- Harrison Mooney at Puck Daddy20 hrs ago
Here are your Puck Headlines: a glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
• Here's an interesting way to pick the first round: by painting your nails. Why didn't I think of that? Anyway. I would say she... nailed it . And now I nailed it with that joke. [Sports-Kings]
• John Tavares in response to rumblings that he's unhappy with the Islanders: "there's no part of me that wants to leave." [Newsday]
• Eugene Melnyk gives Paul MacLean a vote of confidence. [Senators Extra]
• Canada could support three more NHL teams, say economists. [Ottawa Citizen]
- Harrison Mooney at Puck Daddy1 day ago
Hockey Hugs is a feature that celebrates the best in hugging from around the sport of hockey, because who doesn't love a good hug now and then? Have you seen a particularly good hug photo lately? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet it to @HarrisonMooney.
The NHL's regular season is over, which means, 14 teams and their fans could probably do with a good hug.
Fortunately, this feature has several. A handful of times every night, you see, the two teams pause the game so one team can hug. It builds momentum. (After a hug, the bench is 10 feet tall.) It relieves pressure.
"We all know the pressure's there, we just have to deal with it and move on," Randy Carlyle said as his team felt the rigours of trying to hold onto a playoff spot. "Our job is to provide a template for players to feel comfortable. Some days it's a little more harsh, sometimes it's a pat on the back, a hug, whatever you deem appropriate."
Here at Puck Daddy, we always deem hugs appropriate. Which is why we're counting down our favourite six of the past month in the NHL.
- Harrison Mooney at Puck Daddy1 day ago
(Ed. Note: With its new playoff format, the NHL is seeking to create passion for fans and teams through forced, bracketed relationships. But hey, at first glance, the matchups are pretty sexy. All of this led to one ideal theme for our 2014 Playoff Preview: Tinder, the social media dating app. We hope you swipe right this postseason ...)
For the second year in a row, the Anaheim Ducks surprised us with their excellence. Sure, folks expected them to be good, but few had them winning the Pacific, let alone the West. The Ducks were an unstoppable force this year, racking up a league-high 54 wins.
Now the question becomes whether or not they can keep it up in the postseason, because this club posted similar regular-season results similar last year, only to fall at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings in round one. Another would be a disaster.Wed, Apr 167:00 PM PDTDallas at AnaheimPreview Game
Romance in Phoenix.
No. 1 Star: Craig Smith, Nashville Predators
Smith led the way in a strong Predators finish, with 2 goals and 2 assists in a 7-3 win over the Minnesota Wild. That's the second time in as many nights the Predators have scored 7. Perhaps this is Barry Trotz showcasing a new coaching style in a last-ditch effort to save his job?
No. 2 Star: Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers
Simmonds scored his 28th and 29th of the year in the Flyers' 6-5 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. His 29th is the reason Philadelphia left with a point, as he tied the game up with 10 seconds to go:
No. 3 Star: Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
It was an emotional night in Anaheim, where Teemu Selanne played his final regular-season game as a member of the Anaheim Ducks in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Though Nick Bonino scored the winner, Selanne was named all three stars in the victory, which is garbage, in my opinion. They should have made an allowance to name him even more stars.
(I kid. Selanne got the tribute he deserved in front of the Anaheim fans.)
But he wasn't the only one likely playing in his final regular-season game. So too was Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who backstopped the Anaheim Ducks to the Stanley Cup in 2006-07. In an incredible, moving moment, Selanne opted to share the stage with his former teammate, now the Avalanche backup, and the two skated a victory lap together in front of the Honda Center faithful.
I'm not crying. You're crying.
Giguere had yet to make a formal statement on the future of his career prior to puck drop, but when asked if this was it for him in the regular season, he responded, " Well I have flown in my family for the game."
Presumably, he didn't do that just to see Teemu off. (Although maybe he did. Teemu is special.)
With nothing left to play for, the Vancouver Canucks had to be hoping that the final game of their terrible season would come and go without incident.
No such luck. Late in the second period, Daniel Sedin was driven into the boards from behind by Paul Byron of the Calgary Flames. After he lay on the ice for a worrisomely long time, he was stretchered off the ice and taken immediately to hospital.
Rogers Arena can be an incredibly quiet building. But it's never been quite that silent, as fans sat and waited for a sign that Daniel was okay.
Byron was given a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct, both of which appeared to be reactions to the sight of Daniel on the ice. No question there was a push, but this one seemed more awkward than anything. It will be interesting to see how the league views it. Will Byron be unavailable to begin next season due to suspension? And if so, will the stretcher's appearance in the clip inflate the ban?
Henrik Sedin left with his brother, but did return.
If there's a team the Toronto Maple Leafs should try to emulate next season, it's the St. Louis Blues.
Not so much the toughness, or the decision to retain good hockey player Alex Steen, or the committment to team defense, mind you. Mostly, it's the way the Blues made sure to make the playoffs before they completely forgot how to play hockey.
The Blues closed out the season with their sixth straight loss on Sunday, and in so doing, handed the Central Division title over to the Colorado Avalanche, who finish with the same number of points -- 111 -- but hold the regulation and overtime wins tiebreaker.
Embarrassing. But relinquishing the Central isn't the end of the world. The Blues can survive not winning the division. They may not survive the punishment, however: a first-round matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks.
All eight NHL playoff first round matchups are now set. Here are the battles out West:
• Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars
• San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings
• Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild
• St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Considering the season the Oilers have had, this sign from tonight’s game reads super sarcastic.
No. 1 Star: Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Price was flawless Saturday versus the New York Rangers, stopping 41 shots, and he had to be, as this game went into overtime before Brian Gionta's penalty shot made it a 1-0 overtime victory for the Habs:
With the win, the Canadiens leapfrogged the Lightning, their first-round playoff opponent, for home-ice advantage. Tampa Bay has a chance to win it back in their season-closer on Sunday.
No. 2 Star: Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers
Voracek was in on all three of the Flyers' regulation goals versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring twice, then assisting on Claude Giroux's goal late in the third. It was a typically wacky Battle of Philadelphia, with scuffles galore and high drama: the Flyers and Pens traded goals in the final two minutes before going to overtime to settle things. There, Mark Streit scored to give the Flyers a 4-3 win and a 4-1 win in the season series.
No. 3 Star: Joe Pavelski, San Jose SharksWed, Apr 164:00 PM PDTMontreal at Tampa BayPreview Game
The Boston Bruins clinched the Presidents' Trophy on Saturday with a win over the Buffalo Sabres. Then, like many teams, they closed out their final home game with a "Shirts Off Our Backs" ceremony, with each player giving his game-worn sweater to a lucky fan, as opposed to the unlucky guy that does all the team's laundry.
Imagine the excitement of being in that line, with a player's name in your envelope. There's plenty of star power on the Bruins. Why, you might Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic or Jarome Iginla! So many fabulous players!
Then there's Jordan Caron, who played 33 games as the Bruins' spare forward this season, scoring once and finishing the season a minus-9. He also plays for the Bruins, and the fan that drew his name didn't seem all that happy to be reminded about it. Watch her cringe to the guy beside her before forcing herself to be a good sport about it as Caron skates her way:
If you look closely, you can actually poinpoint the exact moment her heart breaks in two. (I screencapped it above.) And then that's either a boo or a sarcastic "woo" afterwards. I can't tell.
The Dallas Stars wrapped a playoff spot with a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Blues Friday, a feat that has to be exciting for the Stars and their fans (and terrifying for the Blues and theirs -- what is up with that team?). But it's a little disappointing for hockey fans outside of Texas, who were sort of hoping the NHL would reach the weekend with at least one playoff spot still on the line.
Still, while some of the suspense is gone, what with all 16 playoff teams decided, there are still plenty of reasons to stay in this weekend and watch hockey (beyond the fact that hockey is awesome). Here are ten.
The Man, The Smyth, The Legend
The Oilers have been playing meaningless games for awhile now, but their season finale is a special one: it's the eleventh hour (actually the 1,270th hour, if we're being pedantic) for Ryan Smyth, who announced his retirement on Friday. It's sure to be a special one. Add in the fact that they're playing an embarrassed Canucks team they've battled with all season and you've got a game that might be imbued with a little extra spirit.