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Butt Ends # 1

Who would have thought such an entrance possible?

Upon seeing Evgeni Malkin do a teakettle faceplant into the ice in preseason, many figured the highly touted rookie would be lost for much of the season. Some mentioned it could make his entry into NHL a tentative one, especially in the initial steps. The player drafted 2nd behind Alexander Ovechkin not only made a splash, he has equalled what is most surely the oldest record in the NHL books. We're talking pre-Maple Leafs, pre-dropping goalies, pre-original six old.

In the NHL's first season, 1917-18, the record in question was set. As this was the NHL's initial year, it could be debated that all players were not necessarily rookies, in the purest sense of the term. For arguments sake, the Montreal Canadiens Joe Malone, the Ottawa Senators Cy Denneny, and the Cornwall born Hab Newsy Lalonde held the record for scoring goals in the most consecutive games at the beginning of an NHL career - rookies or not. At the time of the record, the league consisted of but four teams - the Habs, Sens, the oddly named Toronto Arenas, and the Montreal Wanderers. The league had a 22 game schedule split into halves (?) of 14 and 8 games, with the Wanderers folding after 6 due to their arena burning to the ground. Definitly different times, to be sure.

What makes Malkins feat all the more impressive is that thousands of players rookie seasons have come and gone with few even approaching the 89 year old mark. Steven King (try living with that name!) of the 1992 New York Rangers came closest, scoring in 4 straight.

Watch for Malkin to become a staple of highlight reels much in the manner of Ovechkin. The Russian has Mario Lemieux like reach with the puck and possesses the speed and toughness that will surely leave a lasting impact on the game.

Sideline Scribbles

The Leafs and Senators continue to resemble Jekyl and Hyde squads. Ottawa pounds Toronto but appears disorganized and unfocussed against other opponants. Toronto, hapless against the Sens, puts it together in certain inspiring games while being lacklustre and thin on any vulnerable night. Will the real battle of Ontario please stand up!...The Canadiens, as of this writing are +1 on the penalty kill, having scored six shorthanded goals while giving up only five on the PP. If that don`t impress you, you hate them too much. Coach Carbonneau is definitely having an influence...Yes, the Flyers got off to a miserable start! Still I`ve rarely seen an owner hammer the panic button so soon in a season. The ever changing Philadelphia lineup likely just needed a little more time to gel. The game will miss Bobby Clarke and Ken Hitchcock`s honesty and quoteability...My choice for breakout player of the year so far is the Habs Chris Higgins. Whether at even strength, on the PK or the PP, Higgins is always fiesty....How much will Darcy Tucker be worth by the season`s end. With Sundin at the end of his deal, and the trio of McCabe, Kaberle, and Kubina eating up 17 million, can the the Leafs triple his salary to 5 million without a contender outbiding them. Tuckers loyalty will make or break his next contract... Sidney Crosby will win the scoring race this year, barring injury. Tack on the Hart Trophy, if you are as bold as that prediction...Three coaches walking the highwire, a tired looking Gretzky, a timebomb named Jim Playfair in Calgary, and the clueless, dithering and befuddled Bryan Murray in Ottawa. Murray can`t seem to make a point with center Jason Spezza on what constitutes taking chances in the offensive zone. That and the obvious disinterest of captain Alfredsson will be his undoing by Christmas whether GM John Muckler admits it or not. With questions surrounding Alfredsson's captaincy and leadership abilities, something has to give. I predict Murray goes first.

Parting Shot

Are Alex Tanguay, Martin Gerber, and Andrew Raycroft the free agent signings they were touted to be? A dozen games in, and at the price, all look like busts to me!