February was a big month for Chicago’s Jonathan Toews. He finished the month with six goals and 15 assists and helped lead the Blackhawks to a 8-3-2 record. That record helped bring the Hawks from out of the playoff discussion to fifth place in the Western Conference. That kind of effort gets noticed and today the NHL named him the number one star for February. The Blackhawks captain has picked up his play enough that people are starting to whisper his name in talks about the Hart Trophy. We’re still a ways off from that and Chicago’s hold on the playoffs is still tenuous with things being as tight as they are in the West, but Toews’ play is the glue holding it together.
Antti Niemi’s great February that saw him go 10-2-0 with a 1.89 goals against average and a .934 save percentage with three shutouts was more than good enough to earn him the second star of the month. With Niemi taking charge, the Sharks have stormed to the lead in the Pacific Division and third place in the Western Conference. His play was also inspiring enough to Sharks GM Doug Wilson to give him a four-year contract extension.
Johan Hedberg’s work to get the New Jersey Devils out of the basement and thinking about the playoffs during February didn’t go unnoticed either. With Martin Brodeur sidelined with an injury, Hedberg stepped in and provided seamless and steady work between the pipes. Hedberg went 7-1-1 with a 1.43 goals against average and a .943 save percentage with two shutouts in 10 games. That kind of action made Hedberg the NHL’s number three star of the month. The Devils resurgence in the second half can be pinned on Hedberg as much as it can new-old coach Jacques Lemiare. Without Hedberg’s steady play while Brodeur was out, the Devils are dead in the water. Instead they’re hanging on the fringes of the playoff discussion which is a lot better than where they were before.
As PHT’s mentioned before, the Florida Panthers stand as a fascinating contrast between youth and experience.
Let’s not kid ourselves, though; fresh faces usually beat out gray beards, at least when it comes to teams that are still trying to build toward contender status.
While it’s by no means official, two Panthers beat writers – the Miami Herald’s George Richards and the Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov – report that the Panthers are likely to pass on Martin Havlat.
It wasn’t just about the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad leading the charge. Other young Panthers (maybe most notably Quinton Howden and Connor Brickley) made the team, thus making Havlat less necessary.
One would assume that it might be tough for the 34-year-old to find work, at least if he insists upon only an NHL deal.
Health issues continue to dog him, but he’s no longer one of those guys who tantalizes with talent when he is healthy enough to play.
Havlat also doesn’t really bring much to the table defensively. While other veterans can kill penalties and show a little more verstaility, Havlat’s greatest selling point is scoring.
Could this be it for a solid career that may nonetheless end with a “What if?” or two?
Considering all of the controversy surrounding the 41-game suspension for Raffi Torres, some might have lost track of the guy who received that hit: Jakob Silfverberg.
The good news is that, at the moment, it seems like he’s OK.
The Anaheim Ducks announced that he skated on his own and will be involved in the team’s next practice:
That falls in line with some of the fall-out from the hit, as head coach Bruce Boudreau let out a relieved “thank goodness” at the young forward seemingly dodging a bullet.
Here’s video of the hit and the suspension decision:
Silfverberg, 24, enjoyed a nice breakout in 2014-15, especially during the playoffs.
Keep in mind that injuries can sometimes crop up later than expected, especially potential head injuries/concussions. Still, it seems like the initial reaction is that the damage was minimal.