All posts by Cory Wilkins

By the numbers: Crosby vs. Ovechkin

Get ready for another edition of Sidney Crosby versus Alex Ovechkin.

The two rivals, linked since sharing the same rookie campaign in 2005-06, will face off for the first time this season Wednesday at Washington's newly renamed Capital One Arena.

Each superstar has taken home a mantle full of personal accolades. What really separates them is team accomplishments; there, the Pittsburgh Penguins captain has steadily outpaced Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

Here's where the matchup stands heading into Wednesday's contest, their 42nd encounter during the regular season.

Goals

It's no surprise that Ovechkin, one of the best pure shooters in decades, leads Crosby here. His 565 career goals are 182 more than Crosby's netted, and put him just outside the top 20 in NHL all-time scoring.

Even when compared on a per-game basis - Ovechkin has played 139 more games than Crosby - the Capitals captain still comes out ahead, besting Crosby 0.61 to 0.49 goals per game.

Head to head, Ovechkin again takes top honors. In their 41 regular-season meetings, Ovechkin has heavily outscored Crosby, coming up with 29 tallies to Crosby's 20.

Assists

Much as Ovechkin is the goal-scorer, Crosby is the setup man. He's managed 649 career helpers, nearly 200 ahead of Ovechkin. Crosby's assist total ranks 63rd all time, and he could climb inside the top 50 with a strong 2017-18 season.

On a per-game basis, Crosby is well in front of Ovechkin in this department at 0.83 assists, compared to his fellow superstar's 0.52.

The regular-season matchup isn't remotely close: Crosby has tallied 40 assists, more than double Ovechkin's 18.

Points

Their current head-to-head tally in points is 60 to 57, with the Penguins captain getting the nod. The two players have been nearly evenly matched when facing each other during the regular season, with both producing well above a point per game, but in the end, the slim margin of victory goes to Crosby.

The career numbers are tight as well, with Ovechkin just 10 total points ahead of Crosby. The comparison becomes much more wide-open when reviewing points per game, however - Crosby mightily outpaces Ovechkin, 1.31 to 1.13.

Awards

Ovechkin takes the lead in personal accolades. He's got six goal-scoring titles, an Art Ross Trophy as the league's top point producer, three Hart Trophies as the NHL MVP, and even a Calder Trophy from the season he topped Crosby as the league's most outstanding rookie.

But Crosby's collected some hardware of his own. The Penguins center is a two-time Art Ross winner and has two Hart Trophies, plus some other major plaudits - including the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, an award Crosby's won in each of the past two postseasons.

Playoffs

Where it matters most, Crosby has prevailed: The Penguins have erased the Capitals three times in the postseason during the Crosby and Ovechkin era.

That count includes last spring, when the defending Stanley Cup champions eliminated the reigning Presidents' Trophy winners in their second straight playoff meetup. Both years ended with Crosby hoisting the Stanley Cup - his second and third titles after winning his first NHL championship in 2009.

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)

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Kings to unveil statue of broadcasting legend Bob Miller

The Los Angeles Kings are paying tribute to Bob Miller.

The longtime Kings announcer, who retired at the end of last season following 44 years in the broadcast booth, will be recognized by the team with a statue in his honor.

The statue, to be unveiled Jan. 13 prior to a contest vs. the rival Anaheim Ducks, will be located outside of the Staples Center. Miller's will be the third statue revealed by the Kings, following Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille.

Miller, 78, called 3,353 games as the team's broadcaster and witnessed Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and 2014.

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Report: Jagr to make Flames debut vs. Kings

The Calgary Flames will reportedly have a legend in the lineup Wednesday when they suit up against the Los Angeles Kings.

Jaromir Jagr is set to make his debut with the Flames against the division rival Kings, one week after signing with Calgary as an unrestricted free agent, according to Sportsnet's John Shannon.

The Flames have posted a 2-1-0 record through their first three games of the season.

Calgary will be the ninth NHL club Jagr has suited up for over his illustrious career.

Jagr, 45, spent parts of the past three seasons with the Florida Panthers. He wrapped the 2016-17 campaign with 16 goals and 30 assists to finish fourth in Panthers scoring.

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3 teams off to surprisingly good starts

Exhibition is over and the games now count for real points. Despite the small sample size, some squads are already drawing many positives from the season's initial offering. Here are three teams that can celebrate exceeding expectations.

St. Louis Blues

Despite key injuries to forwards Alex Steen, Robby Fabbri, and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, the Blues charged out of the gate for a perfect 4-0 start.

They've been powered to the NHL's best record by contributions from new face Brayden Schenn, acquired in an offseason deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, and center Paul Stastny, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Jaden Schwartz has also chipped in with seven points.

Chicago Blackhawks

It seemed reasonable to assume the Blackhawks would take a step back this season, particularly given the inexperienced blue line the club pieced together over the summer. In the early going, though, Chicago's done anything but take a step back - the team stands atop the league with an eye-popping 21 goals in four games.

The Blackhawks have also been sound defensively, allowing just seven goals for a league-best plus-14 goal differential. After being reacquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets, Brandon Saad has wasted little time getting reacclimated to his old surroundings, tallying seven points. He's also sparking offense from captain Jonathan Toews, who is scoring above a point-per-game pace.

Vegas Golden Knights

Playing with house money is doing the trick for the Golden Knights. The free-wheeling expansion club came away with the victory in its first three games - an NHL record. A team that pundits nearly unanimously predicted would finish in the league basement is leading the Pacific Division and enjoying the first phase of its inaugural season.

Among the many key contributors for the Golden Knights, two stand out: three-time Stanley Cup champion goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who's allowed just four goals in three contests, and James Neal. He lost to Fleury's Penguins in this spring's final while with the Nashville Predators, but now he's putting on a show in Sin City, notching five goals in three games.

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)

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3 ways Blues can recover from Fabbri’s season-ending injury

The St. Louis Blues received devastating news Wednesday when they learned young forward Robby Fabbri will miss the entire year after he injured the same knee which he had surgically repaired this offseason.

It's a big blow to a St. Louis squad which has already lost forward Alex Steen and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to short-term injuries, in addition to center Patrik Berglund, who will be out of the lineup until December.

A long list of key injuries could leave Blues general manager Doug Armstrong little choice but to explore the market in order to help his ailing club. With that in mind, here are three options he should consider:

Run with a rookie

Before looking elsewhere, the easiest and cheapest option for St. Louis is to promote from within. The team already has little cap space to work with - about $2.2 million, according to CapFriendly - and moving Fabbri's entry-level deal to the long-term injured reserve doesn't free up much more wiggle room.

As training camp cuts loom, several young forwards have put on a show to make final decisions difficult for Blues' management. Center Ivan Barbashev is among those who have impressed in exhibition action, as he's picked up three points in four contests. The Russian forward was selected 12 picks after Fabbri in 2014.

Also intriguing is Klim Kostin, added this year with the draft pick acquired for Ryan Reaves, as he's scored two goals in four games.

Make a deal for Duchene

Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic has been patient in finding the right return for center Matt Duchene, and an opportunity may have fallen into his lap with the Blues.

The Avalanche have insisted on getting an up-and-coming blue-liner in return, and St. Louis may have the perfect center piece of a deal in Vince Dunn. The 20-year-old defenseman is among the 32 players remaining at Blues' camp and looks poised to push for a spot after he posted 45 points in the AHL last season. Could the Blues package Dunn plus a high-end pick (and a contract, for salary cap considerations) to get a deal done?

Duchene's addition would also shore up the Blues in the middle of the ice. The team rolled the dice on newly-acquired Brayden Schenn, with the plan to use him as a center despite him seeing more time on the wing while with the Philadelphia Flyers. Alongside Paul Stastny, the pair make an interesting one-two punch, but adding Duchene further solidifies St. Louis at center.

Dive into free agency

The Blues can also try their luck in free agency to cover Fabbri's loss. While the options are limited, free agency brings the advantage that it only costs cash - no other assets required.

On one hand, St. Louis could be the next destination for the legendary Jaromir Jagr, who remains unsigned despite his pleas via social media.

But a more likely scenario could be veteran winger Jarome Iginla, also in the hunt for NHL work. After struggling with the Avalanche last season, Iginla looked rejuvenated through his short tenure with Los Angeles, as he recorded nine points in 19 games. Signing in St. Louis would also reunite Iginla with Armstrong, who was with the Dallas Stars when the team drafted him more than two decades ago.

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)

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Will Butcher signs 2-year deal with Devils

The New Jersey Devils have signed University of Denver free-agent defenseman Will Butcher to a two-year, entry-level deal, the team announced Sunday.

A fifth-round pick by the Colorado Avalanche in 2013, Butcher spent the past four seasons with the University of Denver, wrapping up the 2016-17 campaign with 37 points in 43 games.

The season ended on a high note for Butcher, as he captained Denver to its first national championship since 2005. He also won the Hobey Baker Award, presented to the NCAA's top player.

Butcher's signing comes three days after former Devils draft pick Alexander Kerfoot signed a deal with the Avalanche after he failed to come to terms with New Jersey.

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Flames sign Lazar to 2-year extension

The Calgary Flames have signed forward Curtis Lazar to a two-year extension worth $950,000 per season, the team announced Friday.

The Flames acquired Lazar from the Ottawa Senators at last year's trade deadline, parting with defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka and a second-round pick in this summer's draft.

Lazar was a first-round pick by the Senators in 2013, but struggled to gain footing with the organization. He appeared in 33 games with Ottawa last season, tallying a single point. Following his trade to the Flames, Lazar notched a goal and two assists in four games.

Lazar won the Memorial Cup with the Edmonton Oil Kings in 2014, and a year later, was a part of Team Canada's gold-medal squad at the world juniors.

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Report: Jets sign Kulikov to 3-year deal

Dmitry Kulikov is flying to Winnipeg.

The free-agent blue-liner has signed a three-year contract with the Winnipeg Jets that carries a $4.33-million cap hit, reports TSN's Darren Dreger.

Kulikov comes to the Jets after spending one season with the Buffalo Sabres. He was dealt to Buffalo last June, but a series of injuries limited him to just 47 games on the campaign, in which he finished with two goals and three assists.

Prior to joining the Sabres, Kulikov spent seven seasons with the Florida Panthers.

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Canadiens sign Holland to 2-year deal

The Montreal Canadiens signed center Peter Holland to a two-year deal, the team announced Saturday.

The 26-year-old split last season between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Arizona Coyotes, wrapping the 2016-17 campaign with 12 points in 48 games.

Holland was a first-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2009.

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Flyers sign Elliott to 2-year deal

Veteran netminder Brian Elliott agreed to terms with the Philadelphia Flyers on a two-year contract, the team announced Saturday.

The deal carries a $2.75-million annual cap hit, reports Stephen Whyno of The Associated Press.

Elliott arrives in Philadelphia after spending one season with the Calgary Flames, in which he posted a 26-18-3 record with a .910 save percentage.

The 32-year-old made his NHL debut with the Ottawa Senators in 2007.

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