2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five

Justin Williams wins 2014 Conn Smythe


The player known as “Mr. Game 7” can now be called “Mr. Playoff MVP.”

In what must have been a tough call for voters, Los Angeles Kings winger Justin Williams was named the 2014 Conn Smythe winner on Friday after his team survived a double-overtime thriller against the New York Rangers.

As flattering as the “Mr. Game 7” nickname must be, there was the chance that such a specific moniker might obscure the fact that he is much more than just a “closer” to the Los Angeles Kings. You can probably put that to bed now, though.

Williams praised his teammates over and over again after receiving the Conn Smythe, yet you could tell it was a proud moment for a player who fought through tough times earlier in his career, particularly with injuries.

“It’s pretty sweet,” Williams said. “To get that award and to get the ovation that I got from my teammates was pretty special and emotional for me. ”

The 32-year-old scored nine goals and 25 points in 26 playoff games, including the opening tally in Friday’s Game 5 thriller, which ended with the Kings prevailing 3-2 against the New York Rangers in double-overtime.

Williams scored big goals with aplomb, including the overtime-clincher in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. He’s long been a quality scorer, especially with lights shining the brightest, yet he made the leap from an under-the-radar star to a household hockey name during the Kings’ incredible (and grueling) run.

Beyond providing quality offense, one of the things that really stands out about Williams is that he’s the kind of two-way player who might begin to draw serious Selke consideration. Like Patrice Bergeron, this high-profile run might grab mainstream attention for a player whose brilliance is a little on the subtle side.

Sneaky or not, Williams is enjoying quite the outstanding career already. He’s already a three-time Stanley Cup champion who routinely seems to put his team in a position to prevail in must-win games.

In other words, he might have a shot at another Conn Smythe Trophy before he hangs up his skates.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?