Who could be the 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees?

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derianhatcher.jpgIn any selection process, there will be parties who are excluded. When it comes to the Hockey Hall of Fame, it might just be a matter of time for some (like, say, Joe Nieuwendyk) while many worry if they’ll never see the day when they are inducted (sadly, that might apply to Pat Burns). While some retired players might be nursing their wounded egos, I couldn’t help but wonder: “Who will make it next year?”

Great hockey history blogger Joe Pelletier posed that question, too, and looked at which players will be eligible for the first time in 2011.

2011 first-time eligible players:

* Ed Belfour
* Trevor Linden
* Glen Wesley
* Derian Hatcher
* Stu Barnes
* Mattias Norstrom
* Dallas Drake

Of that group, only Belfour has a shot. Trevor Linden is my hero, and Derian Hatcher was my favorite villain, but neither are Hall of Fame worthy. Trust me, that hurts to say it, but it’s true.

I cannot help but agree with Pelletier; it’s good news for the 2010 near-misses to see that Belfour is really the only major competitor. Belfour does have some impressive numbers, though, with 484 regular season wins and 88 in the playoffs. His accomplishments also include a Stanley Cup victory, two Vezinas, a Calder trophy, four William Jennings Trophies for the league’s best GAA and five All-Star appearances.

The jilted potential Hall of Famers might have to put a lot of eggs in the 2011 basket, though, because Pelletier points out the stacked 2012 class.

2012 is a much deeper class:

* Jeremy Roenick
* Mats Sundin
* Joe Sakic
* Curtis Joseph
* Brendan Shanahan
* Olaf Kolzig
* Teppo Numminen
* Markus Naslund
* Gary Roberts
* Claude Lemieux
* Bobby Holik

Wow, what a list! You would have to think Sakic and Shanahan are locks. Sundin will make it too, though maybe not in the first year.

While I’d say that Nieuwendyk, Adam Oates, Doug Gilmour and the other players who did well in our poll of hockey bloggers have a good chance in 2011, it’s clear that the committee is pretty hard to figure out. Ultimately, the hope is that the most deserving get elected. Hockey fans can debate if that happen, but really, those discussions are nothing but good for the sport.

That doesn’t change the fact that I’m disappointed Pat Burns was overlooked.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.