The final week of the regular season has numerous races to the finish. Here are several endeavors to consider outside of the playoff races.
Let's begin with a high profile race:
In his pursuit of the scoring title, Ovechkin has an outside, um, shot at
Now, to the obscure we go:
There is the matter of players who haven't scored at all. Not surprisingly, the three contenders for playing the most without once experiencing the elation of a goal are all defensive defensemen.
Heading into the final week, Kings veteran
On a side note, when it comes to defensemen in need of hitting the score sheet, 47-year old
Speaking of zeros, they usually signify success for goaltenders. Case in point: rookie
Still, after going 0-2 in his first NHL duty last year, a victory before the playoffs begin would certainly be sweet relief for McElhinney. The Flames have four games this week, including one in Vancouver against the team they are tied with atop the Northwest Division. McElhinney might get his last chance to secure a win over the weekend when the Flames play back-to-back against the provincial rival Oilers -- but only if the division is decided.
And finally, let's consider decisions of a different sort that of the NHL toughs.
It isn't getting the publicity of Ovechkin vs. Malkin, yet there is another repeat race going on at the other end of the profile spectrum. This battle is between
Last year, Boll led all bare-knuckle brawlers with 27 fights, four more than runner-up Stortini. Heading into the last week of the season, Stortini has dropped the gloves 24 times, Boll 23. The two have fought each other only once and that was last season. The Oilers and Blue Jackets don't meet this week, so Stortini and Boll will have to find other willing combatants to settle the title as the NHL's most prolific pugilist of 2008-09.
So, while fans hold their collective breath in New York, Florida, Nashville, St. Louis and Anaheim as playoff hopes hang in the balance, know that there is drama in the detail -- right down to one seemingly random goal, assist, fight and win.