Puck Daddy - NHL

  • During the Sochi Games, when Teemu Selanne was helping to lead Finland to bronze with a stellar performance, a smart hockey person told me a curious thing: That they anticipated Selanne would be a healthy scratch in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for Anaheim.

    Again, this is was odd, because (1) Selanne was playing out of his mind in the Olympics and (2) because one of the cardinal rules of managing a successful hockey team is that you don’t make Teemu Selanne a healthy scratch. Ever.

    And yet here we are: Selanne will be a healthy scratch in playoff game for just the second time in his career, deferring to young speedster Emerson Etem as the Anaheim Ducks try to get their offense rolling in Game 4 at the Dallas Stars.

    Why scratch Selanne? He has one assist in three games, that coming in Game 1 vs. the Stars. He had two shots on goal in each of the last two games. He has just four points in his last 11 games, and hasn’t scored a goal since March 23. The power play, where you assume Selanne would be an asset? Yeah, he hasn’t produced a power-play point since Jan. 28(!).

    All of this despite Coach Bruce Boudreau giving Selanne the most advantageous zone starts of any forward in the postseason for Anaheim.

    Why was this predicted back in Sochi? Because his play there was in contrast to what he had done, and how he had looked, for the Ducks. Sad as it sounds, there’s been talk all season that this wasn’t just Selanne’s last NHL season but that it needed to be his last season because he was inching closer to being a liability.

    And now he’s a healthy scratch in a pivotal playoff game.

    While we’d love to chalk this up to Boudreau’s linger ocho-phobia from this Capitals playoff days, in reality, it was time for Teemu to hit the press box.

  • LISTEN HERE! [And if that doesn't work, try here.]

    It's a Wednesday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:

    Special Guest Star: No one! Just your boys talking hockey.

    • The Habs sweep.

    • The Kings might get swept.

    • The Calder Trophy

    • Tonight's playoff action.

    Question of the Day: Jeff and Greg are GOING POSTAL! Ask us anything! Email puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarek. Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!

    Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Feedburner.

  • The day the Stanley Cup is presented is the best and worst day on the hockey calendar.

    It's the worst because it signals the end of another NHL season and we then have to deal with three months of finding other things to do with our lives. It's the best because the Cup presentation ceremony -- from the tradition of booing Gary Bettman to the captain's first raise to the ensuing on-ice player parade -- is emotional and can't not put a smile on one's face. 

    What we see on the ice those nights has evolved over the years. As YouTuber lostcanuck shows, the on-ice tradition of presenting and celebrating with the Cup has changed a lot since the Toronto Maple Leafs won it in 1949:

    • Taking off the top half of the Cup to celebrate just is not as cool as lifting the entire thing over your head. (Could you fill the bottom portion with booze, though? That could be a gamechanger.)

    • Nowadays, the Cup is brought to center ice by one of its handlers and placed on display with a nice NHL table skirt. Back in the day, it appears the league used to borrow one of your grandparents' card tables.

    • The way some players used to lift the Cup is interesting, appearing as if they're displaying it to the crowd, almost sharing the moment with them. Today, it's grab both ends and thrust the bad boy to the heavens and try not to fall over. Looking at you, Zdeno Chara.

    This compilation evokes memories of the best NHL playoff campaign they've ever had: "Cup Raise." In just under two months, lostcanuck will be able to add one more to this.

    Stick-tap Kukla

  • Wed Apr 23 12:56pm EDT

    Puck Daddy Playoff Live Chat!

    To celebrate the greatness that is the NHL postseason, your friends at Puck Daddy present a special playoff mega chat at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT.

    Yell at us about our awards picks! Yell at us about our playoff picks! Just yell at us to make you feel better about work stress! Whatever you'd like.

    You bring the funny; we bring the abrupt changes in tone and Hamburger Women. That's how it works.

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  • Forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche are the three finalists for the 2013-14 Calder Memorial Trophy, which is awarded “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition,” the National Hockey League announced on Wednesday.

    Or as we like to call it, The Nathan MacKinnon Award For Excellence In Being Nathan MacKinnon.

    The finalists are the top three vote getters from the Professional Hockey Writers Association ballots, who were also the top three scorers in the NHL among rookies this season, which we’re sure is a complete coincidence.

    The Lightning are the first team since the 2008 Chicago Blackhawks to have two Calder Trophy finalists in the same season: Also a center and a winger, named Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Maybe you’ve heard of them.

    So who wins the Calder?

    Why Tyler Johnson Deserves The Calder

    From the NHL:

    Johnson scored 24 goals to set a Lightning rookie record and tie MacKinnon for the lead among NHL rookies. He tied for the overall League lead in shorthanded goals (five) and tallied five power-play goals, becoming the second rookie in NHL history to record five of each in one season (Dennis Maruk, 1975-76). Johnson also led all rookies in total ice time (1,540:20) and face-offs (1,275). Signed as a free agent by Tampa Bay in March 2011, Johnson is the first undrafted Calder finalist since Chicago goaltender Ed Belfour took top honors in 1991.

    Wire to wire, he had a slightly better season than Palat, even if he didn’t have his teammates point totals or flashy play. That especially goes for his play on special teams. Palat got a lot of love for being taken 208th overall and making an impact as a rookie. Johnson has an even better rags-to-riches story.

    Why Nathan MacKinnon Deserves The Calder

    From the NHL:

    MacKinnon topped all first-year players in points (63), goals (24-tied), assists (39), power-play goals (8), game-winning goals (5-tied) and shots (241). The first overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft tallied at least one point in 13 consecutive games from Jan. 25 to March 6 (5-13—18), breaking Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record for the longest single-season point streak by a player age 18 or younger (12 games). MacKinnon is the fourth Avalanche player voted a Calder finalist in the past eight years, joining Paul Stastny (2nd in 2007), Matt Duchene (3rd in 2010) and Gabriel Landeskog (1st in 2012).

    So, in summary: He’s got the numbers, the records, the hype and the biggest impact of any rookie this season. Moving on …

    Why Ondrej Palat Deserves The Calder

    From the NHL:

    Palat ranked second among rookie scorers with 23-36--59, three points shy of Brad Richards' Lightning rookie record of 62 points in 2000-01. Palat was the League's top rookie threat over the second half of the season, leading all first-year players in scoring after Jan. 1 (17-27—44 in 42 GP, including 14 multiple-point games) and earning NHL Rookie of the Month honors for January and March. He posted an eight game point streak from Dec. 23-Jan. 9, the longest ever by a Lightning rookie, and led all first-year players in plus-minus (+32).

    He was insanely good in 2014, playing at a point-per-game pace from January through April. As anyone that watched the Montreal series saw, Palat’s also a more electrifying offensive player than Johnson.

    Who Wins The Calder?

    MacKinnon, although it won’t be unanimous. (Thanks, Mirtle.) There might be arguments to be made for other candidates, but it’s MacKinnon’s trophy.

    Our Ballot:

    1. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

    2. Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning

    3. Hampus Lindholm, Anaheim Ducks

    4. Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning

    5. Eddie Lack, Vancouver Canucks

    MacKinnon’s the closest thing to a slam-dunk as there is in these awards this season. Again, we felt Johnson was just a shade better than Palat, but you could flip-flop both and we’d be fine with it.

    If I have one weakness as an PHWA voters, it’s my affinity for defensive defensemen that get no love. Lindholm was the Ducks’ leading defenseman in corsi and played solidly for most of the season. You want Jacob Trouba or Olli Maata here instead? That’s fine. Let’s just all agree that leaving Torey Krug off the ballot was for the best.

    As for goalies, I give Eddie Lack a bit more credit than I do Fredrick Andersen just because he played well (.912) in what was an absolute circus for the Canucks. But again, if you wanted Andersen or Darcy Kuemper here instead, that’s fine. Who cares? MacKinnon’s winning anyway.

  • It’s been a while since we had a foot-in-mouth apology from Hockey Night in Canada’s Ron MacLean, but the venerable host felt it necessary to issue one after insinuating that French-Canadian referees would have the appearance of favoritism towards the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

    In case you missed it: Tampa Bay Lightning Coach Jon Cooper was “pissed” after their Game 3 loss because referee Francois Charron waved off an apparent goal due to goalie interference on forward Alex Killorn. “They deserved a better fate tonight,” he said of his players, before they were swept out of the playoffs in Game 4. 

    During Tuesday night’s Game 4 broadcast on CBC, MacLean suggested that there shouldn’t be a French-Canadian referee working that Lightning vs. Canadiens game because Cooper felt that one in the previous game jobbed his team.

    The Game 4 officials were Chris Lee and Francois St. Laurent, who we believe is Italian … no, wait, check that, he’s totally French-Canadian.

    (And also the guy who allowed Ray Emery to pummel Braden Holtby earlier this season.)

    From the CBC, MacLean’s take on the matter:

    MacLean said the fact the NHL assigned another French-Canadian referee to officiate Game 4 was meant to send a message to Cooper.

    MacLean’s view was challenged by fellow Hockey Night in Canada commentator Elliotte Friedman, who said it was “unfair” to suggest French-Canadian referees were partial to Montreal.

    “So you’re saying there should never be a French referee in Quebec,” Friedman eventually asked MacLean.

    “Just this time, after what happened in Game 3,” MacLean replied.

    Ugh.

    Naturally, MacLean went into full apology mode later in the evening.

    (Click the photo above to watch the video)

    So, for the record, it wasn’t like he was saying French-Canadian referees are in the tank for the Canadiens, he was just worried that Cooper and the Lightning would be upset with one in Game 4 because they believe French-Canadian referees are in the tank for the Canadiens.

    And of course, MacLean would have said the same thing had the Lightning been playing Edmonton or Calgary and a referee from Alberta had made a controversial call, because who hasn’t heard tales of match-fixing from nefarious Albertan officials trying to push the Flames and Oilers to the Stanley Cup?

    Wait, no one has? Oh …

    Again, for the record: MacLean was worried about the perception of assigning a French-Canadian referee for the game immediately following one in which a French-Canadian referee made a controversial call. But it was just about Game 4. He’s TOTALLY cool with a French-Canadian referee working Game 5, 6 or 7, where we’re sure this issue wouldn’t come up at all if there was another controversial call.

    Look, MacLean isn’t the first to believe the Canadiens get the benefit from French-Canadian referees. Please recall Peter Laviolette’s classic “Montreal Typical!” rant that was captured by “HBO 24/7”:

    It’s always been out there. In a way, MacLean was simply parroting a theory others have shared in perpetuity. But if we’ve known anything about the CBC host, it’s that he’s in the referees’ bag more than a whistle, so naturally any inference that they’d play favorites would have to be redacted.

    While we’re on the subject: Did we miss MacLean’s rant about the IIHF and the IOC assigning Canadian officials to the gold medal game against Sweden in Sochi?

  • If we had a most improved player award to give, it would be bestowed upon Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show.”

    Last May, Fallon attempted an “NHL Awards” bit on his late night show and basically tripped over the pronunciation of every name. And while we’re still not sure how a guy who nails the Boston sports stereotype like Fallon has in the past ("NOOOOMAAAAAR!") gets “Zoo-Day-No” out of “Zdeno Chara” – unless that’s the joke – the 2014 awards are pretty good:

    Poor Matt Niskanen. He’s never going to be able to walk into a pub again without someone making a darts joke.

    For the record: Brad Marchand isn’t the pizza delivery guy in a 1980s movie about skiing. He’s the horny best friend who gets left naked on a ski lift by the daughter of the resort’s evil owner.

    Overall, pretty good. And here we thought Duncan Keith was the only one who effectively mocks headshots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs …

  • No. 1 Star: Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks 

    The Sharks forward recorded a two point night with a goal and an assist as San Jose beat the Los Angeles Kings in overtime 4-3 to take a 3-0 series lead. After Tomas Hertl's goal midway through the third period tied the game, it was Marleau who ended things 6:20 into the extra period:

    No. 2 Star: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

    Rask stopped 23 shots as the Bruins shutout the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 to take a 2-1 series lead. The shutout was the fourth for Rask in his playoff career. Patrice Bergeron assisted on Dougie Hamilton's opening power play goal and later added an empty-netter, while Jordan Caron scored his first goal since Oct. 5.

    No. 3 Star: Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens

    The Canadiens completed the sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 4-3 victory on Pacioretty's winner with 43 seconds to go in the third period. They now wait to face the winner of Boston-Detroit. After building a 3-1 lead, the Lightning made a third period comeback, but a late penalty helped seal their fate and end their season:

    Honorable mention: The sweep was Montreal's first since their 1993 run to the Stanley Cup ... 11 different Canadiens recorded a point ... Dan Girardi and Martin St. Louis each scored a goal and recorded an assist, while Henrik Lundqvist stopped 31 shots as the New York Rangers downed the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 to take a 2-1 series lead. The Rangers blocked 28 shots to the Flyers' 11 ... Victor Hedman should have called "bank!" on this goal:

    Did You Know?: "The Sharks have won five straight overtime playoff games and 10 of their past 11, with Marleau scoring four game-winning goals during that remarkable stretch." [AP]

    Dishonorable mention: Anders Lindback was pulled for the second time in three games after allowing three goals on 20 shots.

  • It was looking like the Los Angeles Kings were going to fight off falling behind 0-3 to the San Jose Sharks when Jeff Carter tipped home a power play goal early in the third period for a 3-2 lead. The Staples Center was alive with hope. 

    Then it all came crashing down eight minutes later when Tomas Hertl scored after four whacks in front of Jonathan Quick to tie the game. In overtime, it was Patrick Marleau scoring his 60th career playoff goal to give San Jose a 4-3 win and commanding 3-0 series lead:

    (Click on the photo above to watch the video)

    The Kings now must regroup for Thursday's Game 4 and hope to make history with a comeback in the series. But improvements need to be made if they're to have any chance. 

    Jonathan Quick has an .840 even strength save percentage through three games. Only Ilya Bryzgalov is worse (.818). Jeff Carter finally broke through with a goal, but when Jake Muzzin and Trevor Lewis are your leading goal scorers (two apiece), that's not going to help you beat the Sharks.

    LA did a good job of slowing down San Jose at times throughout the game, clogging up the neutral, taking the Sharks' game away from them and winning the possession battle for the first time in the series.

    "We’ll play better tomorrow. It’s not like there was a death in the family or something," said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter on Monday. 

    The hole is dug and the Sharks are pouring dirt on top. 

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    Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • Daniel Carcillo last scored a playoff goal on April 26, 2011 when he was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.

    Three teams later, you can excuse the Rangers forward if he felt a little exuberant after scoring a goal during New York's 4-1 win over the Flyers in Game 3. It wasn't just a big goal for Carcillo, who was making his 2014 playoff debut, it was also one for his team.

    Aside from scoring in a big spot, Carcillo felt a bit of redemption.

    Minutes earlier, Carcillo took a hit up high from Matt Read that went uncalled. He then found himself in the penalty box with 11:24 to go in the third period and the Rangers up 3-1. New York would kill it and not long after Carcillo would close out Game 3.

    Steve Mason was well enough to back up and later replace Ray Emery for the Flyers. It'll probably be his net here on out as Philadelphia attempt to even the series Friday night in Game 4.

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    Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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