4 things we learned in the NHL: P.K. Subban making Norris case

Blake Wheeler sits down with David Amber to talk about missing out on a possibly historic Olympics, his friendship with Mark Scheifele and wanting to bring the Stanley Cup to Winnipeg.

Zdeno Chara hit a major milestone, Patrik Laine keeps bringing the power in Winnipeg and P.K. Subban is starting to look like a Norris candidate.

Here are four things we learned in the NHL.

Chara hits major games played milestone

Still going strong at age 40, Chara skated in his 1,400th game on Saturday. He’s 39th on the all-time games played list but just the fourth European-born player to reach 1,400.

At six-foot-nine, it’s amazing that Chara has been able to stay healthy for the majority of his 20 seasons in the NHL. In fact, Chara has played in at least 70 games in 14 non-lockout seasons and he has yet to miss a game this year.

How does he do it? A big part has been nutrition.

Chara went into detail on his eating habits in an Instagram post earlier this week. He said he made the switch to a mostly plant-based diet during the summer of 2017 with the goal to be better physically and mentally prepared for this season.

“I thought I was eating healthy until I met a friend of mine and he told me about plant based,” he wrote. “After only six months I can already feel how much positive change it had on my mind and my body. I will still have some fish every now and then, but I am on an exciting journey that altered my perspective on performance, recovery and energy.

“It is beautiful that we can all find our own, unique and sustainable equilibrium.”

For his career, Chara has 192 goals, 617 points and 1,812 penalty minutes. His contract expires this summer, but he says he wants to keep playing beyond this season.

It’s hard to imagine an NHL without him.

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Subban for Norris?

Offensive numbers aren’t the only things voters consider when choosing the NHL’s best defenceman, but if they were, Subban would be a front-runner for the Norris.

Subban blasted home his NHL-leading 13th goal of the season on Saturday to open the scoring against the New York Rangers.

Subban also picked up an assist in the game and now has 40 points on the season, which leads the Predators. He’s tied with Washington’s John Carlson for third among all defencemen in scoring.

Entering Saturday, Subban was one of three defencemen to lead their team in scoring, along with John Klingberg in Dallas and Brent Burns in San Jose.

And just for fun, if Subban was still on the Canadiens, he would lead them in points too.

Laine’s got the power

In less than two years in the NHL, Laine has already found his spot.

And he rarely misses.

Laine’s first-period goal against the Colorado Avalanche Saturday was his 24th on the season, and 13th on the power play.

He’s now tied with Evgeni Malkin for the NHL lead in power-play goals.

Laine’s success this season has come from his chemistry with captain Blake Wheeler. On 10 of Laine’s 24 goals, Wheeler has picked up an assist, including on Saturday. If the Jets are going to go far in the playoffs, those two connecting on goals will be a big part of their success.

Wheeler spoke to Sportsnet’s David Amber about bringing the Stanley Cup to Winnipeg in an interview that aired on Hockey Night in Canada. You can watch that interview at the top of this page.

Niemi saves the day

It hasn’t been a good season for Antti Niemi.

Already on his third team this season, Niemi entered Saturday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks with a 1-5-1 record split between the Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens.

But with the Habs playing back-to-back afternoon games this weekend, Niemi got the call against Anaheim, and he turned in his best performance of the season.

Niemi made 45 saves as the Canadiens won 5-2. And he had to be sharp, with the Ducks pinning the Canadiens in their own end for long stretches.

Sure, a shaky Ryan Miller in the other net helped Montreal. But Niemi gave his team a chance to win, which is all you can ask of a backup goalie.

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