Before you take a look at my post on The PensNation, I want to add a quick tidbit. In my article I didn’t state my opinion on who should win the Calder Memorial Trophy. Now that I’m on my own blog, I want to formally endorse Jonathan Huberdeau. Huberdeau was phenomenal all season, despite playing on Florida Panthers, the team with the worst record in the NHL. Huberdeau also tied Nail Yakupov in rookie scoring. Pretty impressive considering the talent Yakupov has on his line in Edmonton. I also know that Huberdeau is a great person from working on some of his marketing materials during my time interning at Octagon. Overall, a great choice for the Calder, and he would’ve had my vote.
In Las Vegas, on June 20, 2012 the newest NHL awardees will be crowned. Various trophies will be awarded to both players and coaches throughout the league. Although there is still a decent amount of hockey left before June, here are some of my predictions for who could be winning the prestigious James Norris Memorial Trophy (for greatest all-around defenseman) and why.
Last years winner: Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings)- Could Lidstrom win again? Probably not. I would argue that this was not Lidstrom’s year. Although he is always a solid defenseman, and one of the best to play the game, I don’t think he will take it this year (although its never wise to count him out, he has won it 7 times). He is getting older and with an injury to his right ankle, Lidstrom missed 11 games in a row in March. This has given him a solid set back to winning the title for the second year in a row.Other defenseman are making more of a splash this year with their power and offensive-strength. Here is one of Lidstrom’s better plays from earlier this year:
Front-runner: Shea Weber (Nashville Predators). Benefits of Weber: He is on track for career-best offensive numbers (only two points away from his final regular season point total from last year when he was the runner-up for the Norris). Weber is a major leader for the Predators team as Captain. He is also highest scoring defenseman on the Preds and plays a solid average of 25 minutes of ice-time per game. And we all know Weber has a ridiculous slap shot (we saw just how fast during the NHL All-star Skills Competition when he shot over 104 miles per hour and gave Chara a run for his money).
Front runner: Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators). On the other hand, Karlsson is having a break out year. Karlsson has already surpassed his point totals from last season, and has the 2nd highest point total on the Senators. He is young and is proving that he might be the d-man to watch for in upcoming years. Although Karlsson’s +/- isn’t quite as good as Lidstrom or Weber, he is still a serious contender because of his point totals. Karlsson is currently sitting at a staggering 73 points.To put this in perspective: when looking at point totals this season, Karlsson is the only defenseman in the top 80. This is even more impressive because Karlsson is number 11 (right in between Jordan Eberle and Henrik Sedin). Even though Karlsson has all those points, Weber still has a good chance of coming away with the win. Being a goal-scorer doesn’t necessarily win you the Norris. Here is a nice set-up for a Spezza goal made by Karlsson earlier this season:
Other potential candidates: Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins), Ryan Suter (Nashville Predators)
Agree/disagree? Anyone think Letang has a chance even though he was out with injuries for so long?
The other two teams with major 3rd period comeback wins on 1/31/12 were the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The black and yellow really seemed to be rocking the 3rd period last night!
The Bruins had a strong scoring streak near the end of the game to make them victorious against the Ottawa Senators. The Bruins started off strong with the first goal of the game (A power-play goal courtesy of Chara’s monster slapper from the blue line). The end of the 1st and the 2nd didn’t go as well for Boston. They were trailing 3-1 until the last minute of the 2nd when they started to make their comeback. Their last goal was scored with 12:51 left in the 3rd period to make the game 4-3 which ended up being the final.
Highlights from the Bruins game:
The Penguins game was equally exciting with Pittsburgh coming back from a 4-1 deficit in the 3rd period. The game ended in a tie at 4-4. This tie was made when Center Evgeni Malkin scored the Penguins 4th goal with 0.6 seconds left in regulation. OT went scoreless and Malkin was the only one to score in the shootout to gain the Pittsburgh win. Many Toronto fans were very angry with the outcome of this game because of a re-called goal from the first two minutes of play. Officials said Lupul was penalized for goaltender interference- and I have to say, I did not see what the officials saw.
Do you think the Pens deserved that win against the Leafs? Is Malkin getting enough credit from the news and the NHL for what he is doing for Pittsburgh? Does anyone see the supposed goaltender interference?
Alexander Ovechkin announced last week that he is skipping the NHL’s All-star weekend. After his announcement, many mixed reactions surfaced about his decision. His statement said, “My heart is not there. I’m suspended, so why I have to go there? I love the game; it’s great event. I’d love to be there, but I’m suspended. I don’t want to be a target. I feel I’m not deserving to be there right now. If I’m suspended, I have to be suspended, so that’s why I give up my roster [spot]”
Ovechkin was still upset about his suspension for his hit on Penguin Zbynek Michalek. Even Verizon Center owner Ted Leonsis and Capitals GM George McPhee came out to say that they both disagreed with Ovechkin’s suspension. You can see the suspension hit and explanation video here: .
Players weighed in on Ovechkin’s decision through twitter. Andy McDonald of the St. Louis Blues was especially upset with Ove’s decision (see tweet below). Another NHL player who took a different approach to Ove’s decision was twitter-addict Paul Bissonnette of the Phoenix Coyotes. He tweeted: “Hey, it’s too bad Ovechkin isn’t going to the All Star Game. NHL could have added a rap battle to the skills competition.”
Clearly players have different options on Ove’s decision, but what about the NHL’s viewpoint? Well, it seems to be wishy-washy. In 2009 the NHL started to crack-down on players deciding not to attend the All-star game. Both Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk were suspended for a game because of their decision not to go. In addition, an injured Sidney Crosby avoided suspension by flying out to the game and doing promotional work for the NHL even though he wasn’t playing. But this year, the NHL has not suspended anyone for not attending the All-star game. Ovechkin did not prove he was hurt (a stipulation enforced in 2009) and he did not go to help out with the promotions for the NHL.
The NHL’s decision to not suspend Ovechkin, Selanne, and Lidstrom (both Selanne and Lidstrom sited their age as their reason not to play in the game) could mean increased all-star back-outs in the future. If all-star players decide not to participate in all-star weekend it could mean a serious annual revenue loss for the NHL. Sponsors might back out, fans wouldn’t get hyped about the event, and merchandise sales would plummet. I mean, who would watch an all-star game with no all-star players?
Another argument regarding the NHL’s decision not to suspend Ovechkin is he is no longer as important to the NHL as he was a couple of years ago. For the past year and a half Ove has been in a major slump that has begun to eliminate his role as one of the main ‘faces of the NHL’. Without putting up the numbers, how can Ovechkin be viewed as one of the most important all-stars? Would the NHL be as accepting to a player like Evgeni Malkin or Pavel Datsyuk if they made a statement that they would not attend the All-star game?