High And Wide: Hot Starts, Hat Tricks, And Humbled Champs

© Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild

By Jacob Messing

Welcome to FloHockey’s new column, High and Wide, a weekly recap of NHL action.

And what a week it was: the Vegas Golden Knights won their NHL debut 2-1, the Pittsburgh Penguins surrendered 15 goals in their first three games — including a 10-1 humiliation at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks — and Alex Ovechkin has returned with fire and fury.

News: Hat Trick Heroes And Rookie Entrances

Hat tricks highlighted the first week of the NHL season with Ovechkin, Connor McDavid, Wayne Simmonds, and Brandon Saad each logging a three-goal game.

Meanwhile, rookies around the league lit the lamp. Clayton Keller, Charlie McAvoy, Martin Frk, Jake DeBrusk, Sonny Milano, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Nathan Walker, and Jesper Bratt all scored their first NHL goals.

Injuries: Boston Hurting Early

Boston’s David Backes is out three weeks with diverticulitis, and Noel Acciari is out six weeks with a broken finger. Teammates Torey Krug and Patrice Bergeron are both day-to-day and could play Monday night.

Minnesota’s Zach Parise (back) and Mikael Granlund (groin) could both return Thursday.

Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson has labeled himself day-to-day as he looks to return from off-season foot surgery.

New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri left Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury after a hit from Erik Johnson.

Pittsburgh’s Patric Hornqvist is still not taking contact and could be a week or two away from his return from a hand injury.

Star Of The Week: Alex Ovechkin

Ovechkin is back. The red-hot Russian was noticeably slimmer entering training camp, and now has consecutive hat tricks and seven total goals over the Washington Capitals’ first two games. He’s producing goals and a menace of activity around the net, with 14 shots on goal and a plus-six rating.

The 32-year-old is aiming for a rebound season after a career-low goals-per-game average (0.4) and his second-lowest points-per-game average (0.84) over his 12-year career.

AHL Call-Up To Watch: Promising Canadian Defenseman

The Ottawa Senators recalled defenseman Thomas Chabot on Sunday night to help stabilize their blue line. Chabot, 20, was drafted 18th overall in 2015 and has been an impressive two-way defender over the past four years with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs.

The Canadian joined Ottawa’s AHL affiliate this season, where he has a goal and an assist in his first two games, albeit with a minus-four. He’s a future cog in Ottawa, and with a strong showing could stick around for the contenders.

Fantasy Player To Add

Paul Stastny | C | St. Louis Blues

Long gone are the days of Stastny’s 70-point seasons, but the 31-year-old has gotten off to a hot start in a contract year that leaves his future in St. Louis in question. In two games, the Canadian-born American player has scored once and added two assists.

The two-way pivot has also contributed two blocks and seven hits if your league tracks such stats. The No. 1 center has played more than 20 minutes in each of the Blues’ first two games but has uncharacteristically gone 11-25 for faceoffs (44.4 percent) thus far, well below his 53.8 percent career average.

Stastny is available in 55.4 percent of fantasy leagues and visits the New York Islanders followed by the Rangers on Monday and Tuesday. The Blues then swing to Florida to play the Panthers on Thursday and the Lightning on Saturday for four games altogether this week.

Game To Watch

Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals

Wednesday, Oct. 11, 7 PM EST on NBC Sports

The back-to-back Stanley Cup champions will visit rival Washington for NBC’s first real installment of Wednesday Night Rivalry. (Pittsburgh hosted St. Louis to open the season, but there’s hardly a rivalry there.)

After being the heavy favorites for the Stanley Cup, Washington lost to Pittsburgh in the second round in April, and Ovechkin eventually watched Sidney Crosby hoist his third Stanley Cup.

The teams of the two consecutive President’s Trophy winners underwent major changes, so it’ll be interesting to see them battle head to head. The 2-0-0 Caps will have it out for the 1-1-1 Pens in what is bound to be a game with a postseason atmosphere.

Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @JMessing23.

High And Wide: Washington, Wild, and Woeful Starts

© Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Washington Capitals at New Jersey Devils

By Jacob Messing

The overhauled Arizona Coyotes remain winless through five games, the Buffalo Sabres grab their first win, three Washington Capitals sit atop the scoring race, and the Erik Karlsson-less Ottawa Senators have grabbed at least a point in all five games.

Bauer Motown Classic Brings Future NHL Talent To Detroit

© Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Preseason-Chicago Blackhawks at Columbus Blue Jackets

By Jacob Messing

The Furious Return Of Alex Ovechkin

© Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Preseason-Washington Capitals at Montreal Canadiens

By Jacob Messing

Winnipeg Jets One Piece Away From Flight

© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Preseason-Winnipeg Jets at Calgary Flames

By Jacob Messing

The Atlanta Thrashers joined the NHL as an expansion team in 1999, and the journey to a serious postseason run has been anything but smooth. In 16 seasons, the organization has relocated, played eight playoff games, won zero, and morphed into the Winnipeg Jets, all while struggling to balance offense, defense, and goaltending.

UNLV Hockey Assistant Coach Injured In Las Vegas Attack

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UNLV hockey assistant coach Nick Robone was shot in the chest on Sunday night during the mass shooting in Las Vegas, which left 59 dead and over 500 injured. The 28-year-old was immediately hospitalized and is expected to make a full recovery after a successful surgery. 

20 Predictions For The 2017-18 NHL Season

© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers

By Jacob Messing

It’s finally October, and with the new NHL season set to start on Wednesday predictions are flying all over the place. It’s just a part of coverage, like toothless smiles and trash talk are apart of the game.

Players Question Rule Changes -- And They Have A Point

© Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports NHL: New Jersey Devils at Detroit Red Wings

By Jacob Messing

Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg got straight to the point when asked about the NHL’s new rules.

“It's slowing down the game; it's almost mocking the game,” Zetterberg told MLive’s Ansar Khan.

St. Louis Blues And Other NHL Teams Fight Through Early-Season Injuries

© Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports NHL: St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild

By Jacob Messing

With the puck set to drop October 4 for the new NHL season, a handful of injuries suffered during the preseason may hinder some teams getting off to a hot start.

'If You Ain't First, You're Last': Erie Otters Take Step Back In OHL

Erie Otters Erie Otters Training.jpg

By Jacob Messing

A historic Erie Otters season ended suddenly in late May when host Windsor defeated the regular season champions 4-3 for the Memorial Cup, given to the winner of a four-team tournament played