With the 2013-14 campaign winding to a close, a couple players reached some major milestones last night.
Joe Pavelski completed the best regular season of his career by netting his 40th and 41st goals. That’s a big jump from his previous career-high of 31 markers and he also cruised to a new personal best with 79 points in 82 games.
“It was nice (that my 40th goal) comes right away in the game,” Pavelski told NHL.com after he reached the milestone just 3:43 minutes in San Jose’s 3-2 win over Phoenix. “I could feel everyone try to pass to me, so it’s cool, but the win obviously is nice going into the playoffs. Guys feel good about themselves.”
Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall can only guess at what it must be like to reach the NHL playoffs, but he gave it his all this season. The 22-year-old forward recorded three assists in Edmonton’s 5-2 victory against Vancouver last night to reach the 80-point mark for the first time in his career.
Obviously, Edmonton’s franchise single-season leaderboard is dominated by Wayne Gretzky and it would take a legend to change that, but Hall is the first Oilers player to record at least 80 points since Doug Weight in 2000-01.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.