Happy April Fool’s Day. There are no prank-like shenanigans in this mailbag – or are there? No, for serious, there aren’t. Instead, it’s just your usual batch of intriguing questions and my answers. Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend.
Hey Adam, I am a Bruins fan, so I admit bias in my question. I am wondering why Brad Marchand is not being mentioned in the race for the Calder Trophy? Is it because the crop of rookies this year is so deep? I know with Logan Couture, Jeff Skinner, Cam Fowler, P.K. Subban, Michael Grabner, et al. there are a lot of viable options for the award.
Marchand, as of this writing, is second in the league in plus-minus, ranks among the top rookie forwards in shorthanded ice time and has still managed to score 20 goals. Given all of the hype surrounding Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin this year, Marchand has been a welcome surprise for me.
Stephen Strowbridge, Mount Pearl, Nfld.
Marchand has been a nice surprise for me as well, which is why I put him on my THN all-underrated team in a recent edition of the magazine. Unfortunately for him, he plays on a stacked Bruins team that allows him the luxury of focusing on a smaller role than the ones played by any of the five rookies you mentioned in your question.
(You also forgot to include Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford as a leading Calder contender, which he most certainly is.)
In any case, Marchand’s breakout season guarantees he’ll be an integral part of Boston’s roster for years to come. For a guy who’s spent the majority of the past two seasons in the American League, that’s probably recognition enough.
Hey Adam, I was hoping to get your opinion on the Flyers’ goaltending situation. Last year, Brian Boucher played very well in the playoffs until he got injured in the second round and Michael Leighton took the spotlight. This year, Sergei Bobrovsky has been inconsistent, looking great at times, but letting in soft goals other times.
Bobrovsky reminds me of another Flyers goalie who usurped Boucher 10 years ago: Roman Cechmanek. Do you think Bobrovsky is the real goalie of the future for Philly or is he just a flash in the pan? Who do you think should start the playoffs? Thanks for responding and keep up the good work!
Ben Gorbaty, Baltimore
I have the same answer for you as I do whenever someone inquires about an unproven goalie: Basically, there is no guarantee any netminder who has success for a stretch of time will be able to replicate it over the long haul. Like pitchers in baseball, it can be easy for a goalie to look good the first time a team sees him, but once scouts begin picking apart their game, the goalie must make adjustments or find himself exposed and/or sitting on a team’s bench instead of playing.
In my mind, the big question for Philadelphia right now isn’t about Bobrovsky’s future. It’s about what happens if he, or Boucher, stands out as one of the reasons why the Flyers don’t win the Stanley Cup this season. Can you imagine the angst and anger Philly’s fans will feel knowing that, for yet another year, the organization’s blind spot is again responsible for undermining so many things the Flyers do right?
For your sake, I hope that doesn’t happen. But at this stage, I honestly don’t believe it matters who coach Peter Laviolette starts in the playoffs. The team will have to give support to whoever is between the pipes and if either or both goalies can’t make the most of that support, you have to believe GM Paul Holmgren will make a reliable veteran netminder his priority (albeit with little cap room to do so) this summer.
Hey Adam, why is Rexall Place the only arena in the NHL that has the players’ bench on the same side as the TV cameras? Is there a reason why they were permitted to keep it that way? Keep up the great work!
Andrew Miller, Kingston, Ont.
You have to remember, Rexall Place - Northlands Coliseum, when I was a kid - was built in 1974. Back in those ancient times, TV was not the prime consideration when deciding where to situate the benches and although Oilers president-CEO Patrick LaForge told me a couple weeks ago the team has poured more than $20 million into renovations and upgrades to the rink in the past decade, a renovation to move the benches across the ice would be as costly – and likely more problematic in terms of seat allotment – as anything they’ve done.
That said, with the franchise aggressively seeking a new building in the next three to four years, this is a problem that will be solved soon enough.
Hey Adam, What do you think about Marc-Andre Fleury for the Vezina or Hart? Everyone knows of his rocky start, but Fleury worked through it and has been unbelievable ever since. He may not beat Tim Thomas and others in the stats column, but for his comeback and simply the situation he is in with missing Crosby and Malkin is tremendous.
As for the Hart, I think goalies get a little less respect when it comes to winning this award and I think Fleury has exemplified he is the MVP of his team.
Paul S., Pittsburgh
I think Fleury certainly will get some consideration for the Vezina and not very much for the Hart. His slow start almost certainly will keep him from beating out Thomas as the league’s best goalie and players such as Daniel Sedin, Martin St-Louis and Jonathan Toews, among others, are more likely to be crowned the NHL’s most valuable player.
That’s not to downplay Fleury’s stellar performance for much of the season. But to me, the far-above-average coaching job Dan Bylsma has done without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin is a big factor in the Pens’ ability to continue to thrive.
As for goalies not getting respect for the Hart Trophy, my first-place Hart vote last year went to Buffalo’s Ryan Miller. And we all know about Dominik Hasek’s back-to-back Hart wins in 1997 and 1998. If they’re good enough to convince hockey writers to forget about impressive point totals by forwards, they’ll win.
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.
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