The 2018 NHL Awards will recognize the best regular-season players in a variety of categories, including most valuable player (Hart Trophy), outstanding goaltender (Vezina Trophy), outstanding defenseman (Norris Trophy) and outstanding rookie (Calder Trophy). The Ted Lindsay Award, which is presented annually to the “most outstanding player” in the NHL as voted by fellow members of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), will also will be awarded. Vegas Golden Knights’ George McPhee and Gerard Gallant are finalists for General Manager of the Year and the Jack Adams Award, respectively. New Jersey’s Taylor Hall, Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon are all finalists for the Hart Trophy.
• During a dominant Game 2 performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs, David Pastrnak showed that he’s ready for prime time. (Bruins Daily)
• The city of Humboldt has been changed forever by a bus crash on a Friday afternoon. The lives lost on that day will never be forgotten, but the people there will have to find a way to continue living. (SI.com)
• Now that Ken Hitchcock has retired, the Stars should look internally for their next head coaching candidate. (Defending Big D)
• There’s no way the Canucks will be able to replace what Daniel and Henrik Sedin did for them, but they need their young players to start contributing offensively now that the twins are gone. (Vancourier)
• The Hockey News ranked each fan base’s level of misery. It’s safe to say that fans of the Blues and Sabres have been tortured the most. Life’s good if you’re a Penguins fan though. (The Hockey News)
• Now that Ilya Kovalchuk has turned 35 years old, he’s officially an unrestricted free agent. He still can’t sign with anyone until July 1st. (The Score)
• ESPN looks at which teams have the most playoff experience on their roster and how that can or can’t help them going forward. (ESPN)
• Black Aces rarely get to participate (on the ice) in their team’s playoff run, but that doesn’t mean that the title is meaningless to them. (Eliteprospects.com)
• Kyle Okposo‘s on-ice performance has been disappointing since he joined the Sabres. He knows that he’ll have to spend a lot of time in the gym this summer. (Buffalo Hockey Beat)
• College hockey referee Dan Dreger was on the hook for a portion of his medical bills after taking a slap shot to the face that caused a lot of damage. (Grand Forks Herald)
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 Jokinenfloat around, which makes particular sense when you consider how Jokinen bounced almost cruelly around the league this season.
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.
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:
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.
Patrick Sharp takes a solo skate around the rink, saluting his teammates and the fans.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
With tonight's win, Connor Hellebuyck ties Tom Barrasso for most wins (43) in a season by a US born goalie…