What to watch around the NHL: Ovechkin chase, Marner, Karlsson

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It's been fun to track which stars people are talking most about this season. Last season, young players like Trevor Zegras and Jack Hughes emerged as superstars of the future. And while both are still top of mind (Hughes and the high-flying New Jersey Devils especially), some of the more familiar names from the past are having their "allow me to reintroduce myself" kind of start to the season.

This includes a certain defenseman in San Jose, a certain playmaker in Toronto, the guy that's always in the conversation in Edmonton and of course, a goal-scoring legend in Washington chasing down history.

With that in mind, here are five things that have caught my eye this week:

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Will Ovi catch Gordie Howe this week?

Alex Ovechkin's past four goals have been empty-netters, bringing him to 53 of those for his career among the 797. Wayne Gretzky has the most goals of any kind (894) and also the record for ENG at 56.

After Sunday night's contest in Winnipeg, which featured an empty-netter for Ovi, the Capitals have three more games this week. One of those games is against the struggling Chicago Blackhawks (9 p.m. ET Tuesday, ESPN).

To reset, Ovi needs three goals to reach 800 and four to tie Gordie Howe for second on the all-time list. This season, Ovi has tended to have a couple games without goals, then come alive for a stretch. Recently, he went three games without a tally before scoring those four empty-netters in three games.

I'm predicting that trend will continue. Ovi will not only reach the 800 mark, but will tie Howe this week, and will also climb closer to Gretzky on the empty-netters. It's not the most glamorous way to get there, but they still count!

Erik Karlsson making strong case for the Norris Trophy

The Swedish defenseman has come alive again this season, absolutely lighting the NHL on fire. It's not a contract year, but the question will certainly follow him throughout the season -- will Karlsson remain a member of the San Jose Sharks for the season?

Karlsson dismissed the question when he was asked about it on Friday's ESPN+ telecast, saying those conversations were above his pay grade, but the conversation will continue to linger until the trade deadline.

The former Norris winner is seventh in the NHL in points and leads all defensemen in goals and assists. He's certainly a Norris Trophy leader and on a great path to win his third as long as he remains healthy. A drop-off in scoring does not seem likely at all.

Connor McDavid on a wild scoring pace

Speaking of trophies, McDavid is running away with the Art Ross Trophy as the league scoring leader and we haven't even gotten to the halfway mark of the season yet. He's scored 54 points in 28 games, including 25 goals.

So here's my bold prediction: McDavid can score 82 goals. He's not too far off of the pace, and it often looks like he scores at will. He's got what I like to call the "McDavid lean:" When he has the puck, usually in his own zone or the neutral zone, he suddenly lowers his shoulder, takes off with blazing speed and transforms into an unstoppable force. It begins with that lean -- maybe that's the source of his sudden speed.

When McDavid is on a heater, he's the most exciting athlete to watch in any sport. He's also the NHL's best shot of someone putting up some of those '80s era goal and point totals.

'Magic' Mitch Marner

The Toronto Maple Leafs winger's scoring streak is at 22 games, with no signs of slowing down. He's got a ways to go to match Gretzky at 51, but streaks like this have made Leafs games even more captivating. I love watching Marner create -- that sheet of ice is a white canvas and the stick and puck are his tools to make beautiful art.

We mentioned the 51-game streak for Gretzky (during which he scored 153 points, which seems impossible but was not), and the Great One also had streaks of 39 games (1985-86) and 30 games (1982-83).

In terms of the salary cap era (since the start of the 2005-06 campaign), Marner's 22-game streak is tied for third, behind Patrick Kane (26 straight games in 2015-16) and Sidney Crosby (25, 2010-11) and square Dany Heatley (also 22 in 2005-06).

Less fights, more fun in the Mullet Arena stands

After a month on the road, the Arizona Coyotes returned to Mullett Arena, shocking the Boston Bruins 4-3 (in regulation!). The shots on goal were 46-16 ... in favor of Boston. That didn't matter. Lawson Crouse was the hero, and Arizona came away with two points.

There was also a massive brawl in the stands between Bruins and Coyotes fans.

Some believe fights on the ice are fun -- they're certainly a part of the game. Fights in the stands are lame. Don't be that person. Especially at Mullett Arena, where there is already a microscope on the entire situation. The goal should be to make it as unique as possible, in a good way. Make it fun; don't make it dangerous. Don't make the story "hockey hooligans throw fists in stands" or "college kids slug it out in student section." Nobody wins.

Specifically, the Mullett crowd: Be different than the rest of the league's fans. Think up chants, bring a tifo, make it the most unique fan experience in the NHL. Put your energy there. Think of creative ways to get around retaliating if the away team's fans are being antagonizing.

Thank you for coming to my hockey TED talk.