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NHL Notebook: “Rocket” Richard battle heats up

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

January 24th, 2022

Let’s recap some of the major NHL headlines from on and off the ice over the last week.

Kreider, Ovechkin seesaw for goals lead

Those who were checking the stats carefully on Saturday witnessed an intriguing battle between the Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin and the Rangers’ Chris Kreider, even though their teams were not facing one another.

After Kreider scored his second goal of the night against the Coyotes to join “Ovie” for the NHL lead, Ovechkin responded with a two-goal night of his own against the Senators. But Kreider got the last laugh as he completed the hat-trick in the third period, meaning each player now has 29 goals going into Monday.

Kreider was a longshot in this market weeks ago, but now he’s the fourth-choice at +700 to win his first “Rocket” Richard Trophy. Oveckin is listed at +275 to win his 10th Richard Trophy, just behind favored Leon Draisaitl, who currently has 28 goals.

Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy 2021/2022

Sat, April 30 2022, 4:30 AM

Draisaitl, Leon

+250

Ovechkin, Alexander

+275

Matthews, Auston

+300

Kreider, Chris

+700

McDavid, Connor

+1000

DeBrincat, Alex

+1300

Connor, Kyle

+1700

Terry, Troy

+1700

Hertl, Tomas

+2300

Meier, Timo

+2300

NHL re-schedules 95 games over original February break

The NHL made comprehensive changes to the 2021-2022 schedule to allow for postponed games to be made up over what was intended to be the Olympic break from Feb. 7 to Feb. 22. The updates should allow for the league to finish the regular season by the original date of April 29.

The Senators will play 10 games in that stretch, the most of any team. Feb. 17 will see 10 total games played, the most of any day in that stretch.

Willie O’Ree sees number retired in Boston

Willie O’Ree had his No. 22 jersey retired the Boston Bruins prior to a Tuesday night game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Often referred to as hockey’s Jackie Robinson, O’Ree became the first Black player to skate in an NHL game in 1958.

“More than 8,200 players have suited up for at least one game in the National Hockey League’s 105-year history,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said during the ceremony. “Willie O’Ree is among the select few who made a unique, transformative and enduring contribution to the NHL.

“Merely by stepping onto the ice at the Montreal Forum in a Boston Bruins sweater 64 years ago, Willie truly changed our game. He has spent every day since not only living his life as a role model to be emulated and admired but working tirelessly to personally connect with and inspire thousands of children with his life story and life lessons our sport imparts.”

Panetta suspended, released following racist taunt

It was bitterly ironic that just days after Martin Luther King Day and the retiring of O’Ree’s number, Jordan Subban was the victim of a racist taunt from Jacob Panetta during an ECHL game between the Jacksonville Icemen and the South Carolina Stingrays on Jan. 22.

Subban – younger brother of NHLer P.K. Subban – alleged that Panetta made “monkey gestures” to him during a fight that occurred in the overtime period. The ECHL suspended Panetta indefinitely, and the Icemen subsequently released him.

In a statement, Icemen CEO Andy Kaufmann said, “Our core values as an ownership group include one love and zero tolerance for racism or any other forms of hate against any group whatsoever.”

On Sunday, P.K. Subban responded to the incident when asked by reporters, saying, “It’s distasteful. There is no room for it in our game. I’m embarrassed because our game is better than this.”

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