Breaking down the important races in the final two weeks of the NHL season

Cam Lewis
March 25 2016 03:54PM

There are only two weeks left in the NHL season, and while most of the playoff picture seems to have sorted itself out and we know who the legitimate contenders are, there are still three interesting races to follow for that makes the final stretch of action worthwhile. 

First, there's a yard sale going on in the Eastern Conference (thanks largely to Boston imploding) in which five teams are separated by only four points, and one of those teams is going to end up on the outside looking in. And as a bonus, they all play each other a bunch of times to finish out the season, which makes it even more ridiculous. There's also a sorta kinda race going on in the West where the Wild have decided to be just bad enough to make it seem like the Avs have a chance to make the playoffs despite the fact they're arguably one of the worst teams in the league. And finally, there's a massive battle for draft lottery supremacy, as seven contenders are duking it out for a 20 per cent chance of having their name chosen in a random draw that we all know is going to be won by the Oilers anyway. 

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NHLN Awards Race: Norris Trophy

Cam Lewis
March 25 2016 09:00AM

The Norris Trophy is given to the league’s “top defence player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position,” making it somewhat of a conundrum to award. Some people view this in a traditional sense and seek the defenceman who’s the best at shutting the other team down, because that’s just what defencemen are supposed to do. Others determine who provides the most to their team by looking at their offensive production. Regardless, it’s not an easy task to quantify a defenceman’s ability, especially not when you’re trying to look at the big picture and truly determine all-around play. 

Fortunate for us, there isn’t really much of a conundrum this season. Yes, there a whole boatload of excellent defencemen in the league who deserve praise for different reasons, but this year, nobody has dominated the game from the blue line as much as Erik Karlsson has. Call him a forward, pseudo defenceman, or liability as much as you want, but the Senators are barely an NHL team when he isn’t on the ice, and what he lacks in strong, standup defence, he compensates for by completely changing the game in his team’s favour when he gets on the ice. 

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The Roundup

Nation World HQ
March 25 2016 05:00AM

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Video behind the scenes of the Phaneuf trade, Dylan Larkin for the Calder, Flames do virtual reality practice, Oilers and the salary cap going forward, players that teams could lose to expansion draft, Calder and Vezina trophy races, the Canadian tank battle and more in this week's Nation Roundup brought to you by DraftKings.

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NHLN Awards Race: Vezina Trophy

Cam Lewis
March 21 2016 09:00AM

On paper, this seems like a really easy trophy to hand out. Braden Holtby is challenging the league’s single-season win record, and as a result, he should certainly be running away with the award. While it’s true that he probably will, because those who vote for these awards tend to overvalue basic and meaningless statistics like wins, there are goalies in the league who have had much, much more impressive seasons than Holtby has. 

The Vezina Trophy is meant to be awarded to the goaltender who is adjudged to be the best at the position. With that considered, we need to break down how each goalie fares based on what their team gives them to truly determine who the best goalie in the league is. Last year, Carey Price was magnificent not only because he had a lot of wins and an excellent save percentage, but because the Canadiens didn’t make his life very easy. This year, while the results may be surprising, there are a few goalies who are being overlooked who have been absolutely fantastic despite their teams allowing them to be peppered with high danger chances all the time.

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NHLN Awards Race: Calder Trophy

Cam Lewis
March 18 2016 11:49AM

The Calder Memorial Trophy is awarded to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey league. After a draft featuring two phonemes last spring, it was expected that this was going to be a two horse race between Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel for rookie of the year. With McDavid missing significant time thanks to injury and the rise of a couple of unexpected late bloomers, the safe bets are pretty much out the window. 

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