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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Today In NHL History - Puck Hits Yzerman's Eye

On May 1st in 2004, Detroit Red Wings superstar Steve Yzerman was struck in the eye by teammate Matthieu Schneider's second period slapshot in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semfinals against the Calgary Flames, falling the captain and silencing fans at Joe Louis Arena.

Yzerman endured a four hour surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone and scratched cornea missing the rest of the playoffs and subsequent World Cup of Hockey, during which Joe Thornton and Joe Sakic refrained from wearing number 19 out of respect for their injured countryman. Yzerman returned in the 2005–06 season wearing a visor.

Calgary beat Detroit that afternoon by a score of 1-0 and stole Game 6 by the same margin to win the series 4-2, before eventually losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning by one goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

2016 NHL Draft Lottery Results

Tonight Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly presented the NHL Draft lottery results live on CBC, with the top overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, to be held on June 24-25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York, being awarded to the intentionally tanking Toronto Maple Leafs.
The actual lottery was conducted 30 minutes earlier in Sportnet's Hockey Central Studio in Toronto. In this video from 2013, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman offers a detailed explanation of the process.
Designed to guard against teams purposely losing regular season games to improve their draft position, the weighted lottery system implemented prior to the 1995 NHL Entry Draft provides weaker teams with a greater chance of a higher pick without any guarantees for poor performance.

Until 2013, only the league's five worst regular season teams were eligible for the top overall pick, allowing teams to advance up to four spots and fall only one spot in the lottery. That changed in 2013 with all non-playoff teams eligible for the top overall pick albeit with their statistical likelihood directly tied to their final regular season standing. Though, a team could still only fall one spot in lottery position.

In 2014, additional changes were implemented for the lottery to reflect the competitive balance of the league, with more balanced odds being introduced in 2015 and separate draws in 2016 for the top three positions (as opposed to just for the top overall pick), allowing the league's worst regular season performer to slip as low as fourth overall (as opposed to just second overall under the prior regime).  

For the first time in five years, the top pick went to the statistical favorite. The win provides Toronto with their first top overall pick since selecting Wendel Clark in the 1985 Draft, snapping the Edmonton Oilers streak of selecting first in four of the past six drafts (Taylor Hall 2010, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 2011, Nail Yakupov 2012, Connor McDavid 2015).

Adding to the excitement, the Winnipeg Jets (7.5%) and Columbus Blue Jackets (9.5%) snagged 2nd and 3rd spots, leapfrogging statistical favorites Edmonton and Vancouver. The chart below shows final draft position by team with accompanying odds of selecting first, second or third overall, along with their most likely seeding in the lottery.

Draft Position 1st Pick    2nd Pick    3rd Pick    Likely Pick
1. Toronto  
20.0%
17.5%
15.0%
   4th (47.5%)
2. Winnipeg
7.5%
7.8%
8.1%
   7th (39.3%)
3. Columbus
9.5%
9.7%
9.8%
   6th (33.2%)
4. Edmonton
13.5%
13.1%
12.5%
   4th (35.2%)
5. Vancouver
11.5%
11.4%
11.3%
   5th (37.8%)
6. Calgary
8.5%
8.8%
9.0%
   6th (35.5%)
7. Arizona
6.5%
6.9%
7.2%
   8th (39.1%)
8. Buffalo
6.0%
6.4%
6.8%
   8th (39.2%)
9. Montreal
5.0%
5.4%
5.8%
   9th (51.8%)
10. Colorado
3.5%
3.8%
4.2%
  10th (64%)
11. New Jersey       
3.0%
3.3%
3.6%
   11th (73.6%)
12. Ottawa
2.5%
2.7%
3.0%
   12th (82.3%)
13. Carolina
2.0%
2.2%
2.5%
   13th (90.1%)
14. Boston
1.0%
1.1%
1.3%
   14th (96.6%)

Per HockeyViz math wiz Micah Blake McCurdy, the lowest seven finishers (i.e., 24th to 30th overall) are more likely to fall one spot in the draft than to move up under the current draft lottery mechanism.

Remaining NHL Entry Draft positions are set after the playoffs with the Stanley Cup champion and runner-up picking 30th and 29th, respectively. Conference finalists (28th, 27th) as well as division winners and wildcard teams (26th through 15th) are then ordered among their respective subgroup based on regular season standings, positioning teams with better regular season records to pick later than their peers.

* See also 2015 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2014 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2013 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2012 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2011 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2010 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2009 NHL Draft Lottery Results.

Today In NHL History - Kirk McLean's Game 7 Save

On April 30th in 1994, Vancouver Canucks goalie Kirk McLean denied Calgary Flames forward Robert Reichel of an overtime open net opportunity in Game 7 of the 1994 playoffs' opening round, in what is now known in Canucks circles simply as 'The Save'.
The spectacular save set the stage for Pavel Bure's double overtime series winner, considered by many as the Greatest Moment in Canucks History, capping the Canucks improbable 3-1 series deficit comeback with three consecutive overtime wins against the Flames and igniting their Cinderella run to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Highlights from this historic Canucks Game 7 can be viewed below.
That's today in NHL history.

* See also Canucks Game 7 Overtime & Stanley Cup Finals.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7 History.

Today In NHL History - Steve Smith's Own Goal

On April 30th in 1986, rookie defenseman Steve Smith of the Edmonton Oilers accidentally played the puck off of goalie Grant Fuhr and scored on his own goal, putting the Calgary Flames ahead 3-2 in the third period of Game 7 of the Battle of Alberta Smyth Division Finals.
Smith's 23rd birthday blooper held up as the winner and Calgary took the series 4-3. The Flames would eventually advance to the Stanley Cup Finals only to lose to the Montreal Canadiens in five games.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Today In NHL History - Roger Neilson Surrenders

On April 29th in 1982, Vancouver Canucks head coach Roger Neilson surrendered to referee Bob Myers during Game 2 of the Campbell Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks in protest of poor officiating.

Stymied by seemingly unjustified penalties, Tiger Williams suggested throwing all of the sticks on the ice. Coach Neilson replied, "No, I've done that before, let's surrender". And with that, a white towel was raised on the end of a stick for all to see and Towel Power was born.

Neilson was tossed and the Canucks lost the game 4-1. They went on to win the series against the Blackhawks by the same margin, advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.

Some 29 years later the Vancouver Canucks unveiled an 800 pound bronze sculpture by Norm Williams outside of the coincidentally named Rogers Arena, memorializing Neilson's historic stand that inspired a team and a tradition.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Today In NHL History - Dale Hunter Hits Turgeon

On April 28th in 1993, Washington Capitals forward Dale Hunter delivered a late shoulder-separating hit on New York Islanders center Pierre Turgeon after the Lady Byng recipient converted Hunter's defensive-end turnover for the Isles 5th goal in Game 6 of the Patrick Division Semifinal.
Witnessing the foul firsthand at Nassau Coliseum, the newly appointed Commissioner Gary Bettman assessed a 21 game suspension costing Hunter $150,000, one-quarter of his $600,000 annual salary. New York beat Washington that night by a score of 5-3 to win the series 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.