Karlsson claims Norris Trophy for the second time

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For the second time in four years, Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson is the Norris Trophy winner.

When it comes to contributing offensively, no blueliner has been better than him in recent years. Karlsson has led all defensemen in terms of points in three of the last four campaigns, including his 21 goals and 66 points in 82 contests this season. He’s also a workhorse, averaging 27:15 minutes per game in 2014-15.

The battle for the Norris Trophy was a fierce one though. Karlsson came out ahead with 964 votes, but Drew Doughty finished just shy with 889 and P.K. Subban was a strong third with 801 votes.

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

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
1. Erik Karlsson, OTT 964 (44-42-33-19-8)
2. Drew Doughty, LAK 889 (53-30-20-13-10)
3. P.K. Subban, MTL 801 (24-36-38-37-8)
4. Shea Weber, NSH 614 (26-19-28-20-21)
5. Roman Josi, NSH 222 (3-9-11-17-23)
6. Mark Giordano, CGY 177 (1-6-11-15-25)
7. Duncan Keith, CHI 134 (1-7-4-12-19)
8. Kris Letang, PIT 80 (1-2-6-6-8)
9. Ryan Suter, MIN 43 (2-0-0-4-11)
10. John Carlson, WSH 31 (0-1-1-6-1)

Here’s a list of the Norris winners and the second highest vote-getters since 1990:

Year Winner Runner-up
2015 Erik Karlsson, Ott. Drew Doughty, L.A
2014 Duncan Keith, Chi. Zdeno Chara, Bos.
2013 P.K. Subban, Mtl. Ryan Suter, Min.
2012 Erik Karlsson, Ott. Shea Weber, Nsh.
2011 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Shea Weber, Nsh.
2010 Duncan Keith, Chi. Mike Green, Wsh.
2009 Zdeno Chara, Bos. Mike Green, Wsh.
2008 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Dion Phaneuf, Cgy.
2007 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Scott Niedermayer, Ana.
2006 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Scott Niedermayer, Ana.
2004 S. Niedermayer, N.J. Zdeno Chara, Ott.
2003 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Al MacInnis, St.L
2002 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Chris Chelios, Det.
2001 Nicklas Lidstrom, Det. Ray Bourque, Col.
2000 Chris Pronger, St.L Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1999 Al MacInnis, St.L Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1998 Rob Blake, L.A Nicklas Lidstrom, Det.
1997 Brian Leetch, NYR Vlad. Konstantinov, Det.
1996 Chris Chelios, Chi. Ray Bourque, Bos.
1995 Paul Coffey, Det. Chris Chelios, Chi.
1994 Ray Bourque, Bos. Scott Stevens, N.J.
1993 Chris Chelios, Chi. Ray Bourque, Bos.
1992 Brian Leetch, NYR Ray Bourque, Bos.
1991 Ray Bourque, Bos. Al MacInnis, Cgy.
1990 Ray Bourque, Bos. Al MacInnis, Cgy.

Sweep leaves Wild feeling ‘sick’

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“You almost needed two pucks in that series. We’ve come a long way since then.”

That was Zach Parise comparing the Minnesota’s 2013 first round loss to the Blackhawks to this year, per the Star Tribune. He said that just before Minnesota’s latest series against Chicago began.

In the end, Minnesota was not only eliminated by Chicago for the third straight year, but also suffered the indignity of being swept.

“Didn’t do nearly enough. Don’t know how else to characterize it. It’s tough to dissect it right now.”

That was Parise tonight, per the Wild’s Twitter feed. And that’s one of more subdued comments from the Wild.

“I’m sick. It’s a sick feeling,” Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk told ESPN’s Joe McDonald.

“It’s a bad dream,” defenseman Ryan Suter said.

On the one hand, the fact that Minnesota even made the playoffs this year is an accomplishment given its rocky start and beating the St. Louis Blues in the first round was no small feat either. At the same time, when the Wild signed Parise and Suter to matching 13-year, $98 million contracts, it was with the hope that would help turn them into serious Stanley Cup contenders. It was reasonable to assume that it would take time to build around them, especially seeing as the Wild still had a fair number of promising young players working their way up, but they’re three years in at this point.

“Right now we’re a good team and we have to find a way to be the best team,” Wild coach Mike Yeo told the Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff.

Suter is 30 years old while Parise will turn 31 in July and in the young man’s NHL, that’s something worth keeping in mind, especially because their contracts are relics of the old CBA era. Parise and Suter’s deals are so long because it makes their annual cap hit more manageable early on, but that hit has the potential to look bad as they age and potentially play well below the roughly $7.5-million annual level. In other words, they were made to be beneficial in the short and mid-term, but had the potential to be significantly detrimental in the long-term.

That’s not to suggest that the Wild are already fading into the sunset, but they do have a specific window of opportunity with them and with each failed campaign, it’s getting smaller.

“We’re trying to figure it out,” Suter said. “We need to look at ourselves in the mirror.”

Video: Toews’ shorthanded shot barely crosses the line

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The Blackhawks and Wild were great defensively in the first half of Game 2, but someone had to score eventually and in the end it was captain Jonathan Toews that broke the scoreless tie.

While Chicago was shorthanded, Marian Hossa stole the puck from Wild defenseman Ryan Suter and charged into Minnesota’s zone with Toews. Hossa feed the puck to his captain and Toews fired it at goaltender Devan Dubnyk.

Dubnyk made the initial save, but the puck flew up and hit his stick before heading to the line. Suter knocked it away just a moment too late:

Just before the second period ended, Patrick Kane gave Chicago some breathing room and once again Suter found himself on the wrong end of the play:

‘We’re not rattled,’ says Wild coach Yeo after Game 1 loss

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The Minnesota Wild couldn’t fully complete the comeback against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, losing Game 1 of this second-round series.

“They came out flying and we weren’t really up to speed. Finally in the second period we got playing the way were capable of,” Ryan Suter told Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

It’s one loss. The Wild has been in much more dire situations, like the one that clouded over that team in January.

A late second-period goal from Teuvo Teravainen — his first career playoff goal — proved to be the winner in this series opener for Chicago, after the Wild got back into the game, erasing a three-goal deficit from the first period.

“If you want to ask, we’re not rattled right now,” said Wild head coach Mike Yeo, as per Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press.

It could be that these two teams are digging in for a long series. The Wild has left an impression on the Blackhawks.

“They’re a really good hockey team. You can just feel that out there. They’re just after you like crazy,” Blackhawks Niklas Hjalmarsson told Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.

And it could be this series comes down to goaltending, between Devan Dubnyk and Corey Crawford.

Minnesota forward Justin Fontaine left the game midway through the second period and did not return.

2015 Norris Trophy finalists: Doughty, Karlsson and Subban

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The NHL named the three finalists for the 2015 Norris Trophy on Monday: Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens’ P.K. Subban.

To review, the Norris goes “to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.” The Professional Hockey Writers Association is responsible for the ballots.

All three blueliners rank as familiar faces.

Doughty hasn’t won a Norris at this point in his career, which is a point that comes up often (especially during the Kings’ Stanley Cup run last year). Injury and suspension issues forced the 25-year-old into the heaviest action of his career, as his 28:59 TOI average barely trailed perennial workhorse Ryan Suter. Doughty is aiming to be the first Norris winner whose team didn’t make the playoffs, at least according to Sportsnet.

Also:

Subban, 25, won the 2013 Norris. Here’s a little more on his great season from the Habs:

Subban, who previously claimed the award in 2013, enjoyed another remarkable campaign on the Canadiens’ back end. In his fifth full NHL season, the Toronto native finished in the Top 10 in multiple offensive categories among defensemen, registering career-highs with 15 goals, 45 assists, 60 points and a plus-21 differential in 82 games played. He also ranked second in the League among defensemen with eight power play goals, while logging a team-leading 26:12 of ice time per game. He was also the Canadiens’ most-utilized player with the man advantage.

Karlsson, 24, won it in 2012. His 27:15 TOI average trailed Doughty by a significant margin, yet it was a career-high and ranked third in the NHL. The splendid Swede’s 66 points led all defensemen while Subban was tied for second with 60 and Doughty finished with 46.

Notice that all three blueliners are in their prime years? A stat like this shows how advanced Karlsson is, yet they’re all at an elite level, which is confirmed by these nods: