Pierre Turgeon arrived in Colorado at the start of the 2005-06 season and told Avalanche fans he Â“was no Peter Forsberg.Â”
The people of Colorado, having experienced a decade of Forsberg’s finest, quickly concurred.
But Turgeon has turned out to be a pretty good poor man’s Forsberg, at least through the first 20-plus games of the season.
At 36 and in his 18th NHL season, Turgeon’s the second-highest scoring Av behind winger Alex Tanguay. Turgeon has 25 points in 22 games, an 87-point pace that would be his best output since 1995-96. And, with eight goals, he has a chance to score 30 for the first time in five years.
But the most impressive Turgeon trait?
All of this productivity is coming on 13-and-a-half minutes of ice time per game. Among the 13 highest-scoring Avs, only rookie Marek Svatos gets less ice time (and just barely, at an ever-so-lucky 13:13 per game).
Carolina first-liners Eric Staal (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) and Erik Cole (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) have similar builds. Both are tall, lanky, rangy types, with seemingly more sinew than muscle. And both are fast, fast, fast.
The sight of Staal steaming down the right wing with the puck and unleashing a snapshot-off-the-goalpost-and-in goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs was an impressive display of speed and skill Nov. 25. And then Cole did the exact same thing a period later. Well, except that he failed to score.
Cole, with 109 points in 214 NHL games entering this season, is managing to find the net with greater frequency in 2005-06; he has six goals and 18 points in 23 games. Just not as often as Staal’s 16 goals and 34 points.
NHL MVPÂ…or third-best player on his own line?
How good is the Daniel Alfredsson-Jason Spezza-Dany Heatley line for the Ottawa Senators? Heatley has at least one point in every game the Sens have played this season – 21, if you’re counting – yet he’s the lowest-scoring player on the line.
One more thing on Heatley. The second overall draft pick in 2000 (behind Isles goalie Rick DiPietro), he has played on a line with the top two picks in 2001: Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk (first overall) and Spezza (second).
The Marek On Ice
The only thing better than Marek Malik’s shootout goal against the Washington Capitals Nov. 26 was his reaction.
Malik, who was the 30th shooter (15 per team) in the shootout, skated to the front of the net, stuck his stick between his own legs and snapped a shot high on the blocker side past a very surprised Olaf Kolzig.
The Rangers fans applauded wildly, while Malik’s teammates poured onto the ice to congratulate him. And Malik? Immediately after scoring, the big defenseman – with all of 27 career goals in 489 NHL games (including none in 25 games this season) – nonchalantly outstretched his arms, palms up, and looked up to the Madison Square Garden crowd as if to say, Â“What did you expect? Of COURSE, I was going to score.Â”
Minnesota winger Pascal Dupuis had 43 shots without a goal – the most shots of any goalless NHLer – before scoring against Edmonton Nov. 23. Dupuis, in fact, scored twice on four shots against the Oilers, and also picked up an assist. But Minnesota still lost 4-3.
The Phoenix Coyotes have seen 17 players come and go – via trades, waivers and free agency – in the first seven weeks of the season, by far the most player movement of any NHL team. There seems to be a method to the madness, though. After a 1-4-1 start that chased Brett Hull into retirement, Phoenix went 12-7-1. Overall, the Coyotes are 13-11-2, which still is only good for ninth place in the Western Conference. Then again, they’re only three points out of fourth.