We're going to have plenty of playoff preview content coming up in the next few days, so let's go ahead and get the last few days' news items out of the way. Links!
- Once the Los Angeles Kings locked up the Pacific Division's third seed, a lot of us turned our attention to the Jennings Trophy. It's a bit of a silly award; the trophy is officially presented to the goaltender(s) of the team which gives up the fewest regular-season goals. For one, barely anyone is using goals-against average to evaluate goaltender performance anymore, as save percentage has become the metric of choice. And in addition, it really is a team-based award.
Now that I've gotten that out of the way: the Kings won it! Their 4-3 loss to Anaheim meant that sharing the award was a possibility, but Boston was unable to shut out New Jersey in their season finale and finished the season with 177 goals against to LA's 174 goals against. Because LA's backup duties were split this season, Jonathan Quick was the only goalie to meet the 25 game minimum qualification for Jennings consideration. So... all yours, buddy!
- As is tradition, Quick took none of the credit for earning the Jennings. From Lisa Dillman's story:
"The goalie is nominated to make the speech at the awards there, but the team gave up the least amount of goals in the league," Quick said on Saturday night. "If I could have somebody else give the speech, I would."While Quick's save percentage was outstripped by his backups this season, Quick did have a pretty good season overall. His even-strength save percentage was in the top five for most of the season, until his last two subpar starts (Calgary and Anaheim) knocked him down to .928, still good for tenth among NHL starters. Room for improvement? Absolutely.
- Other team awards were announced after Saturday's game. Here are the lucky winners:
- Most Valuable Player ("Bill Libby Memorial Award"): Anze Kopitar
- Best Newcomer ("Mark Bavis Memorial Award"): Martin Jones
- Outstanding Defenseman: Drew Doughty
- Best Defensive Player: Anze Kopitar
- Most Inspirational Player ("Ace Bailey Memorial Award"): Matt Greene
- Unsung Hero: Trevor Lewis
- Community Service Award: Jonathan Quick
- Most Popular Player: Drew Doughty
- That's the third year in a row for Trevor Lewis. At what point does he stop being Unsung?
- Curtis Zupke at NHL.com wrote this story about Drew Doughty, who is still "good to go" according to Dillman and most other reporters. I'm gonna ignore Bob Miller's pregame intro on the Staples Center jumbotron, where he pronounced that there was "no further info on Doughty's availability against San Jose."
- The Kings didn't have any dramatic farewells for the season's final game, but a few teams around the league sure did.
- Before we publish all our posts on why the Kings are a great team with a good chance at making a playoff run: a cautionary chart from former Battle of California writer Earl Sleek.
Western conference playoff teams: how they did in regulation against other western conf. playoff teams this season. pic.twitter.com/1u0yMM7Pp4— Earl Sleek (@earlsleek) April 14, 2014
- Keep up with Fear the Fin throughout the playoffs; no matter how obnoxious the Hertl love gets, it's the best Sharks blog around. For starters, read this feature on the Sharks' most valuable players this season.
Finally, bookmark SB Nation's hub for playoff coverage, which links to the network's various NHL sites for each playoff matchup.