As we approach the halfway point of this shortened NHL season, we are starting to get some separation in the race for the Calder Trophy. The high-flying Montreal Canadiens, who sit atop the Eastern Conference standings, now have two of the top three rookies in the running, while St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko remains sidelined with a concussion and falls down the rankings.
It is still too early to dismiss any of this season's top-end rookies, who, with a sudden surge, could help catapult themselves back into this race while having a major impact on their respective teams.
Let's take a look at how things shape up this week. Statistics are through Sunday, March 3.
The Lightning are 3-6-1 in their past 10 games and have dropped out of the elite in the East. The diminutive center has a goal and two assists in his past five games, and continues to lead all rookies in scoring with 18 points in 21 games. His energy and work ethic have been consistent, and he remains the front-runner for the Calder Trophy. "If the team as a whole played as hard as Conacher, they would not be in the 13th spot in the East," said an Eastern Conference scout.