HNIC's senior online reporter Tim Wharnsby dishes out the latest news, buzz and inside information in the hockey world.
1. Ovie piling up ejections
All eyes and ears will be on Washington on Tuesday, awaiting news from the Capitals about the seriousness of Alex Ovechkin's knee injury. The Capitals superstar also may face a league suspension after initiating a knee-on-knee collision with Carolina defenceman Tim Gleason. Ovechkin was in pain after the hit, but received a five-minute kneeing penalty and was tossed from the game for the second time in a week. He was ejected for boarding in a game last week after he pasted Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta. Ovechkin escaped serious punishment earlier this season, but was fined for a slew-foot on Atlanta's Rich Peverley on Oct. 22.
2. Bad night for Ballard
Smashing sticks against the post or a crossbar after being scored on is a hockey habit that dates back decades. But Florida Panthers defenceman Keith Ballard will be remembered as the first for putting a teammate in hospital as the result of this act of frustration. After Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk, a player Ballard had been chasing, popped in his own rebound, Ballard swung his stick and accidentally struck his goalie Tomas Vokoun on the left side of his head. Vokoun was cut underneath his left ear and was wheeled off the ice on a stretcher.
The Panthers netminder was later released from hospital after being stitched up. Ballard, however, was inconsolable. Teammates Bryan Allen and Bryan McCabe tried to soothe Ballard, as did head coach Peter DeBoer and assistant Mike Kitchen. Ballard departed the rink afterwards without speaking to reporters. To make matters worse, the overtime winner from Atlanta's Maxim Afinogenov deflected off Ballard's stick.
3. Savard's lucky 7?
The Boston Globe reported that most of the details have been completed on Bruins centre Marc Savard's seven-year contract extension worth an average salary between $4.5 million and $4.8 million US, and will be signed "imminently." Savard’s new deal increases the Bruins' payroll for next season to $46 million, but players like Andrew Ference, Shawn Thornton, Derek Morris and Steve Begin still have to be signed.
4. Gagne back on ice
Philadelphia Flyers forward Simon Gagne, now a long shot candidate for the Canadian Olympic team, has begun skating since undergoing abdominal surgery on Nov. 3. But he won't be ready for game action for another two weeks. The 29-year-old left-winger has been limited to nine games this season, scoring once and registering four assists. Gagne played for Canada at the 2002 and 2006 Olympics and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
5. Kings looking down at Ducks
The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks meet for the first time this season on Tuesday. The Kings have not finished ahead of the Ducks in the Western Conference since 2003-04, when Los Angeles finished 11th, five points and one spot in the standings in front of Anaheim. At this point of the season, the Kings, 15-10-2, have an eight-point advantage over the Ducks, 10-11-4.