Friday, March 10, 2006

Life after Recchi

It hasn't been a great 48 hours for Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

First, a 6-3 loss to the Washington Crapitals and Alexander Ovechkin. Ivan Majesky scored his first goal of the year from about 140 feet away from the net. He'll take it. Sidney was outduelled head-to-head by Ovechkin (for the first time) and Alex seems to be breaking away in the race for the Calder.

After that, Marc Recchi was dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes for Niklas Nordgren (a rather BLAH defenseman), Krys Kolanos (a good AHL player but not much more than NHL filler at this point) and a draft pick.

So, Crosby has had Lemieux, Palffy, and Recchi all ripped away from him this season. This certainly won't help him catch Ovechkin (not that there was much of a chance) nor the Penguins win any games. As for the future? The Penguins didn't exactly fill the bank vault at the trade deadline. Still, Recchi was a UFA signing and they essentially got the picks for 'free' (not counting the salary paid to Recchi)

From Dave Molinari's Q&A:

Q: What is your opinion on the Calder race? I feel while both Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin are very talented, they are two very different types of players. Crosby is the more complete player, with Ovechkin being a pure sniper. I have never seen Ovechkin display the kind of stick-handling ability and vision I see from Crosby on a regular basis. Not to take anything away from Ovechkin -- he is amazing, also -- I just feel that as time goes by, Ovechkin's numbers will not be too much better (if better at all) than his first year's, while Crosby's numbers will certainly improve.

-- Christian DeRobio of Clearwater, Fla.

MOLINARI: Despite Crosby's advantage in head-to-head play -- the Penguins won the season series against Washington, 3-1, and Crosby outscored Ovechkin, nine points to five, in those games -- Ovechkin is the front-runner in the Calder race at this point. Understandably so, too, because he not only leads Crosby in the rookie scoring race, but has scored some spectacular goals that have to have made an indelible impression on trophy voters. Crosby will need a strong closing kick to overtake Ovechkin for the Calder.

That doesn't mean Ovechkin will be the better player over the long term -- frankly, any club would be ecstatic to have either -- but the Calder has nothing to do with how anyone projects a rookie's career will play out. (Nor does it have anything to do with what a rookie does, or does not, accomplish during the Olympics, or the playoffs.) It is awarded strictly on the basis of what players accomplish during their first season in the league, and both Ovechkin and Crosby have done some sensational things. Of course, so have other newcomers such as New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist and Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who are worthy of more top-end Calder support than they seem likely to receive.

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