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Byng worthy

by Caela McLoughlin / New York Islanders

Throughout the year, the hockey media makes their picks for the winners of the NHL’s legendary awards. From pre-season picks to midseason award winners and three-quarter pole champs, the debates around these trophies rage all year long.

Matt Moulson's 34 goal six-penalty minute season could be good enough for the Lady Byng.
Since February, discussions surrounding the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy have included Islanders winger Matt Moulson, who emerged as a favorite thanks to his high level of offensive firepower and low penalty minute totals. Even USA Today’s Hall of Fame hockey writer, Kevin Allen, called him with praise in a recent tweet: “Islanders W Matt Moulson may own the best Lady Byng numbers I’ve ever seen: 34 goals this season with six penalty minutes.”

“It’s an honor to be mentioned as a candidate for the award,” Moulson said. “If you go down the list, there are some pretty great players that have won it and been nominated. My brother used to call me Binger when I was younger, so I think it kind of fits perfectly.”

The Lady Byng annually rewards the player who best displays skillful and gentlemanly play in the NHL. There have been 51 different recipients since the award was first handed out in 1925, including Islanders legends Mike Bossy (1983, ‘84, ‘86) and Butch Goring (as an LA King in 1978).

“He plays the game the right way,” John Tavares, Moulson’s friend and full-time center, said. “He’s not going to be flashy out there, but he gets the job done and that’s what it’s all about. I’ll be rooting for him and hopefully he’s nominated.”

Over the course of a full 82-game season, Moulson stockpiled career highs in goals (36), assists (33) and points (69), while accumulating a mere six penalty minutes. He picked up a two-minute minor in November for high-sticking Colorado’s Kevin Porter and a four-minute double minor for roughing on December 29 inside the Coliseum. The latter came against Calgary when Moulson stepped in to protect a teammate.

“I told Okie (Kyle Okposo) he may have cost me the award because I tried to jump the guy that hit him one time and it got me four minutes,” Moulson joked. “I think it’s just putting yourself in a good position and trying not to take bad penalties.”

Moulson’s other primary linemate, PA Parenteau, couldn’t help but laugh when asked what he thought about Moulson’s potential nomination.

“He’s taken a little bit of heat about that, but it’s good,” Parenteau said. “I think anytime you can win an award it’s a big deal, especially at this level in the NHL. I’m hoping he gets it. I think he deserves it. He plays the game right and is an unbelievable goal-scorer, so if he can get any kind of reward, I’m happy for him.”

That reward could be a nomination would mean a trip to Las Vegas for the annual NHL Awards Show on June 20. Three nominees for the Lady Byng will be named in the coming weeks.

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