DETROIT – The image that flash on the screen startled Sergei Fedorov.
“I was so surprised,” the former Red Wings’ sniper said. “Kind of moved me, really moved me.”
The 20-something year old photograph shown on the TV was of a young pre-teen wearing a Fedorov 91 jersey.
Eventually, the youngster in the jersey would end up with Fedorov as a teammate in Washington.
Now that former teammate, Alex Ovechkin, is at the apex of passing his boyhood idol as the league’s all-time leading Russian-born goal scorer.
Ovechkin’s next goal – which could come Tuesday during of all things, Sergei Fedorov Night at Joe Louis Arena – will be No. 484 in 10-plus NHL seasons, one better than Fedorov produced in his hall-of-fame career.
“It’s just a matter of time,” said Fedorov, of turning over his record that has stood since he passed Alexander Mogilny as the leading Russian-born scorer, on Oct. 25, 2008.
A five-time winner of the Maurice Ricahrd Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer, Ovechkin ranks fourth among active NHL players in goals and game-winning goals (81). He is first in goals per game (0.626) and third in power-play goals (177).
“It (didn't) take him too long to score that kind of amount of goals,” Fedorov said. “He can score double in no time. I wish him that. Very special because we share a couple years in Washington.”
Ovechkin nearly established the new record for Russian scoring in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win over Toronto. His power-play goal in the second period pulled him even with Fedorov. But just when it looked like Ovechkin had No. 484 with 2:39 left in regulation, the officials waved the goal off after a coach’s challenge.
“His achievements and the goals he's scoring for his team is important,” said Fedorov, who was part of three Stanley Cup championships in Detroit. “I'm sure after the season probably he said that I can relax in this kind of moment again. I thought that was a goal last night. Rules is rules. It was great hockey moment."
Fedorov, who retired in 2009 and will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame laster this evening, will be honored during a special pre-game ceremony prior to Tuesday’s home game against Ovechkin and the Capitals.
Fedorov played his final season and a half in the NHL with the Capitals. But he said never once during that time did Ovechkin lead on that he was an admirer.
“We talk a lot, we shared a lot of stories, but not that one for some reason,” Fedorov said. “I was watching the game (Saturday) and I saw a picture of Alex when he was, I don't know, seven or six or eight or nine, something like that, it was Fedorov and 91, black jersey with black letters. He never told me about that part of his life, that he was wearing something like that. We were very close, obviously, for a couple years when I was in Washington. That was amazing. I was just happy for him. I hope he saw a lot of good things that we've done together and we went through together on the ice and off the ice.”
GREEN FACES CAPS:
Defense - DET
Goals: 0 | Assists: 3 | Pts: 3
Shots: 9 | +/-: -3
For the first time since he signed a three-year contract with the Red Wings last July, Mike Green
will face the team that he spend the first 10 seasons of his NHL career with.
“It’ll be strange, but I’ve moved forward now,” Green said. “I think it’s more exciting than anything. I know the personality in the dressing room and how most of these guys play, so it will be fun. But it will be fun because we’re competing.”
One thing Green will try to do Tuesday is help prevent Ovechkin from surpassing Fedorov as the league’s all-time Russian-born scoring leader.
“If you let him skate or you give him too much room he’s got an incredible shot,” Green said. “If you can eliminate his time in space, you eliminate a lot of his chances.”
Green said he knew at the end of last season that his time was up in Washington and that he would benefit from a chance in scenery.
“I was there a long time and obviously, sometimes chance is good,” the Red Wings’ defenseman said. “I felt I was becoming a little bit stagnant there, so I wanted to evolve, and I felt that coming here would be the best thing for that.”
Green returned to the Red Wings lineup on Sunday after missing six games with a shoulder injury. Through eight games, he has three assists with a minus-3 rating.
Green is among the top five Capitals defensemen all time in goals (113), points (360), power-play goals (52), game-winning goals (20) and overtime goals (8).
But the thing he’s most proud of is how the franchise has helped grow the sport in the D.C. community over the last decade.
“Seeing the growth from my first year to where the city is now as far as hockey,” Green said. “I think we had maybe 5,000 fans my first two years. Now they sell out every night, so that was something I was a part of and I’ll never forget.”
ERICSSON IN STITCHES:
Defense - DET
Goals: 1 | Assists: 0 | Pts: 1
Shots: 11 | +/-: E
It took 10 stitches to close a large cut near Jonathan Ericsson
’s right eye, but the Red Wings’ defenseman never got an explanation to why Dallas forward Alec Hemsky wasn’t penalized for the hit late in Sunday’s 4-1 loss at JLA.
“When I was on the ice it felt like he hit only pretty much my head,” Ericsson said. “Looking at the video, he got a little bit of the side as well, so I don’t know, it’s hard. Hockey is a fast sport. You’ve got to make a decision as a referee right away and if you don’t see anything you can’t really call anything.”
Sounding frustrated, Ericsson said he’d like to see the league take more action to prevent questionable hits like the one he absorbed Sunday as well as previous hits on Kyle Quincey, Dylan Larkin and Landon Ferraro that drew little or no penalty.
Only Ottawa’s Mark Stone was assessed a two-game suspension for his illegal hit to Ferraro on Oct. 31. Calgary’s Sam Bennett drew nothing on his hit on Quincey, and Joe Colborne received a cross-checking minor for his hit on Larkin in the same game.
“All we’ve been talking about the last few years is the head shot, how we need to take them out of the game because it’s dangerous,” Ericsson said. “Now you see all the concussions coming up, concussions from the past is a big issue for guys.”
Left Wing - DET
Goals: 4 | Assists: 3 | Pts: 7
Shots: 23 | +/-: -2
Coach Jeff Blashill adjusted the forward lines at practice on Monday.
With Pavel Datsyuk getting closer to returning from off-season ankle surgery, the Wings’ coach worked the playmaker in on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Larkin.
While Blashill said the shake up in practice isn’t a reflection of how the forward lines will look for Tuesday’s game against the Capitals – Datsyuk is not available Tuesday – he did say it might be something they consider once he does return.
“At some point when he comes back our plan is to play him with Zetterberg, at least to start,” Blashill said. “Those plans can change. That’s our thought right now. We wanted to get him on a line with just three guys by themselves. Who plays with him, we’ll see.”
However, the line changes did sound the alarm for Justin Abdelkader, who has played on the top line since opening night yet is riding a 12-game, goal-scoring drought.
“I’ve had chances,” said Abdelkader, who hasn’t scored since the second game of the season. “I haven’t produced how I want. For me I’m just focusing on doing things right out there and playing hard. … I think I can do a better job around the net and on the forecheck. We’re going through a tough time as far as goal scoring five on five. The league’s tight. We have to find ways to score and find ways to be better.”
Blashill said he’d like to see Abdelkader return to the player he was last season when he produced a career-high 23 goals and 44 points.
“I think what makes Abbie special is he’s a big body who when he’s at his best is on the forecheck, winning puck battles, skating hard on the track, creating, allowing for good gaps, great net-front presence, winning all the puck battles,” Blashill said. “He came into the league as a worker, a hard, hard working guy, kind of a grinder, evolved into a grinder with real good skill that allowing him to play with real skilled players. He’s got to make sure that he keeps that working, grinding mentality as he moves forward with his career.”
HOWARD IS FINE: Jimmy Howard
Goalie - DET
GAA: 2.07 | Sv%: .932
said he was fine following an incident where he was accidentally kneed in the head by Jason Spezza during the third period of Sunday’s game against the Dallas Stars.
Howard left the game, but said Monday that he was OK’d to return after answering some concussion-protocol questions in the Wings’ dressing room.
“Everything now is so cautious when you take hits to the head,” Howard said. “I just came in here and they asked me some questions and I passed everything. Then I switched my contacts out, and then I wanted to go back in and they said no.”
NOTEWORTHY: Brendan Smith did not practice Monday. Blashill said that the defenseman was ill and his availability for Tuesday’s game is unknown. … Blashill said that Petr Mrazek will get the start against the Capitals. Mrazek has faced the Caps twice in his young career, including one start. He has a 0-2-0 record with a 2.12 goals-against average and .905 save percentage against Washington.