First off, let me answer anyone who's not a Wild fan. Yes, this is a homer pick. Should this surprise anyone? Who doesn't want their team and players to shine?
With that out of the way, my first blog in almost three months centers around Cal Clutterbuck, the Wild's rookie forward. The guy has been an absolute joy to watch since his call-up early in the season; he plays with such intensity and energy that you can't love him. He doesn't have the point totals to rival Kris Versteeg. He doesn't have the plus-minus to keep up with the Bruins' Blake Wheeler (or for that matter, anyone on the Bruins, they seem to have enough plus-minus to erase the federal deficit). But his name should be right up there with them for the other things he does.
At first glance, his stat lines aren't that impressive - 8 G, 3 A for 11 points. But he's been very hot lately with three goals in his last five contests, including a game-winner against the Oilers. On top of that, he shoots at a 12.5% clip, he doesn't shoot much but makes the most of his opportunities. His 29 PIM are pretty low for someone who hits as much as he does, and he doesn't commit stupid penalties. You also have to recognize that he has three fighting majors in there, giving him only seven non-fighting penalties.
Going back to the kid's energy is where he should get the most attention. He not only leads all rookies in hits, Clutterbuck leads the entire NHL and he's played fewer games than his competition. For a rookie to lead any stat category is impressive - so why isn't he getting league-wide attention? Actually, scratch that - I know that the other players know about him, or at least have met them after taking a solid check or two. But the media outside of Minnesota hasn't paid much attention. He scored his first two career goals in the same game against the Capitals; unfortunately, the game was shown on Versus so nobody saw the kid shine.
I could go on and on but I'd rather have his actions speak for themselves. The kid's amazing, has been one of the key reasons the Wild are still staying afloat in the Western Conference, and should deserve to have his name thrown in the hat for Calder recognition. I don't really understand why he hasn't been mentioned yet, other than his odd last name...maybe he needs a nickname or marketing campaign but all I can think of is "Double Deuces," which isn't very creative considering that's his jersey number. Wild fans, any help? Bueller?
Regardless, hockey fans - you have been warned. Cal Clutterbuck is an up and coming player with tons of energy and intensity. He makes opponents look over their shoulders because he's always a step or two away from landing another monster hit. And he's shown that he can light the lamp as well. Anyways, that's just my two cents.
Keep your stick on the ice,