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Emperor penguin

Malkin looks like good bet to win tons of hardware

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One man's completely haphazard collection of NHL notes, random thoughts and half-baked ideas we like to call, 'Just thinking out loud here...'

-- There's still a ton of hockey to be played, but how many voters who watched Evgeni Malkin gut and fillet the Jets on Saturday -- one goal, four assists -- are now ready to scratch his name on their Hart Trophy ballot as the NHL MVP?

It was Malkin's third five-point game of the season and now gives him 67 points (30G-37A) this season.

At the start of the season, Vegas oddsmakers had Malkin at 30-1 to win the Hart AND the Art Ross (scoring leader) trophies. Worth noting here: four times in the last six years a player has captured both: Henrik Sedin in '09-10; Alex Ovechkin in '07-08; Sidney Crosby in '06-07 and Joe Thornton in '05-06.

-- While management, media and Jets' faithful wonder where the goals may come from -- even with Saturday's river-hockey anomaly in Pittsburgh -- consider that four forwards have already matched or eclipsed their career highs in goals this year. Alex Burmistrov now has 10 goals, he had six last year as a rookie; Tanner Glass has matched his career best with four and ditto for Evander Kane (19) and Tim Stapleton (8).

-- Just FYI, Jets' leading scorer Blake Wheeler is on pace to finish with 57 points this year. The last time the Thrashers/Jets organization featured a point-per-game player was 2008-09 when Ilya Kovalchuk finished with 91 points (43G, 48A).

-- What's the deal with Tim Thomas? First he does his no-show at the White House while the rest of his Bruins' teammates visited in late January and then last week -- after posting another anti-government take on his website -- he exits a scrum with the media after being repeatedly asked questions about his beliefs.

No one is denying the man his rights to voice his opinion, but it may not play well in Beantown. Here's one thought from Kevin Paul Dupont -- the Boston Globe's excellent hockey writer -- on Thomas:

"Whether Thomas is naive or delusional, his 'going Facebook' is not going to wear well here, not in a town where fans and media invest deeply, perhaps care too much, in every little thing relating to their professional teams and athletes. Not only will fans and media quickly get fed up, but far more important, so will teammates, Bruins management, and ownership.

Eventually, in a team setting, Thomas's postings and subsequent media attention become corrosive, especially with players, many of whom don't care about his sociopolitical views or simply don't want them intruding in their workplace."

-- Good on Randy Carlyle for doing everything he can to find work behind an NHL bench again. Fired by Anaheim in November after seven years and a Stanley Cup, he's now working as a scout for the Ducks and over the weekend was in Philly as part of an eight-games-in-nine-days stretch.

"Just your presence in the building shows people you're active and still out there and trying to stay current, Carlyle told NHL.com. "That's the message you want to send to everybody. It's important. It's important to meet people. In Anaheim, in the press box, I've probably met every general manager, every assistant general manager, every director of player personnel, all the pro scouts that go through the West that watch the hockey clubs out there -- it's all part of the process of keeping yourself current."

-- Sorry, but if the biggest names being tossed around in advance of the NHL trade deadline are Tuommo Ruutu and Mike Knuble, then TSN and Sportsnet may want to resist the gazillion hours of coverage they have planned on trade deadline day, Feb. 27.

-- It's about this notion being floated that the Jets should move some of their unrestricted free agents -- players like Tanner Glass, Kyle Wellwood, Jim Slater, Johnny Oduya and Chris Mason -- and then attempt to woo the players they like back in free agency this summer... something tells me this organization won't go that route.

Look, it's going to be difficult enough for this market to attract free agents in the first place. Making those who do come here and want to play here feel welcome is critical and dealing them then calling them back doesn't foster the family-type environment True North is attempting to build. Offering Slater, Glass and others contract extensions right now does build that foundation.

-- Sad to hear of the passing of legendary sportswriter Trent Frayne, one of the greatest scribes this country has ever produced. Born in Brandon, Frayne spent half a century with The Globe and Mail and is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame.

-- More of this, please, NHL teams: the Red Wings wore a Lokomotiv patch Sunday in their game against Philadelphia to honour the tragic loss of the KHL team last September. The jerseys will be sold as part of a fundraiser.

QUOTABLE

"Before a standing-room only crowd packed with Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks fans, Jeremy Roenick entered the Coyotes Ring of Honor on Saturday -- but not before coming up with one more stunning effort on the ice. He held his acceptance speech to less than the allotted four minutes."

-- from Jerry Brown at NHL.com

"Prices are inflated, and there is (only) one Stanley Cup parade at the end of the season. The trade deadline is a pit of quicksand."

-- Toronto GM Brian Burke

THE LIST

Which Canadian team will be the most active at the deadline?

Toronto: 1/8

Edmonton: 1/5

Ottawa: 1/3

Calgary: 1/1

Montreal: 2/1

Winnipeg: 3/1

Vancouver: 4/1

-- Courtesy oddsmaker GR88.com

NUMBERS GAME

2

The number of teams, since the start of the 2005 season, which had to overcome a deficit of five points or more on Feb. 8 to make the playoffs -- the 2008-09 Blues and the 2006-07 Rangers.

The Jets were five points out of eighth in the East and four out of first in the Southeast Division on Feb. 8.

-- Courtesy Adam Gretz of CBS

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 13, 2012 C3

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