Calder Trophy Watch: Why Brendan Gallagher is my new favorite.
It is only fitting that the last two clubs that Brendan Gallagher played for before making the Montreal Canadiens were named Bulldogs and Giants.
Though he is only 5'8" and 175lbs, he plays like a giant and with the tenacity and fearlessness of a bulldog and he is slowly winning the race for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.
No offense to the great season of Florida's Jonathan Huberdeau, but Gallagher's style of play has won me over and given him the extra degree of difficulty to put him above the Panther's sniper.
He plays a big man's game, going hard to the corners and setting up shop at the top of the crease- a spot that garners a lot of physical abuse administered by players much bigger than he is.
Thursday night in Buffalo, Gallagher was right in Ryan Miller's kitchen, taking slashes from the goalie and several crosschecks from Tyler Myers- a player who is a foot taller than he is.
And what does Gallagher do? Keep going back and taking more, all the while a smile on his face.
His 12 goals puts him only 1 behind Huberdeau, despite playing 4 less games and pro-rated over a normal 82 game season who equal a fraction under 27 goals.
But while the goals and points are there amongst the top rookies, it his willingness to battle for every puck, every shift, every game which makes him special. He pays the price to make plays and his offensive numbers are a reflection of what his work ethic brings to the table.
He is also a popular teammate and a hated opponent, another two qualities that every NHL team covets. He is described as a "Tonka Truck" by Colby Armstrong and lives with defenceman Josh Gorges. He also made a very classy move when Michael Ryder was acquired by the Habs as he gave up his #73 to Ryder, making the switch to #11- a number most recently worn by former team captains Kirk Muller and Saku Koivu.
It could be foreshadowing of things to come for Brendan Gallagher, as he will no doubt one day be looked upon to be part of the leadership of hockey's most storied franchise.
But for now, he'll just take a playoff berth and a Calder Trophy to kick off his career.
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