Claude Giroux

Giroux named mid-season Hart favorite


Philadelphia forward Claude Giroux has the inside edge on winning the 2012 Hart Trophy, according to

Giroux has been the League’s most complete player this season. He entered the week with 48 points, one fewer than League leader Henrik Sedin. But, he has played in only 36 games while Sedin was set to play in his 43rd game on Monday night. Giroux has scored 18 goals and dished out 30 assists. He’s averaging 1.33 points per game and is on pace for 98 points this season.

Not bad for a 23-year-old who wasn’t even a particularly high draft pick (22nd overall in 2006). Giroux also contributes defensively, averaging 2:33 per game on the penalty kill with 23 blocked shots.

Phil Kessel and Jonathan Toews were’s two other top Hart candidates.

A few others to consider:

—-Evgeni Malkin. Has a great opportunity to impress voters with all the injuries on the Penguins.

—-Marian Hossa. Not many people talking about this guy. Leads the Blackhawks with 44 points, +20, kills penalties.

—-Steven Stamkos. Has the best chance of any player to score 50 goals. Though it might be hard to vote for someone whose team doesn’t make the playoffs.

—-Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Both in the race for the Art Ross on a club that could win the Presidents’ Trophy.

—-Pavel Datsyuk. Started slow, but now only six points back of the league’s scoring lead. Not just a scorer either, as evidenced by all those Selke awards.

—-Zdeno Chara. The last defenseman to win the Hart was Chris Pronger, back in 1999-2000 when he had 62 points in 79 games for the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Blues. Chara’s on pace for 57 points, so not far off Pronger’s total. Question: if the Bruins lost Chara for the rest of the season, would they still have a legit shot at the Cup?

—-Shea Weber. Bit of a dark horse, but anyone that can rank third in scoring among NHL defensemen on a team so bereft of offensively talented forwards as Nashville deserves at least a mention.

Anyone missing?

Here are the 10 oldest players to play a game this season

Jaromir Jagr
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This isn’t breaking news or anything. We just thought you’d like to know that three of the NHL’s 10 oldest players (who’ve played at least one game this season) are members of the Florida Panthers.

Oh, and the Panthers’ starting goalie? He’s the oldest starter in the league. (Scroll down.)

Here’s the list of skaters, topped by 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr:


Yet another veteran Panther, 36-year-old defenseman Brian Campbell, ranks 17th on the list.

Granted, the above list does not include 39-year-old Patrik Elias (who’s hurt) or 39-year-old Eric Boulton (who just re-signed with the Isles). As soon as those two play, Thornton will get pushed out of the top 10.

Now here’s the list of goalies who’ve started at least one game this season, topped by 36-year-old Roberto Luongo:


For the record, Luongo isn’t the oldest goalie under contract. That would be Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom, who’s 37.

Related: Can Florida’s old guys hang on while the young guys get better?

Hamburglar (groin) returns, Sens demote O’Connor

Andrew Hammond
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Matt O'Connor‘s time in the Canadian capital was brief, but still noteworthy.

O’Connor, the losing netminder in Sunday’s “Battle of the Backups” against Montreal — Habs No. 2 Mike Condon got the win — has been sent down to AHL Binghamton to pave the way for Andrew Hammond‘s return from a groin injury, per the Sun.

The Hamburglar has been out since the preseason, but his return is earlier than expected.

He was originally supposed to miss the first two weeks, yet now sounds as though he’ll play one of Ottawa’s two games on an upcoming road trip through Columbus and Pittsburgh.

It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.