A quick mix of the things we gleaned from the week of hockey, serious and lighthearted, and rolling four lines deep.
1. Even P.K. Subban’s triple-low-five-hating head coach is coming around.
“The way he’s playing right now, Subban is making a case for the Olympics. We want him to go there,” said Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, who had previously questioned the defending Norris champ’s ability to crack Canada’s top seven.
Four points in his last four games makes Subban Montreal’s leader in assists (19) and points (23), but its his quiver of assets — a booming shot, a knack for frustrating opponents, the ability to make the long pass, plus his heart and tenacity — that should move him from bubble guy to Team Canada member come January.
The other six on my list? Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Shea Weber, Drew Doughty, Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester.
The offensive-minded Kris Letang, another power play threat, may have surrendered his spot to Subban because of a mixture of injury and frustration and the fact he makes more turnovers.
2. Speaking of Subban, the league tapped the fashionable blue-liner to launch a new cool video series that gives fans a little peak into the off-ice lives of their favourite stars. Episode 1 of NHL Life follows P.K. “Don’t Settle for Average” Subban to the tailor and the barbershop. Love that it’s shot entirely in black and white — and the fact that the first episode doesn’t centre around Crosby or Ovechkin:
3. The once-in-a-lifetime game-winning goal from Buffalo Sabres’ Christian Ehrhoff Friday zipped right through that tiny space between Maple Leafs defender Carl Gunnarsson’s skate boot and skate blade. Incredible:
4. The American-heavy Nashville Predators, GM’d by Team USA’s GM, made a very American promo video set to “I’m a Real American” after four Americans scored against the Maple Leafs last week. Get your eagle on:
5. Unfortunately for the U.S.-proud Preds, Nashville was the lone American team forced to play on that nation’s Thanksgiving. And despite mascot Gnash’s cheeky confidence…
…the visiting Edmonton Oilers upset the Preds 3-0 Thursday.
6. Fans of the Kontinental Hockey League voted a trio of ex-NHLers to start as the West’s top forward line for that league’s all-star game. Ilya Kovalchuk led all players with 18,638 votes, and he’ll skate on a line with Alexander Radulov and Jonathan Cheechoo. Cheechoo, a onetime 56-goal man who played his way out of the NHL in 2009-10, kicked around the AHL for a couple years before heading overseas. In his first season in Croatia, the 33-year-old has 21 points through his first 31 games with Zagreb Medvescak.
7. It’s time for Dion Phaneuf to fight. True, the Maple Leafs captain has been far and away the team’s best defenceman and taking penalties is not a wise tactic when you’re trying to win hockey games, but he needs to be the one to get fired up for this tumbling team.
No way we expect Phaneuf to ever reach the 10 fights he registered back in 2007-08 as a Flame, or even the four per season he had from 2008-09 through 2010-11. But the captain dropped the gloves just once last season and has yet to do so in 2013-14. Which was fine… until now.
Toronto is tumbling — losing twice to the lowly Sabres in November; getting shelled 6-0 by Columbus; the infamous shot-free collapse in Pittsburgh — and Colton Orr is not the guy to make a statement.
Next time push comes to shove, shove should come to fists. Could do wonders to galvanize the team.
8. Of the three momentous return games last week, only one ended in glory for a prodigal son. Philadelphia Flyers property Vincent Lecavalier slapped home a power-play goal in a losing effort in Tampa Bay. Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella had to pull his goaltender in Madison Square Garden. But Daniel Alfredsson scored two points as he Detroit Red Wings trumped the Senators 4-2 in Ottawa — which compiled this tribute video for Alfie’s warm return:
9. With the players’ fathers tagging along for the road trip and sick bay getting crowded in Calgary, the Flames pulled out a wonderful last-minute victory in Los Angeles Saturday. The Flames — who are without Dennis Wideman, Sean Monahan, T.J. Galiardi, Curtis Glencross and Mark Giordano — beat L.A. for the second time at Staples Center this year on the strength of a clutch Mike Cammalleri winner.
Even seemingly write-off seasons can produce great moments.
10. One of the league’s better team Twitter accounts belongs to the Dallas Stars, who evoked Oprah’s “You get a car!” moment after Dallas reeled off three goals in 53 seconds in a come-from-behind victory over an elite Anaheim Ducks club.
“When momentum turns and it starts going the other way, it’s really hard to stop it,” Ducks centre Andrew Cogliano said.
At five years, Dallas has the third-longest playoff drought in the NHL. Can’t see the two franchises with longer droughts — Edmonton (seven years) and Winnipeg (six) — breaking through this spring, but if goalie Kari Lehtonen can remain healthy, don’t count the Stars out of a wild-card spot. In addition to the Ducks, my dark horse in the West has defeated the Sharks, Canucks and Bruins through the season’s first two months.
11. Boston Bruins forward Gregory “Soupy” Campbell is not just courageous, he’s generous.
For the third Thanksgiving in a row, Campbell personally delivered $2,000 worth of pies to shelters and charitable organizations throughout Boston on Thursday. The player bought 400 of the pies himself.
You, sir, have my blessing to ask for my daughter’s hand in marriage.
12. The only thing better than Darren Helm’s hustle? His flipping yard-sale on this collision goal: