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Duchene vs. Turris debate is evening out

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It’s not Matt Duchene‘s job to be “a first-round pick and futures” better than Kyle Turris. He’s not the one who determined the parameters of that three-team trade between the Nashville Predators, Colorado Avalanche, and Ottawa Senators, which also featured defensive prospect Samuel Girard.

For a while, the Senators dealt with the bitter sting of a fair point: Turris was producing at a far better rate than Duchene, with puck luck being hot for one and cruel for the other.

You can really see the power of regression in both of their paths, though, as Duchene’s now been feeling it while Turris’ production is drying up.

Take a look at Duchene’s split stats, via Hockey Reference. Even counting his first 14 games while he was still with Colorado, his shooting percentage has remarkably climbed every single month this season:

Duchene has been almost a point-per-game player in 2018, scoring six goals and eight assists for 14 points in 15 games. With 39 shots on goal during that time, it sure seems like Duchene is playing with confidence.

Turris, meanwhile, might benefit from the catharsis of returning to Ottawa to face his former team tonight.

Back in late December, Duchene was tiring of Turris comparisons, and understandably so. Turris began his Predators career red-hot, debuting in Nashville with 17 points in his first 18 games. It’s almost as if Duchene and Turris traded luck as the calendar turned, as Turris only has four points in 14 games in 2018.

Of course, things get bumpier when you zoom out.

The Predators have been red-hot lately, making quiet work from Turris easier to stomach (even if they’ll want him to get back on track eventually, what with that expensive extension). As fantastic as Duchene has been now that he’s getting the bounces that weren’t going his way before, things still look quite dire for the Senators overall.

As you can see from this series of tweets from Thomas Willis of the Predators, Duchene and Turris are now only separated by two points, yet their teams are in very different places since the big trade:

Fascinatingly, the Avalanche could very well stand as the winners of this move by a large margin, for all we know.

  • The Predators needed to give up a significant prospect in Girard, and extending Turris might force them to let a useful player walk in the future. Still, it’s easy to justify Nashville going bold, especially without giving up a regular. They stand as one of the better contenders in the West, and even a streaky Turris stands as a valuable weapon.
  • The Senators gave up multiple assets, including a first-rounder that will either cost them in 2018 or 2019. Beyond that, there were some other pieces. The goal was for Duchene to help an Ottawa team make the playoffs, and it’s not happening. Perhaps Duchene will re-sign for a reasonable rate and be a key piece in turning things around? At the moment, even with a rising Duchene, this trade still hurts.
  • The Avalanche, meanwhile, were in a bind and came out of the deal with Girard, picks, and maybe made it tougher for everyone else to get things done at the trade deadline. That move looked wise at the time, and only seems to look better as the months go along. Bravo.

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With Turris coming back to Ottawa, there will be some serious mixed feelings, and some might wonder if the Senators would have been better off keeping him around.

Even so, Duchene deserves credit for shaking off that rough start and showing why the Sens were so keen on acquiring him in the first place.

Unfortunately, Duchene hasn’t been so great that he’s been able to mask Ottawa’s other mistakes, and the bigger picture of the teams’ other decisions looms over much of this.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bruins without Bergeron vs. Leafs in Game 4

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The Boston Bruins rolled through much of the regular season despite injuries, even to key players like Patrice Bergeron. The fact that they’re unfortunately experienced playing without Bergeron is probably the only silver lining regarding his late scratch heading into Game 4.

The Bruins announced that Bergeron is day-to-day with what they’re deeming an upper-body injury, so Riley Nash slips into Bergeron’s spot between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.

This stands as an obvious opportunity for Auston Matthews to roam more freely against the Bruins and a chance for the Maple Leafs to tie this series in front of their home fans.

As of this writing, the two teams are tied up 1-1. Click here for the livestream link.

Doughty, Hedman, Subban are 2018 Norris Trophy finalists

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Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning and P.K. Subban of the Nashville Predators have been named finalists for the 2018 Norris Trophy. The award, voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Assocation, is given “to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position,” will be handed out during the NHL Awards show June 20 in Las Vegas.

This is the fourth time Doughty has been name a finalist. He won the award in 2016 after finishing second the year before. Hedman finished third in the voting last season and this is the second time he’s finished in the top three. Subban, like Doughty, has a Norris Trophy on his resume (2013). This is the third time he’s been up for the award.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

The Case for Drew Doughty: The Kings blue liner finished sixth in scoring among defensemen with 60 points, which included 10 goals. He also led all NHL players in total ice time with 2,200:31, finishing with an average of 26:50 per game. He had a strong possession game with a 53 percent Corsi and a 4.39 Relative Corsi, meaning LA fired nearly five shots more per 60 minutes when Doughty was on the ice.

“I’m not starting the season, thinking ‘oh I got to get the most points I can, so I can win the Norris,’” he told The Athletic last month. “I’m starting the season, thinking, ‘I’ve got to get my defensive game even better, because that’s where my team needs me the most – to lead the charge in that area. It’s a team game and it’s about winning championships.”

The Case for Victor Hedman: Hedman finished tied for first among defensemen in goals scored with 17 and finished fourth in points with 63. He set a career high in ice time with 1,990:30 total minutes, averaging 25:51 per night. The possession stats for the Lightning defenseman were solid as well, with a 52 percent Corsi and a 0.38 Relative Corsi.

“I’m fortunate to be on an unbelievable team that helped me out through my first decade in the league, to help me grow into the player I want to be,” he told Sports Illustrated in February. “Still got stuff to work on and get better at, but obviously winning the Norris would be something that I want to do. I want to be at the top of my game. I want to play my best every night.”

The Case for P.K. Subban: Subban was right behind Hedman in goals scored (16) and right behind Doughty in total points (59). He logged 1,977:24 of ice time, playing in all 82 games for the Predators this season. As you’d expect from a Norris finalist, his possession stats were good, as he finished with a 52 percent Corsi and a 0.3 Relative Corsi.

Earlier this season, Subban told the Tennessean he felt his defensive game was overlooked. “The offensive part of my game has always been there,” he said. “The defensive part has always been there as well, but for whatever reason, I don’t seem to get the credit for what I do in my (defensive) zone and how I contribute defensively for our hockey club.”

2018 NHL Award finalists
Lady Byng (Friday)
Selke Trophy
Vezina Trophy

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Leafs, Blue Jackets try to even things up

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Game 4: Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. ET (Bruins lead series 2-1)
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Call: Mike Emrick, Pierre McGuire, Eddie Olczyk
Series preview
Stream

Game 4: Washington Capitals at Columbus Blue Jackets, 7:30 p.m. ET (Blue Jackets lead 2-1)
USA
Call: Ken Daniels, Darren Pang
Series preview
Stream

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Predators’ Ryan Hartman suspended one game for illegal check to head

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When the Nashville Predators attempt to close out their series against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night they will be without forward Ryan Hartman.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced on Thursday afternoon that Hartman has been suspended one game for an illegal check to the head of Avalanche forward Carl Soderberg during the Predators’ 3-2 win in Game 4 on Wednesday.

Here is the NHL’s explanation for the suspension.

He was given a two-minute minor penalty for charging on the play. It happened early in the third period.

It turned out to be a pretty eventful night for Hartman as he was also penalized in the second period for roughing and holding the stick during a sequence that saw him get speared by Avalanche forward Sven Andrighetto.

Andrighetto was given a roughing penalty during the sequence, but to this point has not received any supplemental discipline for the spearing incident.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

This is already the fourth suspension of the playoffs as Hartman joins Drew Doughty (one game), Nazem Kadri (three games), and Josh Morrissey (one game) as players to sit for at least one game.

There was only one suspension during the entire 2017 playoffs.

The Predators acquired Hartman at the trade deadline from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Victor Ejdsell, a first-round pick, and a fourth-round pick. In 78 games this season between the two teams he scored 11 goals to go with 20 assists. Three of those goals game as a member of the Predators. So far in the first-round series against Colorado he has scored one goal for the Predators.

Related: Avalanche to start Andrew Hammond in Game 5

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.