Last season, the No. 1 spot on the Norris Trophy ballot I had the privilege of submitting belonged to Boston’s Zdeno Chara. But at the end of the breakdown of my vote for the Norris, I said “One of these years, though, Weber has to be the recipient”.
This is the year it ought to happen. And as it stands, I’m giving my first-place Norris vote this season to Predators captain Shea Weber. There are good cases to be made for more than a few blueliners (including Chicago’s Duncan Keith, L.A.’s Drew Doughty, Montreal’s P.K. Subban and Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson), but it’s about time the hockey world acknowledged Weber’s unique skill set.
Weber certainly isn’t having a career year on offense (that came last season with his 23-goal, 56-point campaign), but he’s in the top 10 among NHL defensemen in scoring in 2014-15 with 15 goals and 45 points. With an average ice time of 26:24, he’s nearly three full minutes behind Doughty (29:17) and slightly behind Preds defensive partner Roman Josi (26:28). But if you’re basing your vote strictly based on points or time on ice leaders, you’re voting wrong. The Norris goes to the blueliner deemed to have displayed the greatest all-around ability, not the one who makes the most highlight reels. And Weber’s multitude of abilities make him capable of hurting you physically, in any zone, and have a direct effect on the scoreboard at both ends of the playing surface. Read more
With two points Monday, John Tavares took a three-point lead on Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom in the Art Ross Trophy race. But Tavares’ 87-point pace is hardly the type of total we’ve come to expect of the NHL’s leading scorer.
Gone are the days of the 150-plus-point season, a staple of the 1980s, and maybe Tavares’ low total signals the beginning of another dead puck era. Or maybe it’s just an aberration – a point total lower because of goaltenders who are having their best statistical seasons or point totals that have been spread out by the constant insistence for a team to have depth and roll four lines.
Whatever it is, though, Tavares’ 87-point pace wouldn’t be the lowest the NHL has seen since expansion. It would, however, tie that mark.
Here are the 10 lowest point totals by Art Ross winners post-expansion: Read more
As we head down the stretch run of the NHL season, the race for the Art Ross Trophy has never been closer. Going into tonight’s games, three points separates first from seventh in the scoring race and there are just eight points between the top spot and 18th place.
There have never been more players clustered at the top of the scoring race, but star players are about to make history this season for another, more ignominious reason. As it stands now, not accounting for Alex Ovechkin’s white-hot scoring streak and based only on points-per-game to this point of the season, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby are on pace to score 86 points each to lead the NHL. (If that holds and they finish tied, Malkin would take the Art Ross on the basis of having more goals.) Read more
It’s been five years since we’ve seen a scoring race this exciting.
Flash back to 2009-10, when the ‘Greatest Player in the World’ debate was in full swing and Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin were neck-and-neck-and-neck in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy.
The whole contest came down to the last game of the season on Apr. 11, when Crosby scored two goals, Stamkos tallied one and Ovechkin failed to score. Ovechkin had the lead going into the day, but couldn’t keep up as Crosby and Stamkos passed him.
Crosby and Stamkos ended up splitting the hardware with 51-goal seasons, while Ovechkin fell one goal short in 10 fewer games played.
Not since then have the goal scoring leader and the runner-up been one goal apart at the end of the season.
Officially, the Frank J. Selke Trophy is awarded to “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.”
There’s nothing in there about faceoff percentage, yet that stat seems to have become one of the most important criteria for picking the Selke winner. Faceoff winning percentage comes up in the Selke conversation just as often as stats like plus-minus, shorthanded minutes and point production.
The problem with that is wingers are rarely taken seriously as potential Selke candidates.
COLUMBUS – Well, that was some “showcase of skill” wasn’t it? Unless of course, you consider bodychecking, backchecking, stopping pucks and skating hard for pucks to be valuable skills.
There’s a good chance that you’ve forgotten whether Team Toews or Team Foligno won as you read this. But it was a good weekend and good on the city of Columbus for being so hospitable and welcoming. And good on the players for letting their hair down a little and letting the fans in on the fun.
Now to more important matters, specifically the second half and stretch run leading up to the playoffs. Here are 10 storylines that should provide some compelling moments as we hit the most crucial part of the season: Read more
It’s hard to fathom that one of the most maligned players in the history of the Montreal Canadiens, one that was ridiculed for his lack of goal scoring prowess for years after those same Habs bought him out, and one who couldn’t get a contract in the NHL this past offseason has become the player that the New Jersey Devils have had to turn to.
Maybe it speaks more to the state of the Devils than it does the play of Scott Gomez, but it begs the question: where, exactly, would the Devils be this season without Gomez? Read more
If there is a hockey god, one of these years, Mike Babcock is going to get recognized as the NHL’s top coach. It didn’t happen for him last year, when he dragged the league’s second-most injured team to its 23rd consecutive playoff appearance; Colorado’s Patrick Roy won it then, and there was a good case to be made as to why he should’ve. Babcock also didn’t win it the season he led Detroit to a Stanley Cup championship; then-Caps coach Bruce Boudreau won it that year. Year-in and year-out, Babcock works with whatever lineup he’s been given – more recently, an injury-riddled roster with star players in their twilight, as well as youngsters developing their game – and wrenches the most out of it.
Despite leading the Wings to at least the second round of the playoffs in six of his nine seasons behind their bench, Babcock has never garnered enough votes among the NHL Broadcasters Association to win the Jack Adams. You understand why it’s happened – voters often look at the “which coach has reversed his team’s fortunes to the most shocking degree” formula (that’s the one Roy won on in 2013-14) – but sooner or later, we need to recognize the value of Babcock’s consistency as at least equal to the one-hit wonder coaches who may or may not have been the beneficiaries of extraordinary, unsustainable goaltending or another factor beyond their control.
If you look at the last 10 Adams winners, three (John Tortorella, Dan Bylsma and Paul MacLean) are currently looking to get back into the league after the expiration of their contracts with the teams that fired them; another three (Lindy Ruff, Alain Vigneault and Bruce Boudreau) were fired by the teams with which they received the honor; and another two (Dave Tippett and Ken Hitchcock) could feel the heat at the end of the current campaign. This isn’t to say any and all of them aren’t deserving. There are great arguments for different coaches every season. It is to say it’s wholly unfair to punish Babcock in the balloting because the Wings organization does an exemplary job of assimilating young talent into the NHL level. Read more