Matt Duchene's Calder Trophy argument

Duchene.jpgAs we near the end of the season, we’re going to take a look at
who
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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    Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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    Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

    They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

    Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

    Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

    You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

    Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

    Read about that blowout here.

    Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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    Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

    Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

    It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

    The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

    This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

    Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

    On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

    We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

    Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

    Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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    After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

    Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

    The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

    Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

    Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

    Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

    Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

    Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

    Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

    Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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    It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

    After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

    Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

    Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

    The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.