After leading the league with nine points in four games — including a NHL-best five goals — Toronto forward Joffrey Lupul was named the NHL’s first star of the week on Monday.
Lupul, who missed 27 games this season with a broken arm, has returned from injury with aplomb. He’s scored at least one point in every game since coming back on Mar. 16 (granted, he was forced to sit out two games due to suspension).
Last week, he notched a goal in a 3-2 shootout loss to Boston, then went on a game-winning goal binge, scoring the deciding marker in a 3-2 victory over Florida, a 6-3 win over Carolina and a 4-0 victory over Ottawa.
The NHL’s second star of the week went to San Jose netminder Antti Niemi.
Niemi led the league in wins, with four, and posted a 1.22 goals-against average and .952 save percentage as the Sharks solidified their hold on a playoff spot.
San Jose currently sits sixth in the Western Conference with 40 points, three back of fifth-place Los Angeles with a game in hand.
Third star of the week went to Edmonton winger Taylor Hall.
Hall tied for first in the NHL with five goals and ranked second with eight points in four games — and accomplished a rare feat along the way.
In a 4-0 win over Vancouver on Saturday, Hall broke Wayne Gretzky’s franchise record for the fastest hat trick in franchise history. The 21-year-old scored three times in 7:53 — Gretzky did it in 12:38 back in 1986 — and was honored to find himself in such exclusive company.
“It’s a pretty special moment that I will never forget,” Hall said afterward. “Playing in an organization like this one, the records you are trying to break have been set by pretty legendary players.”
When people were arguing against Artemi Panarin‘s Calder case, they often discounted his work because of Patrick Kane‘s brilliance (at least when they weren’t focusing on age questions).
It always felt a little unfair to Panarin.
Do we blame a great wide receiver playing with an adept quarterback? Sure, it’s an interesting discussion to have, but it seems fairly clear that there’s a symbiotic relationship between Panarin and Kane.
One could see that plainly in a 1-0 goal for the Chicago Blackhawks against the Pittsburgh Penguins that … admittedly was driven by Kane’s almost audacious creativity and skill.
But still, Panarin has 26 goals this season because he’s really good, too. This season has been a nice showcase for such thoughts, and a reminder that – like most great combinations – they make each other better.
(Seriously though, Kane was out of his mind there.)
From the sound of things, “Old Time Hockey” is a video game with a lot of heart, but maybe not the skills to make it to the big time.
While “NHL 17” is pumped out by publishing giant EA Sports, this title is very much an independent labor of love by a company called V7 Entertainment. Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy provided a great interview with the developers here. It’s worth noting that the game reminds one of 8-bit titles in another way: lacking an NHL license, these teams are instead fictional. This isn’t necessarily a drawback as much as it provides the title with its own unique “flavor.”
It’s hard not to get behind a scrappy development, especially in an age where sports video game options are so scarce. Some leagues barely see any licensed games any longer (see: the MLB, which feels woefully misrepresented these days), and the arcade-style that “Blades of Steel” and other old-school games popularized is even tougher to come by.
Combine these factors with an aesthetic inspired by “Slap Shot” and “Old Time Hockey” seems like it could really scratch an itch … except, it sounds like the puck missed the net.
So far, reviews are pretty mixed for the title, which is currently on PC and Playstation 4 (with planned releases on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch).
While there are a few good reviews here and there, the general reception is of disappointment.
A Sporting News review states that “the promising premise falls apart quickly.” Game Informer slams a “slew-footed story mode.” PC Gamer notes that, with EA not releasing an NHL game on that platform since 2008, there was a need here … but it wasn’t met.
Does that mean there’s no fun to be had? Not necessarily, but it’s a bummer that the game might be off the mark, especially since V7 Entertainment seems to have its heart in the right place.
Then again, maybe those who want that “NHL 94” fix merely need to dig a little. As this Vice article points out, there’s still an active community playing the sort of game that scratches the itch that “Old Time Hockey” – perhaps – can’t quite reach.
The latest edition of NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Rivalry presents quite the treat: the Chicago Blackhawks at the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Both teams are at 103 standings points and each squad already punched a ticket to the playoffs. Even so, they’re dealing with mini-slumps that they’d like to work out tonight.
For all we know, this could be a preview of what would be one extremely fun, high-profile 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Either way, it’s a showcase of two premiere franchises brimming with star power.
You can watch on NBCSN, online and via NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream.
We can debate all day how much the NHL, Vegas Golden Knights and others involved really want to do this, but they’re making the right choice with the expansion draft nonetheless. The league will make protected and available players lists available at the same time they’re shared with teams, according to NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika.
(The NHL tweeted out as much, too.)
Could this lead to feelings being hurt or perhaps even certain sneaky deals being scuttled? Perhaps, but those are headaches that management should be expected to absorb.
The bottom line is that an expansion draft is a dream come true for armchair GMs, rumor enthusiasts, fantasy sports fans and … really, just about anyone interested in hockey. It would be a bewildering decision to try to keep all of this information locked down, even for a league that frequently garners a reputation for choosing comfort over entertainment value.
Cotsonika reports that such lists will probably be made available on June 18, though that isn’t set in stone. NHL.com’s Dan Rosen also backs this up as a possible date.
(If you’re the type to take off work if a trade deadline was exciting, you might want to start drumming up excuses/putting aside vacation time/practicing your best “I’m sick” voice just in case …)
Cap Friendly provides a handy timeline for the expansion draft process: