Monday Musings: Spezza, Ovechkin and putting up a rookie | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaMonday Musings: Spezza, Ovechkin and putting up a rookie

Posted: Monday, October 7, 2013 | 08:00 AM

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Newly appointed captain Jason Spezza, middle, gets his collar adjusted by assistants Chris Neil and Chris Phillips on Sept. 14. (Fred Chartrand/Associated Press) Newly appointed captain Jason Spezza, middle, gets his collar adjusted by assistants Chris Neil and Chris Phillips on Sept. 14. (Fred Chartrand/Associated Press)

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This week's Monday morning musings touches on Ottawa Senators new captain Jason Spezza, Nathan MacKinnon's rookie living arrangements, Alex Ovechkin's torrid start and the spin o'rama shootout move.

Some Monday morning musings from the NHL and rest of the hockey world to get you started for the week:

Captain Spezza

Two down, four to go for the Ottawa Senators on their six-game road trip to begin the season. Being on the road for almost two weeks for any NHL team can be punishing, but it may be a blessing for the Senators to foster team chemistry under new captain Jason Spezza.

The 31-year-old Spezza was chosen at the ending of training camp to replace the popular Daniel Alfredsson, who shocked just about everybody in hockey by signing as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings in July.

But so far, so good for Spezza.

"It's been good," he said. "I'm comfortable with the guys and as a captain I think I have the respect of the guys.

"That makes it easier. We have a good group here to work with, a group that has been together now for a few years and that helps a lot.

"For me, it's a role I will grow into."

This is an important season for Spezza. He's not only a first-time captain in the NHL, he's on the comeback trail from a back injury that took him out of the lineup for most of the regular season and all but the last few games of the playoffs. A good performance in the next three months may land him a spot on the Canadian Olympic team.

"The Olympics are not at the forefront of my mind," Spezza said. "If it happens, it happens.

"If I get involved in the conversation, that would be good. I want to have a good year, but I want to have a good year to help this team first."

Spezza is not alone in his captaincy role. The Senators have constructed a leadership group that also includes goalie Craig Anderson, defencemen Marc Methot and Chris Phillips as well as forward Chris Neil.

"It's important to have the opinion not just as one guy, but a group of your core veteran guys," Spezza said. "It's helped us in previous years.

"Different guys have different emotions at the same time and it's nice to have the different opinions."

Hospitable Giguere

There is an 18-year difference between 36-year-old goalie Jean-Sebastien and teenage rookie Nathan MacKinnon. But the two Colorado Avalanche teammates have become close in the last month.

Giguere is making sure MacKinnon, who has three assists in his first two NHL games, has a smooth transition to the pro game. He has invited MacKinnon to stay with him and his family in their suburban Denver home.

When MacKinnon and his parents made the trip from Cole Harbour, N.S., to visit Denver in the summer, Giguere and his wife Kristen, who is from Halifax, offered to put up the 18-year-old.

Giguere remembered how important it was for his development to stay with Jeff O'Neill when he was a rookie goalie with the Hartford Whalers in 1996. Besides, now the Gigueres have a babysitter for their three children.

Ovechkin's torch lit 

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is off to a tremendous start this season with four goals, six points and 24 shots on goal in three games.

The prevailing belief is the 28-year-old Ovechkin received a boost when he was allowed to travel to Greece a week ago to carry the Olympic torch. He's excited about the Olympics and amped up to win gold for Russia at home at the Sochi Games in February.

But don't forget he had a wonderful finish to his regular season in the lockout-shortened season last year. After he struggled with only five goals and 10 points in his first 16 games, he finished with a 27-goal, 42-point flurry in the final 32 games.

Ovechkin's torrid 31 goals in his last 35 games pace has pushed him to within six goals of tying Reggie Leach for 100th on the NHL's all-time goal-scoring list. 

Raymond spin-o-rama

Did Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mason Raymond get away with one on his spin-o-rama shootout goal on Saturday? The move certainly has proven to be a difficult call for referees.

The NHL competition recommended banning the spin-o-rama move from penalty shots and shootouts. The board of governors endorsed the recommendations, only to see the NHLPA executive committee ultimately decide to keep the move in the game.

NHL senior vice-president of hockey operations Colin Campbell told the general managers in a conference call last week all spin-o-rama goals will be denied if there is goaltender interference, the puck stops, or the player's motion stops or reverses.

So by the criteria, the right call was made. Raymond's goal should have been allowed.

Canadian Olympic goalies

Each week we rank the top contenders for the three goalkeeper spots on the Canadian Olympic team based on their play to date.

1. Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh) - He was an Olympic longshot to start the season, but his work with a sports psychologist in the summer has him off to a 2-0-0 start and he has stopped 47 of 48 shots.

2. Mike Smith (Phoenix) - He has been excellent so far. Although he split his first two games with a win and a loss, Smith has stopped 70 of 74 shots.

3. Roberto Luongo (Vancouver) - A notorious slow starter, he wasn't at fault in the Canucks opener and then recorded his first victory with 22 saves at home against the Edmonton Oilers

4. Carey Price (Montreal) - Bounced back from a horrendous opener versus Toronto with a solid 22-save effort against the Philadelphia Flyers.

5. Corey Crawford (Chicago) - The Stanley Cup champ has stumbled out of the gate with six goals against in his first two outings.

By the numbers

914 - career points for Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis, an undrafted player. His next point will tie him for 94th on the all-time points list with Bobby Orr.

800 - career games for Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis, also never drafted.

400 - career games for Montreal Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges, another undrafted NHLer.

8 - goals in his first nine NHL games for Dallas Stars rookie Alex Chiasson, dating back to the end of last season. The 23-year-old native of Montreal is off to the best start since Rob Gaudreau (San Jose Sharks) scored nine times in his first nine games and Teemu Selanne (Winnipeg Jets) scored eight goals in his first nine to begin the 1992-93 season.

2 - teenage rookies in Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov (18 years, 31 days) and Calgary Flames centre Sean Monahan (18 years, 357 days), who scored their first NHL goals before their 19th birthdays last week.

Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC

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