Skip to main content Blog: Speed to burn

If you've ever see Ilya Kovalchuk at full speed it's hard to believe the Atlanta Thrashers lose any of their games, let alone the vast majority of them.

I'm sure the visual was enhanced by the fact Kovalchuk moves like a rocket and the Leafs defense moves like rocks, but he completely had his way in Toronto's zone Tuesday night.

The slick Russian ended the night with a goal and two assists in a 5-4 victory.

Makes you wonder if this guy couldn't be the league's dominant offensive force if sufficiently motivated. And if he played with a center who wasn't Todd White.

It's easy to forget Kovalchuk, who demonstrated deft touch to go with his blazing speed on his shootout winner, is still only 24.

BREAKING THE BANK Prior to the season, the Rangers appeared poised to recapture the winning formula that lead them to the Cup nearly 15 years ago.

With two wins through eight games thanks to a sputtering offense, you can't help but wonder if the Blueshirts cracked the wrong beaker in an attempt to find that magic potion. Instead of reaching for the container labeled “1994,” it seems like they've somehow tapped into the time period between 1998 and 2004 when the team doled out blank checks to any halfway decent free agent who were, in turn, able to spend their new riches on exciting golf trips come April.

I'm not nearly ready to declare Scott Gomez and Chris Drury busts. Far from it, in fact. Still, it seems a bit ironic that the Rangers got back into the playoffs once they stopped blindly handing out free agent contracts and, in an attempt to build on that success, dug up the old checkbook, ponied up for Gomez and Drury and now find themselves looking up at everybody in their conference except for Atlanta.

BAD TO WORSEAn attempted dump-in by Bryan McCabe last night sailed a bit high on the blueliner, cleared the glass and ended up striking a spectator.

The good news is, in true tough hockey fan fashion, the woman, after being tended to by medical staff, appeared to shake off the incident. The bad news is McCabe, just when you thought it impossible, found a way to turn another Leaf fan against him.

CORNERSTONE I think you can go ahead and put Rick Nash's name back on the list of young players you'd want to build a team around.

Not only is Nash (who is just one year older than Alex Ovechkin) nearly on a goal-a-game pace, you can bet coach Ken Hitchcock is working hard with him to ensure he continues plugging holes in his defensive game.

GUNNING FOR GLORY Speaking of plugs, here's a shameless one for a book I co-authored with my colleague at The Hockey News, Ryan Kennedy, about the best young players in the game.

The book, in stores and available online, is called Hockey's Young Guns and it chronicles the tale of 25 players (including Nash) as they rose from the minor hockey ranks to the bright lights of the big leagues.

Whether you're writing or reading about them, it's always refreshing to be reminded millionaire hockey players first picked up a stick for the same reason you watch, read and, in some cases, mimic them – because hockey is just so much damn fun.



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