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Assessing Erik Karlsson’s Norris Trophy hopes

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The 2012 All-Star weekend was, in many ways, a celebration of Daniel Alfredsson’s career with the Ottawa Senators.

Obviously, he wasn’t the only Senators representative in the event, though. Bruce Garrioch indicates that it was something of a coming out party for budding star defenseman Erik Karlsson, who might still seem like a relative unknown to many media members despite being far and away the leading scorer at his position.

That’s what happens when you’re in your third NHL season on a team that fell off the radar a bit after a tough 2010-11 season. Garrioch argues that Karlsson strengtened his Norris Trophy argument this weekend, so I thought it might be fun to break down how he compares to his peers in more traditional stat categories (sorry Corsi lovers).

Scoring

Karlsson is a gifted point producer, starting with his assists. He has 40 in 51 games, which places him eight points ahead of Brian Campbell – the only other blueliner with more than 30 helpers at the moment. In fact he’s second in the entire league in assists.

His seven goals ties him for ninth amongst defensemen and he’s firing a ton of shots. In fact, he’s also first overall in shots on goal with 168; Dan Boyle is second with 157. Karlsson’s 4.2 shooting percentage could rise a little bit, too, although D-men generally pile up low-quality shots as they often aim to create dangerous rebounds in many cases.

There’s little reason to expect Karlsson to slow down much offensively as Ottawa plays in high-scoring games. Karlsson had 26 points in 60 games in his rookie season and 45 last year, so it’s clear that the 21-year-old is still improving in an already strong area.

Time on ice

It’s not like Karlsson is just swooping in on the power play and doing nothing 5-on-5, either. (Although his 4:06 minutes of PP time per game ties him for eighth overall with Ryan Suter.) Karlsson is 10th overall with 25:27 minutes per game, ranking him slightly ahead of Dion Phaneuf, Zdeno Chara and Drew Doughty.

The one area that hurts him – in my eyes, anyway – is that he’s not killing penalties. He only averages 41 seconds of PK time per contest.* If you ask me, a Norris-worthy blueliner should be a team’s go-to guy in nearly every situation.

Team success

Fair or not, my guess is that the Senators need to make the playoffs for Karlsson to have a real shot to win. I’d say that Ottawa is in the “second tier” in the East with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers as team’s who might fall short of division titles but should be safe for a postseason run as long as they avoid a total meltdown.

***

Overall, I think Karlsson has a solid Norris argument, with competitive total ice time, unparalleled offense and a respectable +5 rating. (I don’t like plus/minus, but voters do.) I’d probably lean toward a do-everything guy like Chara or Shea Weber instead, but wouldn’t be offended if he lands in the finalists group.

Where do you think Karlsson falls in the Norris argument right now?

* – Only Cam Fowler’s 35 second average (24:05 minutes per game for 20th place) and Dustin Byfuglien’s 43 second of shorthanded time per game (2:38 minutes per game at 30th place) compare to Karlsson’s scant PK time for top-30 time on ice guys.

The Wraparound: Hurricanes look to stave off elimination

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The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down each day’s matchups with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

This might be it for the Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators. Both teams are facing elimination heading into their respective games tonight. Will we see two Game 7s on Wednesday? Will we even get one? We’ll find out soon enough.

The ‘Canes have the luxury of playing this do-or-die game at home, as they’ll look to bounce back against the Washington Capitals (NBCSN, live stream). But in order for them to extend this series, they’re going to have to turn in a much better effort than they did in Game 5 on Saturday night.

“We were bad from start to finish, really,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said after Game 5, per the News & Observer. “It was tough to pick out a guy I thought had a good game. This time of year you need everybody on-board and for whatever reason we were all just a step behind and the score was indicative of the game.

“In every aspect of the game we were outplayed. Their best players were their best players and ours were not. We weren’t beating anybody (in Game 5).”

The first thing the Hurricanes are going to have to fix, is their penalty kill, which allowed the Capitals to score three times on four attempts. If they can’t find a way to improve in that area, their chances of living to fight another day will be close to nothing.

On a positive note, the home team has won every game in this series. So, either that trend continues or a team is due to win a game on the road. One thing is certain, Carolina will have to win a game on the road if they’re going to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Getting some kind of production from Sebastian Aho would also increase the Hurricanes’ odds of forcing a Game 7. The 21-year-old, who led the team in scoring with 83 points in 82 games during the regular season, has a respectable three points in five games in this series. But if you take a closer look at Aho’s numbers, you’ll see that he only has one assist in the three games that have been played on the road.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Game 6: Predators at Stars, 8:30 p.m. ET (Dallas leads 3-2): As we mentioned before, the Predators have everything to lose tonight. In order to extend this series, they’ll have to find a way to win in Dallas. Nashville needs to find a way to stop Dallas’ top line if they want any chance of winning tonight. Getting the ideal matchup on the road is easier said than done, which means Peter Laviolette will have his work cut out for him in Game 6. (CNBC, live stream)

PHT’s 2019 Stanley Cup playoff previews
Capitals vs Hurricanes
Bruins vs. Maple Leafs

Predators vs. Stars
Sharks vs. Golden Knights

Power Rankings: Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup
NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round 1 schedule, TV info

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

PHT Morning Skate: Still time for Aho; Lehner’s future with Isles

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• The Stanley Cup Playoffs are unfair right now, but the Faceoff Circle explains why that’s okay. (Faceoff Circle)

• This women’s ice hockey team in Northern India is the first of its kind. (New York Times)

• Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne had his boyhood skates stolen on Good Friday. (St. Catherine’s Standard)

• The NCAA has changed some rules so that they can slow down the recruiting process. (College Hockey inc)

• The Philadelphia Flyers have officially parted ways with their Kate Smith statue and recordings. (Courier Post)

• Bruins forward Brad Marchand ripped the ice at the TD Garden. That’s where Boston and Toronto will play Game 7 of their first-round series. (NBC Sports Boston)

• The Montreal Canadiens might need to trade one of their top defense prospects to fill another need. (Habs Eyes on the Prize)

• There’s still time for Sebastian Aho to make an impact in Carolina’s first-round series against Washington. (News & Observer)

• The Islanders are expecting Barclays Center to rock now that they’re heading there for their second-round series. (Newsday)

• What’s Robin Lehner‘s future in Long Island? Are the Rangers going to go after Jacob Trouba? Larry Brooks tackles these questions. (New York Post)

• Steve Yzerman has a long list of things he needs to do now that he’s the GM of the Red Wings. (Detroit News)

Cale Makar has impressed the Avalanche both on and off the ice. (Denver Post)

• ESPN breaks down the inconsistent officiating that we’ve witnessed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (ESPN)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

The Playoff Buzzer: Game 7s ahead after Jones, Marchand star for Sharks, Bruins

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  • Brad Marchand had three points to help the Boston Bruins force a Game 7 on Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Martin Jones made 58 saves and Tomas Hertl scored shorthanded in double overtime to also set a Game 7 date Tuesday between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights. 

Bruins 4, Maple Leafs 2 (Series tied 3-3)

The Maple Leafs had a chance to rid themselves of their demons when it comes to the Bruins. Instead, they’ll have to face them head on in Game 7 for the third time in six years on Tuesday. Brad Marchand had a three-point game, including two goals, as the Bruins ensured TD Garden will see at least one more game this season. The Maple Leafs have two Game 7s to the Bruins since 2013. It will either be a hat trick for Boston or redemption for Toronto on Tuesday night.

Sharks 2, Golden Knights 1 [2OT] (Series tied 3-3)

An all-time heroic performance by a goalie that spurned a tired team to victory. These aren’t stories that are commonly written in the annals of hockey history, but Martin Jones produced something special and Tomas Hertl obliged his goalie, scoring a shorty in double overtime in one of the craziest games in this playoffs.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three stars

1. Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks

Something about 58 saves over four-and-a-half periods of hockey. Jones should be shrouded with love and gifts by his teammates after giving them every reason to forge ahead and find a winner when the Sharks looked dead tired.

Jones set a franchise record with those 58 saves in one of the greatest goaltending performances in years. Jones made 88 saves over Game 5 and Game 6 to help pull San Jose back from being 3-1 down in the series to now have a chance to close it out in Game 7 on Tuesday. It’s remarkable, given Jones was yanked in two of the first four games and gave up six in another.

2. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins

Three points for hockey’s favorite pest/superstar. Marchand scored off a faceoff in the first period to tie the game 1-1 and then drove the final dagger to force Game 7 on an empty netter with less than two minutes to go.

3. Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks

Someone needed to be a hero at the other end of the ice while Jones was playing the role in San Jose’s zone. Who knew it would come on shorthanded?

Whatever it was, Hertl found the energy to will a wrist shot past Marc-Andre Fleury with the Sharks down a man after a slashing call on Barclay Goodrow around the midway point of the second overtime period.

Highlight of the night

How could it be anything other than a Game 6 double-overtime, shorthanded game-winning goal?

Factoids of the night

Monday’s games

Game 6: Capitals at Hurricanes (WSH leads 3-2), 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN (Live Stream)
Game 6: Predators at Stars (DAL leads 3-2), 8:30 p.m. ET, CNBC (Live Stream)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Jones stops 58, Hertl scores shorthanded in double OT as Sharks force Game 7

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Martin Jones wouldn’t face the media following a Game 4 benching following a disastrous first period.

The official story from the San Jose Sharks’ public relations team was that the couldn’t find the embattled goaltender. This was hardly surprising after Jones had been chased twice in the first four games of the series, including Game 4 after two goals on seven shots led to his benching.

However long Jones was lost for, he emerged as the starter for Game 5 and began what would become a mini redemption tour, one that will make a stop in Game 7 on Tuesday after the Sharks battle back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Vegas Golden Knights, winning Game 6 on Sunday night 2-1 in double overtime at T-Mobile Arena.

And what theatrics he had to make getting there, stopping 58 shots total to set a new franchise record in any game in their history, and a shorthanded snipe by Tomas Hertl just when it looks like Vegas might finally breach Jones’ defenses.

Part of sticking with Jones came down to not having a better alternative. Aaron Dell, San Jose’s backup, fared no better between the pipes as Mark Stone et al crushed the Sharks.

Vegas, of course, knows a thing or two about incredible goaltending — it carried them to the Stanley Cup Final last season. On Sunday, it obstructed them from taking another step toward hockey’s holy grail.

The Sharks really had no business being in a tie game when the clock read zeroes after three periods. Jones made it possible.

Jones has worn a couple hats in this series. He’s a big reason why the Sharks found themselves trailing 3-1 in the series. He allowed a whopping 11 goals on 54 shots between Game 2 and Game 4, a save percentage that is almost unfathomable.

Somewhere between his disappearance after Game 4 and being located in time for Game 5, Jones had some sort of epiphany. Horrible regular-season save percentage be damned, he was going to show everyone.

And he has.

Jones made 30 saves while facing elimination in Game 5 a couple of days ago to pull a game back for the Sharks. On Sunday, Jones had to be sharp again, stopping 17 shots in each of the second and third periods as the Sharks were wildly outplayed.

Somehow Hertl found the oomph needed to work Shea Theodore, sniping a wrister from the top of the left circle.

As crazy as this series has been, it gets more nutzo knowing that there’s yet to be a lead change through six games. The Sharks are also 35-0 this season when allowing two goals or fewer. Vegas set a new record for shots on goal in a game with 59. They had 119 shot attempts, which is all sorts of madness.

And it all sets up for a brilliant Tuesday night where the Sharks and Golden Knights will join the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs for a Game 7 extravaganza.

The hockey world can hardly wait.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

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