Here are three questions to ponder in between all the egg nog and sugar plums:
Who has the most hat tricks this season? (Hint: He plays for the Philadelphia Flyers – and it’s not 24-goal man Jeff Carter.)
OK, we’ll start off with a bit of an easy one, given that Scott Hartnell turned in another trick on Saturday afternoon in a game in which old, washed-up sniper Alex Ovechkin ripped off 12 shots and had nothing to show for it.
Hartnell scored his second hat trick of the season – and picked up an assist – in Philadelphia’s 7-1 clobbering of the Capitals, a contest that saw Washington outshoot the Flyers 48-28.
For his part, Carter scored a shorthanded marker, the Flyers’ league-leading 13th shortie of the season.
• Can the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup?
Wow…just the fact I can pose this question without crashing the entire Internet shows how far the Hawks have come in a very short time.
Well, let’s see: a quality coach in Joel Quenneville; top-notch goaltending from Nikolai Khabibulin; hard-rock defensemen in Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith; a true offensive blueliner in Brian Campbell; and plenty of productive forwards led by Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and a still-healthy Martin Havlat.
The short answer has to be: Yes, the Hawks can win the Cup. The long answer is: Yeah, the Hawks could, but it’s unlikely given their youth and playoff inexperience and then there’d be a long-winded explanation getting into all that…but let’s move on to the next query.
• Now that he’s a Vancouver Canuck, should fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs be upset with Mats Sundin?
Upset? Well, maybe mildly, but if there’s any extreme anger out there in Leafs Nation, it is misdirected.
Sure, Sundin said last season that he didn’t want to be a rental player, that it was about “the journey” from training camp through to the playoffs. And, yes, his about-face this season – that is, signing with Vancouver in late December – is hypocritical.
But, first of all, he’s allowed to change his mind; a lot has changed in the eight months since last year’s trade deadline. Plus, there was that pesky no-trade clause.
The Leafs gave it to him when he signed his last contract extension and Sundin presumably surrendered something – financial considerations, the length of the deal or some other perk – to obtain the insurance that he couldn’t be traded without his blessing.
Finally, considering that Sundin was a Leaf for 13 seasons – more than that, he was the captain and heart and soul of the franchise – maybe he should get a little credit for showing some loyalty to the team and to his teammates. (The flip side, of course, is he could’ve shown loyalty to the Leafs by agreeing to be traded in exchange for prospects and draft picks; but that’s not so much loyalty to the team as it is loyalty to the franchise, if you spot the difference.)
Sundin, I think, can be taken at his word in his explanations for his actions; he was a sincere and honest leader during his days in Toronto and nothing that has happened in the interim has changed that.
Sam McCaig’s From The Point column appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Have a point to make with Sam McCaig? You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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