NHLers like the 49ers in the Super Bowl — here’s who we like

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source: Getty Images

Granted, we’re setting ourselves up for a “TALK HOCKEY NOT STUPID NFL CINDY CRSOBY SUKS!!!!!!!!!!” comment below, but we thought we’d pass along a bunch of Super Bowl picks from NHLers anyway.

Per NHL.com:

Sidney Crosby, PIT SF 20, BAL 14
Brooks Orpik, PIT SF 21, BAL 17
Martin St. Louis, TBL SF 27, BAL 14
Paul Bissonnette, PHX SF 28, BAL 24
Shane Doan, PHX BAL 24, SF 21
Jarret Stoll, LAK SF 20, BAL 14
Mike Richards, LAK BAL 27, SF 24
Drew Doughty, LAK SF 35, BAL 24
Adam Henrique, NJD SF 27, BAL 24
Andy Greene, NJD SF 31, BAL 17
David Clarkson, NJD SF 21, BAL 14
John Tavares, NYI SF 24, BAL 21
Milan Lucic, BOS SF 31, BAL 21
Patrice Bergeron, BOS SF 27, BAL 21
Tyler Seguin, BOS BAL 28, SF 14
Ryan Miller, BUF SF 21, BAL 13
Jason Pominville, BUF SF 28, BAL 20
Wayne Gretzky, retired BAL 17, SF 14

As you can see, there’s plenty of support for the 49ers, who are 3.5-point favorites over the Ravens at most sports books.

For what’s it worth (it’s worth nothing), here’s who Halford and I like:

MH: Baltimore over San Francisco, 21-20. Two things: Resiliency and momentum. I believe Baltimore has the edge in both. Not to say the Niners are without those two things — they’ve won three straight and rallied from 17-0 to beat the Falcons — but the Ravens have shown more. In the last two weeks alone, they connected on a miracle Hail Mary en route to beating the Broncos, then beat Tom Brady and the Pats at Foxboro despite trailing at halftime.

JB: San Francisco over Baltimore, 28-24. I have to admit I’m extremely hesitant to give Colin Kaepernick — a second-year quarterback that didn’t get the starting job until halfway through the season — the nod over Joe Flacco — an experienced veteran who’s been ridiculously good in these playoffs. But I’m more hesitant to bet against a guy who can run and throw like Kaepernick. The only team that’s made the guy look human is the Seahawks, and that was on a rainy Sunday night in Seattle, one of the toughest places in the NFL for visitors.

Related: PFT’s Super Bowl picks

Eddie Lack expects to be released from hospital on Monday night

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As scary as the situation was for Carolina Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack, the good news continues to pour in.

First, the Hurricanes provided an update that he had “full feeling in his extremities” while under observation at a hospital. This followed the promising sign that he was able to give a “thumbs up” gesture while being taken off the ice on a stretcher after the Hurricanes’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

The best news came late on Monday night, however, as Lack himself tweeted that he expects to head back home as early as this late evening/early morning:

That’s fantastic news. Video of that scary collision with Andreas Athanasiou can be seen in the video above this post’s headline.

Blues, Flames take care of business (Islanders … do not)

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For a while there, it seemed like the idle Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs would be Monday’s “winners.” That changed when the Carolina Hurricanes salvaged a standings point and the Tampa Bay Lightning stormed back to beat the Blackhawks.

Still, there were some teams who came through (beyond the Lightning) and those who fell flat, so let’s cover some of the results in short.

West teams get it done

Unlike their counterparts out East, West teams jockeying for position avoided “unforced errors” in losing to non-playoff teams.

The St. Louis Blues beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 while the Calgary Flames topped the Colorado Avalanche 4-2. Johnny Gaudreau generated his 200th point (and 201st) in Calgary’s win, while Alex Steen generated four assists. (Vladimir Tarasenko also enjoyed a three-point night.)

This keeps the Blues and Flames in position to advance. St. Louis is one point behind the Nashville Predators for third in the Central while the Flames are a point behind both the Sharks and Oilers for second and third in the Pacific (while remaining in shouting distance of the division title).

East teams stumble, some get over it

Again, the Lightning fought through hurdles to win and the Hurricanes managed that “charity point.”

Overall, East teams struggled. The New York Islanders fell to the Predators by a score of 3-1. Your mileage may vary on the Florida Panthers’ chances, especially after they fell 4-2 to the Buffalo Sabres.

Brian Gionta scored in his 1,000th game as Buffalo won, by the way.

Here’s what the race for the final spot in the East looks like after tonight:

Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

Victor Hedman might just force his way into the Norris argument

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For quite some time this season, the Norris Trophy race felt a bit like “Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and [insert token finalist].” As it turns out, Victor Hedman is making it a pretty interesting three-horse race.

With Burns and Karlsson idle on Monday, Hedman continued to go on the best offensive tear of his already-impressive career, contributing three assists to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 5-4 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks.

As much credit as forwards Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin deserve in pushing Tampa Bay in Steven Stamkos‘ absence, Hedman has been an all-world blueliner for a Lightning team with a defense that isn’t really surrounding him with great talent.

He’s serving as a workhorse when his team needs him the most:

Now, when you look at the numbers, it’s probably fair to say that Hedman comes in third among the likely finalists in simple categories:

Brent Burns: 27 goals (!), 72 points in 75 games, +16 rating, 24:52 time-on-ice average

Erik Karlsson: 14 goals, 67 points in 74 games, +7, 26:53 minutes per game (fourth highest average in the NHL)

Victor Hedman: 15 goals, 65 points in 72 games, +2 rating, came into Monday with average of 24:15 minutes per game.

Looking at those breakdowns, you might wonder why someone wouldn’t just flippantly hand Hedman the “bronze medal” and a pat on the back … but things get more interesting if you ponder the all-around impact of those three.

Now, traditional-thinkers who slam risky defensemen for their mistakes often overstate such arguments. Both Burns and Karlsson tilt the ice in their teams’ favors, usually to profound degrees.

Still … Hedman locks opponents down to a truly elite degree and scores at a similar rate. Hedman could very well own the “two-way” argument; you could perhaps see his case most clearly when you compare his “HERO” chart to those of Burns and Karlsson, especially from the perspective of conceding shots.

Again, Burns remains the likely winner, and he would be a deserving one. You could make a solid Hart Trophy argument for Burns, in addition to tabbing him as the Norris frontrunner.

Even so, voters would be wise to take Hedman’s case seriously, especially as the Lightning continue their improbable playoff push.

Lightning storm back against Blackhawks, finish one point out of playoffs

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Who would have thought that the Tampa Bay Lightning would rally back from a 4-1 deficit tonight? Then again, who expected them to be so close to a playoff spot mere weeks ago, when they were sellers at the trade deadline?

The Lightning continue to show that they won’t just roll over and die, scoring four unanswered goals to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime on Monday.

While Jonathan Drouin was a catalyst for the second-period rally, it was an unlikely scorer who clinched the victory, as Yanni Gourde ended a thrilling run of 3-on-3 chances with the overtime-winner.

Really, it might have been fitting. Things looked glum when Tomas Jurco scored his first goal of the season against the Lightning, then the mood was totally flipped when Gourde’s second tally of 2016-17 grabbed a huge win.

With the Islanders losing to the Predators, the Hurricanes only managing a “loser point” against the Red Wings and the Bruins idle, Tampa Bay is a breath away from a playoff berth:

Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

Yes, all of a sudden, a long-shot postseason run seems quite attainable.

Maybe the Lightning would prefer it if we kept counting them out, though?