Shayne Gostisbehere of the Philadelphia Flyers, Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and Artemi Panarin of the Chicago Blackhawks are the three finalists for the 2015-16 Calder Memorial Trophy, which is awarded “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition."
Throughout this controversial season for the Chicago Blackhawks, there’s been talk about fans who may have left the fold and talk of that talk being poppycock public posturing. So it was interesting to see Monday’s farewell note from Hockeenight, one of the most popular and hilarious Blackhawks fan blogs. (And a collection of writers who have previously worked on our Eulogys .) Here’s what they wrote: The last year brought rape allegations, revenge porn, homophobic slurs, and countless dudebros defending the indefensible simply because the perpetrators happened to play sports for a team they supported. What had once been a pleasure became a labor. And this year had a “staying together for the kids” feel to it. We didn’t recap at all, until we saw where we could provide a little levity to some friends going through a tough time, but I’m sure you’ll agree that our hearts clearly weren’t in it. And you guys deserve better. But the way the Chicago Blackhawks handled every one of these incidents made it clear to us that this was no longer an organization that we could continue supporting in this way. We couldn’t bring our usual hubris to things we’ve done in the past like “View From The Top” knowing that we couldn’t defend our own with a clear conscience. And we always promised each other that we’d do this until it was no longer fun, and here we are. Spending this season tilting at windmills simply got exhausting, and watching and recapping Blackhawks games simply got to be something that neither of us wanted to do, since it’s not our livelihood. Read the rest here. I reached out to them for some context on the decision: Was this more a message for the fellow fans, or one for the Blackhawks? From HockeeNight’s ‘Fork Lift’ : “It was as much catharsis as anything. The Hawks' shit giving on our thoughts is nil. And any Hawks fans who might waver just get reeled in on the next ‘What's Your Goal?’ Ad, where the Hawks show themselves as a rainbow factory without creating any fundraising awareness for whoever is in the spot with your favorite player.” From HockeeNight’s ‘CT’ : “Yeah, I don't see it as sending any kind of message to the organization. For everyone involved, this was a something done in their spare time, and the Blackhawks are making me question how much of my spare time I should be devoting to them. “But, I do think a large part of our popularity(?) was based on input from and interaction with our readers. We count many of those people as our friends, and I believe we did owe them an explanation for why were shutting down.” As Julie DiCaro noted: In the last year, some of the biggest Blackhawks fans I know have just walked away from the team. Hawks should care. — Julie DiCaro (@JulieDiCaro) May 2, 2016 Whether you see this as symptomatic of something larger or a vocal minority of Chicago fans greatly depends on how you felt about the team’s handling of the controversies listed above. Even if it’s the latter, it should be enough for the Hawks to take notice. -- Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK , is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY
(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.) That Jonathan Drouin has stepped up to become a big contributor for the Tampa Bay Lightning in this postseason should only be surprising because of how the team treated him this season. The story's been told over and over again, but Drouin had difficulty gaining the trust of coach Jon Cooper for reasons still unclear. Things got so bad that he requested a trade early in the season, and ended up being sent down to the AHL about two months later. Then there was the failure to report drama, and then the dominant performances with Syracuse — 11-2-13 and 55(!) shots on goal in 17 games — before he was recalled late in the season. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] Frankly, he was pressed into service by the revelation that Steven Stamkos needed surgery thanks to a blood clot. One imagines he would have gotten the call-up for the postseason anyway, given that Syracuse failed to make the Calder Cup playoffs, but certainly we can guess that he wouldn't be playing the role he has to this point for the big club. That role has been significant. He's got 1-6-7 with 19 shots in seven games, including his 1-1-2 performance in Saturday afternoon's win. In the first round, he was deployed by Cooper far more liberally than at any point in his career, pulling a little more than 18 minutes per night. In the second round against a better Tampa team, he's back down to less than 15, but is scoring anyway. Now, we can talk at length about the reasons why Drouin's career in Tampa is off to a disappointing start. He's played 91 games for the Bolts and piled up just 8-34-42, which isn't particularly good. He has been a bit unlucky in terms of the puck going in for him, but also doesn't generate a lot of shots. Further, because he's playing so few minutes per game — just 13:31 in the regular season for his career — one can reasonably assume the quality of competition he faces should give a player of his skill level a greater opportunity to pile up points. Data shows that, in terms of 5-on-5 points per 60, the only players to have outperformed Drouin over a period of two seasons at the time of his send-down was the original Triplet line. Drouin was scoring more — despite a crap shooting percent of 3.8 at full strength — than even Stamkos. Over his 89 games, in fact, his points per 60 total was one of the highest numbers in the league. Still, Cooper used him in much the same way as he did Cedric Paquette, which is to say “sparingly.” Which is to say “perhaps unwisely.” Now, you can't really argue with the results Cooper has gotten over that time, but one wonders whether the potential misuse of Drouin might have hindered his team at points anyway. How many of those losses or overtime results might have turned into wins had Drouin been put in an actual position to succeed? It stands to reason that if Drouin can score more proficiently than Stamkos at 5-on-5, even with his ice time coming mostly against fairly soft competition (his most common defenders faced in his career are Josh Gorges, Brendan Smith, Kyle Quincey, Torey Krug, and Rasmus Ristolainen), then a player of his obvious skill level should also be able to score pretty effectively on the power play. However, that really hasn't been the case for most of his career. In the last two regular seasons, Drouin scores fewer points per 60 than Ryan Callahan. One can assume there are a number of reasons for this, but perhaps the most glaring is his near-constant deferrals to other players. In about 168:30 of power play ice time over 89 games (about 1:53 per night), he has just nine shots on goal, a stunningly low number. Brett Connolly, who hasn't been with the club for more than a full season at this point, has more power play shots for the Lightning. He's attempted just 22. One wonders why that would be the case but obviously it was something that needed to be corrected. Maybe this is one of those issues where a problem like “a lack of confidence” comes into play, because it was fairly clear to everyone paying attention that Drouin didn't exactly have his coach's trust despite his overwhelming talent. Full stop: He shouldn't be getting a smaller percentage of his team's power play minutes than Jonathan Marchessault. Anyway, all that's in the past, etc. Because with Stamkos out, it's handy for Tampa to have had a high-skill forward sitting around who they weren't using too much, and his usage has consequently skyrocketed. Where before he was playing mostly third- and even fourth-line competition, he's now up on the team's second line. We're talking small samples against not-great teams here, so take all this for what it's worth, but while Triplets 2.0 are all scoring more than three points per 60 at 5-on-5 in this postseason, Drouin is the only other Bolt north of two. He's also been a possession giant (nearly 55 percent). Again, pushing around Detroit's second liners and all that, but you can only ask him to be better than his competition, and he plainly has been. But what's also notable is that in Stamkos's absence, Drouin is getting his power play minutes, and making hay with them. He's getting nearly two-thirds of all Tampa's PP TOI and leads Tampa forwards in points per 60 (at 8.76!) despite not scoring a single goal. That's roughly John Tavares territory, and ninth among all forwards in the league this postseason. Look how much of a difference he's seen:
|Puck Daddy||Chicagoin 7||Great, gritty battle between two teams loaded with big names and quality grunts. The Hossa Hex ends, much to our chagrin.|
|Sam McCaig||Chicagoin 6||Chicago's depth, skill and speed will prove to be too much for Philadelphia to overcome, and the 'Hawks can keep pace physically with the Flyers.|
|Ross McKeon||Chicagoin 6||The 'Hawks are poised to win their first Cup since 1961, but if we’ve learned anything from these playoffs it’s to expect the unexpected.|
|Matt Romig||Chicagoin 6||Give the 'Hawks the edge in skill, speed and special teams. Philly brings enough intangibles to extend an otherwise one-sided series.|