The Red Wings’ young guns have reached the semifinals of TSN’s “Play of the Year Showdown” with fans casting more than 4.4 million votes through the first three rounds on the Internet.
But first, the pair will need help to reach the finals, which begins June 6.
Voting for the first of two semifinal rounds – featuring Tatar, St. Louis forward T.J. Oshie and San Jose rookie Tomas Hertl – is under way now at TSN.ca.
Making things a little more interesting, or perhaps more game show-eque, TSN added a small twist by allowing analysts Jamie McLennan and Jeff O’Neill to bring back their favorite play that lost in an earlier round.
O’Neill, who played 11 NHL seasons, picked Hertl, who was defeated by Nyquist in Round 2. McLennan’s pick for the second semifinal series, which begins Monday, has not been announced.
Nyquist, who defeated Chicago forward Patrick Kane, Hertl, and Calgary goalie Reto Berra in the first three rounds, now faces Ottawa’s Clark MacArthur and the TBA player.
Nyquist’s highlight goal came in late March as the Red Wings desperately tried to keep their playoff hopes alive. TSN best described his second-period goal this way: “With a man all over him, Gustav Nyquist breaks into the zone, shoots, grabs his own rebound, spins and then scores from a very tight angle.”
The two Red Wings serpentined their way through the first three rounds of the tournament-style field of 32 featuring highlight-reel individual efforts from 31 different players during the 2013-14 season.
Among the earlier contestants were Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk (at Boston, Oct. 14) and backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson (at New Jersey, Dec. 6). Both lost early matchups to Oshie and Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, respectively.
Tatar’s goal was arguably the best end-to-end goal of the season. His athleticism and speed help him avoid a big hit in the Dallas zone before he shoveled a backhander over Stars goalie Keri Lehtonen on Jan. 4. The highlight has been a freight train in the tournament, breezing past Vancouver's Daniel Sedin, Ottawa captain Jason Spezza, and Fleury in the quarterfinals, where Tatar received more than 84 percent of the vote.
Voting in the first semifinal closes Monday at 12 p.m. EDT.
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