Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Moment of Stanley Cup Playoff Greatness, April 20 edition

I know I'm diverting from "greatness" in the truest sense of the word with this one, but we have to commemorate former Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Pascal Leclaire getting a chance to play in between the pipes in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time.

Of course, when you're inserted for a guy who got pulled, and the final score was 7-4 (not in your favor), then you know what type of highlight I have to show:

To his credit, Leclaire did stop...ummm....20 of 23 shots. .869 save percentage. Yow. ON the bright side, he did register an appearance at The Dance this year - which is better than the CBJ did. Sigh.

For a real moment of Playoff greatness, let's begrudgingly congratulate Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings. "Jimmeh" shut out the Phoenix Coyotes last night, 3-0. While he didn't stand on his head, he did lose his headgear:

While I'm on the subject of Jimmy Howard, I'd like to register an opinion that he's a lousy candidate for the Calder Trophy for NHL Rookie of the Year. Dude is 26 years old. That makes him older than most of the Columbus Blue Jackets. That Jimmy had to toil in Grand Rapids for year after year while the Wings gnashed their teeth over Chris Osgood only made him more of a veteran.

Sure his stats were great this year (almost approaching Steve Mason's Calder-winning rookie year), but the 26-year-old Howard's season was based upon YEARS of professional experience. His Red Wings profile tells the story - prior to this season, he played at the NHL level for the Wings in 4 games in 2005-2006 (getting 3 decisions), 4 in 2007-2008 and 1 in 2008-2009. In addition, he had 216 regular season and playoff appearances for Grand Rapids.

By comparison, a 20-year-old Steve Mason had a whopping 3 AHL-level games and no NHL games prior to being dropped into the fire in Columbus last year. It's hard to get much greener than that.

My point is, Howard was plenty battle-tested prior to getting the full-time job in Detroit. He's no rookie. Perhaps the Calder Trophy needs an age cutoff. Opinions?

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