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NHL: pluses and minuses around the league

The perseverance of Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay pays off in a scoring title. Jay Bouwmeester will finally make a playoff appearance with the Blues. A 22-second appearance by Vancouver's Henrik Sedin is a cheap way to keep a streak going.

April 29, 2013|By Helene Elliott
  • Tampa Bay Lightning's Martin St. Louis (26) celebrates his goal against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Tampa Bay Lightning's Martin St. Louis (26) celebrates his goal against… (Gerry Broome / Associated…)

Pluses

Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis, who will be 38 in June, became the oldest player to win the NHL scoring title. He took over the lead Wednesday from Sidney Crosby, who had held it since suffering a broken jaw on March 30. St. Louis finished with 17 goals and 60 points in 48 games, three points ahead of teammate Steven Stamkos (29 goals, 57 points). St. Louis previously won the scoring title in 2003-04. Undrafted, cut by two NHL teams, written off as too small, he's a great lesson in perseverance. Congrats also to Washington's Alexander Ovechkin for winning the goal-scoring title, with 32 in 48 games.

Congratulations to veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who will make his playoff debut in his 10th NHL season. He spent his first six seasons with Florida and three-plus with Calgary before he was dealt to the St. Louis Blues shortly before the trade deadline this season. He has had a positive impact with the Blues, with seven points and a plus-five defensive rating in 14 games.

In keeping with our plus/minus theme, here's a salute to Pittsburgh's Pascal Dupuis for compiling the NHL's highest defensive rating this season, plus-31. Teammate Chris Kunitz was second at plus-30, and Chicago's Jonathan Toews third at plus-28.

Minuses

Vancouver Canucks Coach Alain Vigneault wanted to rest his regulars in a meaningless game against Edmonton on Saturday, which is fine. But Vigneault allowed Henrik Sedin to prolong a consecutive-games streak by playing one shift of 22 seconds in the first period and then return to the locker room. It was a cheap way to continue an honorable streak.

The West playoff teams and seedings were determined Saturday, but the NHL delayed releasing the full postseason schedule until Sunday. The final game, between Boston and Ottawa, was postponed in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings and had an impact on the East standings. But West teams — and fans — should have gotten their schedule sooner.

Again in keeping with our plus/minus theme, here's a moment's commiseration for Mr. Minus. The title is actually shared by teammates Erik Gudbranson and Brian Campbell of Florida, who each finished at minus-22. That's the worst defensive rating among the 839 players who appeared in an NHL game this season.

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