In this morning’s collection of notable NHL morning headlines: Alexander Ovechkin’s slow start…Jeff Skinner show no signs of sophomore slump…Kings lose Dustin Penner to knee injury…Patrik Elias closing in on career and team milestones…Scott Hartnell seeing less ice time…Contributing factors to Lightning’s slow start…Avalanche set team record…Blue Jackets goalie woes.

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin is working to overcome a slow start which sees him with only two points, a plus-minus of -2 and 15 shots on goal in his first four games. Head coach Bruce Boudreau suggests two factors are Ovechkin’s receiving less ice time than he’s used to, plus he’s still working on countering the ways teams defend against him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The latter is likely the biggest factor, for as the column noted, he’s been over-relying on his signature move of cutting in from the left side to use the defenseman as a screen, plus he’s not using his teammates enough. It’s been a work in progress since last season, as Ovechkin’s offensive instincts is, when in doubt, go it alone.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Carolina Hurricanes sophomore forward and 2011 Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner has shown no signs of a sophomore slump this season, with six points in five games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner has bolted from the gate strong, but the real test will be sustaining his offensive pace over the course of the season.

ESPN LOS ANGELES:  LA Kings forward Dustin Penner is having a knee re-examined after leaving practice on Monday complaining of soreness. It’s believed he suffered the injury when he fought Zac Rinaldo of the Philadelphia Flyers for his hit on Penner’s teammate Drew Doughty on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word on how long Penner could be sidelined, he’s reportedly questionable for tonight’s game against St. Louis.


Headed for record-setting season.

NJ.COM: Devils veteran forward Patrik Elias is only 35 games shy of his 1,000th NHL game, and only 12 goals shy of  breaking John MacLean’s franchise record of 347 and two shy of breaking MacLean’s record of 92 power-play goals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring injury, Elias should achieve these goals this season.

TAMPABAY.COM: The Lightning aren’t panicking over their poor start to this season, but are concerned and bewildered by it. Undisciplined play has been singled out as the prime factor for their struggles.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The problem with playing a disciplined, up-tempo system as the Lightning played last season is that it can take some time for the players to get back into the swing of things following the off-season. Another is the Bolts surprised a lot of teams last season, but they’re better prepared this time around.

DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche set a franchise record last night with their 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, winning five consecutive road games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An impressive start for a team most observers picked to miss the 2012 playoffs. This achievement is particularly notable when one considers the great Avs teams of the past never won that many consecutive road games.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets, with their second, third and fourth goalies out of commission, have been forced to call up a prospect goalie from Junior A to fill in as their backup for tonight’s game against Dallas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bad news just seems to keep building for the Jackets so far this season. James Wisniewski remains sidelined by a suspension, and they recently lost Jeff Carter to a cracked bone in his right foot.