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Top moments of 2017-18 season discussed by NHL.com writers

NHL Network to unveil own list on 'Top Shelf' countdown

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

The 2017-18 NHL season had its share of big moments during the regular season and in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. From the emotional home opener for the Vegas Golden Knights to Brian Boyle's first goal of the season for the New Jersey Devils, there were countless memories made this season.

NHL Network will take a look at many of them on "Top Shelf: 2017-18 NHL Moments," which premiered Friday.

Before NHL Network unveils its list, NHL.com staff writers offer their picks for the top moments of the season:

 

Mike G. Morreale, staff writer

I've been covering hockey games at Prudential Center for the past 11 years and can emphatically say that at no time was the place as emotional and electric as when Boyle scored his first goal with the Devils on Nov. 9, 2017, 51 days after being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia.

Video: EDM@NJD: Boyle pots first goal since cancer diagnosis

Boyle, playing his fifth game after being diagnosed Sept. 19, scored 5:33 into the first period off a rebound to give the Devils a 1-0 lead in a 3-2 overtime loss against the Edmonton Oilers. The goal was one thing, but the celebration is what plucked at the heartstrings as the fans roared while Boyle circled into the right-wing corner before being mobbed by teammates in a memorable celebration.

"I've never cried after a goal before," said Boyle, who won the Masterton Trophy for 2018. "I'm not here if not for my wife and my family and [teammates]. I try to separate it, but it's a little bit bigger tonight than probably ever."

 

Adam Kimelman, deputy managing editor

Living through the soap opera that Eric Lindros' career with the Philadelphia Flyers seemed to be at times, I never thought I'd see the Flyers retire his No. 88. But the bridge Flyers president Paul Holmgren began building by inviting Lindros to the 2012 Winter Classic Alumni Game was completed Jan. 16 with a wonderful ceremony before a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Video: TOR@PHI: Flyers raise Lindros' 88 into the rafters

After a highlight video was finished, Lindros was revealed, standing in the middle of the rink. The ovation was among the loudest I've ever heard. And then No. 88 was raised to the roof of Wells Fargo Center, next to the No. 16 of Bobby Clarke. "Gratitude," Lindros said of his feelings that night. "And deeply honored. Truly, deeply honored. I'm a very lucky guy."

 

Dan Rosen, senior writer

I cycled through so many moments for this one. I thought of opening night in Las Vegas and the ceremony honoring the first responders of the Mandalay Bay shooting along with Deryk Engelland's impassioned speech. I thought of Roberto Luongo's emotional and brave speech before the Florida Panthers' first home game following the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I thought about Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin making magic in overtime in Vancouver in their final NHL game.

But I kept coming back to the moment that was the best for me in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was watching Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, the two longest-tenured members of the Washington Capitals, the two players who had lived through all the heartbreak and disappointment, skating and lifting the Stanley Cup together on the ice at T-Mobile Arena on June 7. This was their moment, one 11 years in the making.

It was perfect for them, perfect for the Capitals and their fans, and, frankly, perfect for the NHL.

Video: Looking back on the road to the Caps' Stanley Cup win

 

Tracey Myers, staff writer

Chicago Blackhawks fans will remember the Oct. 5, 2017, season opener for two things. One was the 10-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who had won the Stanley Cup for the second consecutive year in 2017. But what happened before the game was more special: Former Chicago forward Bryan Bickell took "One More Shift" with the Blackhawks.

Video: PIT@CHI: Bryan Bickell takes One More Shift for Hawks

Bickell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November 2016 when he was playing for the Carolina Hurricanes and retired after that season. It was a sad and abrupt end for Bickell, who was with the Blackhawks when they won the Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. To honor him, the Blackhawks signed Bickell to a one-day contract in October, letting him retire with them and allowing him to take one last lap around the ice at United Center.

As Bickell said that day, "It's nice to see the respect. To finish here, it's awesome."

 

Mike Zeisberger, staff writer

There were understandably very few dry eyes in the house when the Toronto Maple Leafs honored the late Johnny Bower before the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Air Canada Centre on Jan. 2. Bower died Dec. 26, 2017, at 93 from pneumonia.

This was a chance to say farewell.

Bower's widow, Nancy, and family members were flanked by Maple Leafs alumni, including George Armstrong, Dave Keon, Ron Ellis and Eddie Shack, during a poignant moment of silence.

That was followed by a request from longtime Maple Leafs play-by-play man Joe Bowen.

"Like you've always done, give him one last standing ovation," Bowen said.

Video: TBL@TOR: Maple Leafs pay tribute to Johnny Bower

The crowd did just that. It was the type of emotional moment that sent shivers down one's spine, making it the most memorable moment for me during the 2017-18 regular season.

Bower's banner, which honors his retired No. 1 jersey, was lowered slightly below others in the rafters and stayed that way when the Maple Leafs faced off against the Lightning. Toronto players wore Bower's jersey with his name and number during the pregame skate.

An outstanding tribute for a Hall of Fame goalie who helped the Maple Leafs win four Stanley Cups and twice won the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie in the NHL.

RIP, Johnny.

 

Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist

I choose two moments as one. After the mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip on Oct. 1, the Golden Knights held a pregame ceremony at their inaugural home opener Oct. 10. They honored first responders with a 58-second moment of silence that saw the names of 58 people killed projected onto the ice. Engelland, a Las Vegas resident, gave a speech ending with this: "We are Vegas Strong."

Video: Engelland gives rousing speech to hometown fans

After the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, the Panthers held a blood drive, fundraiser and a pregame ceremony Feb. 22. They played a video honoring the 17 people killed and projected their names on the ice, removing them one by one during a moment of silence. Luongo, a Parkland resident, gave a speech including this: "Enough is enough. We've got to take action." Such is the power of sports to bring people together, help them heal and make a statement.

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