Matt Duchene's Calder Trophy argument

Duchene.jpgAs we near the end of the season, we’re going to take a look at
we think should be three finalists for the Hart, Norris and Calder
Trophies, making arguments for each. Next is the Calder trophy, the
NHL’s award for the Rookie of the Year. Next up: Colorado Avalanche
forward Matt Duchene.

Why he deserves it:
Heading into the 2009 NHL draft, the top three players in the draft
were at a different level than everyone else. John Tavares, Victor
Hedman and Matt Duchene were all projected to be extremely special
players and were all thought to be able to provide instant help for
whichever team drafted them. The questions was which order would they
go? Everyone knew that Tampa Bay would draft Hedman, as they already had
great skill up forward. Would the Islanders change their minds at the
last instance and draft Duchene?

Thankfully for the Avalanche, the
draft went as planned. The Islanders picked Tavares and the Avs
selected an extremely gifted forward who grew up as big an Avalanche fan
as they come. And while Tavares has certainly had a great season, no
one could have anticipated the impact Duchene has had in Colorado. He
leads all rookies in goals (24) and points (55) and has proven to be an
exceptionally well-rounded defensive player as well. In 81 games, he has
just 16 penalty minutes; he’s rarely out of position and has shown a
maturity on the ice well beyond what anyone thought possible in his
first season in the NHL.

Why he doesn’t deserve it: Good
question, and one that can only be answered when used in comparison
with his direct competitors. The Avalanche had an incredible run to
start the season yet finished with a bit of a stumble, something that
play against him when voters decide on the award. It’s also arguable
that Jimmy Howard and Tyler Myers have had a bigger impact and have been
more valuable to their team’s success than Duchene, although that’s a
tough argument to quantify.

He also has one hell of a goal celebration.

Why he gets it: He’s the
leader of an incredibly talented class of rookies, which includes
Tavares, Jamie Benn, Niclas Bergfors and T.J. Galiardi, and it’s tough
to think of another rookie that has played better or more consistent
then he has this past season.

Why he won’t get it: Voters
believe that Myers or Howard had the best season. This is a race that
is tough to judge, and unfortunately some sort of bias will kick in.
Duchene plays for a team that way out in Colorado, while Myers and
Howard are out on the East coast (relatively). Once again, it’s
unfortunate that’s the case, but that’s the reality.

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    Fight Video: Schenn, Chychrun drop the gloves as Coyotes score

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    Brayden Schenn had a big game in Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Arizona Coyotes.

    He scored a goal and had two assists in the defeat, but he also dropped the gloves with rookie Jakob Chychrun.

    As you can tell by the video at the top of the page, Chychrun went after Schenn because the Flyers forward flattened Coyotes defenseman Michael Stone (Chychrun got two additional minutes for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct).

    The fight occurred just as Martin Hanzal scored to the go-ahead goal in the game.

    The officials reviewed it to see if it would stand or not (ultimately it did).

    The momentum swung Arizona’s way after that, as they scored 1:39 later to extend their lead to 4-2.

    PHT Morning Skate: Scheifele and Seguin play rock, paper, scissors after pregame warmup

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    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    –How do you decide who gets to be the last player off the ice after warmups? Play rock, paper, scissors of course! (Top)

    Connor McDavid has the city of Edmonton buzzing again. (The New York Times)

    –The fight against Alzheimer’s means a lot to Leafs president Brendan Shanahan. (Sports Illustrated)

    –Justin Bieber played hockey with a pro team in the UK and pulled off a serious celebration. (BarDown)

    –Would Wayne Gretzky have set all those records if he was playing in today’s NHL? Mike Brophy weighs in. (

    –Six forgotten players that are off to fast starts in 2016-17. (USA Today)

    Kings win ugly with Budaj, making things even uglier for Predators

    LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 31:  Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings reacts to the overtime goal of Jeff Carter #77 to beat the Nashville Predators 4-3 at Staples Center on October 31, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    How would you describe the Nashville Predators’ Stanley Cup bandwagon at the moment? A few flat tires? One of those abandoned school buses at a dump?

    An unlikely occurrence – Peter Budaj winning four straight games for the Los Angeles Kings, all in overtime, all seriously in 2016 – puts a spotlight on an unsightly start for Nashville following a 3-2 OT decision.

    In other words, it was another night where the Predators (early or not) didn’t look the part of Stanley Cup contenders.

    Pekka Rinne has often been the scapegoat for Nashville’s losses, and his recent numbers justify some of the criticisms. Thursday doesn’t fall into that pattern, however. Instead, the Predators wasted a strong performance from their $7 million man, who stopped 42 out of 45 shots.

    Budaj? He only needed to make 24 out of 26 stops to keep his unexpected winning streak going.

    For the Kings and Predators, very different patterns continued on Thursday night.

    Los Angeles has people wondering “How long can they win with Budaj?” and “Is there a team that can finally hog the puck against the Kings enough to expose him?” Don’t blame Kings fans who never want this strange sequence to end.

    Nashville devotees, on the other hand, must wonder if they’re stuck in some sort of sick nightmare.

    They’ve been a chic pick to win it all, yet they’re now at 2-4-1 with three away contests remaining on a challenging five-game road trip.

    It’s early, but the headaches just keep multiplying for the Preds.

    Mrazek comes up big as Red Wings win sixth in a row

    DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 21: Petr Mrazek #34 of the Detroit Red Wings looks on in the first period while playing the Nashville Predators at Joe Louis Arena on October 21, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    Are the Detroit Red Wings for real or are they headed toward a humbling regression? We might have to wait until their goalies look human before that question can really be answered.

    For yet another game, Detroit’s netminder was outstanding, with Petr Mrazek helping the Red Wings beat the St. Louis 2-1 via a shootout (and a pretty stressful shootout in that).

    It took eight rounds until Henrik Zetterberg managed Detroit’s second and decisive tally of the “skills competition,” and now Detroit is on a six-game winning streak.

    Mrazek made 31 out of 32 games through overtime and was only beaten by Alex Steen in that shootout, stopping seven of eight attempts. He’s faced more than 30 shots on goal in all six of his appearances in 2016-17.

    It is not as if there has been a big drop-off when Jimmy Howard has taken the net, either. Howard has only given up one goal in his two games, winning both of them.

    Are the Red Wings asking a lot of Mrazek and Howard? Yep. Just take a look a this lopsided possession chart from Natural Stat Trick for another reminder.


    You can see why skeptics murmur about this six-game winning streak being fool’s gold, but the Red Wings keep finding a way to win. Usually, it’s their goalies who have been doing the heavy lifting.