Blog Entry

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:29 am
Edited on: March 1, 2012 11:39 am
 
The top two draft picks are in it. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Welcome to Award Races. For every week the remainder of the season, we will break down two of the awards races at a time and see how they are stacking up as the NHL season hits the home stretch.

We began our Award Races last week by looking at -- in my opinion -- the two most prestigious in the Hart Trophy and the Vezina. One of those races (Vezina) has a clear front-runner then a tight fight for runner-up. The other (Hart) is very tight and will be a battle to the end.

That seems to be what we're talking about this week too, only with the Norris Trophy and Calder. Let's start with the Norris.

At this point, Erik Karlsson seems like a shoe-in for the award. He has taken the points lead and laughed at the rest of the league's defensemen, doing circles around them. He's 23 points ahead of the second highest-scoring defenseman, Brian Campbell. Seriously, he's tied with Henrik Sedin and Joffrey Lupul for sixth in points among all skaters.

Part of the equation that goes into the Norris obviously is how good you are on defense too, it can't be all about offense. But maybe this time it can be, when a guy is just that much more dominant in that regard than the rest of the field. And it's not like Karlsson is completely defenseless. He might not be as good in his own zone as some of the others on this list, but he's responsible enough to garner more than 25 minutes a game in ice time.

So that one is pretty clear. The Calder going to the top rookie? Now this is a race.

At the midpoint of the season it seemed like it was in the bag for last year's No. 1 overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to take the award. Well he's still in the conversation, but he's been joined by others ... and overtaken.

The comments on the second overall pick Gabriel Landeskog's scouting report were promising for instant production. He was seen by most everybody as the most NHL-read prospect in the draft. He has good size already and is a mature player. So his ceiling wasn't believed to be incredibly high, the production was thought to be very good and consistent.

It might have taken him a little while, but now he's showing all of that. Check this out: With the Avalanche making a move to get back into the heart of the playoff race, Landeskog has been great of late. In the last five games he has four goals and four assists while averaging close to 20 minutes a night. Not bad for your first playoff race.

But he has some stiff competition that isn't far behind him at all.

Remember, this is just one man's opinion and there are sure to be disagreements. Feel free to share your thoughts (I know you won't disappoint there).

Award watch
Norris Calder
Erik Karlsson The Ottawa Senators have been the biggest surprise this season and Karlsson has been the biggest surprise for them. In addition to lapping the field in total points, he's also first among defensemen with 15 goals. The offense is just too overwhelming to ignore in his case. Gabriel Landeskog Knowing full well it is not the be-all, end-all of stats in hockey, especially today when advanced metrics are becoming more prevalent, but Landeskog has an impressive plus-22 on the season. That's 13th best in the league. Note: The Avs as a team are minus-5 this season. That has to say something.
Shea Weber Arguably the top all-around defenseman in the game, Weber is a perennial contender for this award, especially as long as he remains in Nashville with Barry Trotz. He's physical and responsible in his own end, explosive and dangerous in the offensive end. There's a reason (lots of them) teams would like to see him in free agency. Adam Henrique He exploded on the scene earlier this season playing with Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise in what became one of the better lines in the entire league. But he has cooled down, scoring just two goals and racking up five assists since Jan. 11. His slip combined with Landeskog's surge puts him here.
Nicklas Lidstrom The 41-year-old has won this award seven times. At age 41, he's going to be hard pressed to win an eighth, but that doesn't mean he isn't having a heck of a season. He's still a huge part of what the Red Wings do and is a quintessential two-way defenseman. It's hard to believe he's his age with how he plays. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Injuries have derailed his hopes here, to be sure. Points-per-game wise, he's the best among rookies with 15 goals and 23 assists in 43 games. But the fact that he played one game in January and then missed a few weeks in the middle of February has hurt his chances. He has come back with two goals and an assist in the last three, though.
Brian Campbell Without Campbell, there's no telling where Florida would be in the standings. He was the big acquisition of the summer by Dale Tallon and he's found his comfort zone after a scrutinizing time in Chicago. He is second among dmen in points and routinely plays close to 30 minutes a game for the Panthers. Matt Read Of all the rookies playing in Philadelphia this season -- and there are a lot -- Read has been the best, and probably the most surprising. The 25-year-old has 16 goals with 19 assists playing multiple roles for the Flyers. He also has only four minor penalties on the season with no majors. That counts for something.
Ryan Suter Still a bit overshadowed by his teammate Weber in Nashville, Suter is obviously no slouch. He'll be the most coveted free agent this summer if the Predators can't re-sign him. Like Weber he's a good two-way player who isn't as threatening in the offensive zone but can score. He has seven goals and 30 assists. Cody Hodgson He could be a dark horse in this race with his recent trade to the Sabres. In Vancouver he wasn't getting a lot of ice time being stuck between Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler but being in Buffalo could give him a shot to flourish. He has a good starting point with 16 goals and 17 assists despite averaging just 12:44 of ice time per game for the Canucks.

And for a quick look at the rest of the races we'll be checking in on every week.

Hart: Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Lundqvist, Claude Giroux

Vezina: Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, Brian Elliott

Jack Adams: Ken Hitchcock, Paul MacLean, John Tortorella

Selke: Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Kesler, Pavel Datsyuk

Top GM: Dale Tallon, Don Maloney, David Poile

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Comments

Since: Feb 3, 2009
Posted on: March 5, 2012 10:55 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much


To all those who say Chara, or Weber, or even Lidstrom, deserve the Norris more than Karlsson, what are they doing that puts them over the top?
isn't it obvious......they play 50 seconds more per game on the PK....... 

WORST PART, a lot of people have actually used that argument to justify why karlsson doesn't deserve the norris. lol





Since: May 20, 2009
Posted on: March 5, 2012 7:08 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

is he as good at playing defense as weber and chara, probably not, but what i can tell you is that the gap between his defensive game and their defensive game is MUCH SMALLER than the gap between his offensive game and their offensive game.  that means that, OVERALL, karlsson is better.
I think this last part of the post is pretty much what I've been trying to say.  Sensarmy did a good job touching on it, too.

Karlsson definitely plays a completely different style of play than Chara or Weber, but it doesn't make it any less effective.  Between the three, Karlsson's +/- is +13, Weber at 19, and Chara leading the way at +24.  Now, if Karlsson's was a -13, or worse even, sure,  I could definitely see the argument being made.  (I'll definitely conceed that +/- is a terrible way of judging D, but for the arguement, bear with me! :P)  But for everyone to come on here basically flaming Karlsson supporters I think is somewhat misguided.  I saw a stat recently (unfortunately no source for it, my apologies) but apparently there hasn't been a 20+ point gap between defensemen for 20+ years.  So to say that points mean nothing, I'd agree to that to a certain extent.  But to have just a ridiculous lead, while playing above average D, I don't think it can be completely discredited.

I've also read through this chain and all the comments, and obviously everyone has their views, and I've clearly got mine.  I just haven't really seen any arguments for any other players over Karlsson.  It seems everyone's just continuing to focus on his obscene point total, and just concluding that he's just a 4th forward out there and can't play D.

To all those who say Chara, or Weber, or even Lidstrom, deserve the Norris more than Karlsson, what are they doing that puts them over the top?  I'm not going to sit here and say my take is any more correct than anyone else's, or vice versa, but just curious as to why people are so "anti-Karlsson".  (I say that somewhat tongue in cheek, seeing as no one's really being anti-karlsson, but more "pro-"Chara/weber)



Since: Feb 3, 2009
Posted on: March 3, 2012 10:45 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

He instituted a whole new concept in St Louis, where they play solid defensive schemes, tough physical puck control, and a home record that is close to incredible. In a division where there are no bad teams, he has done a great job.

hmmmmm, what's that team called again, the blue something..........yeah, GREAT hockey knowledge.



Since: Feb 3, 2009
Posted on: March 3, 2012 10:44 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

wow revrand, you talk about how much you love hockey knowledge, yet seem to employ none of it.

first of all, just because i hold my team in high regard, doesn't mean my opinion is wrong.  karlsson is pretty heavily favoured to win the norris, so it can't be all homerish on my part.  or are there really that many sens homers out there?  hmmmmmmmm

second, where the hell did i say karlsson should win the hart?  i said he should win the norris.  if you go to the thread on the message board regarding the hart trophy, i say right there that SPEZZA should be nominated for the hart.

and again, re-read my posts.  i never said people expected the blues to go 34-11 under hitchcock, what i DID SAY, is that everyone picked the blues to make the postseason, which is a fact.  everyone picked the sens to finish dead last, which is also a fact.  my point was that it's more impressive for a team predicted to finish 15th to actually finish 6th (or wherever they finish), then it is for a team predicted to finish 6th or 7th to end up in 4th or 5th.

as for the "games in hand argument", give me a break.  the teams IN FRONT of the sens have 2-3 games in hand, the teams BEHIND have 1 game in hand, or have played the same amount.  so you can shove that excuse wherever you'd like.

and your take on karlsson, saying you watch lots of sens games, and see him get burnt all the time.  PUH-LEASE!!!  if you think he gets burnt all the time, then you obviously watch NO SENS GAMES!!!

you claim that i'm a homer, but it's fairly obvious that you're just a hater.  that's fine, keep on hating, i don't care



Since: Mar 1, 2007
Posted on: March 3, 2012 6:45 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

sensarmy, you are wrong about Hitchcock. He didn't just get them to play the way they should be. He instituted a whole new concept in St Louis, where they play solid defensive schemes, tough physical puck control, and a home record that is close to incredible. In a division where there are no bad teams, he has done a great job.

All of your posts are sooooooo Homerish, it's hard to take you seriously, you know. Even when you have a good point about the Sens, it's hard to take you seriously because your head is sooo far up the Senators azz! Example is you talk Hart trophy for Karlsson, yet you seem to discount that Spezza has had an incredible year as well, as both a scorer and a leader. Alfredsson continues to play way below his age would suggest, and your goaltending has single handedly won you a dozen games. 

Try to be more non-biased and attempt to use hockey knowledge for more of your posts. ie. you are too far all up on the sens nootsacks

Just for the he11 of it, show me one person who predicted the Blues would be 34-11 after Hitchcocks arrival. Where were the Blues predicted to be? And what about their performance in context with the strength of their division? 174 wins, even with cheesy Columbus in there, to the 155 in the NE. 4 of the top 5 teams in the Western conference are in that division, where only the Bruins are in the top 2 or 3 in NE. Sure, Ottawa is only a few points back of Boston, but they have played a handful more games. Add in the Blues have only allowed 130 goals all year, are 26-4-4 at home.

 Now, Ottawa is really only 7 points from being out of the playoffs, and they have played 2 or 3 games more than the chasers. They could very well be only 3 points from being out of a spot. Can't say that about the Blues, can you

Nashville has a great coach as well. Every year, they have no marquee players, yet they push teams in the playoffs.
New Jersey was predicted to sit near the basement, and they are outperforming the Sens as well (yes, only 1 pt, but they have played 4 less games)
Pittsburg without Crosby is a fine example of coaching.
Phoenix has more turmoil than any one team can handle, yet they are in tiop spot of their division.

Lots of teams have great coaching, and still the Blues' Hitchcock sits above them all. It should be a slam dunk for Hitchcock if they don't fall apart down the stretch.

IMHO, and I am NOT a Blues fan, but I appreciate and understand good hockey. 



Since: Mar 1, 2007
Posted on: March 3, 2012 6:15 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

If they give the Norris trophy to a defenseman based on his incredible offensive production, I will never care about that award again, personally.

As many points as he gets, he surrenders a lot. I have watched many Sens games where he gets completely burned on what should be routine defensive plays. I am not knocking or bashing him, I just think his defensive skills need work still before he should be a Norris winner.

That being said, when he does get much better playing the defensive part, he could very well be the next Lidstrom and a guy who will start piling up the Norris awards.

I would think that Weber should win that award this year 



Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: March 3, 2012 4:56 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

 he's probably one of the only d-men in the league who can actually skate with them.

I dont think you ever watch the sedins... They arent very fast, you will never see them beating players with speed



 guys like chara and weber are fine as long as your against the boards or in front of the , but last time i checked, that's not the only place defense is played.  when forwards start to skate and cycle, guys like weber and chara aren't as effective, because they're too big and slow, and players like karlsson excel.

You my friend are a huge homer. You think Chara and Weber are just  big? They are both big fast and nasty. And that is exactly what the Sedins have trouble with. Never mind the sedins who cares about them. I cant beleive you called chara and weber slow!



Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: March 3, 2012 4:49 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

Amazing season for Goaltending this year, Quick is amazing as is king Henrick




Since: Jun 8, 2009
Posted on: March 2, 2012 10:21 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

As a Sens fan (and owner of Karlsson in several hockey pools) I have to say that the best thing about all this is the fact that we're debating whether or not a 21 year old Karlsson merits winning the Norris this year. Despite the feelings of those opposed to it, it remains that Karlsson will be mentioned in the same breath as Chara and Weber going forward - and as his defensive play improves (remember all those fans that like to say it takes longer to mature as an NHL defenseman?), and provided he can continue producing offensively, he'll be a lock for years...and he's a Senator.

Awesome!





Since: Feb 3, 2009
Posted on: March 2, 2012 9:59 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Calder close, Norris not so much

The answer to this question should be, your playing Van, who do you want to QB your blueline and stop the twins?? I honestly wouldn't even consider Karlsson for that task.
why not?  he's probably one of the only d-men in the league who can actually skate with them.  guys like chara and weber are fine as long as your against the boards or in front of the net, but last time i checked, that's not the only place defense is played.  when forwards start to skate and cycle, guys like weber and chara aren't as effective, because they're too big and slow, and players like karlsson excel.

you guys assume that because karlsson doesn't play the same style of defense as weber and chara that it means he isn't as good.  karlsson plays "lidstrom" type defense (not saying he's as good, just plays that style), where he uses positioning and stick work, rather than size and brute force, and he's VERY GOOD at what he does. 

is he as good at playing defense as weber and chara, probably not, but what i can tell you is that the gap between his defensive game and their defensive game is MUCH SMALLER than the gap between his offensive game and their offensive game.  that means that, OVERALL, karlsson is better.





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