this week: till famine and the ague eat them up

One of the hockey players whose name each of Russia’s 143 million people know is Alex Ovechkin, according to Slava Malamud, a writer for Sport Express. There are one or two others, he said, naming no names.

No-one needs a gold medal more than Ovechkin, suggested Lucas Aykroyd, at

Former Flame and Leaf left winger/present fitness maharishi Gary Roberts was tweeting this week: “Eliminate refined sugars and artificial sweeteners,” he advised, “— use natural options like raw honey, pure maple syrup & coconut sugar.”

There were questions this week about whether the leg Steven Stamkos broke in November is going to keep him from Canada’s team at the Olympics. He’s healed up enough to be practicing with Tampa Bay, and staying positive, but as reported, he hasn’t got the go-ahead quite yet:

“You just have to listen to your body,” Stamkos said. “We’re talking a lot about the Olympics and my goal is to try to be ready for those Games, but your body doesn’t lie. If you’re doing certain movements and you feel pain then that’s an indicator that maybe it’s not quite ready.”

Meanwhile, Dmitry Chesnokov from Puck Daddy at Yahoo! Sports talked to Detroit coach Mike Babcock about Pavel Datsyuk, whose body injury has been described in recent days as both “lower” and “undisclosed.” Will Datsyuk play this week?

“I got no idea,” Babcock said. “I just watched him in practice, his one leg isn’t holding up. Obviously, Pavel wants to play for his country, and he wants to be a part of things, but you got to be healthy.”

Is he going to be okay for Sochi, where he’s supposed to be captaining the Russians?

Babcock paused. “I am not the doctor,” he said. “I don’t have a clue.”

Montreal’s Brandon Prust told Dave Stubbs of The Gazette why he felt the need  to be tussling with Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop on Saturday:

“He started saying: Eff you, eff you, and I said: Eff you, eff you, then he came at me pretty fast. I wasn’t going out there thinking: I’m going to fight their goalie and start a bench brawl, I was down there in the corner telling him to shut up. He didn’t like that.”

Gloomy thoughts on Twitter — thwoughts? — from Damien Cox of The Toronto Star:

More great Olympic news for CAN. Stamkos hurt, Weber possibly hurt and now likely starter Luongo has allowed 11 goals on last 91 shots (.879 %)

When someone congratulated former NHL referee Paul Stewart this week —

@PaulStewart22 26 concussions and still better officiating than we see in a lot of games today

— he replied:

Thank you. Many of the concussions were sustained while officiating: didn’t wear a helmet and hit head on boards or ice.

Teen’s Digest rated Wayne Gretzky fifth on its ranking of “The Most Athletic Americans:”

Wayne Gretzky is known as possibly the greatest American hockey player of all time. He sent a fan craze across the nation and even into Canada and other countries because he was such a talented player. During his career in the NHL, he scored almost 3,000 goals. His skill on the ice far surpassed anyone else during his prime.

Evgeni Malkin played his 500th game as a Pittsburgh Penguin, this week, earning this salute from the team.

Evgeni Malkin played his 500th game as a Pittsburgh Penguin, this week, earning this salute from the team.

Two NHL organists are playing the Olympics: Ray Castoldi from the New York Rangers will be working the organ at Sochi’s Bolshoy Ice Dome while Dieter Ruhle, musical director for the Los Angeles Kings, is over at the Shayba Arena.

“Growing up in Russia, Olympics, it’s a lot for us,” Ovechkin told The Washington Post. “Maybe somebody don’t understand it, but it’s the biggest event maybe of our year and maybe of my life.”

Fans in Edmonton chanted “Scri-vens, Scri-vens” on Wednesday as the new goalie in town, Ben, shut out San Jose on Wednesday. He stopped 59 shots in a 3-0 win to set an NHL record for, quote, most saves in a regulation shutout in the expansion era.

Toronto’s James Van Riemsdyk, a former teammate, texted congratulations, according to The Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle, calling him “Scrivézina.”

The Hockey Hall of Fame asked for Scrivens’ stick; he was happy to oblige.

Noted, too: the mask Scrivens wears is decorated Shakespeareanly, quoting King Lear:

Allow not nature more than nature needs
Man’s life is cheap as beast’s.

and Macbeth:

The cry is still “They come!”
Our castle’s strength
Will laugh a siege to scorn.

“Ovechkin could score 60 goals this season, and could still be minus-25 or worse,” reflected USA Today’s Kevin Allen. “That’s hard to fathom.”

A fuller rendering of the Macbeth quotation, from Act V, Scene V, would make for a pretty good pre-game pep talk:

Hang our banners on the outward walls;
The cry is still, ‘They come;’ our castle’s strength
Will laugh a siege to scorn; here let them lie
Till famine and the ague eat them up;
Were they’d not fore’d with those that should be ours,
We might have met them dareful, beard to beard,
And beat them backward home.