Thursday, February 21, 2008

If Not Lidstrom Then Who?

Nicklas Lidstrom was having a very good season. I am currently picking him as the leading candidate for the Hart (MVP) and Norris (best defenceman) Trophies. However, in Monday night's game against Colorado (which Detroit won 4-0); Lidstrom suffered a knee injury from an Ian Laperriere hit. Lidstrom is expected to be out for at least three weeks with a strained MCL. That is a sharp blow to the Detroit Red Wings and calls into question Lidstrom's chances of winning those awards.

The question now is if Lidstrom cannot win the Hart Trophy, who will win it? If the season ended now, I would still pick Lidstrom as the winner, but the longer he is out, the less likely that remains true. Most likely, he will be passed by a forward who is having a top season such as Alexander Oveckhin in Washington or Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh. I think that Ovechkin is the most likely candidate due to his significant lead in the overall goal scoring race.

As far as the Norris Trophy goes, it is much harder to pick a favorite with Lidstrom out. I think there is a good chance that Lidstrom will remain the frontrunner for this award even with his injury. Probably the next best candidate at this point is teammate Brian Rafalski. However, Rafalski is also injured. His groin injury has put him on the injured list. That leaves the Norris race even more uncertain. Among healthy defencemen, probably Zdeno Chara of Boston is the frontrunner. There are several other top candidates including Dion Phaneuf of Calgary, Andrei Markov of Montreal, Chris Pronger of Anaheim and Sergei Gonchar of Pittsburgh. Should any go on a hot streak, they could take over the Norris lead.

Nicklas Lidstrom's knee injury will open up the races for both the Hart and Norris Trophies. I think Lidstrom is currently the frontrunner for both awards, but as he misses time he could lose that status. He could very possibly hold onto his Norris Trophy lead despite his injury, but likely his Hart Trophy lead will be lost. It will be interesting to see who establishes himself as the frontrunner in both races as Lidstrom is out.

1) Its probable that the player who eventually wins the Ross will be the front runner for the Hart. This week all the love seems to be going to Malkin
2) as far as Lidstrom; even if he were to miss the rest of the season(it appears that's unlikely) we'd still name him as our Norris winner. He's been that much better than everyone one else that even missing a chunk of games won't change this distinction in our opinion
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