Well, in the early part of the season I think Crosby was slightly favored to win the Calder. In the middle part, Ovechkin surged ahead of him. I think it's going to be close though, and Sid overtaking him in points is doable.
Ovechkin's advantages are that he's older and stronger so he's less likely to wilt at the end of a season compared to an 18 year old. But Alex will have played in the Olympics while Crosby took two weeks to rest, so the Vech could come back worn down as Crosby has recharged his batteries.
Crosby's advantage has been perceived to be that he's skated with more talented players. I think Ovechkin is on a line with Jeff Halpern and I don't even know who else except I believe Zubrus plays on the other line. Ostensibly Sid has had more support, but not as much as you'd think -- he skated with a decently productive Ziggy Palffy all year, but we all know how that turned out with Palffy not scoring in his last dozen games and then retiring, due to either a shoulder injury or a "shoulder injury."
But for all of 2006, Sid's linemates have been the likes of Michel Ouellet (rookie), Colby Armstrong (rookie), and Tomas Surovy (100 NHL games). Mark Recchi and John Leclair playing on the other line sort of lightens the burden versus Ovechkin's one man show, but not as much as you'd think -- because Recchi (on a recent hot streak but -30) and Leclair have been pretty mediocre.
Nevertheless, when the next best player on the Capitals has 30 points and the next best on the Pens has 50, my argument doesn't hold too much water (or ice [hockey is played on ice]). But my point (or goal [hockey players score points and goals]) is that because of their different styles, in some ways it's easier for Ovechkin to put up points. The Caps funnel their offense and power play through him and he takes a million shots, so he scores a lot of goals. Crosby is a playmaker, so his skillz tend to go to waste when he's throwing deft passes to a team of non-finishers.
What would help Crosby more than anything would be more games against Ovechkin, being that they've played three times, the Pens blew them out each time, and Sid has outscored him 8-3.
Of course, the Calder voting isn't determined solely by the scoring race, so if their point totals end up being close to a push, I'm not sure what other influences will come into play. Ovechkin will score more goals, so that could give him an edge. The Crosby hype & expectations could give him an edge, or the Crosby backlash about his attitude could hurt him.
A lot of times the tendency when people go into the comparisons has been to totally downgrade the accomplishments of one or the other to make it seem like an open and shut case, and despite my bias towards Sid as he plays on my team and I've seen him all year, that's definitely not what I'm trying to do. Each guy has been crazy great, as they're probably having the best rookie seasons since, what, Brodeur or Selanne? And that's not even getting into the Lundquist contingent, although I think I'm being realistic in saying that it's still going to come down to the big two.
Now, what I never allow myself to think about is the alternate universe in which Pittsburgh cashed in on the lottery in both 2005 and 2004 instead of coming up one ball (or puc... no) short of Ovechkin despite finishing with a worse record than the Caps. The thought of those two playing together this season is more than a little staggering, especially considering how much their games would complement one another, even if you figure they'd be playing on different lines. Evgeni Malkin looks like an extraordinary consolation prize, but he's not here right now and I demand instant Stratusfaction! Oh well. He'll hopefully be here next year, and not only that, but
27. Chicago Blackhawks: 44 pts, 18-31-8 28. Washington Capitals: 43 pts, 19-32-5 29. St. Louis Blues: 41 pts, 16-31-9 30. Pittsburgh Penguins: 39 pts, 14-34-11
chances are we're going to have a fourth conseuctive top two pick to boot. Gonna have to go with that Eric Johnson since theoretically we have enough forwards. Woe will be us in six years when they all want max contracts and the cap prevents that, but until then, that could be some kind of something. Somewhere, although I'm not gonna get into the arena and slots licensing.
Funny you should mention the Pens and Caps Justin, as those are the only teams it seems who aren't fighting witht he Habs for the final playoff spot.
In theory (and it's a longshot), we could catch up with the Flyers (two games in hand, 15 points back). But I don't really want us to because we'd probably have to face the loser of the Buffalo/Ottawa fight for the Northeast.
If we catch up to Tampa (two games in hand, 6 points back), we'd face the Rangers. Which I think we'd match up well against.
We're certianly within striking distance of the Devils, although I'm waiting for them to make a surge at some point. And I don't want to catch them, because we'd have to probably face the winner of the Ottawa/Buffalo race.
As for spot #8, we'd face the Canes. And I think we'd beat them in a seven game series.
As for the teams below us right now? Leafs are imploding, Panthers aren't scoring, Islanders still need a real GM, the Bruins have no goalie. I am concerned about the Thrashers though.
Either way, looking like an exciting stetch drive!
And for those who think the Calder is a two-horse race, there's a D-man out in Cowtown who may receive some of the spotlight. Or at least he should.
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Originally posted by El NastioAnd for those who think the Calder is a two-horse race, there's a D-man out in Cowtown who may receive some of the spotlight. Or at least he should.
Ah, Dion Phaneuf. In any other year, he'd be the runaway favorite for the Calder. Why? 1. He's on a playoff team. 2. He's on a division-leading team (and the division they lead is probably the toughest in hockey, featuring Colorado, Vancouver AND Edmonton; and the Flames face each of the teams 8 times). 3. Due to injuries to Robyn Regehr, Rhett Warrener & Roman Hamrlik over the course of the year, Phaneuf's been the ad hoc #1 Flames defenseman over the year simply out of necessity. He's progressed to the point where Robyn Regehr's brother Richie got paired with him during his NHL stint. 4. Leads the Flames in game winning goals and powerplay goals.
So...what means more to the voting members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association? The best player on a bad team (Ovechkin/Crosby) or the best player on a good team?
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In any other year, [Phaneuf]'d be the runaway favorite for the Calder.
As would Lundquist, Svatos, and probably Prucha. Instead Prucha is going to score like 35 goals and not be 1st team all-rookie. And either Phaneuf or Lundquist isn't even going to be a Calder finalist ... and considering Lundquist plays in New York and is a goalie, I suspect you might be annoyed come banquet time. Sorry dawg.
Get this though. I play in a wacky league where you start 3 defensemen. And the four on my roster are Rob Blake, Sergei Zubov, Wade Redden, and Phaneuf. I am currently benching Rob Blake for this guy. That just feels weird.
You can thank Bob Gainey for that, shipping over Christobal Huet for a number two pick, a trade which seems to have helped both clubs since Price went 7-3 since the trade (the trade being as much about boosting Price's confidence as anything else)