Tampa Bay Lightning (11-19-10, 14th in east) at Anaheim Ducks (21-16-5, 6th in west)
I vaguely remember some guys named Selanne and Perry.
As you may know, I hold a special disdain in my heart for the Calder Trophy -- I laugh when other teams win it, and I laugh harder when other teams feel they should have won it -- because in my mind it's a fairly backstabbing trophy. Basically all it accomplishes is increasing the dollar value of some young kid's next contract, which in this salary cap structure isn't very desirable at all.
But Bobby Fucking Ryan. A natural hat trick in just 2:21 of game time against the Kings last night (I'll link a good YouTube when it emerges -- the third goal was jaw dropping) has propelled B-Ry into a 2nd place tie among rookie scorers. Now obviously I'm not considering goaltenders and defensemen here, because like Rudy, I really don't have a good metric to compare those positions. It's still very possible for Steve Mason or Drew Doughty to walk away with the hardware for their first-year contributions, and my Calder worries would be for naught. But for now, here's a look at the current rookie scoring leaderboard.
Really not that inspiring, on the surface of things -- though Ryan has played the fewest games, he seems right in a mix of a lot of deserving forwards. Recall, however, that B-Ry didn't play in his first game until November 16, and didn't score his first point until November 19. Here's how the same six skaters looked before Bobby Ryan's first NHL game of the season (stats through 11/15).
So basically, the Ducks and B-Ry gave the rest of the rookie field a month-and-a-half head start. Of the top 30 scoring rookies this season, Ryan has played 4 fewer games than any of them, and yet trails only one of them in points. And while the Selanne injury and Perry suspension have provided Ryan some top-line opportunity lately, that hasn't been the case for a lot of his season -- he played five games with Parros and Carter and seven games with Morrison and Ebbett/Rob N./Marchant. In a lot of ways, Bobby Ryan is living a real-life version of NHL 09's Be A Pro mode.
Now I'm not here to tell you what should happen or what will happen with Calder voting -- in the end, it may not even matter that much, because if Ryan keeps this up he's getting a sick raise, trophy or no. But damn -- this kid is a player, and I'll be keeping an eye on his apparent climb to stardom as this season progresses.
Prediction: Damn, I didn't realize there was a game today until late last night. Ducks 3, Bolts 2. Goals by the Ryans -- Bobby, Getzlaf, and Carter. Pahlsson finally gets left off the predicted scoresheet.