If Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau had his way, Francois Beauchemin’s name would be coming up in discussions for the Norris Trophy.
“It should come up,” Boudreau told the OC Register (paywall) about Beauchemin being recognized as one of the NHL’s top defensemen. “On what he’s done and where we are in the standings and how much he plays and how important he is to us — all those factors.”
Beauchemin, 32, is enjoying arguably the finest campaign of his career. He leads the Ducks in points (21) through 36 games — pro-rated, that’s a 47-point pace over an 82 game season.
He also ranks second among all NHL defensemen in plus-minus (+22), eighth among all skaters in blocked shots (85) and averages over 23 minutes for the second-best team in the Western Conference.
Boudreau figures those numbers and Beauchemin’s overall importance to the Ducks should put him in the Norris race — a race that appears to be pretty wide open.
Minnesota’s Ryan Suter, Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang and Montreal’s PK Subban are three of the names that routinely come up, though the likes of St. Louis’ Kevin Shattenkirk, Phoenix’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Ottawa’s Sergei Gonchar have all gotten some buzz.
Boudreau added that Beauchemin’s chances may be hindered by playing in the Pacific Time Zone.
“[Beauchemin’s name] doesn’t come up because we’re not in the East,” Boudreau explained. “He doesn’t have a point a game. He’s not on ‘NHL Tonight’ every night.”
Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)
Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.
Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.
McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).
The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.
They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.
Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.
The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.
The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.
Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style
It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.
Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:
Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games
This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.
The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.