Life can be a mixed bag sometimes. Promotions come long after you dreamed of a bigger office. That old flame returns just at the moment that you meet your future spouse.
The Vancouver Canucks probably related to those types of feelings during the 2011 NHL Awards. Major members of their team took home some impressive hardware. Daniel Sedin fell short of the Hart Trophy but earned the almost-as-good Ted Lindsay Award. Ryan Kesler blew away the competition on his way to his first-ever Selke Trophy. Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider shared the underrated William M. Jennings Trophy for their combined brilliance in not allowing goals while Mike Gillis received the GM of the Year award for buying all the right ingredients.
It was the best regular season in Vancouver Canucks history, one of the most impressive runs for any regular season team and a deep, dramatic run in the playoffs to boot. Yet all of those accolades can be washed away by a single image of Zdeno Chara raising the Stanley Cup far above our heads.
“Obviously it’s nice to get acknowledged but at the end of the day that [the Stanley Cup] is the trophy we all want,” Kesler said. “It’s still hard to swallow now, but I’m sure in the next couple of weeks we’re going to look back and realize we had a great season, and we came one game away. Obviously it wasn’t our goal to come one game away, we wanted to win. But we did a lot of things as an organization that we’ve never done before. We won a Presidents trophy, and we did a lot of things. Time heals all wounds, right?”
Canucks GM Gillis made a lot of great moves before and during this season. Some were small (the surprisingly beneficial trades for Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre) and some were big (winning the Dan Hamhuis sweepstakes), but an impressive majority of those transactions ended up being positive for Vancouver. That’s the thing about playoff hockey, though; sometimes all it comes down to is those nagging memories of one night that went wrong.
Gillis appreciated the award, but couldn’t deny the underlying truth that it wasn’t enough to fill that Cup-sized hole.
“It’s great, I guess,” Gillis said. “It’s nice, I appreciate it but I would trade it in anytime for a Stanley Cup.”
While some Canucks players or representatives seemed less dour than the others, the overarching theme was that these series of accomplishments were stained by falling just short of a championship. Vancouver is actually in a pretty solid position to maintain their high level of play going forward – depending on how much you’ve given up on Roberto Luongo, perhaps – so maybe this crushing loss will actually be assessed as a painful stepping stone one day.
That’s probably the message head coach Alain Vigneault and GM Mike Gillis are sending, so we’ll learn a lot about the makeup of this Vancouver team in the 2011-12 season.
Vasilevskiy shines again as Lightning take top spot in NHL
Tuesday’s game in St. Louis was a showdown featuring the top two teams in the NHL.
In the end it was the Lightning picking up the 3-0 win to extend their current winning streak to five games and to reclaim sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the NHL.
Their win improves them to 22-6-2 on the season and puts them two points ahead of the Blues despite having played two fewer games.
It was another impressive showing for Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy who has been one of the underrated stars of this year’s Lightning team. Most of the attention has been directed to forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov (and deservedly so!) but let’s not lose sight of the fact that Vasilevskiy, in his first full season as the Lighting’s full-time starter, has been one of the best goalies in the league so far.
Tuesday’s game was his third shutout of the season, and after his 32-save performance against the Blues his .933 save percentage is among the best in the NHL, while his 20 wins (in only 25 starts) are tops in the league. Nobody else in the league has more than 17.
While Vasilevskiy was shining in net again, Kucherov scored his 21st goal of the season to move back into a tie with Alex Ovechkin for the top spot in the league. It was also his 42nd point which moved him into a tie with Stamkos for the league lead.
Brayden Point also continued his breakout season by opening the scoring with his 13th goal of the season. He also added an assist on Tyler Johnson‘s third period goal.
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Former NHL defenseman Zarley Zalapski has died at age 49, according to the Calgary Flames. No cause of death was given.
Zalapski, a native of Edmonton, played 637 NHL games for Calgary, Pittsburgh, Hartford, Montreal and Philadelphia from 1987 to 2000.
He was with the Flames from 1993 to 1998.
“We are proud that Zarley wore the Flames jersey, made Calgary his home following his playing career, represented our alumni executive and we will always remember him as a member of the Flames family,” Flames president and chief executive officer Ken King said Tuesday in a statement.
“This is a terrible loss of a man with great character who truly loved the game of hockey. We express our sincere condolences to the Zalapski family.”
Zalapski was a member of the Canadian team that finished fourth in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.
He had 99 goals, 285 assists and 684 penalty minutes in the NHL. Zalapski was named to the all-rookie team in 1989 and participated in the NHL All-Star Game in 1993.
Zalapski played stints in Austria and Switzerland after his NHL career and appeared in 11 games for the United Hockey League’s Kalamazoo Wings in 2004-05.
He was the fourth overall pick by the Penguins in the 1986 entry draft.
Taylor Hall puts on a show as Devils end Kings’ winning streak
The New Jersey Devils put an end to the Los Angeles Kings’ eight-game winning streak on Tuesday night with a rather convincing 5-1 win.
The Devils dominated in pretty much every aspect of the game, limiting the Kings to just 17 shots on goal and scoring five goals against a team that had not allowed more than two goals (and never more than three) during its winning streak.
The star of the game for the Devils was most certainly forward Taylor Hall.
Hall continued what could be a career year with a pair of goals, including this highlight reel play in the second period that saw him force a turnover, split through the Kings’ defense (including Drew Doughty!), then beat Jonathan Quick with a backhander.
With that performance on Tuesday Hall is now up to 11 goals and 31 total points on the season.
His first year with the Devils wasn’t quite what he or the team wanted, but he has bounced back in a big way this season. His performance, along with the development of young players Nico Hischier, Will Butcher, and Jesper Bratt have the Devils back on track to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season.