Sizing up the NHL Offseason Awards

Tim Thomas is just one of the many who could be awarded an end of the year award.

By Dan Rubin 

The NHL’s official final act of the 2010-2011 season will be to hand out its awards amidst the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. It’s the last day where the league celebrates the season it had, and it closes the book on a magical ride resulting in one team’s hoisting of the Stanley Cup. With news the NHL salary cap and salary floor are both increasing due to increased visibility, ratings, and revenue, there has never been a better time to be a player in the NHL. When free agency begins on July 1, there will be a crop of young stars waiting to make splashes in the new league, but first, we take a look and predict the winners of the major awards to be handed out on June 22, from The Strip.

 Hart Memorial Trophy (League MVP):

Nominees: Corey Perry (Anaheim); Daniel Sedin (Vancouver); Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay)

Who Should Win: Perry. Perry posted 50 goals and 48 assists for a Ducks team that finished second in the Pacific Division. He was the only 50-goal scorer in the league this year, a plateau that is impressive unto itself. He also scored a full 18 points more than the team’s second-leading scorer (Teemu Selanne), and he had 16 goals more than the next highest goal scorer (Bobby Ryan). Compare that to Sedin, who had the same amount of goals as Ryan Kesler for the Canucks and Martin St. Louis, who led his team in points by only eight and had a season’s plus/minus of zero. If both Sedin and St. Louis are taken out of the equation, their teams probably have similar seasons to the ones they had. Taking Perry out of the equation puts Anaheim down the barrel of the division and possibly out of the playoffs.

Who Will Win: Sedin. Perry’s plus/minus pales in comparison to Sedin, who posted a whopping +30.  Even though he was exposed in the playoffs, Perry doesn’t nearly have the name recognition. And even though he scored more goals than Sedin, the Canuck had a 104-point season that included 63 assists.  Overall, Sedin had the better numbers, even if he was on a better team. Plus, the face of the league needs to be recognizable, and voters know that.  Daniel Sedin is a much more recognizable name and face than Corey Perry.

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Rubin: Why Vancouver Doesn’t Deserve the Stanley Cup

The Canucks are one game away from winning the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, but really, do they deserve the crown?

By Dan Rubin 

There’s a part of me that, at the beginning of the Stanley Cup Final, didn’t mind losing to Vancouver.

As badly as I wanted the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup, I didn’t mind it if the Vancouver Canucks were the team they might lose to. I looked at Vancouver as a city that never really won anything, save for two other Western Conference championships. I remembered Vancouver’s shining moment when Canada took the gold medal out of American hands in the Olympics and thought, “This city is a great hockey town. I really want the Bruins to win, but if they have to lose, at least it’s to a hockey town with a hockey tradition.”

That whole feeling evaporated since Game 5.

When the Bruins lost Game 1, I didn’t know a whole lot about the Alexandre Burrows biting incident. I didn’t really know about all their unnecessary physical play and I felt the emotion was riding high, but it was right where it needed to be. But then, after Game 1 and going into Game 2, something totally changed, taking my positive attitude towards the Canucks, their organization, their fans, and the entire nation of Canada with it.

I realized the Vancouver Canucks do not deserve to hoist the most storied trophy in sports. They do not, and if the game expects to maintain its integrity, the Gallery Gods need to shine down and deliver the Cup to Boston, a place where it can have restored integrity and respect.

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Bruins Beat Up Canucks in Game 3, 8-1

The Bruins outplayed the Canucks on Monday and Tim Thomas denied 40-of-41 shots between the pipes.

By Brian Willwerth 

The Bruins lost one of their star players just five minutes into Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. They emphatically made sure they would not lose the game on their home ice.

Boston’s offense erupted in an 8-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Monday night at TD Garden. The Bruins cut Vancouver’s lead in the series to 2-1 – a series that’s starting to see bad blood boil over between the two teams.

The play that everyone’s talking about happened five minutes into the game.  Aaron Rome leveled Nathan Horton near the blue line. Horton was down on the ice for several minutes, and had to be helped off the ice on a stretcher. Rome got a major penalty for interference, and a game misconduct. Horton ended up in the hospital. Word came near the end of the first period that he did have movement in all of his extremities.

The Bruins and their fans viewed that as a cheap shot. And did it ever fire up the home team.

The Bruins scored the first goal of the game just eleven seconds into the second period. Andrew Ference’s shot from the point found its way through traffic, and past Roberto Luongo, to give Boston a 1-0 lead.

Four minutes later, the Bruins added to their lead on the power play. Mark Recchi’s pass went off Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler’s stick and past Luongo to make it 2-0.

Then Brad Marchand scored what may have been the prettiest goal of the series.  He stole the puck at center-ice, passed it off the boards to himself, broke in on goal and lifted it over a fallen Luongo to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead. And to top it all off, it was a shorthanded goal to boot.

The scoring didn’t stop there. David Krejci picked up the rebound of a Michael Ryder shot and knocked it past Luongo for the Bruins’ fourth goal of the period.

Boston got its second shorthanded goal of the game in the third period, courtesy of Daniel Paille. That made it 5-0. After Jannik Hansen spoiled the shutout, the Bruins scored three more goals within a 1:50 span. Recchi, Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder got into the act during that time.

And then, there was Tim Thomas. He was sensational once again. He stopped 40-of-41 Vancouver shots. Many of his saves were of the spectacular variety. Yes, we’ve said this before about him.

Game 4 is Wednesday night at TD Garden. Will there be any discipline stemming from Rome’s hit on Horton? That’s up to the NHL to decide. One thing is certain: we have ourselves a series.