Sedins, Sharp, Vrbata among NHL retirements

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Henrik and Daniel Sedin didn’t play their final NHL game in Vancouver, yet you could almost be fooled into thinking otherwise. That was the sort of reception the retiring twins received in Edmonton on Saturday, as Oilers fans treated the Canucks icons with a fantastic send-off from the NHL.

(You can see some of the great gestures in the video above this post’s headline.)

One can speculate about other NHL players who are mulling over retirement. Names like Jussi Jokinen float around, which makes particular sense when you consider how Jokinen bounced almost cruelly around the league this season.

2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Schedule, Bracket, Streams and More

Some players will probably need time to mull over retirement. Others might not really get to make that call, as they may find no takers in free agency. There could be quite a few who simply haven’t made the announcement yet.

This post focuses on four noteworthy names who’ve made it clear that their careers are over: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Patrick Sharp, and Radim Vrbata. All four players enjoyed distinguished runs, and while they finished things up past their primes, they didn’t make the mistake of hanging around for several sad seasons, either.

Note: as we’ve seen with Mike Fisher, players can also change their minds about retirement. Still, it certainly looks like these players are winding things down.

Sedins

Henrik Sedin ended his career with two straight 50-point seasons in 82 games. In the case of his final campaign, he scored three goals and 47 assists. He also generated 55 points in 2015-16.

Henrik’s most recent standout season was 2014-15, when he generated 18 goals and 55 assists for 73 points in 82 games. The 37-year-old managed 1,070 points in 1,330 regular-season games.

Daniel Sedin (also 37, of course) scored two goals in his final home game with the Canucks, while neither Sedin twin generated a point on Saturday. Daniel generated 23 goals and 55 points in 81 games during this final season. He collected 44 in 2016-17 and 61 in 2015-16.

Daniel’s most recent standout season was also in 2014-15, when he scored 20 goals and 76 points. In fitting Sedins fashion, they deflected attention to Derek Dorsett upon retirement:

Read more about the Sedins hanging up the skates here. Also, you can see some fun stuff at #ThankYouSedins.

Patrick Sharp

Sharp’s descent was, er, sharper than that of the Sedins. He only managed 21 points this season and 18 in 2016-17, though last season he was limited to 48 games. That said, much like the Sedins, Sharp isn’t that far removed from a strong run, as he scored 20 goals and 55 points in 2015-16. The 36-year-old also scored 78 points in 2013-14, a career-high.

If this is truly it for Sharp – he did throw “probably” around at least once – he’d finish with 620 points in 939 regular-season games, serving as a significant contributor to three Stanley Cup wins for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Radim Vrbata

All four players fall into a similar age group, as Vrbata is 36 and will turn 37 in June. There seems to be little doubt that he’s done, at least in the NHL.

Vrbata finishes up with a 14-point season, a let down for a Panthers team that could have used the added punch. At the time of the signing, it seemed like a savvy, cheap addition, as he was coming off of a 20-goal, 55-point season with the Arizona Coyotes.

Then again, it was almost a meme that Vrbata was simply better in the desert. He’ll end up with 623 points in 1,057 career regular-season games (.59 points-per-game), with 343 of those points coming in 509 contests with Arizona/Phoenix (.67).

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Will more veteran players decide to end their NHL careers?

Here’s hoping the answer is “No” in many cases, unless it’s best for everyone involved. Either way, we’ll likely hear more announcements soon.

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.

The Buzzer: Kucherov hits 100, Berglund scores 3, another crazy Crosby goal

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Player of the Night: Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

It was a big night for Kucherov and the Lightning. Their 7-5 win over the Buffalo Sabres helped them get one step closer to winning the Atlantic Division and claiming the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference, and with a pair of points Kucherov became the second player in the NHL this season to hit the 100-point mark. The 100-point scorer had pretty much disappeared from the league in recent years but with offense seeing a slight increase in the league this season Kucherov and Connor McDavid were both able to hit the century mark this season.

Since the start of the 2011-12 season there have only been seven 100-point seasons in the NHL: Two for McDavid, one for Patrick Kane, one for Sidney Crosby, one for Evgeni Malkin, one for Daniel Sedin, and now one for Kucherov.

2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Schedule, Bracket, Streams and More

This is the first time since the 2009-10 season that the NHL has had more than one 100-point scorer in a season.

The Lightning now have 112 points on the season heading into the regular season finale on Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

If the Lightning win, they will win the division and get the top seed in the East. If they lose they will need to get some help and hope the Bruins (who play twice this weekend) do not pass them in the standings.

Player of the Night Part 2: Patrik Berglund, St. Louis Blues

Thanks to their 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night all the St. Louis Blues have to do on Saturday is collect one point against the Colorado Avalanche in order to clinch a playoff spot. A regulation loss knocks them out. The fact they are even in that position is remarkable when you think back to the NHL trade deadline when they were stuck in a terrible losing streak and had traded one of their top players, veteran forward Paul Stastny.

The star of the night for the Blues on Friday was Patrik Berglund for scoring three goals, including the game-winner just 12 seconds after the Blackhawks had tied the game at one.

It was a pretty slick goal, too.

Highlight of the Night

Sidney Crosby doesn’t score normal goals anymore. After scoring a couple of goals where he batted the puck out of mid-air, he was back to scoring goals from his office on Friday night. By office, I mean from four feet behind the goal line. Here he is intentionally shooting the puck off of Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson for his 29th goal of the season. Crosby does this at least two or three times a year. It is 100 percent intentional.

The Penguins were 4-0 winners on Friday night and secured the No. 2 seed in the Metropolitan Division which means home-ice advantage in the first-round. They now await their first-round opponent which could be either the Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers, or New Jersey Devils. By finishing in second place in the division it is guaranteed they will not play the Washington Capitals in the first round.

Ducks inch closer to home ice

The Anaheim Ducks kept rolling on Friday night with a 5-3 win over the Dallas Stars and are now just one point back of the San Jose Sharks for second place in the Pacific Division. You can read about their win on Friday night here.

Factoid of the Night

It is another tough year for the Buffalo Sabres, but at least their 7-5 loss on Friday night had a bright spot.

Scores

Pittsburgh Penguins 4, Ottawa Senators 0

Tampa Bay Lightning 7, Buffalo Sabres 5

St. Louis Blues 4, Chicago Blackhawks 1

Anaheim Ducks 5, Dallas Stars 3

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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.

The Buzzer: Panthers stay alive, Jackets and Devils clinch, Brown scores 4

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Player of the Night: Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers

It was a big night for Roberto Luongo and the Florida Panthers.

Playing in his 1,000th NHL game, Luongo helped the Panthers keep their slim playoff hope alive by stopping 26 of the 28 shots he faced in a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins.

The final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference is now down to just the Panthers and Philadelphia Flyers. Given what needs to happen the Panthers are still probably a long shot at this point, but they needed a win on Thursday and got exactly that. Now they need the Flyers to lose to the New York Rangers in regulation on Saturday afternoon while the Panthers need to win their remaining two games — at home against Buffalo on Saturday night and then at Boston on Sunday in a makeup of a game that was postponed earlier this season. Buffalo has already secured the worst record in the league, but the Bruins could still be playing for the Atlantic Division title in that game.

Player of the Night Part Two: Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings

For the past few years Dustin Brown looked like he was finished being a productive player, at least offensively. He has had a huge bounce back year in 2017-18 and will end up finishing with a career high in points after failing to record more than 36 points in each of the past five years. He played one of the best games of his career on Thursday by scoring four goals, including the game-winning goal in overtime, to help lead the Kings to a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild. He will not set a new career high in goals (33 is out of reach at this point) but the 28 he currently has would be tied for the second most in his career.

Players of the Night Part Three: Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

Just because you could not have scripted that game any better. Daniel scored two goals, including the game-winning goal in overtime, in their final home game with the Canucks. Read about it and see the goals here.

Blue Jackets, Devils are in

The reason the Eastern Conference playoff race is down to just two teams is because the Columbus Blue Jackets and New Jersey Devils officially clinched their spots in the playoffs on Thursday night.

Even though the Blue Jackets were on the losing end of a 5-4 overtime game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the point they gained was enough to get them in.

The Devils, meanwhile, clinched their first playoff berth since the 2011-12 season thanks to their 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The seeding remains up for grabs. The Penguins currently occupy the second spot in the Metropolitan Division with 98 points, while the Blue Jackets and Devils are just behind them at 97 points. That leaves a number of different potential first-round matchups still on the table.

We do know one first-round matchup

With the Nashville Predators officially wrapping up the Presidents’ Trophy, top spot in the Western Conference, and the Central Division we officially know at least one first-round matchup, and it will be the No. 2 vs. No. 3 matchup in the Central Division where the Winnipeg Jets will take on the Minnesota Wild. That series will begin in Winnipeg.

Blues get some help

The St. Louis Blues had the night off but they were still big winners on Thursday night because the team they are chasing for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Colorado Avalanche, ended up losing to the San Jose Sharks, 4-2. The Blues remain just one point back of that spot while the two teams close out the regular season playing each other in Colorado. The win for the Sharks gave them 100 points in a season for the eighth time in franchise history.

Highlight of the Night

Phil Kessel scored two goals for the Penguins on Thursday night helping him to hit the 90-point mark for the first time in his career. Both goals were absolute lasers and the type of on-the-rush goals that few players in the league are capable of. His second of the game, which was also the game-winning goal in overtime, was the best of the bunch.

Highlight of the Night Part Two

The Sedins stole the show in Vancouver on Thursday night but this Brandon Leipsic goal to tie the game at three in the third period deserves some attention. Without this goal we do not get overtime for the Sedins to have their storybook ending on home ice.

Factoid of the Night

It has been an amazing season for the Winnipeg Jets, and finally getting some quality goaltending is a big reason why. Connor Hellebuyck won his 43rd game of the season in the Jets’ 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Thursday, tying him with Tom Barrasso for most wins in a season by an American-born goalie. Of course it is in the shootout era so all asterisks that you want to use for goalie win totals in this era are in play, but it is still an incredible season for him.

Scores

New Jersey Devils 2, Toronto Maple Leafs 1

New York Islanders 2, New York Rangers 1

Philadelphia Flyer 4, Carolina Hurricanes 3

Nashville Predators 4, Washington Capitals 3

Pittsburgh Penguins 5, Columbus Blue Jackets 4

Montreal Canadiens 4, Detroit Red Wings 3

Florida Panthers 3, Boston Bruins 2

Winnipeg Jets 2, Calgary Flames 1

Edmonton Oilers 4, Vegas Golden Knights 3

Vancouver Canucks 4, Arizona Coyotes 3

San Jose Sharks 4, Colorado Avalanche 2

Los Angeles Kings 5, Minnesota Wild 4

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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.

Sedins provide dramatic ending in Canucks’ home finale

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After announcing their retirement earlier this week Henrik and Daniel Sedin, the greatest and most productive players to ever play for the Vancouver Canucks, said goodbye to the only NHL city they have known on Thursday night in the final home game of their careers.

It turned out to be a fitting goodbye and an amazing night that could not have possibly been scripted any better.

The Canucks overcame a two-goal third period deficit to pick up a 4-3 overtime win thanks to a game-winning goal from Daniel, set up by Henrik.

You could not have drawn that up any better.

It was Daniel’s second goal of the game after also scoring a second period goal to tie the game at one.

It was a vintage Sedin play.

The atmosphere in the building seemed absolutely electric all night. Every time the twins hit the ice the Vancouver crowd roared and spent the night chanting “Hall of Fame,” and “Go Sedins Go.”

It all started with this.

After the game every member of the Coyotes, as well as all four officials, shook the Sedin’s hands at center ice, an event that is usually only reserved for the end of a playoff series. They were also the named the only stars of the game instead of the traditional three stars.

They took a final skate around the ice.

On Thursday the NHL put together an incredible package of numbers and accomplishments from their careers.

Among them..

  • Since they made their NHL debut during the 2000-01 season all 1,463 Canucks games during that time (regular season and playoffs) have featured at least one of the Sedin twins.
  • They will retire as the owners of seven franchise records. Daniel is the Canucks’ all-time leader in goals, game-winning goals, overtime goals, and power play goals. Henrik is the Canucks’ all-time leader in assists, total points, and games played.
  • They each won an NHL scoring title.
  • They are the only sibling duo in league history to each record 1,000 career points, while only three other sibling groupings have combine for more total points. The only brothers with more career points are the Sutter’s (five of them — Brent, Brian, Ron, Duane, Rich and Daryl), the Gretzky’s (Wayne and Brent), and the Stastny’s (Peter, Anton, and Marian). Obviously only one of those sibling groups is a duo, and almost all of that (all but four points) belong to Wayne Gretzky.
  • During their careers 36 percent of the Canucks total goals scored have featured at least one of them factoring into the scoring.

On a team level the Canucks made the playoffs 11 times, won back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies in 2010-11 and 2011-12, and reached the Stanley Cup Final once.

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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.

Two of a kind: Sedin twins retire from NHL

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In a heartfelt letter to Vancouver Canucks fans, Henrik and Daniel Sedin announced that they’re retiring from the NHL after this season ends.

The letter made it sound like they’re ready to hang up their skates instead of playing overseas in Sweden or the KHL, too:

Being part of the Canucks family for 18 seasons has been the best period of our lives. But it’s time to focus on our families and life after hockey. It’s time to help with homework every night. It’s time to be at every birthday party and to stand in the cold at every hockey rink, soccer game and riding lesson on weekends. It’s time to be at home for dinner every night.

The Sedin twins referencing 18 seasons with the Canucks really drives home just how long they’ve been a fixture in that organization. It probably also helps explain how hockey fans took those cycling siblings for granted; while we’ll probably never see a combination quite like them again, the Sedins have been a crucial part of the Canucks franchise since 2000-01.

It all began when Brian Burke made a complicated set of trades to land the Sedins with the second and third picks of the 1999 NHL Draft. Take a step back for a moment and observe the sheer volume of their great work:

Daniel Sedin, second pick in 1999: 2010-11 Pearson winner, 391 goals, 1,038 points in 1,303 regular-season games. Daniel also collected 71 points in 102 playoff games, including 20 in 25 games during the Canucks’ run to Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

Henrik Sedinthird pick in 1999: 2009-10 Hart winner, 240 goals, 1,068 points in 1,327 regular-season games. Henrik generated 78 points in 105 playoff games, with 22 points in 25 games during that 2011 run.

Daniel was “The Shooting Sedin,” while Henrik was the center who managed to snag an MVP trophy. There was never much sense debating which Sedin was better, as they were always so conjoined on the ice (although it’s still a fun argument to have). It was also amusing to imagine how either one would fare without the other, although such a novelty would probably feel wrong for more than just the twins in due time.

The Sedins announced their retirement with the Canucks holding three more games on their schedule: home games against the Golden Knights (Tuesday) and Coyotes (Thursday), along with a final contest against the Oilers in Edmonton on Saturday. It’s very much in keeping with the spirit of the Swedish brothers to avoid anything but the most dignified of a “farewell tour.”

You can read the full letter here, but one other passage stands out, as they praise Travis Green for laying down a foundation for the future. They don’t mention how difficult it is to imagine the Canucks without them, though, of course:

It’s time to let the next generation of young players lead the Canucks. Travis is building a strong culture and emphasizes a style of play we know will be successful. The team is in great hands, with people who care about its success and it’s headed in the right direction. We know there is a bright future for the Canucks.

The Sedins eliminated the “will they or won’t they?” questions about retirement, so now we just need to wait for the Canucks to retire their numbers and, if voters know what they’re doing, when they’ll be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Again, we’re not likely to see a combination quite like Henrik and Daniel again. All things considered, we should feel lucky we had the chance to watch them befuddle defenses for as long as they did.

At least we’ll always have that NHL ad:

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.