Vote for Bertuzzday V

James has been kind enough to hand over his baby boy project to me. No, not his affinity for Sidney Crosby, some powerful folks might get angry about that turf being encroached upon. Instead it’s time to Vote for Bertuzzday.  First things first, the previous four winners:

1. Matt Cooke

2. Alex Ovechkin

3. Rocky Wirtz

4. Jim Playfair

This week, the folks gunning for the big prize involve a couple of team captains, an apparently bitter former Flyer, and a player/coach tandem entry. Add “tandem entry” to your list of phrases you never thought you’d read here.  The nominees are…

1.  Jarome Iginla. Now poor Jarome didn’t deliver a violent head shot to anyone, nor did he deliver any questionable hits otherwise but instead he’s been the source of gut-punching his own team. When you’re a captain these sorts of things are kind of a bummer, especially when it means being mired in a soul-sucking scoring drought that’s essentially costing the team a playoff spot. Ouch, babe.

2.  Rob Blake.  Another captain and another nomination, this time he did do something questionable as he knocked Avalanche forward Peter Mueller out of the game, and the remainder of the regular season, with a dubious hit from behind that went unpunished. For exhibit B and immediate reaction purposes, here’s a selective photo of the hit.

 Blake4.jpg

3. R.J. Umberger.  Yes, he plays for the Blue Jackets and they’ve been out of the playoff hunt for a bit longer than most teams this season, but that didn’t stop him from commenting on what he thought about the Washington Capitals this year

“They play the wrong way. They want to be moving all the time. They float around in their zone, looking for breakaways and odd-man rushes. “A good defensive team is going to beat them (in the playoffs).”

Perhaps R.J. is just jockeying for a TV analyst job once the Blue Jackets’ season mercifully ends on Friday against the Red Wings. Either that or the mind-control device Ken Hitchcock implanted in Umberger’s brain has gone live. Skynet is self-aware!

4.  Nathan Horton/Mike Kitchen.  So you’re not totally sure who these two are and that’s fair, they’re part of the Panthers organization. Nathan Horton is one of the team’s better forwards and Mike Kitchen is the Panthers assistant coach who got in an altercation with Horton at practice. Listen guys, we know it’s been frustrating in Miami this year but let’s not fight at practice. 

5. Other.  Did we miss something? Feel free to let us know about it.


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    Gather your lucky charms, 2016 NHL Draft Lottery is tonight

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    Honestly, it’s tough to blame people for making Edmonton Oilers jokes in regards to the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery.

    Really it’s only human nature to drop one-liners about the perennial cellar-dweller that (seemingly) always lands the No. 1 pick.

    Will it happen again this time around? We’ll find out soon enough, more precisely sometime around 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

    As you can see, the Oilers do not have the best odds to land the top pick … but they’re close:

    A reminder: this time around the lottery will determine the top three picks. The NHL discusses that tweak and other changes here:

    For the first time, the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery will assign the top three slots in the first round of the NHL Draft – a change from prior years, when the Draft Lottery was used to determine the winner of the first overall selection exclusively.

    Want the full lowdown on the 2016 NHL Draft Lottery? PHT has you covered here.

    Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

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    The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Saturday. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

    NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)

    The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

    Pittsburgh at Washington (8:00 p.m. ET)

    The TV broadcast of Game 2 will also be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

    Some reading to get you pumped up:

    – The Penguins are keeping chatty Marc-Andre Fleury from speaking to the media (reportedly).

    Tom Wilson received a fine, not a suspension, for that knee-to-knee hit.

    T.J. Oshie was the difference-maker for Washington in Game 1.

    – Don’t expect Steven Stamkos to face red-hot John Tavares anytime soon (or at all, maybe).

    Read about the Isles’ Game 1 win.

    Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

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    For two periods, the San Jose Sharks couldn’t solve Pekka Rinne.

    Maybe it was because of that black cat that found its way on to the ice prior to the start of Friday’s game, or the video review that didn’t go in San Jose’s favor in the opening period.

    But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.

    Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.

    When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.

    Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.

    The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.

    Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

    Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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    Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

    This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

    In 43 games with the NCAA champs this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, just shy of his college career high of 24 points set the previous year.

    Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, making him the fourth member of that program’s junior class to turn pro since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

    Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

    Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.