Super 8

The not so Super 8 February 2

The NHL puts out their picks for the “Super 16” power rankings each week. They consider these teams the hottest in the NHL.

Every week I will take the eight teams closest to making the Super 16 cut, plus one bonus team (a team that made the Super 16 that should not have) and tell you what I think they are doing wrong and what they need to do to break into the Super 16.

Here are the team in the order that they missed the Super 16 by:

New Jersey Devils Super 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

Honestly, this one has me a little unsure. The Devils sit at 12th overall in the NHL and their record the last 10 games is 4-5-1. It isn’t stellar, but they are sitting better than a few of their counterparts that made the cut. Three of those losses came to the Predators, Bruins and Flyers, all very good teams. The only reason they missed is likely due to the fact that they were on a bit of a downward slide when the Super 16 was released.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE? 

They really need to have Keith Kinkaid step up his game as backup net minder. He has a less than stellar 3.10 GAA and a .896 S%. In addition to that Taylor Hall is leading the team offensively by a great amount. If some of their secondary contributors would step up the team would benefit greatly.

Calgary FlamesSuper 8

 WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Flames were the hottest team in the league to start the year off. They had a seven game win streak and an 11 game point streak. Even though they extended their point streak for 11 games they have lost six straight games.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The Flames need to learn how to hold a lead. In their last two losses (to the Golden Knights and Lightning) they held a two goal lead at some point in the game. Unforced errors lead to break downs in their defense and ultimately a couple of rough losses. They also need to start winning at home.

Columbus Blue JacketsSuper 8

  WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Blues Jackets’ record the last ten games was 5-4-1, not great, but not too bad. They mostly missed out here due to the fact that a few of their losses the ten games have been to pretty subpar teams (i.e. the Sabres and the Canucks).

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

They need to start beating the easy teams. In addition to that, they need to start beating some of the league leaders as well. They aren’t competing when it counts and it is costing them. Sergei Bobrovsky is playing incredibly well so they need to capitalize on that.

Carolina HurricanesSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

While the Hurricanes are on a three game win streak, they have a deep hole to dig themselves out of. Their record the last ten games is 5-5-0.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

Their net minders need to both step up. Both Cam Ward and Scott Darling are playing at very average levels. In addition to this they aren’t able to keep up with any of the better teams in the league, and they are losing by too big of margins.

Chicago BlackhawksSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They are sitting at 4-5-1 in their last ten games. They have put the beat down on lesser teams but aren’t able to compete with the top teams in the league.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The Blackhawks are surprisingly bad. They have all of the pieces. They are a team of all-stars, but nothing is clicking for them. Once they are able to click at the right time and actually start competing with the better teams in the league maybe they will climb out of this hole. They also need to improve their power play.

Florida PanthersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They have won two straight but are still just 4-5-1 in the last ten games. Much like the Hurricanes, they are often getting blown out by average teams.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The fact that they have both James Reimer and Roberto Luongo and they still aren’t able to have solid goaltending is shocking. Both net minders need to step up.

New York IslandersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They have two straight losses and a 5-4-1 record their last ten.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

They are getting pretty solid numbers offensively but they are backstopped by one of the worst goalie combos in the league. Not much more to say there.

Vancouver CanucksSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They have been consistently struggling not only this year but for the past four or five years. They are sitting at 5-5-0 in their last ten.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The player with the highest contribution is their rookie, Brock Boeser. The veterans need to step up and start contributing more and leading the team.

BONUSSuper 8

I don’t think it’s super surprising that the Philadelphia Flyers are the team I think shouldn’t have made the Super 16. They sit below three teams that didn’t make the Super 16 (Devils, Flames and Blue Jackets) and they aren’t even on a hot streak. They have lost three straight and their record the last ten games is 6-4-0, which is fine but still not impressive.

All team logo images courtesy of NHL.com

Featured image courtesy NHL.com

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NHL Awards predictions for the 2016-2017 season

It’s understandable to devote all the attention to tonight’s expansion draft. Lest we not forget, however, that the NHL Awards are happening too.

Perhaps it is mostly because the Vegas Golden Knights’ selections occur during the presentation, but this year’s awards are must-see as a hockey fan. From a heated Norris race to multiple options for the best coach and general manager, the finalists well deserve the recognition. These were tough decisions, but there are very few choices where the voters could err.

The postseason stat awards are already apparent: Connor McDavid collects the Art Ross trophy for the most points, Sidney Crosby the Maurice Richard award for the most goals and Braden Holtby the William Jennings nomination for allowing the fewest tallies.

Off the ice, Columbus’ Nick Foligno bagged two awards: the Mark Messier Leadership Award and the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. Travis Hamonic of the New York Islanders won the NHL Foundation Player Award.

Will these talented players receive more hardware than they already have? Find out below for the official predictions from The Game Haus.

Hart Trophy – Most Valuable Player

Connor McDavid is nominated for two NHL Awards.

Connor McDavid. Photo courtesy of NHL.com

Nominees:

Oilers C Connor McDavid

Penguins C Sidney Crosby

Blue Jackets G Sergei Bobrovsky

Crosby has history and hardware on his side in this race. The Pittsburgh star is a two-time Hart winner in 2007 and 2014 while collecting three Stanley Cups and two Conn Smythe Awards. McDavid and Bobrovsky are first-time nominees, with the latter reaching as high as fifth in the voting back in 2013.

The Columbus netminder had a phenomenal season, but this is a two-man race between McDavid and Crosby. McDavid bested Crosby in points even though he scored 14 less goals. The first 100-point season in Edmonton since 1995-96 is no small feat. Sid the Kid was still elite this season with 89 points.

In the end, the award is for the most valuable player. McDavid was absent on the score sheet for consecutive games just twice this year, registering points in 70 games. Patrick Maroon and Leon Draisaitl enjoyed banner years, while Milan Lucic and Jordan Eberle also performed well. McDavid’s 70 assists helped everyone’s cause, and his team reached the playoffs because of it.

Prediction: Connor McDavid

Ted Lindsay Award – NHLPA’s Most Outstanding Player

Nominees:

Oilers C Connor McDavid

Penguins C Sidney Crosby

Sharks D Brent Burns

This award seems redundant since it’s basically the MVP with a different voting pool. The only difference from the Hart is the addition of Burns, who had 76 points and 320 shots this season. Burns’ feats will be explained further in the Norris category, but he is undoubtedly worthy of a most outstanding player award. He makes this award tougher to choose.

As mentioned before, McDavid and Crosby each have worthy cases. Crosby is seeking his fourth Lindsay award, which would tie his fellow Penguin Mario Lemieux for second-most all-time. McDavid could be the third overall Oiler to win and the first since Mark Messier in 1990.

In the end, though, this is the same award as the Hart. It’s a difference of voter opinion, but it’s hard to say one clearly deserves one award while another does the other. With that in mind, this goes to the same player as the Hart, who overall was the best player this season.

Prediction: Connor McDavid

Norris Trophy – Best Defenseman

Nominees:

Lightning D Victor Hedman

Senators D Erik Karlsson

Sharks D Brent Burns

Finally, an award that McDavid can’t win! Instead, we get three players who were the backbone of their teams. Although the award technically is for the best defenseman, players over the years get more accolades for their offensive work as well. All three have played that part well this season.

Hedman has never made it to the top three in Norris voting. His 72 points this season and 53.4 percent Corsi rating have vaulted him there. Averaging 24:30 minutes of ice time is stellar. However, he’s not as talented offensively or defensively as Burns or Karlsson, so he likely won’t win.

From here’s it’s a matter of preference. Burns led the league in shots; Ray Bourque was the last defenseman to achieve that mark 22 years ago. Twenty-nine goals and almost 25 minutes of playing time per game are insane, too. He is an impressive shot blocker and a prime two-way talent.

If the award had voting through the postseason, Karlsson would win in a landslide. His postseason performance while injured was tremendous, and his 71 points, 26:50 TOI and 201 blocks are as well. However, the voting doesn’t include postseason performance. Therefore, based on a slightly better season, Karlsson will have to wait to grab his third Norris trophy.

Prediction: Brent Burns

Vezina Trophy – Best Goaltender

Nominees:

Canadiens G Carey Price

Captials G Braden Holtby

Blue Jackets G Sergei Bobrovsky

This category features the top two netminders across most of the basic statistics and another who had a 10-game winning streak this season. This is the hardest player award to predict based on how close two nominees are.

First off, Carey Price will likely not win. That winning streak is impressive, and a 2.23 GAA and .923 save percentage are too. However, they dwarf in comparison to Holtby and Bobrovsky. While he carried his team to an Atlantic Division title, Washington and Columbus had better seasons. Price was great, his competition is better.

As for that competition, it’s difficult to firmly say one was better than the other. Consider Holtby’s stats: league-leading 42 wins and nine shutouts alongside a 2.07 GAA and .925 save percentage. Now, match them with Bobrovsky’s numbers: 41 wins and seven shutouts, with a league-leading 2.06 GAA and .931 save percentage. How do you decide who was better when the stats are so close?

The deciding factor may come down to the Bob’s 14-game winning streak in December. He had another seven-game unbeaten stretch. Holtby’s best was a 14-game stretch without losing in regulation. This isn’t the best tiebreaker, but voters may have put more weight.

Prediction: Sergei Bobrovsky

Calder Trophy – Best Rookie

Auston Matthews can win the first of what could be many NHL Awards

Auston Matthews. Photo courtesy of NHL.com

Nominees:

Jets RW Patrik Laine

Maple Leafs C Auston Matthews

Blue Jackets D Zach Werenski

While the Hart and the Vezina are close, this one is more clear-cut. Matthews was the favorite the moment Toronto drafted him first overall in last year’s draft, but Laine and Werenski made it tougher for voters this season.

Laine scored 36 goals in his inaugural season with Winnipeg, leading the team and finishing second amongst rookies. He did it all at 18 years old. Werenski, meanwhile, was quietly the best rookie defenseman and a quality blue liner in general. He notched 47 points and was a +17 on the ice. He had more points his rookie season than Rick Nash. That’s insane to realize.

Unfortunately for both, Matthews had a special year in the NHL. This was apparent the moment he scored four times on Opening Night. He tallied 40 goals and 69 points on the season, leading the Leafs into the playoffs this season. This is an easy choice.

Prediction: Auston Matthews

Selke Award – Best Defensive Forward

Nominees:

Wild C Mikko Koivu

Bruins C Patrice Bergeron

Ducks C Ryan Kesler

There’s a mix of former nominees and newcomers for the Selke. Bergeron has won it three times and nominated three more times. Kesler won in 2011 and has finished in the top three in five total instances. Koivu is a first-time finalist who’s finished as high as fourth in voting.

Koivu had more blocked shots than points with 65 and 58 points. Kesler won over 57 percent of his faceoffs and ranked third in the NHL as a forward with an average time of 21:18 on the ice. He is likely the toughest one of the bunch to go against one-on-one.

The toughest out of all of them this year, however, as Bergeron, who did everything on the ice. He may have had fewer points, but he had more faceoff wins than Kesler (1,089 to be exact) and was more efficient in the circles. Bergeron goes up against many top lines and creates havoc on the ice. He can match Bob Gainey as the only four-time Selke winners.

Prediction: Patrice Bergeron

Other NHL Awards Predictions

Lady Byng Award for Most Gentlemanly Player – Wild C Mikael Granlund. Every nominee was a first-timer, so this is a toss-up. However, if you go 27 games without being called for a penalty, you need some kind of recognition.

Masterson Trophy for Dedication to Hockey – Senators G Craig Anderson. Easy money. His wife overcame cancer and he was lights out during her battle. The best story of the NHL this past year had a happy ending and follows up with a happy epilogue.

Jack Adams Award for Best Head Coach – Toronto’s Mike Babcock. All three candidates (Todd McLellan of Edmonton and John Tortorella of Columbus) turned around mediocre teams into playoff contenders. But did anyone expect the Leafs to go to the playoffs? Babcock created the right winning culture.

NHL General Manager of the Year – Nashville’s David Poile. His team’s run to its first Stanley Cup Final didn’t count in voting; it didn’t need to anyway. His offseason acquisition of P.K. Subban electrified the team.

 

Feature image courtesy of Cali Sports News

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