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Morning Flurries: MacKinnon getting attention, Pickard flying high elsewhere

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Nathan MacKinnon is on the Hart Trophy shortlist, and an old friend is playing out of his mind

NHL: All Star Game-Skills Competition Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

With the midway point on the season now firmly in our rearview mirror, it’s time to accept it: Nathan MacKinnon is having a stupidly unreal season.

Maybe this is his career from here on out. Maybe he’s finally hit his stride, and we’re never going to see him struggling to put up a 20-goal season again.

Even if this is an anomaly, though, it’s one hell of an impressive run. Consider this: even if MacKinnon doesn’t score again in a single game for the rest of the year, he’ll finish with 24 goals and 60 points. That would be tied with his career-high in goals and just three points shy of his career-high in that respect; given the absurdly unlikely chance of that happening, it’s safe to assume that we’re looking at 80 points as an easy bet.

After last year’s disaster, it seemed like his unbelievable run was getting overlooked by the rest of the league.

When the PHWA put out their voting for the mid-season awards, though, it became abundantly clear; even if it’s not showing up in story after story, others are paying attention:

He’s the only Avalanche to make the mid-season short list, but that’s more than okay. After last season, this is unbelievable news.

Speaking of MacKinnon: it’s time for the NHL All-Star Break, which means that a handful of players have been sent down to keep them busy.

AJ Greer, Dominic Toninato, and David Warsofsky are all down with the San Antonio Rampage, getting demoted on Friday morning. While there’s plenty of room for optimism, though, don’t read too much into this; with a four-day break and nothing else to do, it’s common practice for teams to send waiver-exempt players down to the minors for some games during this stretch. All three may be back up again by Monday. [MHH]

Update: somehow this got deleted when I was wrapping things up last night, which tells you why I need to stop doing links at 1am before hopping into bed.

For those who missed it, I’m bummed! Because it was actually the first thing I put in the links before going back to Twitter to hunt down other stories, which led to the discovery of the PHWA madness. My only guess is that I went to shift it down in priority and somehow wrote over it instead. Idk. My bad!

Anyways, Calvin Pickard is having himself a season:

The fact that Calvin Pickard is a distant second in the depth chart for the Marlies is absolute madness, because he’s having himself an unreal season.

Big props to goalie coach Piero Greco with the Marlies, where he’s done a lot of excellent work that maybe doesn’t get attributed to his name quite often enough.

Bigger props to Pickard, though, who’s been quietly tearing it up in the AHL and hopefully earning himself an NHL gig as soon as next season. He deserves another shot.

Let’s also give a big round of applause to Colorado’s NHL All-Star Mini 1-on-1 goalie, Mason. He won the whole contest, showcasing some Mile High pride in Tampa:

Here’s a look at some of his sick skills:

Moving on from the world of the Avalanche, here’s a look at some recent trade rumors for the New York Rangers. [SBN]

The Islanders have also witnessed the birth of a new internet comedian, and it’s a glorious sight to see. After years of excellent trolling by the masterful twitter fingers of Calvin De Haan, it appears that Scott Mayfield has taken over.

Word to the wise: if you don’t want players to dunk on you, don’t tag them in tweets playing armchair coach? [Twitter]

(Also, a quick reminder that the USA Sled Hockey team had their first game at 4am EST this morning, and that’s a team you should get behind during these Olympics. They rock.)

Finally, a couple hundred words on this, ah, what do I call it? This shitshow, I believe:

I don’t think any of you missed this, but here’s the run-down:

Fans on Twitter (translation: you lovely people) were asking questions about some of the voting results from those PHWA mid-season awards.

The details from there get a little hazy, because it became quickly impossible to follow what the hell was going on as people got blocked, quote tweeted, and so on. But the gist was that some members of the Colorado media were very upset that they’ve had their applications for the PHWA denied and aren’t really sure why.

This is where Mike Chambers got a little upset, and things got more than a little out of control.

What started with him implying that people are denied spots in the PHWA as bloggers without public filters culminated in the lovely tweet above, which seems to be a healthy mix of vague threats towards pro-blogger stances and an invitation to throw down MMA-style? It escalated super quickly, and that’s a mess that I, at least, plan to stay out of thoroughly.

I will say this, though:

First, I can sympathize with Chambers getting flustered enough to throw down the gauntlet like this, because Twitter took ahold of his blogger comments pretty quickly and things got pretty relentless. If you’ve ever been on the wrong end of a Twitter shitstorm, you know: when you’re getting 20 notifications every second and they’re all negative, it’s easy to go on the defensive and make an ass out of yourself.

Beyond that, though, Chambers really did himself a disservice when he started with the assertion that the PHWA stays away from “bloggers who ‘cover’ the team from TV” and people who “chirp at their peers”, citing a “very strong ethics policy”.

It’s no secret that people dislike Adrian Dater. And whether you personally do or not is pretty irrelevant; he got himself in a very serious situation dealing with workplace harassment and a lot of people don’t let that kind of thing go very easily, especially in the current climate.

A quick potshot back making a blanket statement like that, though, was just asking for trouble.

Steve Simmons - who has openly slandered an NHL player with stories that were definitively debunked by proven sources, yet never retracted - is a member of the PHWA, and has been since 1980. His membership hasn’t been revoked, despite what seeming like a clear violation of a so-called “very strong ethics policy”. Then there’s Greg Wyshynski, who is a self-professed blogger and has been in the PHWA since 2008, covering games from home. The EIC of SB Nation has been in the PHWA since 2014. At least 22 of my colleagues at The Athletic are in the PHWA, and most cover at least a portion of the season from home. The chair of the Boston chapter takes open potshots at other writers regularly - as do a few from the Edmonton chapter. There’s even an Oilers Nation writer who has a membership.

Bottom line? Don’t take one writer’s rejection by the committee and turn it into a blogger vs. MSM war, when the blogs already have troops behind enemy lines. And when you do, for the love of god, take the L and don’t offer to throw hands.

Anyways. Colorado hockey deserves better than this.

I’ll end with a video of Nathan MacKinnon playing with puppies, because we all need to take a breather now: