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Trending: Potential Nash trade, Lundsanity and MalkinMania gaining traction

Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 10:26 AM / NHL.Countdown

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Trending: Potential Nash trade, Lundsanity and MalkinMania gaining traction
Nash, MalkinMania and Lundsanity dominate hockey conversation.
The slumping Hawks, the streaking Wings, Rick Nash, Tuomo Ruutu, Garden stars, Evgeni Malkin, and Olie on Ovi have all caught the attention of the hockey Twitterverse this week:

#BlackhawksDown

Not only have the Chicago Blackhawks lost nine straight games (0-8-1 to be exact); they've allowed at least three goals in each of the nine games.
 
Chicago's goaltending has been suspect, but some of the burden falls to the team defense, which has been disjointed in front of maligned netminders Ray Emery and Corey Crawford, who starts Thursday at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers.
 
Bad defense usually doesn't lead to good offense, so it really comes as no surprise that the Hawks have scored three or more goals only twice during their current nine-game slide. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa have combined for four goals during the losing streak.
 

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When a team is struggling both offensively and defensively, it sometimes looks to special teams for a bailout. The Hawks have been outscored 7-1 in those areas since they last won a game Jan. 20 against Florida.
 
Chicago has dropped from first in the Western Conference to sixth. It is only three points out of ninth.
 
"We all believe in each other and believe we have a good team," Patrick Sharp said Wednesday. "It might sound crazy for me to say that now with a nine-game losing streak, but I really think it's going to make us stronger and we will come out of it."
 
When?

#DetroitStreakCity

Detroit's home-winning streak reached an NHL record 21 games Tuesday. The last time the Red Wings lost at Joe Louis Arena was Nov. 3.
 
History buffs will note that the Red Wings have three shootout wins built into this streak and neither the 1929-30 Bruins nor the 1975-76 Flyers went past overtime en route to winning 20 straight home games. But, the argument in favor of the Red Wings goes something like this:
 
The League today is much closer than it was in those days due to parity created by the salary cap, so the games are tighter and the players are bigger, stronger and faster.
 
The Red Wings have outscored their opponents 84-31 during the streak, including a staggering 31-9 in the first period. They've continued the streak through a significant injury to goalie Jimmy Howard, who won the first 17 straight at home before leaving the lineup with a broken finger. Joey MacDonald has not only won his last four home starts, but it also appears that he's solidified the backup job in Detroit.
 
Howard, who still leads the NHL with 32 wins, has already been named the starter for Sunday's game against San Jose.

#NashSweepstakes

The hockey world has been abuzz with Rick Nash trade rumors. In fact, the Nash talk has been a breath of fresh air for a trading season that looks incredibly thin with several potential rentals (Tim Gleason, Andy Sutton, Ryan Smyth) already being yanked off the market this month.
 
The Blue Jackets, though, have a myriad of items on their checklist that have to be considered before anything goes further.
 
Let's start with Nash's no-movement clause in his contract, which puts him in control. He has reportedly given the club a list of teams he'd be willing to join. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reported the list includes no more than 10 teams. The Rangers, Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Kings and Sharks are believed to be on the list.
 
OK, so what's the return?
 
Rick Nash
Right Wing - CBJ
GOALS: 18 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 39
SOG: 219 | +/-: -22
It has to be a home run for the Jackets, complete with a player or two that can help the team right now and certainly next season, a top draft pick, and a top prospect or two. If there is a goalie coming back to Columbus, even better. We know how badly the Jackets need help in net.
 
History suggests what a team wants for a big fish in the middle of a season and what a team gets doesn't always mesh.
 
Atlanta gave Marian Hossa to Pittsburgh for what has amounted to just about nothing as three of the four players acquired in the deal are no longer with the organization in Winnipeg. The only players still around from the Ilya Kovalchuk to New Jersey trade are defenseman Johnny Oduya and Patrice Cormier, who has 1 goal in 27 NHL games.
 
It wasn't a deadline deal, but in November of 2005 Boston got Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart from San Jose for Joe Thornton. Sturm had some success in Boston, but Primeau and Stuart were shipped out in the same deal the following season.
 
The Blue Jackets also need to consider that they signed Nash to an eight-year, $62.4 million contract extension because they wanted and expected him to be their captain and face of the franchise for many years. He's only 27 years old, so there is still the potential to build around him even though their attempts to date have failed miserably.
 
Also of note, the Blue Jackets will host the 2013 NHL All-Star Game; it's an opportunity to celebrate hockey in Columbus with the face of hockey in Columbus. Imagine Nash returning to the city as an all-star for another team. How weird would that be?
 
There is also that $7.8 million cap hit that extends through 2018. Any team that trades for Nash has to be willing to absorb it.
 
No matter how the Nash situation shakes out between now and the trade deadline, it will be fascinating to follow. It has already energized a trading season that needed a jolt.

#DoingTheRuutu

Don't automatically assume that Tuomo Ruutu will be traded by Carolina GM Jim Rutherford if he remains unsigned by the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
 
Rutherford has publicly stated his desire to re-sign Ruutu, who is out with an upper-body injury that should keep him off the ice until a week after the trade deadline. That desire should remain the same even if Rutherford can't get Ruutu to agree to a new contract by the trade deadline.
 
Remember, Ruutu can be an unrestricted free agent after the season and if Rutherford hangs on to him for the rest of the season, he also hangs on to his negotiating rights to July 1. That gives him ample time to work out a deal. If Rutherford trades Ruutu, he'd have to wait until July 1 to negotiate with him, or he would have to make a trade to acquire his negotiating rights.
 
Doing the latter doesn't make much sense if you already have the player on your roster and you want him there next season and beyond. By stating he wants to re-sign him, clearly Rutherford and the Hurricanes want Ruutu to stay put.
 
Simply, Rutherford will have to be blown away by an offer in order to ship the Finnish forward out of Raleigh. However, Rutherford would like to end all the speculation as soon as possible and get him under contract before Feb. 27.

#Lundsanity

Henrik Lundqvist
Goalie - NYR
RECORD: 27-11-4
GAA: 1.77 | SVP: 0.941
This hash tag is starting to pick up some steam in the New York area.
 
Knicks guard Jeremy Lin (#Linsanity) has stolen the headlines from the Rangers and their Hart Trophy candidate goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (yes, he at least belongs in the MVP discussion as he runs away with the Vezina Trophy), but hockey fans in the Big Apple are trying to get their guy some Twitter-love, too.
 
They should, because Lundqvist has been trending up all season. He's been doing it for longer than a handful of games.
 
Lundqvist had arguably his best game Tuesday in Boston, where he stopped all 42 shots he faced for a 3-0 win. He leads the NHL with a .941 save percentage and seven shutouts. He's second with a 1.77 goals-against average (Brian Elliott, the leader with 1.63 GAA, has made 18 fewer starts) and fourth with 27 wins.
 
The Rangers lead the second-place Bruins by seven points in the Eastern Conference.
 
Lundsane indeed.

#Malkinmania

Let's keep it up with the actual hash tags that are getting a lot of attention on Twitter. This one doesn't have a rival like Lundsanity vs. Linsanity, because in Pittsburgh right now there really is no rival for what Evgeni Malkin has been doing.
 
Malkin continues to carry the Penguins on his back. And, just like Lundqvist is doing with the Vezina Trophy, he's beginning to run away with, at the very least, the Art Ross Trophy with his 69 points in 50 games. Steven Stamkos and Claude Giroux are tied for second with 62.
 
"He's gigantic," Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "He's just a monster out there that can skate, sees everything. He can put the puck inside out, inside of your pants and out. He just has it all."
 
Malkin isn't just doing it with his points (17 goals in the last 18 games).
 
He's improved his technique in the faceoff circle, which has afforded him more time with the puck. He has won 57 of his 90 faceoffs (63.3 percent) during the past five games and is now up to 46.4 percent for the season. That would be a career best.
 
It's hard to say his defense is better because he seems to always have the puck, but he's definitely making the players around him better. James Neal's scoring hasn't dropped off and Chris Kunitz is as dangerous as he was when he was skating alongside Sidney Crosby.

#OllieOnOvi

Alex Ovechkin
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 23 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 44
SOG: 200 | +/-: -6
Ex-Capitals goalie Olie Kolzig still has a strong voice in D.C. Maybe it's not as strong as, oh say Alex Ovechkin, but we found out Wednesday that when Olie the Goalie gets to talking about Ovi, people are left saying, "Oh my."
 
Kolzig, the Capitals associate goalie coach, was in town Wednesday to work with Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth. He addressed Ovechkin's significant dip in scoring during the past two seasons, and didn't hold back.
 
"For Alex, it's a work ethic," Kolzig said. "He just has to get back to being the way he was in his younger days and maybe not get wrapped up too much in the rock star status that comes with being Alex Ovechkin."
 
Is Kolzig suggesting Ovechkin doesn't work hard anymore? You can argue that he is.
 
"Alex (has gotten) away from playing hard, no-nonsense, honesty type of hockey -- exuberant hockey -- that he displayed the first three years that he was in the League," Kolzig also said. "I think that's what endeared him to everybody. Then all of a sudden, he was still the same Alex, he was celebrating a certain way but what endeared him to everybody now made him look like a villain. Part of it is he's probably feeling not as loved as he used to be. So he brings that on himself sometimes."
 
Ovechkin has 26 games to earn that love again, to help lift the Capitals into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, to prove Kolzig and others that have jumped off his bandwagon wrong.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Quote of the Day

There's no discouragement in that room. There's no issues there at all to be honest with you. It's more about, 'Hey, it's opportunities for players.' And if we become that bad of a team because of one player, it's not a real good sign for our hockey club. So this is part of sports. It's part of hockey.

— Bruins coach Claude Julien on the loss of Zdeno Chara to injury
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