It was a good day to be Mr. Smith in the Dallas Stars propsects system.
Austin Smith and Reilly Smith were named two of the 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top player in college hockey.
Austin Smith, a senior at Colgate University, was also named the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year on Thursday. He leads the nation with 36 goals, is second in the nation with 56 points and also boasts six shorthanded goals. The Dallas native will lead his team in an ECAC semifinal game today.
Reilly Smith, a junior at Miami (Ohio), was one of three finalists for CCHA player of the year. He is second in the nation with 27 goals and 43 points. He is currently on a career-long eight-game point streak.
From here, the Hobey Baker vote moves on to a 23-member selection committee and also another round of fan voting. The top three will be announced March 29, and those three will be invited to Tampa, Fla., for the Frozen Four. The announcement of the winner will come on April 6.
After the jump, more on today's game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Kevin Bieska chirps his own fanbase and the best bracket I've seen since my co-worker's six-year-old picked 90 percent of her games right based on a combination of favorite colors and mascots.
- I love the lead on this paywalled story from Mike Heika, just because I can totally imagine the quizzical look on Stephane Robidas face when asked about the next four critical games. [DallasNews.com]
- We'll get to the games that have an impact on the playoff race in a little bit, but here's a good overview of where the Stars stand and how nice it would be to pick up two points before a three-day break. [ESPN Dallas]
- I'm not quite sure how I feel about this whole St. Patrick's Day promotion where the Stars will be wearing green warmups with Irish names on the back, but some of the names that are going on the back are kind of awesome. You can tell who might have put thought into theirs (I'm looking at you, Eric Nystrom) and those who just let the team stick an O in front of their last name. [DallasStars.com]
- Bob Sturm was very impressed with his trip to Winnipeg, though I do think he undersells the whole "absence makes the heart grow fonder" aspect of the Winnipeg Jets fanbase, and the impact that getting a team back has. There have been plenty of down, dismal, depressed fanbases in one-sports towns with the right combination of poor play and bad ownership. [Fox Sports Southwest]
- If you ever get to a game early enough to watch warmups or happen by a practice one day, see how many of these you can spot the Stars playing. [Backhand Shelf]
- After filling out one of the more awesome March Madness brackets in the history of brackets (more on that later), Alexander Ovechkin had a scary collision at practice with teammate Mike Knuble, who has a history of scary collisions. [Washington Post]
- I totally understand hockey players being a little put off by their crowd not being loud enough or by visiting fans being noisy. Heck, several Stars players have used post-game interviews to ask for larger crowds. But insulting your fanbase's volume and saying silly things like Kevin Bieksa does near the end of this column is probably not the way to handle it. [Vancouver Sun]
- Sidney Crosby is back. The fine folks at NHL.com might have noticed. [Backhand Shelf]
- I always like retrospective articles, and this one on the backlash to the NHL's installation of safety netting at both ends of the rink is interesting because it shows us how silly we were all being over something pretty innocuous. [Puck Daddy]
- Meet the enemy, part the first: Don't call it a setback, but Jonathan Toews hasn't been skating for the past several days after he started to try and come back from concussion-like symptoms. [Second City Hockey]
- Meet the enemy, part the second: Ray Emery is battling illness (and a little bit of inconsistent play recently), so Corey Crawford will make his first start since the end of February tonight. [Chicago Tribune]
- Around the Pacific Division: The Calgary Flames are officially streaking after picking up their fifth consecutive victory. But Stars fans didn't mind too much Thursday night because their 4-1 victory came over the Phoenix Coyotes. And the San Jose Sharks put aside all pretense of trying to win in regulation in the third period against the Nashville Predators and eventually pulled out a 2-1 shootout win. [Calgary Herald/The Tennessean]
- Other scoreboard watching: The Colorado Avalanche got Matt Duchene back but couldn't find any offense. Even so, they eeked out a point in a 1-0 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils. [The Star-Ledger]
- Is Ovechkin a March Madness genius or simply insane? I don't know, but I did get a kick out of how he put together his bracket. [SportsGrid.com]
- It's been a while since I posted a Stars Insider (and frankly, there was a little gap between them posting them on the website), but with a day off Thursday and with an interview with Tom Gaglardi at the start of this one, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.