It is a huge disappointment for fans to see their favorite team get eliminated, but for the rest of us, it’s a fascinating time. That’s because, in most cases, we finally get to find out the type of injuries players were fighting through.
CSN Bay Area’s Brodie Brazil was all over the San Jose Sharks’ list of maladies today.
While the injury lacks the cringe-ability of Jumbo Joe’s Fun Size pinky, Jason Demers was sidelined with a high-ankle sprain suffered during Game 7 of the Detroit series. High-ankle sprains are quietly among the most problematic injuries in hockey because they inhibit movement considerably and are so difficult to heal.
It probably won’t keep him from being a whipping boy, but Dany Heatley was indeed playing with some injuries during the playoffs. The streaky sniper broke his hand late in the regular season and twisted his ankle in Game 3 of the Canucks series, according to Brazil. Heatley doesn’t do much more than skate fast and score goals, so decreased mobility and hand strength probably didn’t help his cause much.
Ryane Clowe was injured badly enough that he struggled to put on his jersey before games. That account reminds me of the days when people remarked that Mario Lemieux couldn’t bend over to tie up his skates because of a bad back yet he still managed to be a fearsome offensive force. Clowe’s impressive playoff season slowed down after he took some tough hits, but he still contributed admirably for his team.
Now, it’s important to note that injuries don’t justify defeat, especially when you consider the fact that every remaining team is banged up at this point in the playoffs. Still, for those of you who cling to all the knee-jerk “choking” talk, it might be fair to at least consider the fact the toughness of hockey players. The Sharks might have fallen short of their ultimate goal, but they deserve some admiration for fighting through injuries to try to get there.
With their season on the line on Friday night the Philadelphia Flyers are making a change in goal.
Michal Neuvirth, who has played just 59 minutes of NHL hockey since Feb. 18, will get the Game 5 start in goal when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Neuvirth replaced Brian Elliott in Philadelphia’s Game 4 loss on Wednesday night after Elliott gave up three goals on 17 shots, the second time he was benched in the first four games. The Flyers have already used three goalies in this series with Elliott, Neuvirth, and Petr Mrazek all getting playing time. None of them have played well.
Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers, William Karlsson of the Vegas Golden Knights, and Ryan O’Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres have been named as the three finalists for the 2018 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, the NHL announced on Friday. The award, voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, is given “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
The winner will be announced during the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas on June 20.
The Case for Aleksander Barkov: The Panthers center certainly has the “high standard of playing ability” part down with a season that saw him lead the team with 78 points and finish tied for third in goals with 27. Barkov played the fifth-most minutes (1,743:32) among NHL forwards and only picked up seven minor penalties. This is the second time he’s been named a finalist in the last three seasons.
The Case for William Karlsson: Karlsson had a monster of a season with 43 goals and 78 points during the Golden Knights’ historic first year. In playing 1,534:47, the 25-year-old forward racked up only 12 PIMs. Should Karlsson win, he would become the first player to win an end-of-season trophy for a team in its inaugural season since Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers won the Byng and Hart Trophy and in 1979-80.
The Case for Ryan O'Reilly: O’Reilly missed one game this season and logged 1,686:10 of ice time for the Sabres. He recorded only one penalty all season, way back on Oct. 24 versus Detroit, a slashing call. His one penalty is the fewest among NHL players who suited up for at least 41 games this season. He’s a previous winner having taken home the trophy in 2014 while a member of the Colorado Avalanche.