Top 10 NHL 2020-21 Calder Trophy Candidates
Blue Jackets and Stars even their second-round series at one game apiece, Calder Memorial Trophy finalists revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Matt Duchene scored in double overtime as the Columbus Blue Jackets edged the Boston Bruins 3-2 to square their second-round series at a game apiece. Artemi Panarin scored twice and picked up an assist on Duchene’s goal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panarin was the star of this game. His first goal came from a one-timer from the top of the faceoff circle while his second was an incredible snipe from a sharp angle. Duchene scored his goal by picking up the rebound from a Panarin shot.
This game saw plenty of hits, with the Jackets holding a 49-42 edge in that department. It’s safe to say the Jackets have shaken off the rust from their long layoff between series. This could end up being the most physical series of the second round.
The Dallas Stars also tied their second-round series with the St. Louis Blues with a 4-2 victory yesterday afternoon. Roope Hintz scored twice and set up another, Mats Zuccarello and Jason Dickinson each collected two assists, and Ben Bishop made 32 saves.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars also did a fine job of penalty killing as the Stars failed to cash in with five man-advantage opportunities. Hintz is enjoying a strong postseason. The 22-year-old Finnish rookie sits second among Stars scorers with seven points.
Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, and Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson are this year’s finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year.
THE SCORE: Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen isn’t concerned about being passed over as a finalist for the Calder. “I don’t care,” he told The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro. “They are good players also. So I’m having fun here in playoffs.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Heiskanen’s supporters believe he merits Calder consideration because he played a full season whereas Binnington was called up at midseason. The case can also be made by Binnington’s supporters that the Blues wouldn’t have reached the playoffs without him. I’m in the latter camp but I acknowledge Heiskanen’s had one helluva season and is well on his way to becoming one of the NHL’s elite defensemen.
NBC SPORTS: Washington Capitals blueliner Brooks Orpik intends to take some time mulling his future. The 38-year-old is an unrestricted free agent and there’s speculation he could hang up his skates.
THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports the Minnesota Wild are close to bringing in Mike Modano in a front-office role. He’s apparently close to moving his young family to Minnesota and could take on an ambassador-type role with the Wild. Modano began his career with the Minnesota North Stars in 1988-89 and moved with the team when it was relocated to Dallas in 1993.
Blackhawks and Blue Jackets eliminated, Calder Trophy finalists announced & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Roman Josi scored twice and Pekkan Rinne turned in a 30-save performance as the Nashville Predators defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 to sweep their best-of-seven opening-round series. The Preds await the winner of the Minnesota Wild-St. Louis Blues series in the next round. It’s the first time since 1993 that the Blackhawks were swept in a playoff series.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators deserved this sweep. They simply outplayed a veteran Blackhawks club that suddenly showed its age in this series.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 49 saves and Brian Rust scored twice to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets to end their opening-round series in five games. The Pens await the winner of the Washington Capitals-Toronto Maple Leafs series in the next round.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets have a lot of good young talent and a never-say-die attitude. Unfortunately, they lacked the depth and experience to take down the defending Stanley Cup champions. Fleury made the difference in this series. Filling in for the sidelined Matt Murray, he outplayed Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky.
Mika Zibanejad’s overtime goal gave the New York Rangers a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. They lead the series 3-2 and can wrap things up on home ice on Saturday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens’ anemic offense continues to hurt them. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist is a key factor behind this, but the Habs lack of scoring punch could be their undoing in this series. Leading scorer and team captain Max Pacioretty has yet to find the back of the net in this series.
David Desharnais scored in overtime to lift the Edmonton Oilers to a 4-3 overtime win over the San Jose Sharks, taking a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven series. The Oilers rallied back from a 3-1 deficit on goals by Mark Letestu and Oscar Klefbom to set the stage for Desharnais’ winner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Along with the Ottawa Senators, the Oilers are one of only two of Canada’s five playoff clubs on the verge of advancing to the second round of the playoffs.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski are the finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy honoring the NHL’s rookie of the year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Matthews is the favorite to win this one. Laine and Werenski had terrific NHL debut seasons and should be stars for a long time. Matthews, however, led all rookies in scoring and was a significant reason why the rebuilding Leafs reached the playoffs this season.
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Nikita Tryamkin confirmed he will play for Avtomobilist in the KHL next season. The 22-year-old blueliner voiced his unhappiness over his lack of ice time with the Canucks this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tryamkin is a restricted free agent this summer. The Canucks hold his NHL rights until he turns 27.
TSN: Former NHL linesman Dennis Henderson is suing the league and Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman for over $10 million. Henderson’s career was ended after Wideman hit him from behind during a game last season.
WGR 550: In addition to firing general manager Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma, the Buffalo Sabres also fired director of pro scouting Rob Murphy and the director of amateur scouting Greg Royce.