Phillip Danault

Unlikely Selke candidate emerges in Montreal

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When the Montreal Canadiens traded Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2016, no one believed that they had acquired a potential Selke Trophy candidate. But through 48 games this season, Phillip Danault has shown that he has what it takes to be in the conversation for the NHL’s top two-way forward.

Over the last few years, the Canadiens have been thin down the middle. Danault has had to play on the team’s top line for a while, but no one ever expected him to be a go-to center. Most people still see him as a quality third-liner.

The 25-year-old has spent most of the season on a line with Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher. Those three have consistently gone up against every opponent’s best line. The minutes have been difficult, but those three have done a tremendous job of locking things down.

Danault opened the season with just two goals in his first 35 games, but he’s taken off since December. In his last 17 contests, the Habs forward has picked up 17 points. He’s now up to eight goals and 32 points in 48 games, which puts him on pace 55 points this season.

But let’s take a look at some of the advanced numbers that show us just how good he’s been in 2018-19.

He and his linemates are all in the top 50 when it comes to Corsi For Percentage. His 57.24 percent ranks 43rd in the NHL. The fact that the Canadiens control nearly 60 percent of the shot attempts when he’s on the ice is impressive. Keep in mind, he’s on the ice going up against Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Auston Matthews, Nikita Kucherov and so many other top players. That’s remarkable.

Also, when he’s on the ice, the Habs score nearly 60 percent of the goals that occur. Again, impressive. How about high-danger CF%? With Danault on, his team controls 57 percent of the high-danger chances that occur on the ice. He’s also the top faceoff guy on the team, at 53 percent.

“Phillip is playing some very good hockey. We rely on him a lot and we give him a lot of responsibility,” said head coach Claude Julien, per the Canadiens’ website. “He’s headed in the right direction. He’s often taking important faceoffs late in the game. He’s an extremely useful player.”

Over the last seven seasons, only three different players have won the Selke Trophy. Patrice Bergeron has won four times, Anze Kopitar has won it twice, and Jonathan Toews did it once. Bergeron is having a better offensive season than Danault, but he’s also missed 16 games so far. Kopitar and the Kings are totally off the grid this year and Toews is in a similar spot.

If Danault can continue to chip in offensively, while taking care of business defensively, he could find himself in the conversation for a nomination. Of course, he’s no slam dunk, but he’s been good enough to get himself on the radar, which is tough to do for this award, because voters usually hand it out on a reputation basis.

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.

Canadiens’ Phillip Danault takes slap shot to head

AP Photo
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On-ice moments don’t get much scarier than what happened at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Saturday.

Late in the second period in a game between the Montreal Canadiens and the visiting Boston Bruins, Zdeno Chara took a one-timer from the point that got high in a hurry and caught Canadiens forward Phillip Danault in the side of the head.

Danault laid on the ice for several minutes before a stretcher made its way out onto the ice.

Players on both teams, refs and fans stood nearly silent as the Canadiens trainers worked with Danault.

Pucks traveling at high speeds are inherently dangerous, but that doesn’t make plays like this any less difficult to watch.

Nobody knows the velocity of Chara’s shot better than the man himself. And Chara looked devastated by what laid in from of him.

Chara stood by Danault throughout the whole ordeal, and when they got him up on the stretcher and ready to wheel him out, Chara kneeled down and said some words to the Canadiens forward.

UPDATE: The Canadiens tweeted out that Danault has been taken to the hospital due to a head injury. They say he’s moving and awake.

Refs stopped the game with 1:37 left in the period, sending both teams to their respective rooms for an early intermission and resumed the game following the break with 1:37 left.

UPDATE: According to the Canadiens, Danault is at home resting after being released from hospital.

Here’s what Chara had to say after the game:


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

Report: Blackhawks’ Danault could miss 3 months after hip surgery

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Chicago Blackhawks prospect Phillip Danault could miss about three months after undergoing hip surgery, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazarus reports.

(Do note that the Blackhawks haven’t confirmed or denied the 22-year-old’s status just yet.)

Danault saw his first bit of NHL action in 2014-15, failing to score a point in two regular season games.

The 26th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft spent the last three seasons with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs, where one would assume he’d likely end up for much (if not all) of 2015-16.

Whenever he blossoms, the Blackhawks would like him to remind fans of Marcus Kruger, as CSNChicago.com reported back in July 2014:

“They told me they want me to be a Kruger,” Danault said. “So I’ll try to mold myself after Marcus Kruger.”

The Blackhawks still don’t have Kruger locked up to a new contract, so they might ask Danault to do that impression sooner rather than later. Before that happens, he’d need to have a clean bill of health, of course.

Barker released from Blackhawks camp

Defenseman Cam Barker didn’t survive the latest round of Chicago Blackhawks cuts.

The 28-year-old was originally a 2004 first round pick (third overall) of the Blackhawks was dealt to the Minnesota Wild in February 2010.

After bouncing around with the Wild, Oilers and Canucks following the trade, Barker was invited to Chicago’s camp on a tryout earlier this month.

Barker spent the 2013-14 season with Barys Astana in the KHL where he scored two goals and 12 points in 26 games.

Additionally, forwards Matt Carey and Phillip Danault along with defenseman Stephen Johns were assigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

Chicago currently has 21 forwards, 11 defenseman and four goaltenders.