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Western Conference Roundup

With a 2-1 win on Tuesday, the San Jose Sharks drew level with the Los Angeles Kings.

With a 2-1 win on Tuesday, the San Jose Sharks drew level with the Los Angeles Kings.

The San Jose Sharks scored a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday night, tying the pair’s Western Conference semifinals series at 2-2.

Lone goals in the first and second period were enough to take the lead, but a resilient performance from the Kings in the third made for a few nervous moments at HP Pavilion.

San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi – on the shortlist for the Vezina Trophy (see below) made 22 saves, 13 of which came in a third period that saw the Sharks wilt away. It was enough for the Northern California side to hold on to a win over its SoCal counterparts.

After losing both games in Los Angeles, the Sharks have evened the series before heading back to the Staples Center on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Red Wings recorded a second straight win over the Chicago Blackhawks Monday, edging their rivals 3-1 in the Motor City. The victory now gives the Red Wings a 2-1 lead.

With realignment separating these ‘Original Six’ sides next season, this may be the last time we get to see these bitter rivals contend a postseason series. It’s fitting then that the two are putting on a series worthy of its lofty status.

The Red Wings – who lost all four regular season meetings with the Blackhawks – are proving to be a tough cookie to crack, and will like their chances heading into Thursday’s Game 4 at Joe Louis Arena in Downtown Detroit.

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings odds for 5/23/13 (Game 4) are available now.

Chicago (-136) opens as the favorite over Detroit (+124) on the moneyline.

Bovada still has Chicago (8/5) as the favorite to win the Western Conference, ahead of Los Angeles (5/2), Detroit (7/2), and San Jose (4/1).

Coaching Appointments

The Denver Post reported on Tuesday that Patrick Roy is likely to be the next coach of the Colorado Avalanche.

The Hall of Fame goaltender is apparently finalizing a deal that will see him return to his former club, rejoining teammate Joe Sakic, who was recently appointed executive vice president of hockey operations.

Roy famously joined the Avalanche in December 1995 – the franchise’s first winter in Colorado – after a bust up with then-Montreal head coach, Mario Tremblay. Considered one of the most one-sided deals in sporting history, ‘Le Trade’ proved fruitful for Roy, but not for the Habs.

Roy and the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup that very season, Roy’s third and first of a pair in the Mile High City. He played a further seven seasons in Denver, retiring in 2003. The Avalanche progressed to the postseason each year.

Roy finished his Avalanche career with a record of 262-140-65 in 478 regular season games. He also partook in 133 playoff games, going 81-52 and winning the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001.

Hall of Famer Patrick Roy looks primed to become the new Colorado Avalanche head coach.

Hall of Famer Patrick Roy looks primed to become the new Colorado Avalanche head coach.

Colorado fired head coach Joe Sacco back on Apr. 28 after the Avalanche finished with a Western Conference-worst 39 points. Only the Florida Panthers (36 points) finished with a worse record in the entire league.

Sacco – who joined the team in 2009 – finished with a 294-130-134 record behind the bench. His postseason record was 2-4 after leading the Avalanche to the playoffs in his first season but never again afterwards.

The Avalanche has now missed the postseason in three successive seasons, and in four of the last five years.

In other news, the Nashville Predators are reported to have signed assistant coach Phil Housey, after parting ways with associate coach Peter Horachek.

Awards Shortlists

Finally, welcome to awards season.

Sergei Bobrovsky, of the Columbus Blue Jackets, is the favorite to be awarded the Vezina Trophy. Bookmakers favor Bobrovsky (-300) over San Jose’s Antti Niemi (+275) and Henrik Lundquist (+1,000) of the New York Rangers. Bobrovsky (21-11-6, .932 SV%) led the Western Conference in save percentage as the Jackets came within a tiebreaker of making the postseason.

Chicago’s Jonathan Toews is the favorite to be awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy. Odds makers have Toews (-105) ahead of Patrice Bergeron (+110) of the Boston Bruins and Red Wings rival, Pavel Datsyuk (+900).

Joining Toews as a potential Chicago trophy-winner is head coach Joel Quenneville. In his fifth year with the Black Hawks, Quenneville lead the team to an NHL-best 77 points. With odds of +350, he’s second on bookmakers’ lists to take home the Jack Adams Trophy though, with most believing Paul MacLean (-250) will take home the award after the remarkable season the Ottawa Senators have experienced. Bruce Boudreau, of the Anaheim Ducks, is third on the list with odds of +500.

Chicago rookie Brandon Saad has also made the shortlist for the Calder Memorial Trophy. Saad (+1,000) will be an underdog to take the award, with Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau (-110) and Brendan Gallagher (EVEN) of the Montreal Canadiens preferred.

Ryan Suter (+225) of the Minnesota Wild is considered second favorite to take the James Norris Trophy, with only Montreal’s P.K. Subban (-130) preferred. Kris Letang (+325), of the Pittsburgh Penguins, is considered third.

The Hart Memorial Trophy shortlist is dominated by the Eastern Conference, with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (-175) the favorite, followed by Alex Ovechkin (+225) of the Washington Capitals and John Tavares (+500) of the New York Islanders.

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