Best Villain, Best Director and more: Handing out the NHL Oscars
It’s officially Oscars season, which means many are gearing up for Hollywood’s Super Bowl in the Academy Awards this weekend. But while that’s going on, the NHL is also right in the thick of its own season. The trade deadline is on the horizon and the fight for the bottom playoff spots in both conferences is currently a free for all.
With that in mind, one couldn’t blame a hockey fan for being too preoccupied to be fully invested in the Oscars hoopla. So, to help those people feel less left out, we went ahead and created a hybrid experience. Here’s which players and teams would be most deserving in some of the categories that the Academy values this year.
Best Performance in a Leading Role: Auston Matthews, four goals in NHL debut
Pretty wild to think that the performance of the year may have come in one of the season’s very first games, but here we are. Top overall pick Auston Matthews announced his arrival in The Show with a performance for the ages, scoring four goals in his NHL debut against the Senators.
Best Performance in a Supporting Role: Auston Matthews, no-look assist vs. Washington
Not only did Matthews showcase the best goal-scoring performance of the year in his debut, but he also had arguably the best helper of the year. In an early January game against the Capitals, Matthews set up teammate Leo Komarov with an incredible spinning, no-look assist from behind Washington’s net. The dish was so good that Komarov felt the need to console Caps defenseman Brooks Orpik after Matthews’ showcase.
Best Director: Jonathan Drouin, OT shift vs. Colorado
Arguably the three biggest traits to look for when in search of a great director are leadership, balance and creativity. You won’t find a better combination of that trio than when Jonathan Drouin took total control over a three-on-three overtime against the Avs earlier this month. Drouin exhibited strong all-around ability on both ends of the ice, showed great vision and patience, perseverance and an ability to execute without needing much help. That’s a guy you want running the show.
Outstanding Film in Action Genre: explosive 15-goal Capitals-Penguins affair
“A non-stop white knuckle thrill ride!”
“A roller coaster experience for the ages!”
The Capitals-Penguins game from mid-January featured 15 goals, back-and-forth momentum swings, a dramatic finish and a touch of controversy. Like many action movies, it probably wasn’t the best all-around product but it was thoroughly entertaining with riveting, action-packed sequences.
Outstanding Film in Horror Genre: Matt Hendricks takes a slap shot straight to the groin
I shouldn’t have to explain this one.
Outstanding Film in Comedy Genre: Jaromir Jagr’s milestone butt assist
In addition to being a fantastic (and possibly immortal) player, a big reason so many fans love Jaromir Jagr is his charm and humorous personality. That was on full display when Jagr passed Mark Messier for sole place of second all-time on the NHL’s career points list earlier this year. After tallying a milestone 1,888th point thanks to a deflection off his backside, Jagr took the mic and let everyone know “it hit my ass.” Not surprisingly, that drew plenty of laughs and smiles from the crowd in attendance. Never change, Jagr.
Outstanding Film in Romance Genre: Patrick Maroon’s emotional postgame interview
One of the season’s biggest tearjerkers came early on when Patrick Maroon’s Edmonton Oilers visited his hometown of St. Louis. Maroon was able to score a goal in front of his family in attendance — including his young son, who had a great reaction to dad’s goal. In the postgame interview, Maroon got emotional seeing the replay and talking about being away from his family. It’s not exactly a heartwarming love story, but it was an important sobering reminder of how difficult it can be for athletes to spend so much time away from home.
Best Original Score: Alex Radulov’s dangle showcase vs. Ottawa
Alex Radulov’s first season in Montreal began with a bang and he may have submitted the goal of the year in November with a beauty against the Senators. The Russian winger dangled through the legs of Sens defenseman Mike Hoffman before showing off some quick hands in tight to beat the netminder. It was an outstanding effort from Radulov, who set the tone for his season and likely won over plenty of Habs fans in the process.
Outstanding Performance in a Villainous Role: Andrew Shaw throws tantrum after penalty
Andrew Shaw was one of the league’s most notorious antagonists for years in Chicago, but he didn’t leave those antics behind when he was traded to Montreal. That became evident when Shaw absolutely blew a gasket during a November contest in Anaheim. After taking a costly late penalty, Shaw berated a referee and destroyed his stick in the penalty box, then was ejected. On his way out, he angrily made a mess for the Habs’ equipment manager. It was an epic meltdown that many around the game were critical of in the aftermath, but we’ll still likely see plenty of animated performances from Shaw in the future. (Also considered: Alex Burrows’ vintage pest performance vs. Buffalo.)
Best Picture: Chris Pronger plasters Justin Bieber
This year’s Celebrity All-Star Game in Los Angeles provided a fantastic action shot of Justin Bieber getting squashed against the boards by veteran defenseman Chris Pronger. It’s not only the best picture of the year, it also might just be the best hockey image of all-time. At worst, it’s right up there with flying Bobby Orr.