); Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado (head); Nikita Nikitin, Columbus (concussion); James Wisniewski, Columbus (concussion); Ben Eager, Edmonton (head); Shawn Horcoff, Edmonton (neck); and Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia (concussion).
Luongo, Kesler and Gillis
What was the biggest news in Vancouver with the Canucks on Sunday? That Ryan Kesler practiced for the first time with his teammates since off-season shoulder and wrist surgeries? That Roberto Luongo will make his fourth consecutive start for the Canucks on Monday? That Canucks general manager Mike Gillis and assistant GM Laurence Gilman were at the Capitals-Penguins game?
Because there was no timeline for a Kesler return or a Gillis trade of Luongo, I'll take the decision to start Luongo in Edmonton on Monday.
We don't know what Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault's decision to stick with Luongo is doing to Cory Schneider's psyche, but Luongo definitely has been one difficult netminder to beat these days. He's 2-0-1 with only three goals against in his last three games.
Without Kesler and David Booth, the Canucks have struggled offensively. Luongo's standout play has given Vancouver the best chance to win.
Zack & Cody get it done
Gillis took a risk when he traded Cody Hodgson, along with defenceman Alexander Sulzer, to the Buffalo Sabres a year ago in exchange for 6-foot-3, 228-pound Zack Kassian and depth defenceman Marc-Andre Gragnani.
But 15 days into the new season, that trade has worked out for both teams. Kassian has five goals and six points in eight games and has been a physical force on a line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin, not to mention pretty good in shootouts.
Playing on the Sabres' top line with Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville, Hodgson has fit right in with five goals and nine points in eight games.
This will be a storyline worth following the rest of the season.
Maybe the seven-year, $50-million offer sheet from the Oilers in 2007 that the Sabres matched for Thomas Vanek was worth it. The 29-year-old Austrian put up another two goals and four points in two losses over the weekend to push his league-leading totals in the scoring race to eight goals and 19 points in eight games.
The remarkable thing about Vanek's early-season success is he's averaged only 19 minutes and 13 seconds of ice time a game. That ranks 56th among forwards.
Cheechoo checks in
While Vanek already has put up a pair of five-point games, Jonathan Cheechoo had his own five-point performance to remember on Friday.
When the lockout ended, the 32-year-old Cheechoo signed with the AHL Oklahoma City Barons, but he had only two assists in four games until he tied a club record with a goal and four assists in a 7-3 win at home versus the Charlotte Checkers.
Cheechoo, who won the 2005-06 Rocket Richard Trophy with a 56-goal season with the San Jose Sharks, hasn't played in the NHL since a playoff game with the Ottawa Senators on Apr. 20, 2010.
By the numbers
5 -- Times in 22 tries the Montreal Canadiens have swept their Super Bowl weekend doubleheader with victories over the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The other sweeps occurred in 2006, 2001, 1996 and 1993. The Habs record now sits at 24-16-4 since they started the Super Bowl doubleheader back in 1991.
59.3 -- Percent success rate for the Winnipeg Jets' rather horrendous penalty-killing unit. The Jets have yielded only 27 power-pay chances to the opposition in eight games, but they have surrendered 11 goals in man-short situations.
4.88 -- Goals per game for the Tampa Bay Lightning's high-octane offence. The St. Louis Blues are next best at 3.75.
2 -- Teams remaining that have yet to suffer a regulation-time defeat. The Chicago Blackhawks (7-0-2) and Sharks (7-0-1) square off in San Jose on Tuesday.
1,000 -- Career games for Colorado Avalanche's Milan Hejduk, when his team plays host to the Dallas Stars on Monday. The 36-year-old veteran is the first to reach the milestone all in an Avalanche sweater and only second in franchise history. Joe Sakic was the first. He played 508 games with Quebec and 870 with the Avalanche.
Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC
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