PHT's First and Second All Under-25 All-Star teams

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crosbyandmalkinunder25.jpgIn the previous post, I discussed the fact that the Sporting News named Sidney Crosby the best athlete in all of sports under the age of 25. While I found that to be a reasonable (if debatable) accolade, I listed some of the elite players in that age range and found that most of the NHL’s finest are younger than yours truly. (A sobering thought, really, since I’ve never even won a spelling bee.)

Anyway, since it’s a frivolous Friday night, I thought: why not name an All-Under-25 team? Then I looked at the list of players and decided to take it a step further … is there a “B-team” that could threaten the First Team? Take a look and let us know which group would win an imaginary game.

First Under-25 All-Star Team

Forwards: Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin

OK, so this is about the most obvious trio possible, but you’d have to be quite the Devil’s Advocate to go with anyone else. While Crosby and Malkin are both centers, Sid’s FAR better at face-offs (and being semi-responsible in his own end) so I’d stick him in between Ovechkin (left wing) and Malkin (right). Maybe the group would benefit from a “dirty work” guy but … come on. Seriously.

Defense: Drew Doughty, Shea Weber

If you were to build a dream blueline, this might be your duo regardless of age limitations. Weber brings the brawn while Doughty is as slick as it gets.

Goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury

I’ve had my issues with Fleury being anointed one of the next big things in net simply because he won a Stanley Cup, but he’s the most proven goalie in his age group. Plus he’s kind of funny looking. That always helps.

After the jump, a group of six that might be able to beat the No. 1 group.


toewsrichards.jpgThe Second Under-25 All Star Team

Forwards: Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Richards

This was a tough call because Nicklas Backstrom and Eric Staal (among others) bring plenty to the table, too. Toews seems like a no-brainer after his amazing year. Some might even pick him over one of the top three of Malkin, Crosby and Ovechkin. Getzlaf has his flaws but is a high-end playmaker with a Cup to his credit and snarl to spare. Richards is a great penalty killer, a nasty player in his own right and can do a little of everything. Plenty of skill and grit among those three.

Defense: Mike Green, Brent Seabrook

Green gets a bad rep as a leaky blueliner and sometimes he justifies the complaints. Still, his regular season production is staggering. Brent Seabrook is a Cup-winner with a penchant for delivering brutal checks. Erik Johnson would have been my “third” choice, but Seabrook and Green have a better track record at this point in their careers. This might be the area where the “first team” has the biggest advantage.

Goalie: Jaroslav Halak

There’s a decent chance that Halak was a “one-year wonder.” Heck, he didn’t even outright win the starting job until Jose Theodore allowed two goals on two shots in the playoffs. Still, he was incredible during the playoffs and his team did defeat Fleury’s in the playoffs.

So, what do you think? Would the second team have a chance against the first? Did I choose the right players? Comment away, readers.

Ducks cement Pacific lead as Getzlaf continues his mammoth March

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By the end of Sunday night, the Anaheim Ducks removed all doubt: they’re on top of the Pacific Division.

Now, it’s not the sort of substantial lead that the sliding San Jose Sharks squandered; Anaheim merely leads the Sharks and Edmonton Oilers by two standings points after beating the New York Rangers 6-3.

With everyone at 75 games played, it’s kind of nice to enjoy the clarity that comes with a clear lead (though the Sharks and Oilers will disagree):

Pacific top four (all teams with 75 games played)

1. Ducks – 93 points (38 ROW, 41 W)
2. Sharks – 91 poitns (40 ROW, 42 W)
3. Oilers – 91 points (37 ROW, 41 W)

Flames – 88 points (38 ROW, 42 W)

The Ducks are now on a four-game winning streak and managed an 8-1-1 mark in their last 10 contests.

With all due respect to Patrick Eaves‘ two goals, it’s Ryan Getzlaf who’s really playing outstanding hockey. He generated four assists in this one, giving him eight helpers in his past four games. He now has a whopping 20 points in March.

A lot going on – fight included – between Corey Perry, Brendan Smith (Video)

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If there’s one thing that’s undeniable from the clip going on, it’s that Corey Perry and Brendan Smith squeezed a lot of activity (carnage?) into a single shift.

Early on in Sunday’s New York Rangers – Anaheim Ducks game, both player delivered hits that were at least borderline dangerous. After that, they traded punches in a pretty solid fight (especially since they seemed a little tired because, again, this was a fairly elaborate sequence).

It’s way too messy a sequence to call neat, but there is something efficient about trading hits and then getting into a fight. That’s a mini-hockey feud in short order.

If you want a pretty moment to counteract all that, check out the great puck movement on this 3-on-1 goal for the Rangers:

Penguins lose to Flyers and lose another key player to injury

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PITTSBURGH — Even with a ridiculously long injured list that would be the foundation of a pretty good hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins still found a way to go 8-1-3 in their previous 12 games entering Sunday’s contest against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The injuries finally seemed to start catching up to them on Sunday in a 6-2 loss, extending their current losing streak to three games, matching their season long.

While the loss certainly impacts their pursuit of the top spot in the Metropolitan Division (they remain three points back of the Washington Capitals), and even their quest for home ice advantage in the first round, it is still not the worst thing to come out of Sunday’s game.

The worst thing for them would be the fact the Penguins lost yet another key player to an injury when forward Conor Sheary had to leave the game mid-way through the first period.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said after the game that Sheary is dealing with a lower body injury and that right now he is considered to be day-to-day. It was initially believed that Sheary was injured blocking a shot, but Sullivan insisted that was not the case and that it happened in the offensive zone at some point in the first period.

With Jake Guentzel still sidelined due a concussion he suffered in a recent game against the Buffalo Sabres, that means two-thirds of the team’s recently assembled top line (Sidney Crosby-Sheary-Guentzel) is now sidelined due to injury. Sheary’s injury is especially concerning given how good he has been on Crosby’s wing dating back to the 2016 playoffs. Entering play on Sunday Sheary was averaging nearly a point per game (50 points in 54 games) with almost all of that production coming at even-strength.

They had yet another scare in the third period on Sunday when defenseman Brian Dumoulin had to briefly leave the game and head to the locker room after he was elbowed in the side of the head by Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

On Sunday, all of the injuries finally seemed to be too much with the Flyers pretty much dominating the game over the final two periods.

The Flyers received goals from six different players (Jordan Weal, Valtteri Filppula, Dale Weise, Jakob Voracek, Radko Gudas and Shayne Gostisbehere) in the win and outshot the Penguins by a 24-15 margin over the final 40 minutes.

“That wasn’t a good effort and at this point of the season we can’t afford to have those,” said Penguins forward Matt Cullen after the game. “I don’t think that was a typical effort for us. I don’t think we had a lot of life, to be honest.”

Even more than winning games the rest of the way the biggest concern for the Penguins has to be getting their list of injured players healthy and finding a way to avoid adding to it, something that has proven to be difficult in recent weeks.

At this point, whether they win the Metropolitan Division or not, they know their path through the Eastern Conference playoffs is very likely going to have to go through both Washington and Columbus, and they are going to need their full complement of players to do it.

One of the biggest factors in winning a Stanley Cup is having all of your key players in the lineup come playoff time.

A year ago the Penguins did.

Right now they are not even close to having that.

Video: Dumoulin shakes off elbow, Sheary out day-to-day for Penguins

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Barring a major comeback, the Pittsburgh Penguins look like they’re going to lose to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Their injury losses might be just as big.

On the bright side, it seems like Brian Dumoulin was able to shake off an elbow from Wayne Simmonds. You can watch the hit, which didn’t draw a penalty, in the video above.

Meanwhile, Conor Sheary has been missing since the first period with what might be a lower-body injury.

The Penguins’ list of injuries is already pretty ridiculous, so if one or both of these players miss significant time, tonight will sting deeper than a setback on the scoreboard.

Update after the Penguins’ loss: Seemingly good news, if very early and vague: