Roberto Luongo

Canucks win second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy


It took a bit of luck but, for the second straight year, Vancouver will enter the playoffs as the NHL’s top seed.

The Canucks beat Edmonton 3-0 on Saturday to capture the 2012 Presidents’ Trophy — though they did get some help along the way. A series of fortunate results (St. Louis’ 4-1 loss to Phoenix on Friday night, the Rangers’ 4-1 home defeat to Washington on Saturday) gave Vancouver control of its own fate heading into the Oilers game.

And to their credit, the Canucks took full advantage.

Henrik Sedin scored what would prove to be the game-winner midway through the second, his 14th goal of the year, before Samuel Pahlsson and David Booth added insurance markers in the third. Roberto Luongo stopped all 17 shots he faced for his fifth shutout of the year — his highest shutout total since 2008-09 — and barely broke a sweat in a game Vancouver dominated. The Canucks out-shot the Oilers by 25 on the night, including a 12-shot dispartiy (17 to five) in the opening frame.

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Some notes about the Presidents’ Trophy win:

— Vancouver becomes the first team to win back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies since Dallas did it in 1997-98 and 1998-99. (Note: Detroit won in 2003-04 and 2005-06, missing the year between due of the lockout.)

— Since the NHL began handing out the Presidents’ Trophy in 1985-86, only seven teams have gone on to win the Stanley Cup: Edmonton (1986-87), Calgary (1988-89), New York Rangers (1993-94), Dallas (1998-99), Colorado (2000-01), Detroit (2001-02) and Detroit again (2007-08).

— Last year, the Canucks became the first team to win the Presidents’ Trophy and lose in the Stanley Cup finals since the 1995 Red Wings.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?