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Does Dominik Kubalik have a legitimate shot at the Calder Trophy?

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USA TODAY

Does Dominik Kubalik have a legitimate shot at the Calder Trophy?

A definite bright spot this season has been the emergence of Dominik Kubalik. With 25 goals this season, he’s only the eighth rookie in Blackhawks history to reach that plateau… and there’s still 22 games left! It’s reasonable to think he may reach 30 goals, and he’d be only the fifth rookie in franchise history to do that. So does he have a shot to be the tenth Calder Trophy winner in franchise history? Let’s dig in.

The best argument in Kubalik’s favor is the fact that he has a SIX goal cushion in the rookie goal race.

NHL rookie goal leaders  
Dominik Kubalik- Blackhawks  25
Victor Olofsson- Sabres          19
Denis Gurianov- Stars 17
Martin Necas- Hurricanes 15
Nick Suzuki- Canadiens    13

It’s even more glaring when you look at even-strength goals, and he’s even joined by a few teammates:

NHL rookie Even Strength Goal leaders

Dominik Kubalik- Blackhawks   23
Martin Necas- Hurricanes 10
Denis Gurianov- Stars 10
Kirby Dach- Blackhawks 8
Alex Nylander- Blackhawks 8
Cale Makar- Avalanche 8
Victor Olofsson- Sabres 8
   

Kubalik is tied with Leon Draisaitl & Nathan McKinnon for 8th in the entire league with those 23 even-strength tallies!

Kubalik has come on strong since the calendar flipped over to 2020.

NHL rookie goal leaders beginning of the season through December 31     

Victor Olofsson- Sabres 16
Dominik Kubalik- Blackhawks 11
Denis Gurianov- Stars  9
Martin Necas- Hurricanes 9

 

NHL rookie goal leaders beginning of the season January 1 to present

Dominik Kubalik- Blackhawks 14
Denis Gurianov- Stars 8
Carter Verhaeghe- Lightning 7
Nick Suzuki- Canadiens 6
Martin Necas- Hurricanes 6

Did you ever notice that Necas is an anagram for Canes?

Of course, on the flip side, Kubalik is only 5th among rookie point collectors.

Quinn Hughes- Canucks 47
Cale Makar- Avalanche 45
Victor Olofsson- Sabres 40
Nick Suzuki- Canadiens 40
Dominik Kubalik- Blackhawks 38

Hughes is tied for 4th overall and Makar is 6th overall among ALL defensemen in points, let alone rookies. Impressively, Makar’s first career 10 NHL games in the 2019 playoffs, where he recorded a goal and 5 assists.

One point in Victor Olofsson’s favor is that he has done what he has done in 45 games compared to 58 for Kubalik.

The biggest problem, in my opinion, is what the recent trends have shown in Calder Trophy voting. In most cases where one player leads NHL rookies in goals while a different player leads NHL rookies in points, the vote usually goes in favor of the points leader.

  Rookie points leader Rookie goals leader Calder Trophy winner
2018-19 Elias Pettersson Elias Pettersson Pettersson
2017-18 Matthew Barzal Kyle Connor  Barzal
2016-17 Auston Matthews Auston Matthews Matthews
2015-16 Artemi Panarin  Artemi Panarin  Panarin 
2014-15 J. Gaudreau/ M. Stone Mike Hoffman Aaron Ekblad
2013-14 Nathan MacKinnon MacKinnon/T. Johnson MacKinnon 
2012-13 J. Huberdeau/N. Yakupov Nail Yakupov Huberdeau
2011-12 G. Landsekog/R. Nugent-Hopkins Matt Read Landsekog
2010-11 Jeff Skinner Michael Grabner Skinner
2009-10 Matt Duchene J. Tavares/M. Duchene Tyler Myers
2008-09 Bobby Ryan  Bobby Ryan Steve Mason
2007-08 Patrick Kane  Jonathan Toews Kane
2006-07 Evgeni Malkin Evgeni Malkin Malkin
2005-06 Alex Ovechkin Alex Ovechkin Overchkin

 

A big point in favor of Quinn Hughes.

Although, what about the times where the rookie goal leader had a lead of six or more goals over the next rookie, as Kubalik currently enjoys?

  Rookie goals leader Runner up Calder Trophy
2018-19 Elias Pettersson 28 Brady Tkachuk 22 Pettersson
2015-16 Artemi Panarin 30 Jack Eichel 24  Panarin
2008-09 Bobby Ryan 31 James Neal 24 Steve Mason
2005-06 Alex Ovechkin 52 Sidney Crosby 39 Ovechkin
1999-2000 Mike York 26 Simon Gagne 20 Scott Gomez
1992-93 Teemu Selanne 76 Eric Lindros 41 Selanne

These are the only six times it has happened since 1990, so it doesn’t happen often. But still, Pettersson, Panarin, Ovechkin & Selanne also led rookies in points. Scott Gomez in 1999-2000 did too. But Steve Mason won a Calder over Bobby Ryan in 2008-09. What about the goalies?

Three goalies might be considered on the Calder radar right now.

  W-L-OTL GAA SV% SO
MacKenzie Blackwood- Devils 19-12-7 2.79 .913 3
Ilya Samsonov- Capitals 16-4-1 2.38 .917 1
Elvis Merzlikins- Blue Jackets 12-9-6 2.29 .924 5

Blackwood has the bulk of the playing time, but overall less impressive numbers than Samsonov (who is the only goaltender in NHL history to win each of his first 9 career road games in a season!) and Merzlikins (5 of 12 wins by way of shutout!), who both probably haven’t played enough to be true Calder contenders, but have notable performances worth mentioning. My best guess is that none of these goalies end up Calder finalists.

Dominik Kubalik is at a bit of a disadvantage due to his overall point total, but if he keeps on consistently putting pucks into nets (his 14 goals since January 1 are tied for 4th in the entire league!), it will get interesting. The Blackhawks just may end up with three Calder winners over the past 13 seasons which would be quite a nod to the Blackhawks’ ability to locate dynamic forwards.

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NHL 20 sim: Brandon Saad shows shades of Marian Hossa in Game 2 win

NHL 20 sim: Brandon Saad shows shades of Marian Hossa in Game 2 win

 

Game 2: Blackhawks at Blues (April 10)

Result: Blackhawks win 6-2 (Series tied 1-1)

Three Stars:

1st Star: Brandon Saad (2 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +3)

2nd Star: Olli Maatta (3 A, +2, 1 SOG, 1 H)

3rd Star: Jonathan Toews (1 G, 1 A, +3, 8-14 FO)

Brandon Saad showed shades of his 2014-15 self that was often compared to a young Marian Hossa. He netted two goals, got the primary assist to tie the game in the 2nd, and was a force at both ends recording four shots and a +3 rating. Olli Maatta provided some unexpected offense, chipping in with three assists including the primary helper on the eventual game-winner. The Captain stepped up when needed as well. Toews got the Hawks on the board to tie things in the second, and Chicago never looked back from there.

Scoring Summary:

First Period

-   6:59 Alexander Steen (O. Sundqvist, J. Kyrou) 1-0 

Second Period

-   1:19 Jonathan Toews (B. Saad, A. DeBrincat) 1-1

- 1:46 Brandon Saad (J. Toews, A. Boqvist) 2-1

- 5:04 Alex Nylander (O. Maatta, C. Murphy) 3-1

- 7:01 Drake Caggiula (O. Maatta) 4-1

- 15:03 Kirby Dach (Unassisted) 5-1

- 16:52 Vince Dunn (J. Faulk, S. Blais) 5-2

- 17:32 Brandon Saad (O. Maatta, A. DeBrincat) 6-2

Third Period

- No Scoring

Box Score:

Shots on Goal:

-   Chicago: 24

-   St. Louis: 22

The Blackhawks found a nice combination of depth contributions and stars stepping up. Established veterans like Toews and Saad did the heavy lifting early, then the depth and youth put the game to bed with a strong finish to the second period. With the first line through the fourth line all chipping in, the Hawks might be tough to beat if they are able to keep up that formula.

Goalies:

-   Corey Crawford: 20/22 (.909 SV%)

-   Jordan Binnington: 18/24 (.750 SV%)

Corey Crawford looked like the consistent, two-time Cup winner the Hawks need in net to win a series over St. Louis. After surrendering an early goal, Crawford was lights out despite an early push from the home team to try and put away the Hawks quickly. Once Crawford settled down, so did the visitors. While Binnington clearly didn’t have his best night, he was also a victim of some bad luck surrendering a pair of goals due to some unfortunate bounces. Much like Crawford in Game 1, Binnington didn’t get too much help in front of him.

Power Play:

-   Chicago: 0-1

-   St. Louis 0-0

After five combined penalties in Game 1, the referees swallowed their whistles and let the boys play. With just one power play in two games, there is no doubt Jeremy Colliton would like to see his team get a few more chances on the man advantage. On the other hand, the Hawks showed how important staying out of the box is for their defense and for their goaltender, especially against a power play unit as potent as the Blues’.

Notable Blackhawks performances:

-   Kirby Dach (Goal)

-   Drake Caggiula (Goal)

-   Alex Nylander (Goal)

After strong finishes to the regular season, Dach and Nylander were held in check in Game 1. That changed in a big way in Game 2. Both picked up their first career playoff goals; Nylander netting the eventual game-winner and Dach icing the game with a greasy goal in front of the net. Caggiula played his role well too, being a pest in front of the net, which led to his tally. The Hawks checked all the boxes they needed to pick up a win in Game 2. Now the series swings back to the Madhouse on Madison where the home crowd will undoubtedly be rocking. Blackhawks fans will experience their first home playoff game since April 2017.

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 4 win over Sharks

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 4 win over Sharks

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the 2010 Stanley Cup team, NBC Sports Chicago is re-airing each of the Blackhawks' 16 postseason wins from the run that ended a 49-year championship drought. You can join the conversation using #HawksRewind on social media.

After taking a 3-0 series lead, the Blackhawks had an opportunity to clinch a berth to the Stanley Cup Final at home in Game 4. And that's exactly what they did, beating the San Jose Sharks 4-2 to complete the sweep in the Western Conference Final. Here are three things we noticed in the win:

1. Dustin Byfuglien for the win

Byfuglien was really good in the Vancouver series. He was great against San Jose.

To cap off the Western Conference Final, Byfuglien scored the go-ahead goal with 5:55 left in regulation to put the Blackhawks in front 3-2. It was his fifth straight game with a goal, and third game-winner (all against San Jose).

Big Buff put a stamp on his work in Game 4 and it was a treat to watch.

2. A defensive clinic

The Blackhawks were a high-powered offense in 2010, but Game 4 was all about the defense.

The Blackhawks allowed a postseason-low 18 shots on goal and four high-danger chances in 60 minutes, according to Natural Stat Trick. Antti Niemi faced only three shots in the third period. It was a defensive masterpiece in an elimination game.

3. The tightest series of them all

The Blackhawks were better than the Nashville Predators in the first round. They were better than the Vancouver Canucks in the second round. And while they may have swept the Sharks, this was as even a series as you could find in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

In fact, the Sharks led in shot attempts (269-247), shots on goal (136-127), scoring chances (116-94) and high-danger chances (43-25), according to Natural Stat Trick. All four games could've gone either way, but the Blackhawks delivered in the clutchest ways, particularly on special teams, and it's why they didn't lose.

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