Joe Nieuwendyk

The PHT staff reveals their 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame choices

No one at Pro Hockey Talk has been given the honor of voting for the Hockey Hall of Fame, but with the induction announcements set for this afternoon, we decided to share the four choices we would make if we had that power. Feel free to share your own in the comments.

You can also find out who experts such as Mike Milbury and Keith Jones would pick by clicking here.

Joe Yerdon’s picks

1. Joe Nieuwendyk

2. Dave Andreychuk

3. Adam Oates

4. Doug Gilmour

With the load of sure-thing first ballot type Hall of Famers due to arrive in the coming years, this is the best chance for those who should be in the Hall of Fame to get their shot at making it in now. These four players should already be in the Hall of Fame and thanks to the foolish stipulations for how the vote has to go and the limits on the number of inductees, we’re looking at a log jam. Every one of these four have no-brainer accolades.

Joe Nieuwendyk was the perfect all-around player on numerous Stanley Cup winners. Dave Andreychuk scored 640 goals and led the Tampa Bay Lightning to a Cup. Adam Oates is the highest scoring player not in the Hall of Fame (16th all-time) and is sixth all time in assists. Doug Gilmour was a tenacious two-way player, a clutch playoff performer, and the second highest scoring player not in the Hall (17th all-time). You could nit-pick and argue about any of these guys, but they’re Hall of Famers each and every one. It’s not about arguing one guy against another as far as my ballot’s concerned, for these four it’s about getting those in who are well overdue.

James O’Brien’s picks

1. Ed Belfour – Eddie the Eagle was one of the best goalies of his generation. Belfour won two Vezina Trophies, one Stanley Cup and sits at third place all-time in wins. He also earned my personal award of “most regrettable use of a FUBU jersey.”

2. Eric Lindros – I generally value high-level impact more than impressive consistency. This isn’t the Hall of Longevity or Friendliness after all; it’s the Hall of Fame. Injuries derailed Lindros’ career but his individual numbers compare favorably to Peter Forsberg’s and he made a, well, Lindros-sized impact on the game. Put him in the “Jerks” section if you must, but he deserves to be in there.

3. Pavel BureMy old comparison still holds: Bure was the Dominique Wilkins of hockey, a human highlight reel on skates. Bure is sixth all time in goals scored per game (.62) and averaged more than a point per game but those numbers don’t do the dazzling Russian justice. Just watch his highlights.

4. Doug Gilmour – Gilmour’s 1,414 regular season points will attract a lot of voters, but I’m most impressed by his 188 points in 182 career playoff games, tying him for seventh all-time with Joe Sakic. Gilmour was also strong defensively, winning the 1992-93 Selke.

Honorable mentions: Boris Mikhailov, Sergei Makarov, Adam Oates and Joe Nieuwendyk.

Matt Reitz’s picks

1. Ed Belfour – In an era when NHL teams had to have great goaltending to be successful, he was one of the best.  He led his team to the Stanley Cup in 1999 and made it to the Finals on two other occasions.  He’s 3rd all-time in wins (484) and 9th all-time in shutouts (76).

2. Joe Nieuwendyk – The points are nice, but he was both a winner AND a leader just about everywhere he went.  He ended his career with 564 goals, a Conn Smyth Trophy, and three Stanley Cups.  The better question: Why didn’t he make it on his first ballot?

3. Adam Oates – One of the best passers in the history of the game.  Everyone assumes that Brett Hull made him look good, but I have a feeling that Hull benefited a bit from having those one-timers set on a tee from Oates.

4. Rogie Vachon – One of the best goaltenders in the 1970s, Vachon won three Cups and a Vezina with the Habs.  He’s the best goaltender in the history of the NHL who is NOT in the Hall.

Honorary mention – Doug Gilmour:  He was a gritty two-way guy who every coach would have killed for, he was a GREAT leader on the ice, AND he put up HoF type numbers.  Is there a good case AGAINST Gilmour?

Senators, Panthers fail to gain in Eastern playoff races

OTTAWA, CANADA - FEBRUARY 7: Jay Harrison #44 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates his game winning overtime goal with team mate Jeff Skinner #53, during an NHL game at Scotiabank Place on February 7, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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PHT already touched on the Florida Panthers falling to the Calgary Flames on Friday, but in tandem with the Ottawa Senators losing to the Carolina Hurricanes, it makes for a night of teams failing to gain valuable points out East.

With the Montreal Canadiens failing lately, the Senators had a chance to take first place in the Atlantic by tying the Habs in points while holding games in hand. Instead, they’ll need to wait.

For the sake of simplicity, here are the Atlantic rankings, with emphasis on the top five.

1. Canadiens – 72 points in 61 games played
2. Senators – 70 in 59
3. Maple Leafs – 68 in 60

Bruins – 68 in 61
Panthers – 66 in 60
Sabres and Lightning have 62 in 60, Red Wings have 58 in 60

You can see the Panthers hanging around the perimeter of the top three; a point or two would have made them a bigger threat to Toronto and Boston. Alas, even with a heavier slate of home games lately, Florida has lost two straight at home.

Here’s an updated look at the wild card races after the Panthers failed to make up some ground:

1. Blue Jackets – 79 in 58, more concerned with Metro races
2. Islanders – 68 in 60

Bruins – 68 in 61
Panthers – 66 in 60
Flyers – 63 in 60

Tiebreaker situations would have meant that the Panthers would have ended tonight technically outside of the playoffs anyway, but a win or even a “charity point” congests an already snug situation. Instead, they stayed put and wasted a game.

Ottawa’s still in a solid situation to overtake Montreal or at least maintain a round of home-ice advantage as the second seed in the Atlantic. So while both teams are kicking themselves for their losses, the Panthers have more to be upset about.

Ultimately, some of the biggest winners in the East were teams that didn’t play or that have a lot less to play for.

(Perhaps the Hurricanes feel a little more optimistic, by the way, as 58 points in 57 games played means they could at least theoretically fight their way back into the discussion.)

Road warriors: Flames move to first West wild card spot with win vs. Panthers

SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 24: Troy Brouwer #36 of the Calgary Flames celebrates his second period goal against the Florida Panthers with Lance Bouma #17 and Matt Stajan #18 at the BB&T Center on February 24, 2017 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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The road has been doing both the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers quite a bit of good lately.

Calgary moved to the first wild card spot on Friday after beating the Panthers in Florida by a score of 4-2. So far, they’ve grabbed at least a point in every game during a road trip that ends in Carolina on Sunday:

Feb. 18: 2-1 OT loss at Vancouver
Feb. 21: 6-5 OT win at Nashville
Feb. 23: 3-2 win at Tampa Bay
Tonight: 4-2 win at Florida

You can’t totally blame the Panthers if they almost miss their road trip.

They rattled off five straight wins through what seemed like a brutal road haul on paper, but now they’ve lost back-to-back home games in regulation. With five of six and six of seven slated in Sunrise, the Panthers need to make the most of these opportunities. So far … not so good.

Here’s how the West wild card situations look now:

1. Flames – 68 points in 62 GP
2. Predators – 67 points in 60 GP

Kings – 62 in 60 GP
Jets – 62 in 63 GP

(The Blues could easily slip below the Predators into the wild card spot, as they also have 67 points in 60 games but hold wins and ROW tiebreaker advantages.)

So, Calgary might not manage to maintain its hold over the first wild card spot, but this streak makes a playoff berth look far more likely.

Capitals could make home-ice advantage a serious edge in playoffs

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 01: Brett Connolly #10 of the Washington Capitals celebrates his goal with teammates against the Boston Bruins during the third period at Verizon Center on February 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Look, there’s no escaping the naysayers who will dismiss just about any Washington Capitals accomplishments with snark about past playoff letdowns.

All the Capitals can do is march forward and lock down as many edges as they can.

With 89 standings points after a tight 2-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, the Capitals look increasingly likely to have home-ice advantage either through the East (seven-point edge on the Penguins or the entire playoffs (five-point edge on idle Wild, who only hold a game in hand on the Caps).

Now, it’s fair to argue that home-ice (or home-court) advantage matters less in hockey than some other sports. Sure, you can line-match more often with the last change, among other advantages. Still, the biggest edges might be mental.

That said … those small edges might be enough for a team as loaded – and with as much urgency – as this rendition of the Capitals.

Heeding the call at the Verizon Center

They’ve now won 13 games in a row at the Verizon Center, improving their overall home record to 25-5-1.

The Capitals are still a strong team on the road (16-7-6), yet that home record is lofty. It also could come in awfully handy, particularly if they face off against the Penguins again. Pittsburgh’s 24-4-3 home mark contrasts sharply with a more modest 13-10-5 road record.

Perhaps this talk is all small potatoes. Still, when you consider how close things have been – in this age of parity, and in the extremely competitive Metropolitian Division specifically – it could be quite the edge.

In short, the Capitals are a pretty scary group possibly with home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. At least as of right now.

As far as the Oilers go, they’re locked in a tight race for second in the Pacific, as the Ducks currently hold the ROW tiebreaker. Grabbing at least a standings point in this one would have helped … but that’s a tall order against the Caps in their own backyard.

It wasn’t all good news for Washington, tonight:

Loss vs. Pens at Stadium Series could push Flyers to sell at trade deadline

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 28:  Chris Pryor, Director of Scouting (R), and Ron Hextall General Manager of the Philadelphia Flyers (L) sit at their team table on Day Two of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 28, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Is a cross-state, historic NHL rivalry not enough to drum up interest in Saturday’s 2017 Stadium Series between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins? Maybe a trade deadline hook will do it for you.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi reports, Flyers GM Ron Hextall already rules his team out as buyers. That leaves two options, really: standing pat or going into “sell mode.”

Hextall provides an interesting nugget in that regard: it might just come down to what happens against the Penguins tomorrow, via NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman:

It seems odd to imagine that the difference between generating zero versus two standings points might dictate a team’s direction, but it also shows the power of parity in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Granted, it’s not like Hextall locks himself into one direction based on the result. Still, it sounds like that game could have some power in swaying his decision.

The Flyers have some interesting trade chips if they do decide to make a move. Michal Neuvirth fears being moved, while Steve Mason at least needs a new contract, leaving their goaltending future up to question.

There are some other interesting UFAs, particularly in defensemen Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto.

Some Flyers fans believe that they should indeed be sellers, though it’s tough to imagine many of them rooting for the Penguins to win just to make it happen.