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Ice Chips: Madden Not Just For Turducken Anymore

November 9, 2007 | By Steven Ovadia | comment on this post
Ilya Kovalchuk is perhaps the hottest player in the NHL.
If Ilya Kovalchuk continues to score goals at a ridiculous pace, will it inspire more NHLers to wear kilts?

Atlanta Thrasher Ilya Kovalchuk is about as hot as a player can be this week. A hat trick against the Senators? That’s hot. A hat trick two nights later against Tampa Bay (part of a four-point night)? What do you even do with that? And a goal the very next game against Washington? Kovalchuk seems to have found his legs and his stick.

Fellow Thrasher Marian Hossa, with two goals in his past four games, is sadly going through a hot streak of his own. He’s got just three goals and six points on the season. It’s a shockingly sluggish start for a guy who’s usually been good for a 30-goal season.

Of course nothing is as shocking as John Madden’s performance in New Jersey. The perennial Selke candidate embraced his role as a checking centre as few forwards have. Where many players complained about working within the Devils’ system-oriented game, Madden seemed to relish in it, going so far as to complain when new coach Brent Sutter wouldn’t match lines.

You would think the transition from a defense-oriented team to something a little more run-and-gun would destroy Madden’s career, but he’s somehow survived, managing to lead the Devils in goals. Madden, who has never had a 30-goal season, has six goals in his first 15 games. At this rate, he’ll reach the 30 plateau for the first time.

Meanwhile, fellow Devil Patrik Elias can’t buy a goal. He’s got just two goals and seven points on the season. It’s almost like Elias’ offensive skills thrive on a defensive system. Someone get that man a trap!

Out west, Scott Niedermayer is skating. So if you’ve been socking him away on your fantasy roster, waiting for his triumphant return, you’re going to want to keep waiting, but take comfort in the knowledge he at least still knows how to skate.

Finally, let’s take a moment to pay tribute to Columbus Blue Jacket goalie Pascal Leclaire, who has five shutouts in his first nine games. The only other goalie in his brick sphere so far this season is New York Ranger Henrik Lundqvist, who has four shutouts in his first 16 games. You’ve got to love Lundqvist’s endurance, by the way. He’s started every Ranger game this season and showing no wear for it. He’s got a 1.62 GAA and .940 save percentage.

The Week Ahead

Saturday, the Flyers take on Pittsburgh in an epic battle for the non-Steeler, non-Eagle souls of Pennsylvania. The Penguins beat the Flyers eight times last season, so Philadelphia is riding high on a Pittsburgh win from earlier this week. If Pittsburgh native Andy Warhol were around, he’d probably put this game on a lithograph.

Over on the west coast, Saturday sees the Oilers take on Calgary in the always serious Battle of Alberta. Edmonton’s goalies are struggling and its leading scorer, Shawn Horcoff, has just five goals. Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff is off to a notoriously slow start, but he’s got a ton of goal support to tide him over.

This weekend, the Atlanta Thrashers also play the Carolina Hurricanes. In a perfect world, this game would have all banjo music beneath it. And perhaps Waylon Jennings could call the game.

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