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Posted: Tuesday October 17, 2006 10:51AM; Updated: Tuesday October 17, 2006 11:44AM
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The supposedly hobbled Alexander Ovechkin still had two goals and two assists in his first four games this season.
The supposedly hobbled Alexander Ovechkin still had two goals and two assists in his first four games this season.
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The Capitals last night denied a report in a Russian newspaper that said star left wing Alex Ovechkin is trying to play with a groin injury. There has been constant speculation almost since the day training camp opened that Ovechkin was playing hurt. He has not looked like the same player who won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie last season, and his offensive performance has been off.
  -- Washington Times

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday that it was too early to be concerned about attendance around the league, which seems to be lagging significantly in some markets. The Kings announced a five-year low in attendance on Thursday. The same night, the Blackhawks announced a crowd of 8,008. On Monday, the Avalanche had its sellout streak of 487 consecutive games come to an end and the Islanders announced a crowd of 9,431.
  -- Los Angeles Times

Rick DiPietro may have signed the longest deal in NHL history this summer, but that doesn't mean the Islanders are immune to a good, old-fashioned goalie controversy. It may not be a full-on hullabaloo, but Mike Dunham has certainly opened the floor for debate on whom the best goalie has been this early in the season.
  -- New York Post

Mats Sundin says he wants to be a Maple Leaf for the rest of his NHL career. And there are others who say this is his final season as a Maple Leaf. The reason for the contrary opinion is Sundin's contract, which will expire at the end of this season, although there is a team option for next season. But the Leafs will be reluctant to pick up the option because of the salary cap.
  -- The Globe and Mail

Russian rookie Evgeni Malkin will make his NHL debut against New Jersey. If the line combinations from yesterday's practice hold up, he'll pick up where he left off -- centering a No. 2 line with Mark Recchi on his right wing and Ryan Malone on his left
  -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Robert Esche will finally be released from purgatory tonight when the Flyers play the Sabres in Buffalo. This is no gift from Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock. Buffalo is the best club in the NHL's Eastern Conference, with a 5-0 record.
  -- Philadelphia Inquirer

Blackhawks coach Trent Yawney said opponents were already focusing on shutting down Martin Havlat after his six goals. So the Hawks will need other players to pick up the scoring slack. If the scoring imbalance between the top line and the rest of the team remains so great, Yawney said, he might split up Havlat, Michal Handzus and Radim Vrbata to try for more balance.
  -- Chicago Tribune

The topic of discussion at Ducks practice Monday was the NHL shootout, a subject that is as near and dear to Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the size of his goaltending equipment. The Ducks' 0-for-2 shootout record is nothing to shout about. They're coming off consecutive losses to the Islanders and Stars. And that comes on the heels of last year's 3-7 shootout record.
  -- Los Angeles Times

John Sim started the season on Ilya Kovalchuk's line, but Thrashers coach Bob Hartley mixed up the lines on Friday -- resulting in two goals by Sim on a line with Slava Kozlov and Glen Metropolit -- and Hartley has kept it intact. Hartley praises Sim's "heavy" wrist shot, saying it might be one of the hardest in the league for a player his size.
  -- Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Rob DiMaio said every now and then he wonders if his career is over. The Lightning right wing has not played since sustaining a serious concussion in a Sept. 26 preseason game in Montreal. He is recuperating at his Toronto home and said his physical activity almost is nil. DiMaio, scheduled to be examined Wednesday by a concussion expert, said the elbow from the Canadiens' Guillaume Latendresse that caused the injury was "cheap" because it was from behind.
  -- St. Petersburg Times

Defenseman Craig Rivet was back on the ice yesterday with his sore left foot feeling better. The Canadiens veteran took a shot off the heel in the third period of a shootout loss to Ottawa on Saturday but said he will be in the lineup tonight against the Flames.
  -- Toronto Sun

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