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.

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.

Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

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Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?

Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.

Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.

Official update on the really important story of the evening:

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.

As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.

The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.

Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.

Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.