Wednesday was an exciting day for hockey fans as the initial 16-man rosters were announced for the eight teams competing at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
While that was the big story of the day, there were also three games on the NHL sked. Here are five things we learned.
Laich has emotional homecoming in Washington
It has been a whirlwind week for Brooks Laich. The Washington Capitals traded the veteran forward, along with Connor Carrick and a second-round pick, to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Daniel Winnik and a fifth-rounder on Sunday and three days later he found himself facing his former club.
Save for his two games with the Leafs and his very first NHL game that was spent with the Ottawa Senators, Laich had spent his entire 12-year NHL career with the Capitals. In fact, prior to being dealt, he was Washington D.C.’s longest-tenured professional athlete. That distinction now belongs to Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman who is entering his 12th season with the MLB team.
Laich went from the best team in the NHL to the worst team and Capitals GM Brian MacLellan had to fight back tears Monday when talking with reporters about the trade.
“It’s hard to do,” MacLellan said. “You want him to be a part [of a Stanley Cup run]. He’s earned it, you know? He likes the team, and we’re a good team going forward. It’s frustrating, but we had to do what’s necessary to keep the organization and keep the team going forward here. [Laich’s $4.5-millin cap hit] was weighing us down more next year than it does this year, so it was a difficult situation to balance.”
The 32-year-old finished with 14:17 of ice time Wednesday in a 3-2 Capitals win but the highlight of the game was when he was honoured during a break in the action in the first period.
Galchenyuk sends message to Team North America management
When the under-24 World Cup squad was named Wednesday, many felt Alex Galchenyuk deserved a spot on the initial 16-man roster yet he was omitted. It appeared as though that lit a spark under the American because he was all over the ice against the Ducks. Galchenyuk had tons of scoring chances and capitalized on two of them. He has now scored five goals in his last four games and if he finishes the season playing like that there’s no way Peter Chiarelli and Stan Bowman can leave him off the final “Young Guns” roster.
The Canadiens fell to the Ducks 3-2 in a shootout.
Kane passes Benn’s point total from last season
Patrick Kane increased his lead in the scoring race Wednesday as the Blackhawks star notched his 37th goal while adding his 50th and 51st assists of the season in a 5-2 win over the Red Wings.
No. 88 now has 88 points on the year, which ties his career high set in 2010. It’s also one more point than Jamie Benn finished with last season en route to winning the Art Ross Trophy.
If Kane is able to maintain his current rate of production for the rest of the season and play all 82 games – he has suited up for all 65 Blackhawks games so far – he would end up with 111 points. That would be the most points any player has registered in a season since Henrik Sedin’s 112-point campaign in 2009-10. Sedin won the Hart Trophy that year and Kane is currently the odds-on favourite to win the award in 2016.
Capitals inch closer to history
The Capitals picked up their 47th victory of the season Wednesday after edging out the Leafs at home. Washington improved to a remarkable 47-12-4 and in doing so equaled the 95-96 Red Wings’ win total through 63 games.
That Red Wings team holds the NHL record for most wins in a season with 62. The Capitals would need to win 15 of their final 19 games in order to tie that record, which subsequently doesn’t guarantee you a Stanley Cup – the eventual Cup champion Avalanche eliminated Detroit in the Western Conference Final that season.
Now, there is a bit of an asterisk beside the Capitals’ accomplishment considering there were no shootouts when the Red Wings did it. The Capitals have three shootout wins this season. Impressive nonetheless.
McGinn, Ladd make a post-deadline impact
There wasn’t much action on Monday’s NHL trade deadline but the Blackhawks and Ducks were two teams that made multiple additions.
Andrew Ladd scored his 18th of the season and his first in a Blackhawks uniform since 2010.
Meanwhile in Anaheim, Jamie McGinn scored in his first game with the Ducks.