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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Today In NHL History - Bergeron Saves Goal

On May 22nd in 2010, Montreal Canadiens blueliner Marc-Andre Bergeron saved an empty net goal with 2 minutes remaining in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Flyers sophomore forward Claude Giroux found the Habs empty net 36 seconds later to secure a 3-0 win. Philadelphia won the series 4-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines

The time-honored tradition of NHL playoff combatants shaking hands upon the conclusion of a series is among the greatest displays of sportsmanship in professional team sports today. Seconds after the horn sounds at the end of a series, players and coaches from both teams convene at center ice to celebrate each other's efforts.

The videos below capture the final moments of play in each series-ending game to date in the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs along with the ensuing traditional team handshake line, sorted by round and series end date.

FIRST ROUND

The Golden Knights eliminated the Kings in Game 4 on April 17, 2018.

The Sharks eliminated the Ducks in Game 4 on April 18, 2018.

The Jets eliminated the Wild in Game 5 on April 20, 2018.

The Lightning eliminated the Devils in Game 5 on April 21, 2018.

The Penguins eliminated the Flyers in Game 6 on April 22, 2018.

The Predators eliminated the Avalanche in Game 6 on April 22, 2018.

The Capitals eliminated the Blue Jackets in Game 6 on April 23, 2018.

The Bruins eliminated the Leafs in Game 7 on April 25, 2018.

SECOND ROUND

The Lightning eliminated the Bruins in Game 5 on May 6, 2018.

The Golden Knights eliminated the Sharks in Game 6 on May 6, 2018.

The Capitals eliminated the Penguins in Game 6 on May 7, 2018.

The Jets eliminated the Predators in Game 7 on May 10, 2018.

THIRD ROUND

The Golden Knights eliminated the Jets in Game 5 on May 20, 2018.

In an age of results reigning over respect, it's encouraging to see such sportsmanship in professional sport, albeit with notable exceptions (Milan Lucic 2014), abstention (Martin Brodeur 2008Derek Boogaard 2007, Chris Chelios 2007Darren McCarty 1997, Ed Belfour 1995Billy Smith, Gerry Cheevers) and disdain (Dino Ciccarelli 1996) in recent years.

* See also 2017 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.
* See also 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Handshake Lines.

Today In NHL History - Buffalo Sabres Bat Attack

On May 20th in 1975, Buffalo Sabres center Jim Lorentz slayed a boisterous bat during a fog-filled Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals at The Aud. The incident marks the only known animal killing by a player during a NHL game.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Rick MacLeish kindly collected the deceased bat from the faceoff circle, sparing the linesman of the indiscretion, disposing it in the visitors penalty box then occupied by his teammate.

While birds have famously found their way onto the field of play for several sports (baseball, tennis, football, golf, hockey) over the years, often with unfortunate outcomes, dive-bombing bats are rare.

Buffalo won 5-4 in overtime but lost the series 4-2 to Philadelphia.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Today In NHL History - Preakness Trumps Playoffs

On May 19th in 2007, NBC abandoned overtime in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals in favor of two hours of pre-race Preakness Stakes coverage, blacking out the Ottawa Senators 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres, clinching their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1927.

The Heidi Game moment resulted in a ratings boost from 1.5 during the final half-hour of hockey to 3.8, 4.8 and 7.5 for the next three increments of pre-race coverage. An hour after Alfredsson's winner, Curlin won by a head at Pimlico running a 1:53.46.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Today In NHL History - Canucks Fan Flashes Eager

On May 18th in 2011, a proud Vancouver Canucks fan hoisted her Henrik Sedin jersey to flash her breasts for San Jose Sharks penalized enforcer Ben Eager in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final.


Though worthy of honorable mention, Tits McGee's pierced twins were ultimately upstaged by Daniel and Henrik who combined for 5 points in a 7-3 win, giving the Canucks a 2-0 series lead largely owing to Eager's cheapshots and chatter which earned him 20 minutes in penalties.

Eager was ejected from the match 24 seconds after this penalty expired and subsequently scratched from the remainder of the series, never again skating in a NHL playoff game.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick Fights Blues

On May 17th in 1995, Gino Odjick of the Vancouver Canucks attacked all five St. Louis Blues skaters in the third period of Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in response to Glenn Anderson spearing Pavel Bure in the eye earlier in the previous game.

The Canucks lost the game that night 8-2 but won the series 4-3.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick.
* See also Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick Runs Hasek.
* See also Today In NHL History - Odjick's Penalty Shot.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Today In NHL History - Pronger Elbows Holmstrom

On May 15th in 2007, Anaheim Ducks notorious blueliner Chris Pronger delivered a vicious elbow to the head of Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom midway through Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.

Pronger escaped penalty on the play but was subsequently suspended one game for the infraction. Defensive partner Rob Niedermayer collected a five minute boarding major for his role in the Norris sandwich.

Holmstrom returned after receiving 13 stitches, finishing the game with three points in a 5-0 win over the Ducks. Anaheim eventually dispatched Detroit 4-2 and went on to claim their first Stanley Cup.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Today In NHL History - Montreal Pregame Brawl

On May 14th in 1987, heavyweight Ed Hospodar of the Philadelphia Flyers incited a pregame brawl at the Forum attacking Montreal Canadiens sophomore Claude Lemieux prior to Game 6 of the Wales Conference Final.

Tiring of Lemieux and Shayne Corson's superstitious ritual of firing a puck into the opponent's empty net at the end of the warmup skate, Hospodar and Chico Resch returned to the ice to send a message.

Resch recalls: "I threw my stick to try and knock the puck away from him [Lemieux]. I was still in the mood that this was just fooling around. Hospodar took a different approach and he charged at Lemieux and he jumped him. I skated over and yelled at him, 'Ed, what are you doing?' And Lemieux looked up and said, 'Yeah Ed, what are you doing?'"

Et l'affaire en fran├žais.

The 11 minutes of ref-less mayhem delayed the faceoff by 17 minutes and drew $24,500 in fines. No penalties were assessed though Hospodar was suspended for the remainder of the playoffs. The Flyers advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals that night winning the game 4-3 and series 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Sylvain Lefebvre's Own Goal

On May 14th in 1994, Toronto Maple Leafs blueliner Sylvain Lefebvre scored an own goal with 3 seconds remaining in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinal against the San Jose Sharks when his clearing attempt struck teammate Peter Zezel and deflected past Felix Potvin.

Luckily for Lefebvre, the Leafs led 4-1 prior to the miscue and held on to win Game 7 by a score of 4-2, advancing to the Western Conference Final where they were eliminated by the Vancouver Canucks 4-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

NHL Presidents' Trophy Winners & Playoff Success

The Presidents' Trophy is awarded annually to the team with the best NHL regular season record. Since its inaugural offering in 1986, it has been awarded 31 times to 15 different franchises. The recipient is guaranteed home ice advantage for all four rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

Unfortunately for recipients, regular season success and home-ice advantage does not always translate in postseason success. The chart below shows each Presidents' Trophy winner by year and playoff result.

Year         Presidents' Trophy            Playoff Result
2018 Nashville Predators Lost Quarterfinal (Winnipeg)
2017 Washington Capitals Lost Quarterfinal (Pittsburgh)
2016 Washington Capitals Lost Quarterfinal (Pittsburgh)
2015 New York Rangers Lost Semifinal (Tampa Bay)
2014 Boston Bruins Lost Quarterfinal (Montreal)
2013 Chicago Blackhawks Won Stanley Cup
2012 Vancouver Canucks Lost Preliminary (Los Angeles)
2011 Vancouver Canucks Lost Final (Boston)
2010 Washington Capitals Lost Preliminary (Montreal)
2009 San Jose Sharks Lost Preliminary (Anaheim)
2008 Detroit Red Wings Won Stanley Cup
2007 Buffalo Sabres Lost Semifinal (Ottawa)
2006 Detroit Red Wings Lost Preliminary (Edmonton)
2004 Detroit Red Wings Lost Quarterfinal (Calgary)
2003 Ottawa Senators Lost Semifinal (New Jersey)
2002 Detroit Red Wings Won Stanley Cup
2001 Colorado Avalanche Won Stanley Cup
2000 St. Louis Blues Lost Preliminary (San Jose)
1999 Dallas Stars Won Stanley Cup
1998 Dallas Stars Lost Semifinal (Detroit)
1997 Colorado Avalanche Lost Semifinal (Detroit)
1996 Detroit Red Wings Lost Semifinal (Colorado)
1995 Detroit Red Wings Lost Final (New Jersey)
1994 New York Rangers Won Stanley Cup
1993 Pittsburgh Penguins Lost Quarterfinal (New York)*
1992 New York Rangers Lost Quarterfinal (Pittsburgh)
1991 Chicago Blackhawks Lost Preliminary (Minnesota)^
1990 Boston Bruins Lost Final (Edmonton)
1989 Calgary Flames Won Stanley Cup
1988 Calgary Flames Lost Quarterfinal (Edmonton)
1987 Edmonton Oilers Won Stanley Cup
1986 Edmonton Oilers Lost Quarterfinal (Calgary)

* New York Islanders
^ Minnesota North Stars

Of the 32 recipients through 2018, eleven (35%) qualified for the Final and eight (25%) won the Stanley Cup (1987, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2008, 2013). Of the 20 others, six (19%) were ousted in the Preliminary round (1991, 2000, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012), nine (27%) were eliminated in the Quarterfinal (1986, 1988, 1992, 1993, 2004, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018), and six (19%) stalled in the Semifinal (1996, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2015).

Only once in the past ten seasons has a Presidents' Trophy winner won the Stanley Cup (Chicago 2013). In fact, three teams during this span saw their season end in the opening round (San Jose 2009, Washington 2010, Vancouver 2012). Interesting, only three times in the prior 24 seasons did winners suffer such a fate (Chicago 1991, St. Louis 2000, Detroit 2006).

Earlier this week the Presidents' Trophy winning Nashville Predators had their season ended by the Winnipeg Jets in Game 7 of the Quarterfinals.  Once again, the regular season's best fails to achieve Stanley Cup success.

* See also NHL Playoff First Round Upsets.
* See also NHL Playoff Seeding And Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also Presidents' Winners & Defending Cup Champions.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Today In NHL History - Hextall Hammers Chelios

On May 11th in 1989, Philadelphia Flyers ferocious goalie Ron Hextall attacked Montreal Canadiens defenseman Chris Chelios after play was whistled offside trailing 4-2 with 1:37 left in Game 6 of the Wales Conference Finals.

The 1987 Vezina and Conn Smythe winner come single season goaltender penalty minute record holder (113 minutes in 1989) pounced in response to Chelios' unpenalized elbow on Brian Propp ten days earlier.

Hextall received a five-minute major and match penalty coupled with a 12 game suspension commencing the following season. The Canadiens eliminated the Flyers that night winning the game and series 4-2.

Asked 20 years later if the pair had made amends, Hextall explained:

"No, we’re not friends. I've talked to him a few times. You know what, honestly, when the game's over, when your career’s over, you look back at guys like that and you respect them more than anyone else because he is a competitor. He’s one of the top competitors in the league. I look at a guy like that, would I like to have played with him? Damn right I would have. Those guys that are competitive, there's a respect there even if you can’t stand the guy. There's a respect there that never goes away. When I was standing at the bench in Detroit two years ago when we were in town who comes over to talk to me? He does. It’s in the past."
That's today in NHL history.

Presidents' Winners & Defending Cup Champions

Since the inaugural offering of the Presidents' Trophy in 1986, awarded to the team with the best regular season record, its recipient has drawn the defending Stanley Cup champions eight times in the subsequent postseason. The chart below shows each meeting by year, matchup and outcome.

Year        
Matchup                                                                  
Outcome
1988 Edmonton Oilersover Calgary Flames
4-0 (Q)
1992 Pittsburgh Penguinsover New York Rangers
4-2 (Q)
1998 Detroit Red Wingsover Dallas Stars 
4-2 (S)
2001 Colorado Avalanche over New Jersey Devils*
4-3 (F)
2002 Detroit Red Wings over Colorado Avalanche*
4-3 (S)
2011 Vancouver Canucks over Chicago Blackhawks*
4-3 (P)
2013 Chicago Blackhawks over Los Angeles Kings*
4-1 (S)
2017 Pittsburgh Penguinsover Washington Capitals 
4-3 (Q)

*  Defending Stanley Cup Champion
(P = Preliminary, Q = Quarterfinal, S = Semifinal, F = Final)

In the first three postseason meetings between the regular season's best and defending league champs, the prior year's Stanley Cup champions won (1988, 1992, 1998) and went on to hoist consecutive Stanley Cups. The next four matchups saw the Presidents' Trophy winners oust the defending Cup champions (2001, 2002, 20112013) and win the Stanley Cup in every instance but one (Vancouver 2011).

The most recent clash occurred in the Quarterfinal of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when the 2016 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Presidents' Trophy winning Washington Capitals., snapping the previous streak of Presidents' Trophy winners advancing.

This meeting marks the 10th playoff series between the clubs, with Pittsburgh holding a 9-1 advantage and a 3-0 record during the Crosby-Ovechkin era. It's also the first time that the top two regular season finishers have met in the playoffs since 2001 when Colorado met New Jersey in the Stanley Cup Final.

The only opportunity for the 2018 Presidents' Trophy winning Nashville Predators to meet the 2017 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins would have been to rematch in the Stanley Cup Final. Neither made it out of the second round of the playoffs.

* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also NHL Playoff Seeding And Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff First Round Upsets. * See also NHL Presidents' Trophy Winners & Playoff Success.

Today In NHL History - Sami Salo's Balls of Steel

On May 11th in 2010, Vancouver Canucks oft-injured blueliner Sami Salo skated in Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals despite catching a slapshot squarely in the family jewels two evenings earlier courtesy of Chicago Blackhawks Norris winner Duncan Keith.
The Finn's miraculous return resulted in the well-deserved raucous chant "Balls of Steel", audible at the 1:00 mark of the video below.
Chicago beat Vancouver that night by a score of 5-1 taking the series 4-2 en route to their first Stanley Cup win in 49 years.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Today In NHL History - Bobby Orr's Goal

On May 10th in 1970, Bobby Orr scored the overtime marker in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals giving the Boston Bruins a 4-3 win and their first Stanley Cup in 29 years, sweeping Scotty Bowman's St. Louis Blues.

The image of Orr flying through the air with his arms raised after being tripped by defenseman Noel Picard at the moment the goal was scored is arguably the most famous and recognized hockey image of all time.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Walker Punches Ward

On May 10th in 2009, Carolina Hurricanes forward Scott Walker sucker-punched Boston Bruins blueliner Aaron Ward down 4-0 with three minutes remaining in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal.

Walker was penalized 17 minutes and assessed a $2,500 fine but amazingly escaped suspension despite Rules 46.12 and 46.22 mandating such for instigating a fight with 5 minutes to play. Ward didn't miss a game quieting post game chatter of a broken orbital bone.

Boston beat Carolina that night by a score of 4-0 but lost the series 4-3.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Pronger's Heart Attack

On May 10th in 1998, Chris Pronger caught a slapshot in the chest courtesy of Detroit Red Wings defenseman Dmitri Mironov causing the St. Louis Blues blueliner to suffer an acute heart attack, with his team down 4-1 with 16 minutes remaining in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinal.

Further footage may be found at the 3:35 mark of the video below.

Pronger recovered from the freak incident, returning to play four days later. Detroit beat St. Louis that afternoon 6-1, eventually winning the series in six games en route to their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Today In NHL History - Steve Yzerman

On May 9th in 1965, Stephen Gregory Yzerman was born in Cranbrook, British Columbia. Drafted 4th overall by the Red Wings in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, the pint-sized sparkplug reignited hockey in the Motor City.

In addition to his five 50+ goal seasons ('88-'91, '93) and six 100+ point seasons ('88-'93), including 155 points in 1989 (65 goals, 90 assists) a milestone surpassed only by Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, Yzerman thrice returned the Stanley Cup (1997, 1998, 2002) to Detroit.

Rounding out his resume Yzerman added a Pearson (1989), Conn Smythe (1998), Selke (2000), Masterton (2003), and Patrick (2006), as well as the distinction of being the longest serving captain in North American major league sports history leading the winged-wheels for 19 seasons over 20 years.

On July 3, 2006, when his body could take him no further, Yzerman retired. He left with 1,755 points, 692 goals, and 1,063 assists, finishing 6th, 9th, and 7th overall, respectively. On January 2, 2007, the Wings raised his number 19 to the rafters adding a 'C' in the upper right corner memorializing his captaincy.

Since then Yzerman has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (2009) and won a second Olympic gold medal (2010) serving as GM for Team Canada. Today he manages the Tampa Bay Lightning.

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Today In NHL History - Schoenfeld's Yellow Sunday

On May 8th in 1988, replacement referees dressed in New Jersey Devils Cooperalls and yellow jerseys took the ice at Brendan Byrne Arena for Game 4 of the 1988 Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins when NHL officials exited in protest of a court-order injunction staying John Ziegler's suspension of Jim Schoenfeld.

The one game suspension emanated from a post-game altercation between Devils head coach Schoenfeld and Game 3 referee Don Koharski where incidental contact between with the two caused the referee to slip and remark "you're done" to which the bench boss retorted "you fell you fat pig, have another doughnut".

The incident was famously parodied four years later in Saturday Night Live star and renowned hockey fan Mike Myers' movie Wayne's World in which Frederick Coffin played Officer Koharski, a character who frequented the film's fictional coffee shop named Stan Mikita's Donuts.

The Devils beat the Bruins that night by a score of 3-1 but eventually lost the series in Game 7. Shoenfeld was suspended for Game 5 and received a $1,000 fine while the Devils were docked $10,000. Koho and Schony later became good friends despite the doughnut diet indignity.

That's today in NHL history.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Today In NHL History - Bure Elbows Churla

On May 4th in 1994, Vancouver Canucks superstar Pavel Bure blindsided Dallas Stars forward Shane Churla with an unpenalized elbow to the head sending a message to the Stars Goon-In-Chief for his teammates' shenanigans.
The Canucks won Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinal 3-0 on the back of Bure's two goals, eventually taking the series 4-1. Churla refused to shake Bure's hand at the end of the series and vowed revenge. The NHL fined Bure $500 but did not suspend him for the incident.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Today In NHL History - Luongo's Playoff Poop

On May 3rd in 2007, Vancouver Canucks backup backstop Dany Sabourin surprised everyone, including GM Dave Nonis, starting the overtime period against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals in place of netminder Roberto Luongo.

Originally thought to be an equipment issue, Luongo later revealed his absence had more to do with plumbing than padding admitting that he was suffering from untimely diarrhea. A subsequent tweet and explanation on CBC's After Hours confirmed that Lu was in the loo Anaheim beat Vancouver 2-1 in double overtime, taking the series 4-1 and eventually winning the Stanley Cup against the Ottawa Senators.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Luongo's Stick Gets Stuck.
* See also Today In NHL History - Luongo Trade (FLA-VAN).
* See also Today In NHL History - Luongo Trade (NYI-FLA).
* See also Roberto Luongo Interview - 2011 NHL Awards.
* See also Roberto Luongo Interview - 2009 NHL Awards.

Today In NHL History - Domi Elbows Niedermayer

On May 3rd in 2001, Toronto Maple Leafs bruiser Tie Domi delivered a vicious elbow to the head of New Jersey Devils blueliner Scott Niedermayer rendering him unconscious. The cheapshot came with 7 seconds to play in Game 4 of the 2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals with Toronto up 3-1.
Despite a tearful apology, Domi was suspended for rest of the playoffs and the first eight games of the next regular season. Toronto won the next game to take a 3-2 series lead, only to be eliminated by New Jersey in 7 games.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Tie Domi Fights Fan.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

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.

Monday, April 30, 2018

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.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

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.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

2018 NHL Draft Lottery Results

Tonight Bill Daly presented the NHL Draft lottery results live on Sportsnet, with the top overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, to be held on June 22-23, 2018 in Dallas, being awarded to the Buffalo Sabres. The actual lottery was conducted 30 minutes earlier in Sportnet's Hockey Central Studio in Toronto. This article and the video below, describes 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 starting 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).

The added wrinkle to this year's offering is the introduction of the Vegas Golden Knights. This expansion team is participating in its first draft and has been accorded the same starting probabilities as the 28th place finisher (i.e., Arizona Coyotes). If neither Las Vegas or Arizona win any of the three lotteries (i.e., 1st pick, 2nd pick, 3rd pick), then Vegas shall pick immediately before Arizona.

Despite Buffalo earning its favored first selection (1st, 18.5%), this year lottery again defied the odds delivering top picks to underdogs Carolina (2nd, 3.3%), Montreal (3rd, 9.7%), moving up nine and two spots, respectively. Ottawa and Arizona were the biggest losers of this lottery, each dropping two spots. 

For the third straight year, Vancouver dropped in the lottery. This year it was only one spot (6th to 7th), as opposed to the two spot drop in 2016 (3rd to 5th), and the historic three spot slide of 2017 (2nd to 5th). Interesting that the worst NHL team over the past three seasons has selected no better than 5th in any entry draft during that span.

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. Buffalo  
18.5%
16.5%
14.4%
   4th (50.6%)
2. Carolina
3.0%
3.3%
3.6%
   11th (69.6%)
3. Montreal
9.5%
9.6%
9.7%
   6th (34.0%)
4. Ottawa
13.5%
13.0%
12.3%
   4th (33.3%)
5. Arizona
11.5%
11.3%
11.1%
   5th (37.7%)
6. Detroit
8.5%
8.7%
8.9%
   6th (34.5%)
7. Vancouver
7.5%
7.8%
8.0%
   7th (38.9%)
8. Chicago
6.5%
6.8%
7.1%
   8th (39.5%)
9. NY Rangers
6.0%
6.3%
6.7%
   9th (36.0%)
10. Edmonton
5.0%
5.3%
5.7%
  10th (30.7%)
11. NY Islanders       
3.5%
3.8%
4.1%
   11th (25.7%)
12. NY Islanders
2.5%
2.7%
3.0%
   12th (78.0%)
13. Dallas
2.0%
2.2%
2.4%
   13th (85.5%)
14. St. Louis
1.5%
1.7%
1.8%
   14th (91.8%)
15. Florida
1.0%
1.1%
1.2%
   15th (96.7%)

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 2017 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* See also 2016 NHL Draft Lottery Results.
* 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.