Victor Hedman

NHL Bubble Wrap: Life during Return to Play; Updates on Crosby, others

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As the NHL training camp news shifts to playoff bubble news, the surroundings change, but some of the main considerations remain the same. For instance: we’re getting updates on the likes of Sidney Crosby, Dougie Hamilton, and David Pastrnak during this edition of the NHL Bubble Wrap.

Glimpses of life in the NHL Bubble: Food and games seem pretty solid

Confession: I was kind of crossing my fingers for the NHL Bubble food memes.

After all, NBA people had a field day with this one:

To my chagrin, and to more grins for NHL players, it seems like things are pretty top notch so far:

Mmmm, breakfast.

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy believes that the hub experience will be tight-knit, and feel like a “permanent road trip.”

While that brings up images of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” it sounds like there will mainly be video games and … Settlers of Catan?

You might be able to kill all the time between Monday and the start of exhibition games merely exploring the details of NHL Bubble life.

(Do you have “The Muffin Man” in your head now, too?)

[2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule / NHL on NBC TV schedule]

Injury updates for Crosby, Pastrnak, and more

Moving on from the breakfast (which may occasionally include grits) to the nitty-gritty:

  • Mostly good news for Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. Crosby was a “full participant” in Monday’s practice. That said, coach Mike Sullivan said the team will decide if Crosby will play in the Flyers exhibition on Tuesday. Does that make it (drumroll please?) a game-time decision? (That game airs at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN on Tuesday.)
  • Let’s keep piling on the happy stuff like ingredients into an omelette. David Pastrnak ranked as a full participant in Bruins practice. He even got up to some rascal behavior. Things aren’t as clear for fellow Bruins winger Ondrej Kase, though.
  • The Hurricanes still consider Dougie Hamilton “unfit to play.” Not great for a defenseman who put up Norris-level numbers, although reports indicate the injury at least isn’t related to his broken fibula from earlier in 2019-20. Here’s some comic relief for Hurricanes fans:

More on 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers, NHL Return to Play series:

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.

2019-20 Selke Trophy finalists: Bergeron, Couturier, O’Reilly

2020 Selke Finalists Bergeron Couturier O'Reilly
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The NHL announced Patrice Bergeron (Bruins), Sean Couturier (Flyers), and Ryan O'Reilly (Blues) as the 2019-20 Frank J. Selke Trophy finalists.

The Professional Hockey Writers Association votes on the award, which goes to “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.”

It’s been fascinating to watch the Selke Trophy debate evolve as advanced stats have become increasingly prevalent. While some PHWA voters may still weigh plus/minus heavily, the larger debate has become far more sophisticated.

With that in mind, you may see a wide variety of arguments for would-be Selke Trophy finalists. Despite being a winger, Mark Stone (Golden Knights) has commanded frequent attention. To many, Anthony Cirelli (Lightning) seems poised to go from dark horse candidate to future finalist. You’ll also see names you may not expect, such as Blake Coleman (now of the Lightning).

[2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule]

But let’s consider the three finalists for the 2019-20 Selke Trophy:

The Selke Trophy cases for finalists Bergeron, Couturier, O’Reilly

Four-time Selke winner Patrice Bergeron

Bergeron, 34, may have lost a few steps, but he’s still a key part of a Bruins team that ended up being the only squad in the NHL to eclipse 100 standings points. Bergeron dominates in the faceoff circle, and generally centers an incredible line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.

The Bruins center is tied with Bob Gainey for the most Selke wins all-time with four, while this is a record ninth consecutive time Bergeron has been a finalist.

Sean Couturier continues to gain mainstream attention

We’re finally probably at the point where Sean Couturier isn’t underrated. Or at least we’re getting there.

Couturier continues to be a workhorse who drives play for the Flyers, who enjoyed a surge to the Round Robin level of the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers. Couturier logs significant penalty kill minutes, contributes offensively, and is a beast on draws.

Maybe voters would prefer to give Couturier the award, rather than these other two Selke finalists, who’ve won at least one each?

Ryan O’Reilly goes for two Selke wins in a row

Some viewpoints hinge on which metrics people weigh the most. While there are certain analytics that bump Bergeron and Couturier down in the eyes of some, O’Reilly tends to bridge the “traditional” and “fancy stats” gap the most of the three Selke finalists.

He certainly checks the traditional boxes. ROR is another faceoff beast on a team that can be suffocating defensively. As much as these awards are based on 2019-20, O’Reilly certainly made an impression with his outstanding work during the Blues’ 2019 Stanley Cup run.

Bergeron and Couturier rank as inoffensive choices, but O’Reilly might be the frontrunner overall.

Then again, that’s for you (and eventually, the PHWA) to decide:

NHL AWARD FINALISTS
Ted Lindsay Award: Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin
Calder Trophy: Quinn Hughes, Cale Makar, Dominik Kubalik
Jack Adams Award: Bruce Cassidy, John Tortorella, Alain Vigneault
• Masterton Trophy: Stephen Johns, Oskar Lindblom, Bobby Ryan

Lady Byng Trophy: Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, Ryan O’Reilly
Vezina Trophy: Connor Hellebuyck, Tuukka Rask, Andrei Vasilevskiy
Norris Trophy: John Carlson, Victor Hedman, Roman Josi
Hart Trophy: Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin

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.

Carlson, Hedman, Josi are 2019-20 Norris Trophy finalists

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John Carlson of the Capitals, Roman Josi of the Predators, and Victor Hedman of the Lightning have been voted finalists for the 2019-20 Norris Trophy. The award is given to league’s top defenseman “who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.”

The Norris Trophy is voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association at the end of the regular season.

The winner will be announced during the conference finals.

[2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule]

The case for John Carlson: He led all defensemen in scoring with 15 goals and 75 points. Those 75 points are the fifth-highest total at the position in the last decade. Carlson only played 69 games due to the NHL pause, and his 1.09 points per game is the best by a blue liner since Ray Bourque (1.26) and Sergei Zubov (1.14) were productive in 1993-94. The Capitals’ vet was a plus possession player (51% Corsi), had an expected goals against per 60 of 2.7. This is his first time as a finalist and he’s looking to become the franchise’s first winner since Rod Langway’s back-to-back victories in 1982-83 and 1983-84.

The case for Victor Hedman: The Lightning defenseman was third in scoring among defenseman with 55 points in 66 games.  He averaged 24:04 of ice time per night, posted a 2.14 expected goals against per 60, and his 54% Corsi was in the top 10 for blue liners, per Evolving Hockey. This is Hedman’s fourth straight season as a Norris finalist; he won the award in 2017-18.

The case for Roman Josi: Josi (65 points) finished behind Carlson in scoring among defensemen and, like the Capitals blue liner, led his team in points. His impact on the Predators was noticeable. When he was on the ice, the team had nearly a 20% better chance to score compared to league average versus less than 1% when he was off, per HockeyViz. He posted a 53% Corsi rating and a 53% expected goals for percentage, per Evolving Hockey. This is his first time as a finalist for the award and would be the first winner in franchise history.

NHL AWARD FINALISTS
Ted Lindsay Award: Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin
Calder Trophy: Quinn Hughes, Cale Makar, Dominik Kubalik
Jack Adams Award: Bruce Cassidy, John Tortorella, Alain Vigneault
• Masterton Trophy: Stephen Johns, Oskar Lindblom, Bobby Ryan

Lady Byng Trophy: Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, Ryan O’Reilly
Vezina Trophy: Connor Hellebuyck, Tuukka Rask, Andrei Vasilevskiy
Selke Trophy: Patrice Bergeron, Sean Couturier, Ryan O'Reilly
Hart Trophy: Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin

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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.

NHL Training Camp News Day 5: Pastrnak under quarantine; Boyle OK’d to play

While Tuukka Rask returned to practice on Thursday, the Bruins were again missing a pair of wingers. David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were again deemed “unfit to participate” with no details about their absences coming from the team.

The lack of information about any player’s status has predictably led to guessing games. Photos of the two Bruins skating at a local Boston rink surfaced this week, leading to head coach Bruce Cassidy being asked if they were being disciplined for something.

It turns out that, according to Pastrnak’s agent, he’s under quarantine after coming into contact with someone who was COVID-19 positive. J.P. Barry told The Athletic that his client has tested negative, but it’s unknown how long he’ll be isolated from the team. The Bruins are expected to fly to Toronto July 26.

Boyle OK’d to play

As of the Monday deadline, we saw six players and one assistant coach opt out of the Return to Play for various reasons. Some had family concerns and others cited personal health issues that will prevent them from playing.

One player who could have fallen into that group is Brian Boyle of the Panthers. Two years ago he beat chronic myeloid leukemia, but he said Friday doctors told him he is not at any risk when it comes to COVID-19.

“I looked into it, of course,” he said. “As far as my health and where I’m at, everything’s been great. Everything’s all zeroes with the testing, but I have to make sure, so I called up to Dana-Farber [Cancer Institute in Boston] and made sure with my hematologist there, and he was very positive and said, ‘However you’re feeling, the numbers show you’re no more at risk.'”

Kaapo Kakko, who is a Type 1 diabetic, was also a player some thought might have to opt out. But the 19-year-old Rangers rookie was cleared to play after speaking with doctors at home in Finland and with the team’s medical staff.

“I want to play, and I’m so young that my diabetes is OK right now,” Kakko said. “Just keep sugars down and it’s going to be OK.”

Caleb Jones reveals COVID-19 diagnosis

The Oilers defenseman told reporters he had a asymptomatic positive COVID-19 test two weeks ago. He’s fully healthy after staying in isolation.

Lightning power play adds Stamkos

Steven Stamkos did not skate in the full-team practice but did participate in power play work in a unit with Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Alex Killorn, and Victor Hedman.

The Lightning captain has yet to practice with the rest of his teammates after he sustained an injury during Phase 2 workouts. At the start of training camp GM Julien BriseBois said he was confident Stamkos would be in the lineup when Tampa takes on the Capitals Aug 3.

Status known for Crawford

There’s been no sign of Corey Crawford as Blackhawks camp got under way. When will he hit the ice? That’s still an unknown, according to head coach Jeremy Colliton.

“We don’t know. For now, that’s how we’re describing it as ‘unfit to participate,'” Colliton told WGN Radio. “We’ll see. There’s still time.”

Crawford also did not skate during the Phase 2 workouts which began June 8. As of right now, the team’s goaltending depth chart features Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen, Malcolm Subban, and Matt Tomkins. (What, no Scott Foster?)

“For now, there’s no change, but certainly haven’t ruled [Crawford] out going forward,” Colliton said after Friday’s skate.

The Blackhawks play the Oilers in their Stanley Cup Qualifier series with Game 1 coming on Aug 1. They will face the Blues in their only exhibition game on July 29.

A nice sight to see

Flower blooms in Vegas

While Crawford remains out, Marc-Andre Fleury appeared on the ice for the first time this week. After sitting out the first three days with what the team called “maintenance,” the goaltender joined his teammates Thursday.

The Golden Knights are one of those teams that have options in net between Fleury and Robin Lehner. Camp will give head coach Peter DeBoer a good idea of who he’ll go with to start the round-robin.

“I’m not going to be afraid to play either goalie,” he said. “I’m not sure what it’s going to look like. I’m going to keep an open mind with this because we have two great goalies.”

MORE: 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

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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.

Hellebuyck, Rask, Vasilevskiy voted 2019-20 Vezina Trophy finalists

Connor Hellebuyck of the Jets, Tuukka Rask of the Bruins and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning have been named the three finalists for the 2019-20 Vezina Trophy. The award, which is voted on by the NHL’s 31 general managers, is given to the goaltender “adjudged to be the best at this position.”

Vasilevskiy was a first-time winner last season.

The winner will be announced during the conference finals.

[2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule]

The case for Connor Hellebuyck: The Jets netminder was a workhorse this season leading all goalies in games played (58), shots faced (1,796), saves (1,656), and was second in minutes played (3,268:33). His .929 5-on-5 save percentage was fifth-best in the NHL and his six shutouts were tops in the league. How valuable was he for Winnipeg? He helped his team win 31 of their 37 games during the regular season and he faced 37-or-more shots in 13 games, posting a .948 save percentage over that span. A win would make him the first in franchise history to capture the Vezina.

The case for Tuukka Rask: No goalie in the NHL had a better 5-on-5 save percentage (.941) or goals saved above average (19.69) than the Bruins netminder. He was right behind Hellebuyck in shutouts with five. Along with Jaroslav Halak, the Boston tandem won the William Jennings Trophy as the goaltenders on the team allowing the fewest regular-season goals. Rask won the award back in 2013-14.

The case for Andrei Vasilevskiy: He led all goaltenders in wins (35), was third in overall ice time (3,121:54), was fourth in goals saved above average (9.77), and was sixth in even strength save percentage (.927) among netminders with at least 40 starts. One of Vasilevskiy’s highlights was leading the Lightning on a 21-game point streak (19-0-2) and helping them win 21 of his final 27 regular season starts. This is the third straight season he’s been a finalist and he would become the first back-to-back winner of the award since Martin Brodeur in 2006-07 and 2007-08.

NHL AWARD FINALISTS
Ted Lindsay Award: Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin
Calder Trophy: Quinn Hughes, Cale Makar, Dominik Kubalik
Jack Adams Award: Bruce Cassidy, John Tortorella, Alain Vigneault
Lady Byng: Nathan MacKinnonAuston Matthews, Ryan O'Reilly
• Masterton Trophy: Stephen Johns, Oskar Lindblom, Bobby Ryan

Selke Trophy: Patrice Bergeron, Sean Couturier, Ryan O’Reilly
• Norris Trophy: John Carlson, Victor Hedman, Roman Josi
Hart Trophy: Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin

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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.