Getting to know Hobey Baker award finalists

It’s been a prospect-packed day at PHT with talk of the Scouting Combineamusing Scouting Combine photos and the announcement of USA Hockey’s Under-18 National Team. So why not discuss the “hat trick” of Hobey Baker Award finalists?

The three players nominated for the college player of the year award (named after hockey legend Baker, whose life ended tragically in a plane crash that may or may not have been an accident) are listed in this story from USCHO.com.

New Hampshire’s Bobby Butler, Wisconsin’s Blake Geoffrion and Maine’s Gustav Nyquist – all forwards – were announced as the Hobey Hat Trick finalists on Wednesday.

The award will be handed out on Friday, April 9, the day after the Frozen Four resumes. Here’s a quick rundown of the three finalists. Brandon and Joe are welcome to expand on these players later, since they know a lot more about college and/or junior hockey than I do.

Bobby Butler – The senior from New Hampshire was second in the nation with 53 points. The Ottawa Senators recently signed him to a free agent contract. He had 29 goals this year and received the award for the top American player (Walter Brown award) and was named Hockey East’s top player as well.

Gustav Nyquist – The Maine man has an awesome name. Gustav is cool enough, but Nyquist really seals the deal. Announcers can say that he gave a victimized goalie “Nyquil” after he scores. Fans can delight in creating “Nyquil + Sunkist = Nyquist” signs*. At least these things happen in my dream world in which Brandon Archibald will accept the nickname “Tiny.”

Back to reality, Nyquist is a sophomore and a Detroit Red Wings draft pick. He lead the nation with 61 points, including six games with three points or more.

Blake Geoffrion – You can roll your eyes all you want, I will still call him “Boom Boom.” He lead the Wisconsin Badgers in goals scored and is in the Nashville Predators’ system. I would assume he also ate plenty of cheese at the University of Wisconsin. For him to avoid doing so would be a sin against humanity and dairy products.

* – Though I’ve never tried it, I would not recommend trying a Nyquil + Sunkist concoction.

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    Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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    The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

    “Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

    “That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

    More on the statue from the Devils:

    The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

    Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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    The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

    Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

    The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

    Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

    “It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

    “You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

    “We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

    The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

    Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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    In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

    After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

    The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

    — He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

    — From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

    — Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

    He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

    Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

    The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

    The Islanders also have a game in hand.

    Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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    The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

    As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

    Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

    In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.