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Helene Elliott's NHL pluses and minuses

Plus: Alexander Ovechkin is the league's first 30-goal scorer. Minus: Senators Coach Paul MacLean saying his club is so bad it could be playing for the first overall pick, which Ottawa already traded to the Ducks for Bobby Ryan.

December 23, 2013|By Helene Elliott
  • Capitals right wing Alexander Ovechkin is congratulated by teammate Mike Green scoring his 400th career goal in the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Capitals right wing Alexander Ovechkin is congratulated by teammate Mike… (Grant Halverson / Getty…)

Times columnist Helene Elliott rates the pluses and minuses in the NHL from the previous week:

+ Washington's Alexander Ovechkin is the NHL's first 30-goal scorer, his ninth consecutive season with 30 or more. On Friday, he recorded his 400th goal in his 634th game, the sixth-fastest player to reach 400 after Wayne Gretzky (436 games), Mike Bossy (506), Mario Lemieux (508), Brett Hull (520) and Jari Kurri (608).

+ Tampa Bay defenseman J.P. Cote on Thursday made his first NHL appearance since he played eight games for Montreal in 2005-06. He spent two seasons in Germany and was playing for Syracuse (N.Y.) of the American Hockey League when he signed a two-year deal with the Lightning and was promoted. He had an assist in his return, a 4-2 victory over Nashville.

+ Alexander Steen was always known as a solid forward who was dogged by injuries. He seemed to shake that jinx with a breakout season, and the St. Louis Blues signed him to a three-year, $17.4-million contract. Soon after that he suffered an upper-body injury, leaving his status as day to day. He had 24 goals and 38 points in 35 games.

- Ottawa Senators Coach Paul MacLean ripped his team for its lack of focus after a 5-2 loss to New Jersey last week and said that if players don't turn things around, the only race they'll be in is "for the first overall pick." Um, that's already gone: the Senators traded their first-round pick to the Ducks in the Bobby Ryan deal.

- Edmonton Oilers Coach Dallas Eakins told reporters that a fan who threw a jersey onto the ice after the team's sixth loss in a row is "a quitter. We don't want that here." How about getting mad at your players instead of fans who deserve better than what you've given them?

- Minnesota goalie Josh Harding, who ranks among the NHL leaders in every major category despite battling multiple sclerosis, was put on injured reserve so doctors can adjust his medication. He sat out two months last season for that reason, but at least this absence is expected to be short.

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