How’s this for an exciting addition to the race for the Art Ross Trophy? Taylor Hall, the Edmonton Oilers’ top young star, has rocketed up the list of scoring leaders in recent weeks, helped by a five-point game against his hometown Calgary Flames on Wednesday. The 21-year-old has 22 points in his last 13 games, putting him seventh in scoring entering Friday’s action. With 11 games left for the Oilers, it’s not unthinkable that Hall continues his hot pace and catches injured Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who leads the league with 56 points. … Likely standing in Hall’s way of a league award, however, is someone like the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Steven Stamkos, who is seven points up on him and the closest to catching Crosby. Other potential candidates include 37-year-old Stamkos teammate Martin St. Louis, the Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane and the Anaheim Ducks’ Ryan Getzlaf. … The goal-scoring crown is a less compelling race, with Stamkos holding a comfortable two-goal lead, but you can’t rule out John Tavares of the New York Islanders. Should the Isles find a way into the playoffs – they sat seventh in the Eastern Conference after a shootout loss to Washington on Thursday – it’s not out of the question that Tavares gets some MVP support, as his consistent pace of two goals every three games has been a huge part of their success. … One more surprising Hart Memorial Trophy candidate in this wacky abbreviated season: Columbus Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. Dumped by the goaltending starved Philadelphia Flyers in June for three picks (a second-rounder and two fourth-rounders), Bobrovsky has taken the woebegone Jackets on his back the past month or so, posting a ridiculous .953 save percentage since the beginning of March.
Pronger helps Schenn
It’s hard to imagine a better mentor for a young defenceman than Chris Pronger, and that’s just what the Philadelphia Flyers have given Luke Schenn this season.
It appears to be paying off.
Schenn had perhaps his best game as a Flyer on Thursday against his former team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. He logged nearly 26 minutes in a 5-3 win as the anchor on a beaten up Philadelphia defence. He averaged just 16 minutes a game last season in Toronto.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has leaned hard on Schenn, who has been used often on the top pair with Kimmo Timonen.
Schenn credits part of his turnaround this season to Pronger, the injured future Hall of Famer who has recovered enough from his concussion symptoms to go over video and offer tips to the 23-year-old newcomer.
“He’s been helping me out since the start of training camp,” Schenn said. “He always checks up on me and it’s a real luxury to get his help. After the last game, he came and sat with me on the plane and we watched some video and he showed me a bunch of things.
“He just has a lot of little tips that only a guy like Chris Pronger can give you.”
HE SAID IT
“Honestly, we thought it was 50-50 that he’d ever play again. To have that major insult to the body, he’s lucky to be alive, first of all. You don’t even think about playing again at first. He’s amazed us all.” ~ Peter MacDonald...The Winnipeg Jets’ doctor on Zach Redmond’s grotesque injury, a lacerated femoral artery. It happened when a teammate’s skate cut his thigh during a February practice. Redmond stunned the medical staff by returning to the ice for Friday’s practice and is expected to make a full recovery.
“Throughout the afternoon we had five or six guys that were sick, that were questionable to play. That’s the first game I think I’ve ever coached with two buckets beside me on the bench.” ~ Dave Tippett...The Phoenix Coyotes’ coach was impressed with his flu-ridden team’s 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings, a game that involved players taking trips “down the hall” after every shift.
BY THE NUMBERS
Number of shutouts for Vancouver Canucks netminder Cory Schneider in his last seven games, a run that has shot his season statistics into the Vézina Trophy conversation. Schneider has a .925 save percentage on the year (fourth best among goalies with more than 15 starts), but is .951 in his last nine starts.
Points for Alex Ovechkin in the past month, putting him among the top 15 in NHL scoring after a rough start to the season. The Great Eight has 11 goals in his last 12 games, putting him on a 45-goal pace in an 82-game season and helping push the Washington Capitals into playoff contention.
Goals scored by the New York Rangers entering Friday’s games, the fewest of any team in the league. The Rangers have been snake-bitten all season, but came alive with 10 goals in wins over the Winnipeg Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins this week. So long Marian Gaborik.