Given how important the youth have been to Finland this year, it’s probably not a shocker that the final seven roster spots for the nation’s World Cup of Hockey team skew young. But it is nice to see the kids rewarded.
St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has been around the game for a long time. He’s smart and experienced and there is almost nothing he hasn’t seen at the NHL level. That’s why when he spoke about the Blues’ struggles to score in the Western Conference final, it was, as usual, worth taking note.
After the Blues’ 3-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks that stretched their goalless streak in this series to 130 minutes and 45 seconds, Hitchcock was asked by reporters specifically about Vladimir Tarasenko, which is fair. He’s the centerpiece of the Blues offense and the player most likely to open the offensive floodgates.
Patrick Kane and Jamie Benn have a chance to double up on major trophies at the NHL Awards in June, but Sidney Crosby will be standing in the way of either becoming first-time Hart Trophy winners as the league’s most valuable player.
It was announced Saturday afternoon that Kane, Benn and Crosby have been selected by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association as the finalists for the Hart Trophy. For both Kane and Benn, this is unfamiliar territory as neither has been named a finalist for the award before, but Crosby is a finalist for the fourth time and is looking to add a third Hart to his ever-growing trophy case.
Kane, 26, has the greatest offensive season of the three players. He led the league in scoring with 106 points, finished second in goals with 46, third in assists with 60 and led the NHL in power play points. It was the best offensive season of Kane’s career, too, surpassing his previous career-high of 88 points. His fantastic scoring season was bolstered by a 26-game point streak that began on Oct. 17 and continued through until Dec. 16 when Kane and the Blackhawks were shutout by the Colorado Avalanche. Read more
Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, Dallas Stars winger Jamie Benn and Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby have been selected by their peers as finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award, formerly known as the Lester B. Pearson Award, which recognizes the league’s most outstanding player as voted by the members of the NHLPA, the players.
The three finalists make it a certainty that this season will see a first-time winner, though there’s no clearcut favorite for the award. For both Kane and Holtby, this is their first nomination for the award, while Benn receives his second nod as a finalist. Benn was a finalist in 2014-15 for leading the league in scoring, but he was one of the runners up to Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
None of the finalists are necessarily surprising, but Kane’s nod as one of the top-three vote-getters was almost a given. Kane, 27, led the NHL in scoring by 17 points, finished second in goal scoring behind Alex Ovechkin with 46 markers and Kane’s 60 assists put him in third place behind Erik Karlsson and Joe Thornton. In many ways, his season was a continuation of the previous campaign, where he was at or near the top of the league’s scoring leaders before he fell injured in late February. Read more
The Chicago Blackhawks aren’t used to early off-seasons, but it might be what’s best for center Artem Anisimov and his chance to help the club get back into Stanley Cup contention in 2016-17.
The Blackhawks announced that Anisimov, 27, has undergone surgery to repair a right wrist injury, and the Russian pivot won’t be able to return to action for at least six weeks, but could miss up to two months. The off-season will provide him the time to recover and rehab the injury, but it’s cost Anisimov his chance to suit up for Russia at the World Championship, which opens May 6. Read more
The 2015-16 season yielded an outstanding and deep rookie class, one of the best in recent memory. Obvious can’t-miss stars like Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, the top two picks of the 2015 draft, delivered, but they weren’t alone by any means. We saw an intriguing blend of stars in the making doing what they were supposed to do; late bloomers bursting onto the scene; and a wild-card rookie flourishing after arriving from the KHL.
The rookie crop included a 30-goal scorer, five 20-goal scorers and 12 players with at least 15 goals. Eight rookies topped 40 points. Two played in the All-Star Game. Eight started at least 20 games in net, and three had multiple shutouts.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have been attempting to rebuild the right way under the Brendan Shanahan/Lou Lamoriello/Mike Babcock regime and in winning Saturday night’s draft lottery, the most important piece has become available to them.
With the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs underway, the remaining casualties from the opening round are taking stock. For the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks, considered by some to be Cup contenders, their early exit raises questions about off-season changes.
A lack of skilled defensive depth proved the Blackhawks’ undoing against the St. Louis Blues. Chicago Tribune pundits Chris Kuc and David Haugh, along with USA Today’s Kevin Allen, believe addressing this issue should be GM Stan Bowman’s priority this summer.