The Nation Notebook: Pittsburgh's defense, Ryan's redemption, and Shattenkirk

Christian Pagnani
May 15 2017 07:00AM


The Nation Network Notebook is a regular feature that rounds up interesting news, stories, and rumours from around the NHL that don’t quite deserve their own article. 

Pittsburgh might not be able to last with this group of defensemen in the playoffs. Bobby Ryan is scoring! Jean-Gabriel Pageau is a playoff stud. Kevin Shattenkirk wants a bigger role and teams will be lining up to give it to him.

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NHL Conference Final Preview: Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Adam Laskaris
May 13 2017 01:47PM

All aboard the Eastern Conference Final Choo-Choo!

One of these teams makes sense to be here, and the other is the Ottawa Senators. Sure, the boys from Canada's capital had a sensible enough path to make it through to the third round, but, really? How did we get here?

Credit where credit's due, Ottawa's come up clutch when it mattered and outlasted every other Canadian team this season. With fans dreaming of 2007 again, the stars just might be aligning for a miracle Cup run.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is in the Conference Final for the fifth time since 2008. They've won three of their previous four, being swept in 2013 by the Boston Bruins.   

Many Senators fans have claimed the team has been underrated by the media and public perception, but I really don't buy that argument. Not to go all "unsustainable success" and all, but their largest margin of victory these playoffs is one goal. They've scored 34 goals, and allowed 33. For comparison's sake, Washington scored 36 goals, and allowed 36 goals, and they're out. Edmonton scored 36 and allowed 35 (including a 7-0 outlier loss,) and they're out too.

Pittsburgh has scored 41 goals and allowed 31, Nashville has scored 31 and allowed just 16, while Anaheim is a closer comparable at 37 and 36 goals. What I'm trying to say is, another bounce here or there and maybe the Sens wouldn't even be here. Who knows?

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NHL Conference Final Preview: Nashville Predators vs. Anaheim Ducks

Cam Lewis
May 12 2017 10:50AM


© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

This is a series between two teams who finally got over the hump. After being eliminated on home ice in game seven three years in a row, the Ducks downed the young Oilers earlier this week, ending a streak of playoff frustration that's lasted for the past decade. The Predators, on the other hand, have always knocked on the door, but have never made it inside. This year, that's changed, as the Preds downed the Blues in order to advance to their first Conference Final in franchise history. 

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Future Free Agents: Joe Thornton

Cam Lewis
May 06 2017 07:00AM


© John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Thornton is a free agent. You know what team means? It's time to speculate whether or not his time in San Jose is over or not. This is a narrative we've heard for years, but after the team went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016, it's even more difficult than ever to imagine Thornton playing anywhere else. Could it happen this summer? 

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Being top-180 in scoring shouldn't make you a top-six forward

Shawn Reis
May 05 2017 04:16PM

There seem to be two main thoughts when it comes to what constitutes a top-six forward in the NHL. The more traditional perspective generally seems to say that anyone that puts up 50+ points in an 82 game season is at least a top-six forward. The other perspective argues that a top-six forward is anyone that finishes top-180 in scoring (30 teams multiplied by 6 forwards is 180 forwards). Applying the second perspective to the 2016-2017 season, a top-six forward was anyone that had a .43 points per game, or 35 points over 82 games.

But while the second perspective is more logical, I've always leaned more towards the first approach. After all, you strive to be a great team and have a great offense, and I never saw guys that could only muster 35 points in the top-six of a team like Chicago or Pittsburgh. But I also never really put this idea to the test until now.

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