Hawks win in first penalty-free game since 2001

Devs.jpgThe Chicago Blackhawks secured some important two points, as they are
once again right in the middle of the battle for the top spot in the
West. As I write this, San Jose is currently tied with Minnesota 2-2
headed into the 2nd intermission, so Chicago narrowing it down to a
one-point deficit could be short lived.

The ‘Hawks nearly lost
another close one, however as their powerful offense once again had
trouble putting pucks in the net. Of course, taking on the Devils and
Brodeur is never the best way to get your offense back on track.

to Kris Versteeg’s goal with 26 seconds left in regulation, the
Blackhawks were able to send the game into overtime. The Hawks
eventually won in the shootout, with Jonathan Toews netting the

Have I mentioned how much I hate that the shootout is
deciding these incredibly important games at the end of the season?

goal isn’t exactly the most interesting aspect of the win. Amazingly,
there were zero penalties called the entire game, the first time that
has happened in the NHL since March 28, 2001 when Boston and Toronto
played without heading to the sin bin.

With the way the referees
have been blowing their whistles this season, it’s amazing to think that
neither team did anything close to resembling something illegal in
order to draw the ire of Paul Devorksi and Greg Kimmerly.

we’re just getting a taste of how the refs are preparing for the
playoffs, where they’ll allow the players to just, you know, play?

Somehow I doubt it.

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    Video: Beagle gets stick stuck in visor

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    Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.

    Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below:

    Stamkos close to game shape, but return might be weeks or months away

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) competes in the hardest shot competition at the NHL hockey All-Star game skills competition Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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    Steve Stamkos began to practice again on Tuesday and he was back out there on Wednesday and Thursday, which some might interpret as him being close to returning. It seems premature to say that definitively.

    “It could be weeks. It could be months,” Stamkos said of his timetable, per ESPN. “That’s the tough part.”

    The problem isn’t getting back into game shape after undergoing vascular surgery in early April. He feels he’s already close to reaching that objective. The issue is that Stamkos is on blood thinners, which prevents him from taking any contact. It remains to be seen how long he’ll be on blood thinners.

    For what it’s worth, Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy underwent the same surgery and was out for two months and the original timetable provided on April 4 for Stamkos was one-to-three months. So based on that, it sounds like it would be surprising if he returned anytime soon.

    Bergeron, Kesler, Kopitar named Selke finalists

    Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron celebrates after scoring against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)
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    Will Patrice Bergeron join Bob Gainey as the only players to have ever won the Selke Trophy four times?

    That’s a distinct possibility after the Bruins center was named as a finalist along with Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler and Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar.

    The Selke Trophy honors the league’s top defensive forward and for three of the last four years, that distinction has gone to Bergeron. However, Kesler and Kopitar have been popular with the voters of this award as well.

    Kopitar has finished second in the voting in each of the previous two campaigns while Kesler won back in 2011, though he finished outside of the top-five in each of the last three years prior to the 2015-16 campaign.

    Among the trio, Kesler excelled this season on the draw with a 58.5% success rate, which was good for second in the league among forwards who took at least 200 faceoffs. Bergeron was up there too, winning 57.1% of his draws while Kopitar posted a 53.5%. Meanwhile, Bergeron ranked seventh in the NHL with 67 takeaways compared to Kesler’s 39 and Kopitar’s 43. Where Kopitar stood out was in plus/minus as he finished second in the league at plus-34. Kesler was plus-five and Bergeron was plus-12.

    Kopitar similarly led the trio with a 57.4% Corsi For versus Bergeron’s 55.9% and Kesler’s 52.9%.

    Capitals get Orpik back for series opener

    Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik (44) celebrates his goal with teammates on the bench during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Washington. The Capitals won 4-3. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
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    Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik missed half of Washington’s first round series, but he’s back in time for the opener against his former team.

    Orpik last played on April 18 and was regarded as questionable going into tonight’s contest against Pittsburgh. He’s expected to be paired with John Carlson throughout the contest.

    Washington’s other projected pairings are Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen as well as Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt.

    Orpik was limited to 41 games during the 2015-16 regular season, but when he did play he averaged 19:48 minutes per contest. He also recorded 125 hits and 102 blocked shots despite missing half the season. The 35-year-old blueliner got his start with Pittsburgh and played in 703 regular season contests with them and an additional 92 postseason contests. This is his second season with Washington.