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Tuesday Daily Puck: No Easy Norris Choice

Andrew Fiorentino

Managing hockey editor, talent wrangler, football columnist, FSWA's 2015 fantasy hockey writer of the year. Twitter: @akfiorentino

Around the Rink

Well, folks, we’ve reached the end of the line; this is the final Tuesday slate and thus my last Daily Puck of the season. It’s been a fun ride. For all your “daily game articles by Andrew” needs, you can find me at the same bat time, same bat place writing the Lineup Card for this year’s Tuesday MLB action.

Since the season’s rolling down into its final days now, let’s give out some awards! Or at least my awards.

Hart Trophy: I hate to go along with the crowd, but like the NHL coaches, I have to pick Carey Price. It’s not just that Price is leading the NHL in every single major goaltending category -- it’s that the Canadiens, who are currently the No. 2 team in the Eastern Conference, might not even be a playoff team without their star goalie. Their offense has been well below average, scoring just 2.54 goals per game – a rate equivalent to that of the non-playoff-bound Flyers. Quite a few teams that are about to enter golf season score more goals than Montreal, and yet the Habs are moving on thanks to Price. The team’s goal differential is plus-30; if you just added 30 goals to Price’s season line, he’d still be in the top 15 in the NHL in save percentage. And the Canadiens would be scrambling to make the playoffs, not sitting pretty atop their division. Honorable Mentions: Alex Ovechkin, Devan Dubnyk

Vezina Trophy: Yeah, Price. Honorable Mentions: Devan Dubnyk, Braden Holtby

Calder Trophy: Filip Forsberg. As much as I want to give it to Johnny Gaudreau for near-singlehandedly turning the tide in Calgary, Forsberg’s narrowly outdone him; the 20-year-old Swede has two more goals (and two more game-winning goals), 66 more shots on goal, and a plus-minus that’s seven ticks better. Both these guys will be a heck of a lot of fun to watch in the years to come. Honorable Mentions: Johnny Gaudreau, Aaron Ekblad, John Klingberg

Norris Trophy: In a muddled field, I’m going to give the top prize to Erik Karlsson. He struggled in the early part of the year, yeah, but he’s leading all NHL defenders in points, he’s one of just two (Oliver Ekman-Larsson the other) who’ve cleared 20 goals, and he’s pushed his plus-minus back to the even side of things despite playing for a team that’s been – at least until the recent Andrew Hammond run – inconsistent in net over the course of the season. He’s also easily taken more shots on goal than any other blueliner; if Karlsson can put 17 pucks on goal over the final three games, he’ll be one of what’s likely to be no more than four or five players in the entire league to take 300 shots this year. Honorable Mentions: P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Shea Weber

Let’s get into Tuesday’s action.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)

Rangers (Cam Talbot) at Devils (Cory Schneider), 7:00 PM
Islanders (Jaroslav Halak) at Flyers (Steve Mason), 7:00 PM
Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury) at Senators (Andrew Hammond), 7:30 PM
Hurricanes (Anton Khudobin) at Red Wings (Jimmy Howard), 7:30 PM
Jets (Michael Hutchinson) at Blues (Jake Allen), 8:00 PM
Wild (Devan Dubnyk) at Blackhawks (Corey Crawford), 8:30 PM
Predators (Pekka Rinne) at Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov), 9:00 PM
Coyotes (Mike Smith) at Flames (Jonas Hiller), 9:00 PM
Kings (Martin Jones) at Oilers (Richard Bachman), 9:30 PM

For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check out our Projected Goalies Grid.

Injury News For Teams Playing Tuesday

New York Rangers
Kevin Klein, D (arm) – Skating on his own; early-playoffs return looking possible

New Jersey Devils
Stephen Gionta, C (lower back) – Hopes to return Tuesday
Bryce Salvador, D (back) – Remains unofficially out for the year

New York Islanders
Mikhail Grabovski, C (concussion) – Skating without contact

Philadelphia Flyers
Andrew MacDonald, D (hand) – See you next year
Wayne Simmonds, RW (leg) – Also done for the year
Luke Schenn, D (abdomen) – Another done for the year
Radko Gudas, D (knee) – Yet another done for the year
Shayne Gostisbehere, D (knee) – Another guy not playing anymore this year
R.J. Umberger, LW (hip/abdomen) – Also done following surgery

Pittsburgh Penguins
Christian Ehrhoff, D (upper body) – Not traveling for Tuesday’s game
Steve Downie, RW (upper body) – Didn’t play Sunday; Tuesday status iffy
Kris Letang, D (concussion) – May not be ready for start of playoffs
Pascal Dupuis, RW (blood clot) – Won’t play again this year

Ottawa Senators
Chris Neil, RW (thumb) – Cleared for contact; should return soon
Milan Michalek, LW (concussion) – Not close to returning
Robin Lehner, G (concussion) – Remains out indefinitely
Matt Puempel, LW (ankle) – Out about another 2-4 weeks
Chris Phillips, D (undisclosed) – Doesn’t seem to be progressing toward a return this year

Carolina Hurricanes
Riley Nash, C (concussion) – Practicing without contact
Jack Hillen, D (concussion) – Not skating with the team still
Rasmus Rissanen, D (knee) – Probably done for the year at this point

Detroit Red Wings
Tomas Jurco, RW (upper body) – Has missed three straight; look for updates Tuesday
Jonas Gustavsson, G (concussion) – Close to being medically cleared
Pavel Datsyuk, C (ankle) – May have aggravated injury Sunday
Erik Cole, RW (upper body) – Doesn’t sound like Tuesday return is likely
Justin Abdelkader, LW (hand) – Expected to sit out Tuesday
Johan Franzen, RW (concussion) – Skating on his own, but not cleared to practice

Winnipeg Jets
Dustin Byfuglien, D (suspension) – Two games left on ban
Toby Enstrom, D (upper body) – Day-to-day as Tuesday’s game approaches
Paul Postma, D (undisclosed) – Likely done for season

St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW (lower body) – Won’t play Tuesday
Robert Bortuzzo, D (upper body) – Also out Tuesday
Alexander Steen, LW (lower body) – Another who won’t go Tuesday

Minnesota Wild
Jason Zucker, LW (shoulder) – Has been cleared for contact
Matt Cooke, LW (sports hernia) – Possible for Tuesday, but uncertain
Keith Ballard, D (concussion) – Season likely done
Sean Bergenheim, LW (illness) – Hard to tell whether illness or coach’s decision is keeping him out

Chicago Blackhawks
Daniel Carcillo, LW (upper body) – Remains out with no timeline
Patrick Kane, RW (upper body) – Could return in first round of playoffs
Kimmo Timonen, D (upper body) – Left Sunday’s game and didn’t return; status unclear
Joakim Nordstrom, C (upper body) – Practicing without contact
Trevor van Riemsdyk, D (wrist) – Out eight weeks, aka pretty much the season

Nashville Predators
Eric Nystrom, LW (lower body) – Skating, but not practicing
Paul Gaustad, C (upper body) – Didn’t go over weekend; uncertain for Tuesday
Mike Santorelli, C (illness) – Sat out Saturday

Colorado Avalanche
Nathan MacKinnon, C (foot) – Done for season
Erik Johnson, D (knee) – Won't play Tuesday
Jesse Winchester, LW (concussion) – Traveled with team on recent trip, but return unclear
Daniel Briere, RW (foot) – Didn’t travel with team; timeline uncertain

Arizona Coyotes
Lauri Korpikoski, LW (mouth) – Couldn’t go over the weekend
Mikkel Boedker, LW (spleen) – Skating, but seems unlikely to return this year

Calgary Flames
Paul Byron, C (lower body) – Has missed four straight; no word on Tuesday return
Raphael Diaz, D (undisclosed) – Didn’t go Saturday; Tuesday status unknown
Joni Ortio, G (lower body) – Skating lightly, but unlikely to return this season
Mark Giordano, D (biceps) – Out for the year
Karri Ramo, G (lower body) – Day-to-day; not expected to start Tuesday
Ladislav Smid, D (neck) – Done for season

Los Angeles Kings
Slava Voynov, D (suspension, Achilles) – Had surgery for Achilles tear
Andrej Sekera, D (lower body) – Not expected back in regular season

Edmonton Oilers
Tyler Pitlick, RW (spleen) – Still not taking contact
Nikita Nikitin, D (undisclosed) – Didn’t go Saturday; no word on Tuesday
Mark Fayne, D (shoulder) – Practiced with the team Monday
Andrew Ference, D (concussion) – Skating on his own
Boyd Gordon, C (back) – Could return Tuesday
Iiro Pakarinen, RW (knee) – With no reports of impending return, probably finished for season
Viktor Fasth, G (knee) – Skating with team
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C (lower body) – Day-to-day; check back for Tuesday status

Hot
Jamie Benn, C, DAL – After a three-point showing on Monday evening, Benn has achieved his first 80-point campaign, and he’s got back-to-back 30-goal seasons to his credit too. Obviously, production like that is a yearlong endeavor, but Benn's been particularly en fuego lately, with a rather spectacular 16 points over his last 10 games. If the Stars were a better team, he’d probably at least be in the Hart discussion.

Steve Mason, G, PHI – The Flyers may be limping to the finish line, by and large, but as has been the case all year, it’s no fault of Mason’s. He's 3-0-1 in his last four games, having allowed just five goals despite facing a whopping 151 shots in that span. If he’d been able to stay healthy all year and played for a better team, Mason would be in those Hart and Vezina conversations as well. And if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.

Cold
Brian Elliott, G, STL – What’s going on here? Elliott’s turned in four bad starts in a row as the season’s wound down, giving up 15 goals while failing to post a save mark over .857 in that span. The result has been an even timeshare over that span with Jake Allen, who’s been hot, having won three straight. Unsurprisingly, it’s Allen who’s expected to get the tap on the pads again Tuesday while the veteran sits and watches.

Bo Horvat, C, VAN – One day, Horvat will be a fantasy producer of note. But today is not that day. The No. 9 pick in 2013 has provided some offensive spark at times this season, but is currently mired in a nine-game slump without a point, and he’s accumulated a brutal minus-9 rating in that span. Horvat’s not on the ice all that much in his bottom-six role, but when he is, mostly bad things are happening for the Canucks.

Recommended Pickup
Brandon Dubinsky, C, CLM – With a goal against his old Rangers mates Monday evening, Dubi’s got three markers and seven points over the course of his current five-game point streak. He seems to be over his injury woes, and the Jackets are playing their butts off even in meaningless games as the season winds down. Dubinsky’s hard-working combo of physicality and point-scoring prowess should continue to play for fantasy purposes as the season winds down.

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