Tag: NHL Awards 2019

Patrick Kane’s Case For The Hart Memorial Trophy

As many of you are aware, Patrick Kane is one if not the best U.S. born hockey player. He continues to tear the NHL apart year after year and as of now is on a 18-game point streak, totaling 40 points over this 18-point streak. Kane has 36 goals and 90 points in 59 games this season. Aside from his close to record setting point streak, close to 40-goal mark and on pace for 123 points this season. Kane has made Alex Debrincat a 30-goal scorer, Dylan Strome resurge his career and has helped Jonathan Toews get back his game this season. Along with rejuvenating the Blackhawks season in recent weeks and pushing them into playoff contention.

The Hart is a trophy that is awarded to the most valuable player to their team. I definitely can see why some people reading his may say Nikita Kucherov is the sure Hart Memorial Trophy winner this season. But I am here to disagree and would like to hear others view points. Kucherov is without a doubt one of the bets players in the NHL he has 29 goals, 70 assists and 99 points in 60 games this season on pace for well over 120 points, 90 assists and 40 goals but Kucherov does have a lot more help around him. Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos are pretty much pure goal scorers dishing them the puck for one-timers or dishing it off and letting them do the shooting is not always the hardest.

Take a look at what Kucherov did Monday night vs Columbus, aside from his second goal that was a very nice move under the defense’s stick for a tuck under the sprawling goaltender. Kucherov’s assist to Stamkos I think anyone in the NHL can make, same with Brayden Point’s goal, he stood there and made a one-touch pass to a streaking Point. I am not discrediting Kucherov. He puts himself in these positions he has a knack for scoring and unreal vision that allows him to anticipates plays and be one-step ahead of everyone else. Yeah, sure, most of his goals and assists are unreal but for example the power play assists one touch passing it to Hedman or Stamkos is not some kind of superstar caliber play.

With that said, Kane is hands down the Blackhawks most valuable player and most valuable player to HIS team this season. Kane creates so much open space, opens up the ice for everyone, draws 2-3 players to him 5 on 5, on the power play and is hands down the best passer in the NHL. His deception with the puck on the power play or even 5 on 5 is like no other. Along with his shooting ability, to stick handle 2-3 times, make it look like he is going to pass and quickly shoot low glove or blocker has beaten almost every NHL goaltender this season.

Kane is second in points with 90, nine behind Kucherov. 2nd in goals with 36, seven ahead of Kucherov. Tied 2nd in assists with 54, sixteen behind Kucherov. Second in the NHL in points per game (1.53) 0.12 behind Kucherov. Kane has 9 power play goals, making that twenty-seven 5-on-5 goals. Kucherov has 11 power play goals, leaving him with eighteen 5-on-5 goals. Kane leads Kucherov by nine 5-on-5 goals. Kane has 29 power play points compared to Kucherov’s 39 power play points. Therefore Kane has 61 even strength points, Kucherov has 60 even strength points. The two are tied with five game-winning goals. Kane has 240 shots compared to Kucherov’s 168 shots. Kane has a 15.0 percent shooting percentage compared to Kucherov’s 17.3 percent. Meanwhile Kane has shot the puck 72 times more than Kucherov there shooting percentage only varies by 2.3 percent. Kane is averaging 22:16 minutes per game vs Kucherov’s 19:30 minutes. Some would say Kane should be more productive with that much ice time but as a forward 22 minutes is nearly unheard of, Kane is one of the four NHL forwards who plays 22+ minutes a game. The Lightning have two other players within the top-10 in points the next Blackhawk among the “top” point scorers is Alex Debrincat with 60 points (T-30). Lightning’s Point (78) and Stamkos (72) the difference from Kucherov to the next point scorer is 21 and 27. While Kane to Debrincat the difference is 30 points. The next in line after Debrincat is Jonathan Toews with also 60 points.

Look I am not saying Kucherov is only good because of Stamkos and Point do not twist my words people or put words in my mouth. The guy is a generational talent and one of the best goal-scoring play-making forwards in the NHL but when it comes to the Hart Memorial, Patrick Kane needs to be a BIG candidate. Kane has been in the league for 11 years and when he has played 80+ games in a season he has produced 70+ points in five of those six seasons. He is a 7-time 20+ goal scorer, 4-time 30+ goal scorer and one of the most consistent and top difference makers in the league. At least give the conversation some thought!

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Mark Giordano Should 100 Percent Win The Norris Trophy This Season

I know your thoughts after reading this title are probably either, (1) I am a moron or (2) you think I am going some where with this. Hear me out, I am not saying he is going to win the Norris trophy as in he is a shoe-in and no one else compares but, what I am saying is that he should win it.

Taking a look at the other candidates and top defenseman in the NHL at the moment they are all in their mid-late twenties or early thirties and then there is Mark Giordano who is 35-years-old, a 14-year veteran and still producing at same rate as a mid-twenty year old.

Giordano is having one of the best seasons of his career, he is on pace to well exceed his 2015-16 when he had 21 goals and 56 points in 82 games. Giordano has 52 points in 49 games (1.06 points per game), leads all defenseman in plus/minus (+29), second in assists (41) among all defenseman, tied third among all defenseman in goals (11), second in points (52), tied sixth in power play points (18), and 13th in time on ice among defenseman with 24:45.

Aside from all the “important” statistics that essentially decides the Norris trophy winner, what Giordano brings to the Flames in terms of leadership and experience has made them the team they are and a reason the Flames are currently 1st in their division and one of the best NHL teams right now.

Intangibly speaking Giordano has it all, a great leader, a great role model on and off the ice, plays the game well, never gets in trouble, leads the Flames back end year after year as well as the whole Flames team in general. Giordano has the full package and not to say the other defenseman like Brent Burns, John Carlson and Kris Letang don’t but Giordano is a 35-year-old defenseman playing like he is twenty years old still. With how quickly this game is changing in terms of speed and style of play, the fact Giordano can still dominate the blue line and be a top three defenseman in the NHL towards the end of his career and closer to 40-years-old then 30, is remarkable.

Get this one right NHL, if Giordano continues this pace and is a top-three defenseman at the end of the season. Do the right thing, make the right choice and pick your 2018-19 Norris Trophy winner to be Mark Giordano.

 

NHL Hart Memorial Trophy Nominees

This is usually an award that goes to someone who makes the biggest impact to their team but is also one of the top point scorers in the league. Last years nominees were Taylor Hall Hart TrophyClaude Giroux, Taylor Hall and Nathan MacKinnon. Giroux bounced back big time in 2017-18 to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a playoff match up. Giroux tallied 102 points (34G, 68A) in 82 games after only scoring 58 points in 82 games during the 2016-17 campaign. Nathan MacKinnon played a major role in why the Avalanche went from being the worst team in the NHL in 2016-17 to being a playoff team last season. The 23-year-old tenured forward tallied 97 points in 74 games last season, if it were not for missing eight games this award may have been his last season. MacKinnon bounced back from 53 points in 82 games to 97 in 74 games last season. The winner Taylor Hall lead the underrated, unskilled, inexperienced New Jersey Devils team to a playoff spot for the first time in almost ten years. Hall shook up the NHL with his record setting point streak last season but more importantly led the Devils in every facet of the game. Hall had 93 points in 73 games, in just his second year on the team, Hall helped put the Devils back on the map.

This years nominees are different than last years, which is a good thing. It would be hard to not mention at least the top five considerations for this trophy. Based off what last years nominees did for their club last year and what the winner Taylor Hall did for the Devils last season, we can all realize as to why these players below are being nominated for one of the more prestigious NHL awards.

  1. Mikko Rantanen (18G, 43A, 59 points in 37 games) 
  2. Connor McDavid (19G, 33A, 52 points in 35 games)
  3. Nikta Kucherov (16G, 41A, 57 points in 37 games) 
  4. Johnny Gaudreau (16G, 32A, 48 points in 37 games)
  5. Mark Scheifele (22G, 27A, 49 points in 36 games)

Mikko Rantanen has been a freak of nature this year, he has been apart of almost every Colorado win, a major reason the Avalanche are back in a playoff spot right now and continues to do it night in and night out. Sure he has Nathan MacKinnon so his accreditation is a little less valuable. But Rantanen being at 1.56 points per game is incredible.

Johnny Gaudreau has single handily (with the help of Sean Monahan) turned this Flames team around if you ever watched a Flames game, Gaudreau is by far the most impactful player on the ice for Calgary, his ability to take control of the game, create separation and just constantly be involved in every play when he is out there shows his importance to Calgary.

Connor McDavid we all know his significance to Edmonton, he has no one around him besides Leon Draisaitl (they do not always play together) but McDavid has consistently been the one of the biggest reasons all year the Oilers are hanging and fighting for a playoff spot right now. Not to mention he plays upwards of 22 minutes a game, which is unheard of from a forward.

Mark Scheifele, the Jets have tools around him but Scheifele’s presence is definitely known when he is out there and not out there. He is always scoring big goals, plays the best two way game among most centers in the league and is not just a one-sided player. Aside from his leadership Scheifele is one of the most underrated forwards in the game today.

NHL Vezina trophy discussion; Frederik Anderson & Marc-Andre Fleury lead the way

The Vezina, probably one of the more forgotten trophies in the league and much like the Norris despite the goaltenders impact on a team whoever has the best statistics at the end of the regular season wins usually. Last years winner was Pekka Rinne, who posted 42 wins in 59 starts, a 2.31 goals against (GAA), .927 save percentage, allowed 134 goals against on 1,840 shots and posted 8 shutouts.

This top-four years candidates are as follows…

  1. Frederick Anderson: Yes the Leafs are good, sure it may not be difficult some nights for Anderson but he plays a huge role in why the Leafs are successful this year. Anderson has started in the fourth most games this year (24), has collected wins 16 of those 24 starts (16-8-0 record) posts a 2.50 goals against (1st among goalies with 20+ games started) has a .926 save percentage (1st among goalies with 20+ games started). Anderson sees a lot more time than most starters do, he is in almost every night for the Leafs and of the 30 games the Leafs have played Anderson has not played in six of them, nearly unheard of. He did the same thing last year just not as well, but this year he has come out hot and has not slowed down one bit. The Leafs starter certainly deserves Vezina credit.
  2. Marc Andre Fleury: It was a big discussion last year if Fleury should win it, although he started in fewer games he was a major reason the Golden Knights went as far as they did last year. Fleury had a unforgettable 2017-18 season and even with the Golden Knights starting out a little slow Fleury has still been the back bone to this teams success. Fleury has started in the most games among all goalies (28), has a 2.51 goals against (2nd among all goalies with 20+ starts) and .908 save percentage. Fleury’s save percentage is probably one of the reasons some may look the other way on him, but look at the minutes he is seeing. He has not started in just four Vegas games this season, has seen 5th most shots against and is still producing for Vegas, not mention he is first among all goalies in wins (17) and shutouts (5). Fleury continues this streak and does not miss time it will tough to leave him out of the Vezina talk this year.
  3. John Gibson: A goalie that does not get enough credit for what he does. The Ducks have Ryan Miller sure but Miller does not do what Gibson does. Gibson has started in 25 games this year, 3rd most among all goalies, has a 2.59 GAA, .925 save percentage and has seen the second most shots against this year (832). Gibson has played in all but 7 games for the Ducks and the reason Anaheim is where they are right now is in large part because of Gibson. If he stays healthy he needs to be a nominee at least. His playoff struggles concern some but Vezina is regular season production so that should not be an issue.
  4. Pekka Rinne: It would be tough not to mention last years Vezina winner in this discussion. Although Rinne missed sometime this year he still does have 19 games started not as many as the other three but even in those 19 games, Rinne has posted a 1.96 GAA, .930 save percentage (both lead the league among goalies), and he does have two shutouts in just 19 starts. Sure it is tough to say if Rinne deserves the same recognition as the other three. Even when he was not playing the Predators did fine but Rinne is still a top-tier goalie in the league as he is healthy now he will see a lot more time. He is probably a border line number four right now at this point in the season but come after the All-Star break when we re-address this conversation I would expect him to be within the top-three among Vezina talk.

Is there even a Calder trophy race?

We went from Matt Barzal, Brock Boeser, Clayton Keller, Yanni Gourde, Kyle Connor rookie of the year race in 2017-18 to a dominate, no discussion Elias Pettersson Calder race now. Sure, Barzal out scored the other rookies by 20+ points but at this point last year it was a race. Barzal was not a clear winner by December. Yet, here we are in December of 2018 and Elias Pettersson has 30 points in 26 games, a 1.15 point per game with 15 goals and 15 assists. The next rookie up is Colin White who has 19 points in 30 games, then Brady Tkachuk with 16 points in 20 games, Miro Heiskanen with 15 points in 30 games.

It is clear as day that Pettersson is a clear favorite and most likely going to win the Calder if all pans out well, he stays healthy and stays with Brock Boeser on that line. As of now Pettersson is projected to exceed Barzal’s point total last year (85). Pettersson is projected to total 94.3 points so 94 points. My prediction for Pettersson is that he totals the same as Barzal probably around 80-85 points. A 1.15 per game player is tough in this league to maintain for a full 82 game year, plus he is going to hit a plateau at some point, no? Either way the whole point of this article is to say, Elias Pettersson great job winning the Calder trophy.