Sunday, March 29, 2009

Can You Smell the Bullshit?

This time I'm talking about the race for the Calder Trophy, the award given to "the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition" in the league. Us mutts know it better as rookie of the year, in less refined terms.

This year it seems as though the MSM has already selected their winner, in feel good choice Steve Mason, goaltender for the suddenly significant Columbus Blue Jackets. The Jackets definetely have had a turnaround season, and are poised to make their first postseason appearance in the franchise's young history, and that, no doubt, is thanks largely to Mr. Mason.

My question is in the numbers that are seemingly similar to another rookie goaltender by the wonderfully delightful name of Pekka Rinne, goaltender for the Nashville Predators. In the seemingly unimportant wasteland of space between the East and West Coasts, these two keepers have chased their previous #1's out of the net, and secured the jobs themselves. As noted in Puck Daddy's earlier blog 'Pekka Rinne: Like Steve Mason, but without that pesky hype!' their stats are seemingly identical, while both of them making their irrevelevant teams revelant in terms of making the playoffs.

So where's all the hype for Pekka for Calder?

Is it racism?

Mason's apparently Canadian, Rinne's a Finn. You remember the last time those Scandinavians got all upitty, we had to stomp some 'Wegie ass. Fucking 'Wegie's.

The fanbase is starting to make some noise about it. Finally.

We all remember last year's awarding of the Hart to Alex Ovechkin, after leading the Caps to the playoffs in the closing days of the season, taking over the Southeast Division lead automatic berth. Everyone said leading up to the close of the season, that if Washington makes the post, then Ovechkin wins the Hart. And so he did.

So with that kind of reasoning, does that mean if Mason, well we won't says leads, but keeps the BJ's in postseason position, then he automatically wins the Calder? Right now, Columbus is sitting in the sixth spot with 86 points and six games remaining, followed by their unexpectedly competitive Central Division compatriots, the Predators, and the Blues(?, more on that another day)

But Pekka's Preds are right in the hunt too, sitting only two points back from the symbolic Union Army, so why isn't poor ol' Pekka getting a look too? Typically, this race only involves a goaltender twice a decade, with the last one being this show-stopping, jaw-dropper Andrew Raycroft in '03-'04. After that stoic career the company gets significantly better with Evgeni Nabokov in 2000-'01, Martin Brodeur in '93-'94, and my personal hero, Eddie Belfour in '90-'91.

Again, as Wyshynski points out that the rookie forwards aren't exactly "lighting the world on fire" with scoring, some of them have turned it on in the past few weeks. Some of them have gotten hot enough to turn this into more than a two (one) horse race.

Bobby Ryan has been firing the puck at will with 2 goals, and 8 shots in his last game against the lowly Avalanche. He leads all rookies in goals with 26, and points with 50, and only appearing in 58 games. He is tied for points with Kris Versteeg, who jumped out early in the Calder race, but slowed mid-season, and is now turning it back on again. Flying under the radar is Stars rookie forward James Neal, second in goals for rookies with 24. Blake Wheeler also got some credit for Boston's quick start this year, just as Patrick Berglund and T.J. Oshie are being held partially responsible for the Blues miraculous turnaround. Even Freshman flop Steven Stamkos has turned it on lately now that the pressure is off, now with 19 goals, now that we're not waiting for his first anymore.

On one hand, it is pretty amazing to lead a perennial doormat to the dance, on the other hand its not like he's the only one.

Hypothetically, lets just say both Columbus and Nashville make the post, and in the spots they're at right now, six and seven. That means Columbus faces Calgary, and Nashville takes on Detroit. Okay now let's just say Columbus goes down in six, and Nashville takes down the red giant in seven. Now Pekka's won a huge series against the mighty Red Wings, and Columbus goes down in the first round like everyone outside of Ohio figures. What then? Granted hypothetical, but not completely unreasonable, unless your a Red Wings fan. And then I don't even know why you're reading my blog.

I'm just saying, the race always changes as you get closer to the finish line. Make up your own mind on your flight to Vegas.

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