THIS WEEK'S HOT SEAT
Alexander Ovechkin: It's nothing he hasn't experienced before, and certainly something he can handle. With the HBO cameras and microphones everywhere for "24/7," the Capitals have lost six games in a row and Ovechkin has just two goals in his last 14 games. Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh ... hey, the Winter Classic needed an edgy storyline.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Pavel Datsyuk: In consecutive games for the Red Wings against Nashville, Montreal and New Jersey, Datsyuk had multi-point games. He had a goal and an assist Tuesday against the Predators, a goal and a (nifty) assist Friday against the Canadiens, and a goal and two assists on Saturday against the Devils.
BIGGEST WHINE (a tie!)
After Linus Omark's splashy spin-o-rama shootout goal in his first NHL game clinched the extra point for Edmonton, Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher went Scrooge and pouted about disrespect. Just about the only people in the hockey world who agreed with Boucher were his players.
And then there was Alexei Kovalev saying he has been made a scapegoat for the underachieving ways of the Ottawa Senators. Kovalev, signed as a free agent by Ottawa GM Bryan Murray for this season for $5 million, is 7-8-15 in 31 games. Murray made a mistake. Kovalev, as he has done before in his long career, is making it worse with the woe-is-me.
"If anyone is speculating that this is a short-term play, they are off the mark completely." -- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Matthew Hulsizer, the latest potential savior of the Phoenix Coyotes.
VEZINA TROPHY WATCH
Please forgive us in advance for the "East coast bias." There's really not much of an argument at this early point in the season.
1. Tim Thomas: Fairly straight-forward -- Thomas leads the league with his almost cartoonish goals against average and save percentage numbers, along with five shutouts.
2. Carey Price: His stats may not equal Thomas', but he may be even more valuable to his team.
3. Ondrej Pavelec: A season that started with him mysteriously collapsing on the ice has turned into triumph.
Ones to Watch: Don't forget the rocks of the West -- Jonathan Quick, Jaroslav Halak, Pekka Rinne, Ilya Bryzgalov. Of course, it would not be a surprise if eventually Ryan Miller runs away with the Vezina again..
1. Corey Perry, Anaheim vs. Minnesota, Sunday: In one of the final games of the weekend, Perry put on easily the most dominating performance. The Ducks forward had three goals and two assists in Anaheim's 6-2 win over the Wild.
2. Tomas Vokoun, Florida at Washington, Thursday: Even with the Capitals struggling, the best way for the Panthers to beat them on the road is behind a star showing by their No. 1 goaltender. Vokoun gave Florida exactly that, stopping all 36 Washington shots in a 3-0 victory.
3. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay at Vancouver, Saturday: The second-year wonder scored two goals -- including the overtime winner with a blast on a 4-on-3 power play -- in the Lightning's 5-4 win in Vancouver on Markus Naslund Night. After not scoring a goal in six straight games, Stamkos scored three in two weekend games.
1. Andrew Raycroft, Dallas Stars: A week ago Boston's Tim Thomas blew our minds with an unbelievable save in overtime. This weekend, Dallas' Andrew Raycroft made a brilliant save of his own in overtime, robbing Carolina's Joe Corvo with this fantastic glove save.
2. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings: Never a disappointment with the puck on his stick -- or without it -- Pavel Datsyuk beats Carey Price with an absolutely perfectly placed shot.
3. Mikhail Grabovski, Toronto Maple Leafs: This is a ridiculous shot. Quick, accurate, and unstoppable.
Beat By The Buzzer: Danny Briere, Philadelphia Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers lost in a shootout to the San Jose Sharks; here's how close they were to winning in overtime. It doesn't get any closer than this.