Henrik Sedin takes down Crosby and Ovechkin to win Hart Trophy

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henriksedin4.jpgThe biggest award of the night, the Hart Trophy, was perhaps the most hotly debated of them all. And why not, it goes to the league’s most valuable player and all three nominees had exemplary seasons. The question remaining tonight would be who out of Alexander Ovechkin, Henrik Sedin and Sidney Crosby would be the one to take home the hardware. All three players have stronger than strong cases to win the award, but it would be Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin that came away with the Hart Trophy and the voters indicated that it was really a two-horse race.

                        Pts.        (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
        1.        Henrik Sedin, VAN        894        (46-34-27-19-4)
        2.        Alex Ovechkin, WSH        834        (40-35-22-22-13)
        3.        Sidney Crosby, PIT        729        (20-35-38-29-7)
        4.        Ryan Miller, BUF        505        (13-22-24-27-20)
        5.        Ilya Bryzgalov, PHX        354        (13-6-17-22-31)
        6.        Steven Stamkos, T.B.        28        (0-0-2-3-9)
        7.        Patrick Kane, CHI        17        (0-1-0-2-4)
        8.        Martin Brodeur, N.J.        16        (0-0-2-0-6)
        9.        Craig Anderson, COL        10        (1-0-0-0-0)
        10.        Patrick Marleau, S.J.        10        (0-0-0-3-1)
        11.        Nicklas Backstrom, WSH        10        (0-0-0-2-4)
        12.        Joe Thornton, S.J.        9        (0-0-0-1-6)
        13.        Zach Parise, N.J.        7        (0-0-1-0-2)
        14.        Mike Green, WSH        5        (0-0-0-1-2)
        15.        Zdeno Chara, BOS        3        (0-0-0-1-0)
        16.        Duncan Keith, CHI        3        (0-0-0-0-3)
        17.        Drew Doughty, L.A.        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
                Marian Gaborik, NYR        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
                Anze Kopitar, L.A.        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
                Nicklas Lidstrom, DET        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
                Tuukka Rask, BOS        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
                Martin St. Louis, T.B.        2        (0-0-0-0-2)
        23.        Henrik Lundqvist, NYR        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Evgeni Nabokov, S.J.        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Chris Pronger, PHI        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Paul Stastny, COL        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Tomas Vokoun, FLA        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Shea Weber, NSH        1        (0-0-0-0-1)
                Henrik Zetterberg, DET        1        (0-0-0-0-1)

It would be Ovechkin who posed the strongest challenge to Sedin for the award and Sedin had just six more first place votes than Ovechkin. While the first place votes were split amongst the top five finishers for the award, the other two being Ryan Miller and Ilya Bryzgalov it was Colorado’s Craig Anderson who managed to get a single vote in the top spot to make for a curious outlier.

As for the real race, the six vote difference between Sedin and Ovechkin was indeed the reason for the 60 point separation between the two as first place votes count for ten points.  There’s no denying how great a season Sedin had being the Art Ross Trophy winner for being the league’s leading scorer and in leading the Canucks to a Northwest Division title. You could basically toss a three-sided die and make out all right with having any of the finalists as the MVP but after all the attention both Crosby and Ovechkin earn, it’s Sedin that walks away with the big prize. So much for that whole “east coast bias” thing.

(photo credit to Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

PHT’s second-round playoff predictions, featuring the red-hot Random Thing Picker

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It was a tough first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for many of the so-called experts of the world.

Upsets included the Predators over the Blackhawks and the Blues over the Wild. The Rangers over the Canadiens was a quasi-upset, too.

Here at PHT, it was a mixed bag. Mike Halford and Cam Tucker each went an impressive 6-2. And so too did the Random Thing Picker, which as its name suggests, picks random things. (And picks them rather well, apparently.)

Of note, the Random Thing Picker and James O’Brien were the only ones to pick the Preds over the ‘Hawks. So congratulations to both robotic lifeforms on that bit of soothsaying.

Rounding out the rest of the first-round results, Adam Gretz and Joey Alfieri went 4-4, while at 3-5, O’Brien and yours truly couldn’t even crack .500. (Stupid Jake Allen.)

On to the second round!

Washington versus Pittsburgh (Stream Capitals-Penguins)

Brough: Capitals in 7
Halford: Penguins in 6
O’Brien: Capitals in 7
Gretz: Capitals in 7
Tucker: Capitals in 6
Alfieri: Capitals in 7
Random Thing Picker: Capitals

New York versus Ottawa (Stream Rangers-Senators)

Brough: Senators in 6
Halford: Senators in 7
O’Brien: Rangers in 7
Gretz: Rangers in 6
Tucker: Rangers in 6
Alfieri: Senators in 6
Random Thing Picker: Senators

St. Louis versus Nashville (Stream Blues-Predators)

Brough: Predators in 6
Halford: Blues in 7
O’Brien: Predators in 6
Gretz: Predators in 6
Tucker: Predators in 7
Alfieri: Predators in 6
Random Thing Picker: Blues

Anaheim versus Edmonton (Stream Ducks-Oilers)

Brough: Ducks in 7
Halford: Ducks in 6
O’Brien: Ducks in 6
Gretz: Oilers in 7
Tucker: Oilers in 6
Alfieri: Ducks in 6
Random Thing Picker: Ducks

Feel free to add your picks below…

Auston Matthews to skip Worlds

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Auston Matthews is going to take some time off.

As such, the 19-year-old star forward won’t be heading overseas to represent the United States in the upcoming World Championship.

You can hardly blame him. Matthews just finished his rookie season in the NHL, playing all 82 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, plus six more in the playoffs.

Oh, and he also played in the World Cup for Team North America.

Matthews did participate in last year’s Worlds. He had six goals and three assists in 10 games on the way to a fourth-place finish.

Related: Gaudreau, Eichel commit to USA Worlds roster

Blackhawks fire their AHL head coach

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Yesterday, the Chicago Blackhawks fired longtime assistant coach Mike Kitchen.

Today, it was longtime AHL coach Ted Dent who got the ax.

Dent has been the head coach of the Rockford IceHogs the past six seasons, and he was an assistant coach for Chicago’s AHL affiliate the previous five seasons.

“The Chicago Blackhawks thank Ted for all of his contributions throughout his tenure with the organization,” GM Stan Bowman said. “He played a major role in helping a number of players reach the NHL level with the Chicago Blackhawks, many of whom became Stanley Cup champions. We wish Ted and his family the best.”

The IceHogs missed the playoffs this season, finishing last in the AHL’s Central Division with a record of 25-39-12.

Related: A furious Bowman addressed the Blackhawks’ postseason failure

Report: Canucks close to naming Travis Green head coach

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The Vancouver Canucks are reportedly set to announce Travis Green as their next head coach.

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the announcement will be made in the next couple of days.

Green, who played over 1,000 games in the NHL including the playoffs, has been the head coach of the Canucks’ AHL affiliate in Utica the past four seasons. Under his watch, the Comets have played mostly winning hockey in spite of some rather depleted lineups.

Ever since Willie Desjardins was fired at the end of the season, Green has been the leading candidate to take over in Vancouver. The only question, really, was whether he’d be a candidate for another NHL head-coaching vacancy, perhaps with the Florida Panthers.

Assuming no last-minute hiccups, Green will take over a transitioning Canucks team that has finished 28th and 29th overall in its last two seasons, respectively.

“We’re going to be young,” president of hockey ops Trevor Linden said. “Young players make mistakes. There’s going to be some growing pains. We need a coach that understands exactly where we are.”

Related: In farewell to Vancouver, Desjardins defends his approach to young players