Ryan O'Reilly

Ryan O’Reilly wins 2014 Lady Byng Trophy

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Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O’Reilly won the 2014 Lady Byng Trophy, after accomplishing a very impressive feat this season that very much typifies sportsmanship and gentlemanly play.

O’Reilly scored 28 goals and a career-high 64 points this season, but had only two penalty minutes – his lone minor of the season coming when he played with a broken stick. He beats out other finalists Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks and Martin St. Louis of the New York Rangers.

The 23-year-old O’Reilly was one of the key players in the Avalanche’s resurgence this season, which saw Colorado win the Central Division, beating out teams like the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks, with 112 points, good enough to finish second in the Western Conference.

O’Reilly’s sportsmanship-like ways continued into the post-season. He recorded six points in seven games, but stayed out of the penalty box.

Here are the voting results for the award, cutting off at the top 10:

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)

1. Ryan O’Reilly, COL 1181 (110-5-8-1-3)
2. Martin St. Louis, NYR 358 (4-20-27-11-10)
3. Patrick Marleau, SJ 323 (3-15-23-21-10)
4. Tyler Seguin, DAL 289 (2-23-15-7-12)
5. Frans Nielsen, NYI 182 (1-15-6-9-10)
6. Marcus Johansson, WSH 128 (1-7-7-9-7)
7. Teemu Selanne, ANA 115 (5-4-4-4-5)
8. Matt Duchene, COL 104 (1-3-8-9-6)
9. Daniel Alfredsson, DET 97 (1-5-6-6-4)
10. Anze Kopitar, LA 61 (2-4-1-2-2)

It really wasn’t close, as O’Reilly ran away with the first-place votes, securing 110 of 137 when it was over.

Here’s a list of the Lady Byng Trophy winners and second-place finishers since 1990:

Year Winner Runner-up

2014 Ryan O’Reilly, Col. Martin St. Louis, NYR
2013 Martin St. Louis, T.B. Patrick Kane, Chi.
2012 Brian Campbell, Fla. Jordan Eberle, Edm.
2011 Martin St. Louis, T.B. Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
2010 Martin St. Louis, T.B. Brad Richards, Dal.
2009 Pavel Datsyuk, Det. Martin St. Louis, T.B.
2008 Pavel Datsyuk, Det. Martin St. Louis, T.B.
2007 Pavel Datsyuk, Det. Martin St. Louis, T.B.
2006 Pavel Datsyuk, Det. Brad Richards, T.B.
2004 Brad Richards, T.B. Daniel Alfredsson, Ott.
2003 Alex. Mogilny, Tor. Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
2002 Ron Francis, Car. Joe Sakic, Col.
2001 Joe Sakic, Col. Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
2000 Pavol Demitra, St.L Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1999 Wayne Gretzky, NYR Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1998 Ron Francis, Pit. Teemu Selanne, Ana.
1997 Paul Kariya, Ana. Teemu Selanne, Ana.
1996 Paul Kariya, Ana. Adam Oates, Bos.
1995 Ron Francis, Pit. Adam Oates, Bos.
1994 Wayne Gretzky, L.A. Adam Oates, Bos.
1993 Pierre Turgeon, NYI Adam Oates, Bos.
1992 Wayne Gretzky, L.A. Joe Sakic, Que.
1991 Wayne Gretzky, L.A. Brett Hull, St.L
1990 Brett Hull, St.L Wayne Gretzky, L.A.

Can there be parallels drawn between the 2016 Ducks and 2014 Sharks?

Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17) takes the puck up ice on a breakaway with San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, center, and Ducks center Nate Thompson, right, trailing on the play during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
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The Anaheim Ducks might not have suffered a reverse sweep at the hands of one of their biggest rivals, but they seem to have reached a breaking point when it comes to playoff disappointments.

After firing head coach Bruce Boudreau, GM Bob Murray was highly critical of the team’s core, even noting that at this point he’s not a fan of long-term contracts. That was perhaps a swipe at how he feels Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf‘s eight-year $69 million and $66 million contracts have worked out thus far. Meanwhile Ryan Kesler‘s six-year deal worth roughly $41 million is about to begin.

After San Jose suffered its first round loss to the Los Angeles Kings in 2014, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said they were now becoming a “tomorrow team” and they began a cultural shift that included Joe Thornton losing the captaincy.

There are differences of course between the two situations. One notable one is that the Sharks’ guard was already starting to change hands in 2013-14. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were entering their mid-30s, but Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture were on the rise. Anaheim’s core of Getzlaf and Perry is significantly younger, but while Anaheim also has some promising forwards like Jakob Silfverberg, that generation of players doesn’t seem ready to carry the torch for the Ducks.

“We don’t have a lot of young guys in the lineup. … Today’s a much different feeling leaving the rink,” Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said, per the Los Angeles Times. “In those [previous] years there’s been a sense of hope. Today, there’s zero feeling like that.”

Perhaps the Anaheim Ducks will find hope by watching the rest of the 2016 playoffs. If the San Jose Sharks continue to succeed, they will be an example of a team that once underachieved, hit a critical low, but then managed to fix that in a relatively short time without a massive turnover in terms of on-ice personnel. While we’re at it, you could make a similar argument for the Washington Capitals.

Maybe Murray will look to those franchises for inspiration as he moves forward.

Capitals, Penguins nearly perfect at stopping third period comebacks

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) and Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) chase down the puck during the first period of Game 2 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday, April 30, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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Pittsburgh only won by a single goal in Game 2 on Saturday and that deciding marker came with 4:28 minutes remaining in the third, but that contest had the potential to be far more one-sided.

The Capitals were outshot 28-10 through 40 minutes and were consequently leaning on goaltender Braden Holtby to keep things close.

“First two periods, I thought they were way better than us,” Washington coach Barry Trotz told CSN Mid-Atlantic. Or has Justin Williams put it, the Capitals “were getting embarrassed out there” during the first 40 minutes.

Washington did rebound in the third period, though it wasn’t enough to prevent the Penguins from evening this series at 1-1. That puts the pressure on Washington to take at least one game in Pittsburgh before the second round’s over.

Starting the game off strong is always going to be important, but that’s particularly true when talking about the Penguins and Capitals. Pittsburgh was 39-0-0 in the regular season when leading after 40 minutes while Washington was 37-0-1. So far in the playoffs, both teams are 4-0-0 when they have the lead after two periods.

Hemsky finds his groove on third line

DALLAS, TX - APRIL 11: Ales Hemsky #83 of the Dallas Stars handles the puck against the Nashville Predators at the American Airlines Center on April 11, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
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When the Dallas Stars inked Ales Hemsky to a three-year, $12 million deal, the hope was that he would be a valuable secondary scorer and help round out their top-six. Things haven’t gone as predicted, but Hemsky has emerged as a significant player for Dallas lately.

Hemsky is now playing on the third line with Radek Faksa and Antoine Roussel and he’s gone on to record 15 points in his last 16 regular season games as well as another four points in seven playoff contests.

“We had hard conversations about how I felt the game needed to be played, where I felt his game needed to go,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff told the Dallas Morning News. “Did it always go his way? No. But from his defensive responsibilities to really buying into shooting the puck a little bit more, I think he’s been a real good asset for us this year.”

The Morning News goes into much more detail about Hemsky and his resurgence, but taking a step back from that, having a third line that’s both impactful without the puck and capable of chipping in offensively is important, especially as we get deeper into the playoffs. There’s no question that the Stars have big time players on their roster, but that’s obviously not all you need in the playoffs.

A lot of the time when talking about the Stars’ areas of concern, their defense and goaltending come up and understandably so given that Dallas allowed more goals in the regular season than any other team that made the playoffs. But the value of a strong bottom-six shouldn’t be understated and perhaps Hemsky’s recent resurgence will play a role in the Stars having that going for them throughout the playoffs.

Dallas has taken a 1-0 lead over St. Louis in the second round and has an opportunity to build on that in Game 2 this afternoon (3:00 p.m. ET).

NHL schedules hearing with Orpik over Maatta hit

Maatta
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Brooks Orpik‘s late hit in Game 2 on Saturday might keep him out of Monday’s contest.

At the very least, the NHL Department of Player Safety intends to discuss the matter with Orpik today, per the department’s Twitter feed.

The incident occurred early in the first period when the Capitals forward smashed into Olli Maatta. The Penguins blueliner collapsed and needed some assistance getting off the ice. He didn’t return to the game.

You can see that hit below:

“I thought it was a late hit,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

The Penguins didn’t have an update on Maatta’s condition immediately following the contest.