MacKinnon vs. Jones, NHL Math Class, & Pens are the Miami Heat of the NHL

New Memorial Day blog post on The PensNation: http://bit.ly/16kIIDO

math

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NHL Awards Preview, Messier Leadership Award

For my 3rd installment of NHL Award Previews (see Norris trophy and Calder trophy articles), I will cover the Messier Leadership Award. It is the newest award, with its introduction in 2007. The Messier Leadership Award has been presented to Chris Chelios, Mats Sundin, Jarome Iginla, Sidney Crosby, and reigning awardee Zdeno Chara.

What do these players have in common? They have all stepped up to lead their teams when they were needed most. Chelios won in 2007, the year after Steve Yzerman retired. Yzerman was not only the longest serving captain of the Red Wings, but the longest serving NHL captain of all time with a 20 year tenure. Those are some big shoes to fill, and Chelios did that without even wearing a “C”. When Chara won the award last year, he was both the captain of his team and a recent Stanley Cup winner.

Messier’s choices show a wide range of players. Some have formal leadership roles, while others step up when they see fit. Some players are defensemen, while others are forwards. Some leaders thrive in community initiatives off the ice, while others see on-ice success. Winners of the award have also been from a wide array of countries including Canada, USA, Slovakia, and Sweden.

According to Messier, this year’s candidates are Dustin Brown of the LA Kings, Ryan Callahan of the NY Rangers, and Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes.

  • Dustin Brown helped lead the Kings to their Stanley Cup win. He has respect from his teammates and rightfully so. Kings defenseman  Matt Green said (about Brown), “Well, he’s not a rah-rah guy, we don’t have too many of those guys in the room. But he knows how to lead, and he does it by example.”
  • Ryan Callahan led the Rangers into the playoffs as the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Callahan inspires his team by getting down to work and scoring goals when his team needs it. He is also an important leader for Rangers fans as the first NY native to wear the coveted Rangers “C”.
  • Shane Doan was instrumental in gaining the Coyotes first ever division title. The Coyotes also had an amazing playoff run despite low fan engagement and ownership issues. According to Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, “You don’t see all the things happening behind the scenes, in the dressing room, the inspiration he is to the other guys there, how he cares about this team and winning”.
All three players are fit to win the Messier Leadership Award. They are inspirational, talented, and are the go-to man for their respective teams. So who will win? Logic tells me it will be Doan who has faced so many club/off-ice issues and yet so much team success. However, it is hard to imagine that Mark “We are going to win it” Messier not choosing a Ranger as talented as Ryan Callahan.

Infographic: If the Stanley Cup Could Talk

I found this Stanley Cup infographic today. Very interesting information (although it is not updated to reflect the LA Kings recent Stanley Cup win). I mean, who knew the Cup could hold 14 cans of beer or that for a few months it served as a flower pot?

NHL Rundown: Update for the Ultimate Hockey Fans

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What is going on in the hockey world you ask? Simply, a lot. With LA’s Game 1 OT win over the Devils in the Stanley Cup final, the NHL Combine taking place this weekend, the EA Sports Cover Vote coming to a close, and Lidstrom announcing his retirement, fans are in the thick of tons of hockey news.

Here are the most important headlines:

1. LA Kings win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals in overtime. Kudos go to Kopitar who scored on a breakaway goal. See here: 

  • Sidenote: The Kings have never won a Stanley Cup. For those of you who think that is no big deal, consider the fact that the Kings became a NHL team in the 1967 NHL expansion with the California Seals.

2. Nicklas Lidstrom announces his retirement from the NHL (the year before the Red Wings play in the Winter Classic- do I see an alumni game all-star in the near future?)

  • Sidenote: Lidstrom has played 20 seasons with the Red Wings, and is still just as good as he was way back when. I mean, he won 7 Norris Trophies for being the league’s best defenseman. Check out his first goal ever here.

3. The NHL Scouting Combine finished up interviews with potential players and have now moved on to test athletic ability. The Combine takes place in Toronto from May 28th until June 2nd. TSN draftcenter is covering everything you could ever want to know about the Combine.

  • Sidenote: Teams are increasingly worried about drafting high profiled Russian players for fear that they will choose to play in the KHL rather than the NHL. What? You think someone named Yakupov or Grigorenko would want to play in Russia? I wonder why they are worried…
  • Various players in the top of the scouting class have injuries that are not quite healed. No one knows just how the injuries will effect the players’ draft position (Most notably Alex Galchenyuk’s knee injury). Yeah ouch. 
  • Sidenote: Malcolm Subban, PK Subban’s brother was at the Combine. He plays goalie. Who knew?
  • Sidenote: Top defenseman prospect Ryan Murray ended up vomiting after the Combine’s bike test to check oxygen consumption during intense exercise. To reporters he stated, ““I lost a little bit of my breakfast…too much bacon this morning.” Sounds like a comment an 18 year old would make. Oh yeah, he’s 18. Younger than my younger brother. Scary.

4. EA Sports Cover Vote for NHL 2013 has been narrowed down to only 2 candidates: Flyers’ Center Claude Giroux and Predators’ Goalie Pekka Rinne. Voting lasts until June 4th and the support for both candidates on Twitter is ridiculous. Giroux put out a message to fans on his own Twitter account, while celebrities like Carrie Underwood have come out in support of Rinne.

5. The NHL Draft and the NHL Awards are on the horizon. Not too much to say about this, other than I am getting excited. I am attending the draft this year. Let me know if you will be there and come ask me if I agreed with the choices at the Awards show (or tweet me @Fiveforboarding <shameless plug>)

6. Trades to watch out for: Rick Nash, Jordan Staal (Headed to Carolina with his brother?), Ryan Suter (Lidstrom’s replacement?), and Zach Parise (unrestricted free agent this summer).

  • Sidenote: And what about all this Tim Thomas craziness? Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli confirmed that “There’s a strong chance he’ll [Thomas] be taking the year off.” Why? Because he is Tim Thomas and he does what he wants. That was clear when he didn’t go with the rest of the Bruins team to the White House. Does he want to be traded? His no-trade clause does expire on July 1st… Time will tell.

History Will Be Made

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I know these commercials are old news, but I still absolutely love them. How many other commercials do you look up on youtube to see every one ever made and all the spoofs? They are inspiring and they really get your blood pumping. How could you not get excited for hockey after watching these? Here are some of my favorites.

Miracle on Manchester:

Flying Bobby Orr: 

Super Mario Lemieux: 

Pat Kane and the Blackhawks win the cup: