LA Kings (15-16-6) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (21-10-7)
7:30 PST, Fox Sports West
Drew Doughty is probably the frontrunner for the Calder Trophy right now, not necessarily because of his play but because no one knows who the hell the other candidates are. The other candidates were supposed to be guys like Jakub Voracek, Kyle Turris, Steve Stamkos and Fabian Brunnstrom, guys with hype and sterling minor league records. Instead, those players have struggled while guys like Kris Versteeg and Patrick Berglund have excelled. Here are the stats for both:
|2008 - Kris Versteeg||11||20||31||13||39|
|2008 - Patrik Berglund||12||13||25||13||8|
Pretty good. How the hell you're supposed to compare those stats to Drew Doughty's, I have no idea. Doughty has 12 points on the season, but he also has the most time on ice for the team that has allowed the fewest shots on goal in the NHL. Doughty's best chance to win the Calder relies on the fact that everyone knows who he is (being the 2nd overall pick and all) and no one knows who Kris Versteeg (who was a 5th round pick) and Patrik Berglund (who plays for St. Louis) are. I think Doughty would beat Berglund in a vote because he has the USC Theory working for him* but Versteeg is a different story. He plays for the NHL's sweetheart team, he's on TV a lot, and he just looked great in the NHL's signature event, scoring a goal and an assist in the Winter Classic. I think Doughty just got passed.
*East Coast Bias is the idea that because no one watches the West Coast teams, East Coast teams usually are considered better; USC Theory flips that and posits that because no one watches USC play, everyone just assumes they're amazing and votes for them. I'm a USC fan, but if they get voted higher than Utah I will never stop screaming. Seriously, I'll follow Coaches' Poll voters around going, "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!" until I get arrested.
Of course, I can't say that I'd blame anyone if Versteeg were to win because I don't know who you are supposed to compare a forward and a defenseman. It's like asking someone what they like more, Ocean's Thirteen or the color blue and then getting pissed at their answer. (Besides, everyone knows the correct answer is blue.) Does Versteeg get penalized because he's 22 and Doughty is 19? Does Doughty get penalized that he plays on a bad team? Who knows? It's stupid, but I think Doughty needs to score about 30 points to win the Calder this year. Anything less, and I think Versteeg will take it and everyone will kind of shrug.
Prediction: Kings win, 5-4. Goals by Doughty (x2), Kopitar, Brown, and SImmonds.