Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin top list of young scorers

youngoviecrosby.jpgLast night Sidney Crosby joined about as elite company as it gets, becoming the third youngest player in NHL history to hit 500 points behind two nobodies named Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

The only players younger than Crosby (22 years, 244 days) to hit the 500-point mark faster were Wayne Gretzky (21 years, 52 days) and former Penguins star Mario Lemieux (22 years, 172 days).

Condemn me for being a hockey lab rat if you want to, but I couldn’t help but wonder where Alex Ovechkin fits into this whole picture (and Evgeni Malkin too). There’s an inherent danger to such context-sensitive stats though as Ovechkin came into the league as an older player (the lockout shelved what may have been his real rookie year). In other words, Ovechkin (and Malkin, actually) debuted later in life so they didn’t have as good of a chance to hit that very specific milestone as Crosby. (Conversely, when people make their hasty comparisons, they often forget the fact that Crosby is indeed quite a bit younger than his Russian peers. It’s funny that people are so eager to judge these players before they even hit age 25.)

Anyway, I wanted to find out how Ovechkin, Crosby and other young players have been doing since the lockout. I decided to narrow the spotlight onto the highest scoring forwards and to make the cut-off point the Ovechkin/Malkin 2004 Entry Draft. Since certain players have obviously played less than others (like Steven Stamkos, who is in only his second season compared to Crosby and Ovechkin’s fifth), I sorted the list by points per game. Check it out below and note the paper-thin margin between Crosby and Ovechkin – not to mention the fact that Malkin and Nicklas Backstrom round out the top four. (One other note: these are regular season only, just to keep things simple. Ovechkin trumps Crosby in playoff points per game, for what it’s worth.)

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Now, naturally, points don’t mean everything. Players such as Jonathan Toews bring other skills to the table. And obviously there are some only-slightly older players with some impressive point paces too. Still, it’s nice to see that for all the flak the NHL receives for promoting Crosby and Ovechkin, at least the two tend to show up when it matters – whether that’s in trophy voting, scoring lists or (most importantly) the playoffs.

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    Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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    Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins.

    It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

    Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

    There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

    Hmm.

    Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

    Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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    The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

    The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

    (Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

    For more on the three finalists, click here.

    MacArthur, Senators end Bruins’ season in OT after controversial calls

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    It’s a feel-good story, especially if you can look beyond questions of officiating.

    Clarke MacArthur could have very well never played another NHL game considering his lengthy battles with concussion symptoms. Instead, he drew a penalty on the Boston Bruins in overtime of Game 6 and then managed to score the series-clinching goal.

    Now, this isn’t to say that MacArthur didn’t rightfully draw a penalty; it most clearly was. And, in the bigger picture, it’s one of those stories that almost makes you wonder if real-life sports actually do follow Hollywood scripts.

    People just wonder about some other decisions during that overtime, in particular, making it frustrating for some Bruins fans to see the season end in such a way.

    Whether they like it or not, that is the case, though.

    The Senators took Game 6 by a score of 3-2 (OT), winning their series 4-2. They can breathe a sigh of relief in avoiding a Game 7, an especially valuable bonus since Erik Karlsson had been pushed hard lately, logging more than 40 minutes in a recent game.

    Ottawa avoids a do-or-die contest. Instead, they’ll face the New York Rangers in the next round while the Bruins enter the summer following an up-and-down campaign.

    Bergeron takes advantage of slow Sens change, sends Game 6 to OT (Video)

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    Every game in this Senators – Bruins series has been decided by one goal, so why not send Game 6 to overtime?

    Oh, and speaking of overtime, this contest going beyond regulation makes it 17 OT games, tying an NHL record for the most in a single round.

    Ottawa appeared to take a “lazy change” with a 2-1 lead, and Patrice Bergeron made the Senators pay, putting in a rebound to collect the goal that eventually sent this contest to overtime.