The National Hockey League wrapped up its regular season on Saturday afternoon. With the Stanley Cup Playoffs set to begin on Wednesday, only one Jewish player will be chasing his sport's most cherished prize: Jeff Halpern of the Washington Capitals.
Thirty-five year old Halpern is in his 12th season in the NHL, and his first with the Capitals since the 2005-06 campaign. Originally a free agent signee with his hometown Capitals following his college career at Princeton University, Halpern has also played for the Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Los Angeles Kings and Montreal Canadiens before returning to Washington last summer on a one-year contract. In 69 games for Washington during the regular season, Halpern had 16 points on four goals and 12 assists.
Halpern made news at the beginning of March when he questioned the team's resolve following a loss to the New Jersey Devils, but Washington won four of its last five games to clinch a spot in the playoffs and finish seventh in the Eastern Conference. Washington will face the Boston Bruins, the defending Stanley Cup Champions, in the first round of the playoffs. Game one is scheduled of Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. ET, while game two is scheduled for national broadcast on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET.
The NHL season is done for the rest of the league's Jewish players, although some of the younger players could play for their teams' AHL affiliates in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Here's how they did this year:
Mike Brown played 50 games this season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He scored two goals and assisted on two more, and was second on the team with 74 penalty minutes.
Mike Cammalleri played 66 games in the NHL this season, 38 for the Montreal Canadiens and 28 for the Calgary Flames after a midseason trade. He finished with a total of 41 points on 20 goals and 21 assists.
Eric Nystrom played 74 games this season for the Dallas Stars, who acquired him from the Minnesota Wild in an early-season trade. The native of Syosset, NY scored a career-high 16 goals in 2011-12, and finished with a career best 21 points.
Dylan Reese played a career high 28 games at the NHL level in 2011-12, scoring one goal and assisting on six more for the New York Islanders. He's also scored two goals and assisted on 15 more for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League.
Trevor Smith played in the NHL this season for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign, when he played seven games for the Islanders. Smith played 16 games this season for the Tampa Bay Lightning, finishing with two goals and three assists. Playing for Tampa's AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, Smith has 24 goals and 40 assists.
Brett Sterling played four games this season for the St. Louis Blues, going scoreless. He scored 22 goals and notched 26 assists for the Blues' AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen, and was loaned to the Portland Pirates on March 3. In 16 games since the move, Sterling has six goals and four assists.
Jason Zucker made his NHL debut on March 29 for the Minnesota Wild, having signed an entry-level contract two days before following his sophomore season at the University of Denver. He recorded his first two NHL points, both assists, in a win over the Los Angeles Kings on March 31.
J-Connection: Jeff Halpern is Jewish. Mike Brown, Mike Cammalleri, Eric Nystrom, Dylan Reese, Trevor Smith, Brett Sterling and Jason Zucker are Jewish.