Sergei Bobrovsky

Bobrovsky wins the Vezina

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Sergei Bobrovsky is the winner of the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s best goaltender, the league announced today.

The Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, last year’s winner, and the Sharks’ Antti Niemi were the other two finalists.

Bobrovsky finished the regular season with a 2.00 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in 38 games, nearly helping the Columbus Blue Jackets, last season’s worst team, to the playoffs.

The 24-year-0ld becomes the first Russian-born winner of the Vezina.

“I am very excited to receive this award and proud to be recognized with Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Niemi, who both had great seasons and are great goaltenders,” said Bobrovsky in a team release.  “I would like to thank the Columbus Blue Jackets organization, my coaches and teammates who played so hard in front of me every night and the fans who supported us because this would not be possible without them.  I also want to thank my family, especially my wife, Olga, my parents, Andrei and Larissa, and sister, Julia, for all of their love and support and everyone who has helped me achieve this great honor.  I work hard to try to be the best player I can be and help my team win and am very honored to receive the Vezina Trophy.”

For the Blue Jackets, the challenge now becomes re-signing Bobrovsky, a pending restricted free agent that KHL club SKA St. Petersburg has also been pursuing.

Bobrovsky was traded to the Blue Jackets from Philadelphia at last year’s draft. It was one of the last, and no doubt one of the best, moves that soon-to-be-fired Columbus general manager Scott Howson made before he was replaced.

2012-2013 Vezina Trophy Voting (by NHL general managers)

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd)

1. Sergei Bobrovsky, CBJ 110 (17-8-1)
2. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR 55 (3-12-4)
3. Antti Niemi, S.J. 46 (6-4-4)
4. Craig Anderson, OTT 22 (3-1-4)
5. Tuukka Rask, BOS 12 (0-3-3)
6. Jimmy Howard, DET 9 (0-0-9)
7. Ray Emery, CHI 6 (1-0-1)
8. Corey Crawford, CHI 5 (0-1-2)
9. Jonas Hiller, ANA 3 (0-1-0)
10. Niklas Backstrom, MIN 1 (0-0-1)
Carey Price, MTL 1 (0-0-1)

Related: CBJ GM eager to push Bobrovsky negotiations forward

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.