February 08, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC -- What's the most meaningless stat in hockey?
Plus/minus is mentioned prominently in this debate, but we'd offer game-winning goals are just as, or more, superfluous. The second goal scored by the victorious team in a 7-1 rout is a "game winner," for example.
But inspiration comes from odd places in hockey: It's this unessential glamour stat that helped motivate San Jose Sharks rookie star Logan Couture(notes) in his team's 2-0 victory at the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.
"He said it was a battle of game-winning goals, because I think I was tied with Ovechkin going into tonight. He said, 'You gotta beat'em in Washington,'" recalled Couture.
"Give him some credit for letting me know. And now I'm leading, I guess."
"I think he was thinking pass, because he didn't get down quick enough. So it went five-hole," said Couture. "That one surprised me that it actually went in."
It was his 24th goal of the season and, for what it's worth, his second straight game-winning goal. "It's getting to the point where you don't want to call him a rookie anymore because he plays big minutes [and] he's scoring huge goals for our hockey club," said Sharks Coach Todd McLellan.
But he is a rookie, and this goal kept him ahead of his main competition for the Calder: Jeff Skinner(notes) of the Carolina Hurricanes, who tallied two against the New Jersey Devils in a 3-2 loss, giving him 20 on the year.
Couture was down in Raleigh for the NHL All-Star Game, where Skinner was celebrated like a rock star by local fans during the weekend. Did he feel like he was in enemy territory? "When I was announced a couple times, I heard a couple of boos," he said. "I laughed it off."