Not only would Cale Makar probably win the Calder Trophy in a landslide if the voting were held today, he’d have to be in the conversation for the Norris Trophy.
As in, best all-around defenseman in the National Hockey League.
What, anyone want to argue that? OK, let’s.
John Carlson of the Washington Capitals would probably win it, and his numbers definitely would warrant it. Carlson, entering Friday, had 36 points and was a plus-13. Dougie Hamilton of Carolina had 26 points and a plus-15. But guess who is tied for second among all NHL defensemen in scoring now, with 26 points himself? That’s No. 8, Makar, who scored a goal and was a plus-2 in the Colorado Avalanche’s 5-2 victory in Chicago over the Blackhawks.
Makar would be in the conversation, and there is a lot of hockey left to be played this season.
And who might be the Hart Trophy winner, if the voting were held today? A few days ago, I wrote that my vote would go to Nathan MacKinnon, and certainly nothing he did today changed that opinion.
How does a goal and three assists sound for one day’s work? For MacKinnon, that was the output in a game in which the Avs pounced on Chicago early and went on semi- cruise-control from there.
The Avs are now 15-8-2 and get the Blackhawks again Saturday night at the Pepsi Center. Oh, and Mikko Rantanen will be back.
As long as the M&M boys are in the lineup, there will always be a shot for the Colorado Avalanche.
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS
- Makar’s goal was off what is becoming his patented moves: A deke down a bit lower in the zone off the blue line, followed by a laser of a wrister, top shelf. That gave the Avs a 3-1 lead and they never really looked back.
- MacKinnon’s four points moved him into fifth place in NHL scoring, with 39 points (16 goals). He’s been doing a lot of it without two-thirds of his top-line teammates, folks.
- MacKinnon was given credit for the first goal of the game, after J.T. Compher originally was. But, boy, I sure don’t see where MacKinnon got any tip of Compher’s shot (highlights below). If they take the goal away, MacKinnon would only get a three-point day, as Compher’s goal came after a giveaway by a Blackhawks player.
- Great goal by Valeri Nichushkin that made it 4-1. He kicked it into overdrive in a burst of speed through center ice, then buried a backhander past Corey Crawford. Two goals in three games for Nuke. Weren’t we just wondering if he’d ever score?
- Lots of bad Corsi numbers for the Avs today. But, as the apologists among the analytics crowd would say, it was all because of “score effects.” They always get to have it both ways. Here, in fact, is the game’s Corsi flow chart. I’m not get-off-my-lawn, anti-analytics. I just think that Corsi is one of the more flawed analytics among the ones to choose from. I think zone entries and zone exit numbers are more valuable, along with where the shots come from.
- So, I’m hearing that Gabe Landeskog could return much sooner than the Christmas time forecast I have been making. Mostly, I just always err on the side of caution in predicting returns from injury, as the Avs always seem to make sure they are 1000 percent ready to go before they can play again. But, while it still will probably be at least a week or two for Landy, that would still put him back in the lineup sooner than I expected. Obviously, that would be welcome news.
- Andre Burakovsky remains listed as day-to-day with that upper-body injury. We’ll see what they say at the skate tomorrow.
- Matt Calvert is skating again. Good news. Colin Wilson is not skating. He had some kind of setback in his rehab.
- Really liked the game of Ryan Graves again today. He scored the second goal of the game, was a plus-3 and blocked two shots. The kid has really stepped up this season.
- Great game for Compher too. Three points, including his first goal in nine games. The kid from Illinois loves playing in Chicago. He’s got four goals in the last four games he’s played at the United Center.\
- Here are your game highlights: