Numerous awards cannot take away the Stanley Cup sting for the Canucks

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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.

Kesler expressed his own mixed feelings about the highs that came from being rewarded for his individual achievements and the pitiful lows of coming one win short of the ultimate goal.

“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.

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.