Hockey Hall of Fame

PHT’s media experts pick their Hall of Fame ballot

It’s Hockey Hall of Fame day here at PHT and with the 2011 induction class being announced at 3 p.m. ET it’s time for everyone to make their case for who they think should get the call from the Hall of Fame this year. The Hockey Hall of Fame has some rules for making the grade though. A committee of 18 voters casts their ballots and at least 14 of them have to agree on a player to get them inducted. It can be tough to get through, but each year the voters generally get a few people they agree on.

Since we don’t have the access to those who are voting, nor would they tell us who they voted for, we put the word out to some of our media friends to see who they would’ve voted for this year. Some gave us deep thoughts on why they picked who they chose, others kept it short and sweet but all around we’re happy to have them give us their thoughts as to who should go in this time around.

Oh yeah, and we’re trying to have some fun with this too.

Joe Haggerty – CSN New England

Pat Burns – It’s time to right the wrong of last season’s selection process while Burns was still living and breathing. A Stanley Cup-winning coach with the New Jersey Devils, Burns is the only guy in NHL history to win the Jack Adams with three different teams and a larger-than-life personality that worked his way up from walking the police beat in Montreal. He was one of the dominant coaches of his era with successful stints in Montreal, Toronto and Boston – not an easy feat to gain acceptance and taste success in each of those Original Six stops.

Joe Nieuwendyk – A three-time Stanley Cup champion, Calder Trophy winner and Conn Smythe winner for his 11 goals in 23 games for the Dallas Stars during the 1999 Stanley Cup playoffs, 564 career goals and 1126 career points with some excellent teams in Calgary, Dallas and New Jersey over his 19-year career. The 564 goals ranks him 21st on the NHL’s all-time list and his 93 career game-winning goals put him in the top 10 all-time. He looks and smells like a sure-fire Hall of Fame candidate.

Rick Middleton – Third in Bruins franchise history with 402 goals scored, fourth in points with 898 career points scored and the franchise’s all-time leader with 25 shorthanded goals. When you look at the Bruins’ franchise record books, every player around “Nifty” is already in the Hall of Fame – a fact that makes his omission all the more stunning. Middleton was a three-time All-Star and Lady Byng Trophy winner that always seems to get overlooked when people talk about the greats in Black and Gold history.

Ed Belfour – Just to prove that I’m completely impartial, I give “The Eagle” the nod even though I once saw him throw his goalie pads at a reporter getting too close to his personal locker space. A Stanley Cup win with the Dallas Stars, two Vezina Trophies, 484 career regular season wins to go with 88 in the playoffs, led the league in shutouts four times and five All-Star appearances encapsulate a Hall of Fame-worthy goaltender.

Ray Ratto – CSN Bay Area

Dave Andreychuk

Doug Gilmour

Boris Mikhailov

Pat Verbeek – “Only because anyone with the nickname “Little Ball of Hate” deserves his own wing in the Hall.”

Mike Milbury – NBC Sports

Ed Belfour – “To me he’s automatic. An absolute lock.”

Doug Gilmour – “He’s an absolute Hall of Famer. He did it all.”

Dave Andreychuk – “He’s got 640 goals. Come on now.”

Keith Jones – Versus

Pat Burns – “No brainer. It should’ve been done last year. They have to do it now and right a terrible wrong.”

Joe Nieuwendyk –  “He was the total package. Offensive skill, defensively sound. He did it all and helped win three Stanley Cups.”

Pavel Bure – “There was no one more dynamic than Bure. His talent was so unique and powerful that has to be recognized. He changed games with his speed and ability to score.”

Phil Housley – “His point totals were outstanding. He was a different kind of defenseman and a tremendous American player as well. His offensive game from the blue line was incredible.”

Sarah Baicker – CSN Philly

Ed Belfour – It’s hard not to put him in: A Stanley Cup win, two World Cup titles, two Vezina trophies, a Calder Trophy … and the list goes on.

Joe Nieuwendyk – I was pretty surprised he didn’t get in last year. He should this time.

Fred Shero – Everyone in Philadelphia (myself included) believes Fred Shero belongs in the Hall without question. The man revolutionized the way the game is coached.

Lightning, Islanders make East playoff races even more confusing

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Ben Bishop #30 of the Tampa Bay Lightning makes the third period save as Ryan Strome #18 of the New York Islanders looks for a rebound at the Barclays Center on November 1, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Whenever you groan at what seems like a quiet trade market, take a step back and ask yourself this: “Who is really out of it?”

For a while there, it felt reasonable to dismiss the chances of teams like the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning. Now? There’s probably only a handful of teams that can really be comfortable, at this very point, with calling themselves sellers.

The Islanders took care of their business with a 3-1 win against the fading (probably selling?) Detroit Red Wings, even with Petr Mrazek making a save like this.

Meanwhile, Ben Bishop might just be putting his game together (while Nikita Kucherov‘s game remains very much together) as the Tampa Bay Lightning throttled the Edmonton Oilers 4-1. Bishop might just end up being indispensable – or at least not worth trading – as he’s on a five-game winning streak.

With those wins, the races for the last seemingly available Eastern Conference playoff spots just get that much muddier.*

Third place in the Atlantic: Maple Leafs – 67 points in 59 games, 28 wins, 27 ROW

Second wild card: Panthers – 66 points in 58 GP, 28 W, 25 ROW

Bruins – 66 points in 59 GP, 30 W, 28 ROW
Islanders – 66 points in 59 GP, 28 W, 27 ROW
Flyers – 63 points in 59 GP, 28 W, 23 ROW
Lightning – 62 points in 59 GP, 27 W, 25 ROW
Sabres – 62 points in 60 GP, 26 W, 25 ROW

Wow, that’s crazy-close. Naturally, teams like the Islanders and Flyers lack the luxury of having a third spot in reasonable reach – unless things get truly wild – but that’s quite the congested group of playoff hopefuls.

And, sure, the Bolts are among those facing longer odds, but the way things keep swinging wildly this season, who knows? Especially with a team with a track record of success and high expectations like the Lightning.

* – We’ll arbitrarily cut off the East race at the Devils, but just in case you’re wondering, they have 60 points, the Red Wings have 58 and the Hurricanes have 56. Also, the Ottawa Senators hold the second spot in the Atlantic with 70 points and the Montreal Canadiens lead the division with 72, so that group could see quite a bit of movement over the last quarter of the season.

Forsberg’s hat trick, own-goal highlights Predators’ wild OT loss to Flames

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If you want to summarize the kind of night the Nashville Predators experienced, you could do worse than to draw parallels to Filip Forsberg‘s experiences.

The highs were quite high, you see. Forsberg & Co. carved away at the Calgary Flames’ 4-1 lead as his hat trick (see above) eventually gave the Predators a fleeting 5-4 edge.

We all should have seen more drama coming … and it did. Forsberg ended up being at the wrong place at the wrong time in overtime; the Flames’ 6-5 overtime winner ended up going off of his foot. Ouch.

Mark Giordano ended up being credited with that goal. The game was just a barn-burner.

While it was an up-and-down night for both the Flames and Predators, Pekka Rinne‘s evening was pretty much uniformly dismal.

Rinne was pulled early in the second period after giving up four goals on 13 shots, making way for Juuse Saros (who actually ended up gtting tagged with the loss).

The Flames can breathe a sigh of relief after winning the game despite coughing up a big lead, improving to 64 points and strengthening their grip on the second wild card spot. That “charity point” comes in handy for Nashville, leaving the Predators with 65 points and a game in hand on the Flames.

Serious performance: Blackhawks gain on Wild thanks to Toews’ five points

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If the Chicago Blackhawks are going to make up some serious ground and overtake the Minnesota Wild for the Central Division title, they’ll need wins like these.

It’s only fitting that “Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews did the heavy lifting, generating a hat trick and two assists as the Blackhawks beat the Wild 5-3 on Tuesday.

Yes, Toews was involved in every goal. And yes, the Blackhawks won this one in regulation after beating the Wild in overtime last time around. It’s a nice swing for Chicago:

Central Division title chase

1. Wild – 84 points in 59 games (39 wins, 36 ROW)
2. Blackhawks – 79 points in 60 games (37 wins, 35 ROW)

Yeah, that’s still a substantial edge for Minnesota … but this is a significant swing.

Even beyond the name recognition that comes with Toews & Co., the Blackhawks’ push shouldn’t be surprising. They’re red-hot in February so far, going 7-1-0 despite playing seven of eight on the road (strangely losing that lone home contest).

The Wild have played reasonably well in their own right, yet this loss sends them into a bye week with some frustration … and maybe some questions about whether they can hold the Blackhawks off.

Also, tonight marked a nice milestone for Joel Quenneville:

Matthews, Leafs get last laugh in OT vs. Laine and the Jets

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Hockey fans tend to get their radars up about over-hyping things, particularly promising rookies.

Is it hasty, then, to wonder if there’s something to a rivalry between Auston Matthews (and the Maple Leafs) vs. Patrik Laine (plus the Jets)? If nothing else, the two have come up big in two very exciting games.

Back in October, Laine generated a hat trick as the Jets beat the Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime. This time around, it was another 5-4 overtime decision … only Matthews and the Maple Leafs took this round.

This isn’t to take anything away from Laine’s performance, mind you. He scored two goals on Tuesday, becoming the rare modern rookie to muster 30 goals. He reminded hockey fans that he only needs the smallest window to make you pay with his deadly, world-class shot.

MORE on that goal and the violence that ensued here.

But Matthews wouldn’t be denied, either, and fittingly did so in a quieter fashion. (Virtually everyone seems a little quieter when Laine’s around, it seems.)

The Maple Leafs’ outstanding rookie managed three assists in this game, giving him 52 points in 59 games. He also has six points in a three-game run and eight in his past five.

Laine? He now has 54 points in 55 games, extending is own point streak to five games (seven goals, three assists).

In other words, it’s really close … just like the games when these two budding stars (and their young, promising teammates) meet.

You might even be tempted to believe the hype.