In an announcement that shocked absolutely no one locally, Caps captain Alex Ovechkin was named the NHL’s first star for the week ending Oct. 6.
Ovechkin paced the NHL in the first week of the 2013-14 season in goals (four), points (six), power-play goals (three), power-play points (five) and shots on goal (24).
This marks the 18th time in his NHL career that Ovechkin has been named an NHL star of the week or player of the week. The league began its Three Stars of the Week system beginning with the 2006-07 season.
Ovechkin has been the NHL’s first star of the week 10 times. He has been named second and third star of the week three times each. Additionally, the Caps’ captain was named the league’s player of the week twice during his rookie campaign of 2005-06.
Dating back to last season, Ovechkin has claimed the NHL’s first star award in three of the last seven regular season weeks.
Also dating back to last season, Ovechkin has tallied at least a point in 21 of his last 24 regular season games and he has registered 26 goals and 40 points during that span.
In another announcement that shocked few folks locally, one of the Caps’ new Metropolitan Division mates – the Philadelphia Flyers – announced a coaching change after an 0-3 start to the season. Philly’s new bench boss is ex-Caps winger Craig Berube, who replaces Peter Laviolette. The Laviolette firing is the fastest at the start of a season in NHL history, beating Chicago's bouncing of Denis Savard by one game.
Berube has 86 games worth experience as a head coach at the professional level. He accumulated those games in 2006 and 2007-08 with the AHL Philadelphia Phantoms. Except for the aforementioned AHL head coaching stint, Berube had been a Flyers assistant coach under John Stevens and Laviolette since Oct. 2006.
Berube played in more than 1,000 games during his NHL career, and his total of 3,149 career penalty minutes ranks seventh on the league’s all-time ledger.
Laviolette took over the reins in Philly on Dec. 4, 2009, a day before the Caps administered a thorough 8-2 thrashing to the Flyers in his debut behind the bench in the burg of Brotherly Love. Ovechkin wasn’t in the lineup that night; he was sitting out the second game of a two-game suspension.
Flyers forward Daniel Carcillo set about impressing his new coach that night, taking 29 minutes worth of penalties in one fell swoop, giving the Capitals a nine-minute power play. The Caps scored three times on five shots on goal in a span of just 3:56 with the man-advantage to blow the game wide open.
That loss was Philadelphia’s seventh in eight games. The Flyers ended up squeaking into the playoffs by virtue of a winner-take-all shootout contest against the New York Rangers on the final day of the 2009-10 regular season. Philly went all the way to the Cup final that spring, coming to within two victories of a Stanley Cup championship before bowing to the Blackhawks.
When Laviolette took over the Flyers nearly four years ago, Philly was coming off two straight games in which it failed to score a goal. Berube takes over a Flyers team that has scored a total of just three goals in its first three games of the season. Only one of those three Flyers’ goals was scored at even strength, and Philly went 143 minutes into the season before finally notching that initial even-strength tally last night in Carolina.
Including the 2013 preseason, the Flyers have scored 19 goals in their last 10 games.
Laviolette isn’t likely to remain unemployed for long. He has a Cup title on his résumé, earned in 2006 when he helmed the Carolina Hurricanes.
Berube is the 18th coach in Flyers history. Only two of those men (Fred Shero and Mike Keenan) have managed to last more than Laviolette (272 games) did in Philadelphia.
Since Keenan’s dismissal at the conclusion of 1987-88 season, the average lifespan of the last 11 Philadelphia bench bosses has been 173 games, or just over two full seasons.