Cristobal Huet was named the NHL's third star of the month of January. He had a hell of a month and is well deserving of the honour. All anyone wanted to talk about today was the NHL's first star of the month, Alexander Ovechkin.
I think I can honestly say that he is the best player I have ever seen. Sidney Crosby is terrific and his playmaking skills are incomparable but he's not the physical presence that Ovechkin is and I'm beginning to think that Crosby will spend a lot more time on the injured list than the Penguins would like him to. Ovechkin has also gotten it done with a less than stellar supporting cast (at least in comparison to Crosby's) for the most part.
Too bad he's going to waste away for the next 13 years in a half empty arena in front of fans who don't truly appreciate him. My apologies to all hockey heads in the Beltway area but this guy should be playing in Canada or at least in a strong market like Minnesota, Buffalo or New York.
Doesn't look like the contract has lessened his edge or competive desire if last night's performance was any indication. Ovechkin was crushed by Francis Bouillon with a hit that broke his nose, when asked about Ovechkin's reaction Bouillon said,
"I thought I really hit him hard but when he got up, he came over to me smiling and asked me to do it again because he liked it. Instead of knocking him out of the game, I may have given him extra motivation."
That's the kind of hockey player I like. He's like the polar opposite of your stereotypical soft player with no heart. He plays a real North American game and he's tough as nails. The Capitals don't strike me as a playoff team right now but Ovechkin will get them there at some point and it's going to very exciting to see him crank it up a notch.
This afternoon, ESPN.com still had a headline about Ovechkin's big night. It's always somewhat remarkable to see an NHL headline on their front page, usually dominated by anything but.
Lost in the Ovechkin hype are the Kostitsyns, particularly Sergei, who both had big nights. The Habs line of Lapierre, Latendresse and Sergei looks like a keeper, although I wouldn't object to the kid taking Michael Ryder's spot on the the Koivu line. Ryder's struggles have reached the point of no return. He has nothing working for him at the moment. It's baffling given what's at stake for him professionally. If he had put together another 30 goal season, he could have cashed in to the tune of $20 million for 5 years, although most likely not from Bob Gainey, who has never really been sold on Ryder. He certainly looks good for not signing him to a long term deal at any point.
Two huge games this weekend for the Habs, both the Islanders and Rangers rested their superstar goaltenders last night in preparation for the two matinees, so DiPietro and Lundqvist should both be fresh, although the Islanders did arrive here last night, so they may hit the town hard tonight and be a few steps slow early tomorrow. Look for them at Buona Notte if you can get in.
Francois Gagnon of La Presse on Ovechkin's big night
Pierre Durocher on Carey Price's AHL odyssey
RDS.ca's weekend preview
Chris Aung-Thwin of habsinsideout.com with a where are they now? piece