Coming into the 2010-11 NHL season, hockey bloggers and writers around the puck universe made preseason predictions on just about every aspect of the game.
Who's going to win the Stanley Cup, who's going to represent each conference in the Finals, will Henrik Sedin repeat as the Hart Memorial winner (awarded to the League's most valuable player)? So on and so on.
Each category had it's favorites. For example, many believed the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks were all heavy favorites to win their respected conferences.
That brings us to the subject at hand: the James Norris Memorial Trophy.
Of course, "experts" pegged Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom, Los Angeles' Drew Doughty, Philadelphia's Chris Pronger and defending Norris winner Duncan Keith of Chicago as the preseason favorites.
No one would have thought that Andrej Meszaros would be putting together one heck for a case for the Norris Trophy halfway through the season.
Meszaros, who was acquired by the Fyers for a second-round draft choice, leads the league with a plus-29 plus/minus rating. The statistic itself is grossly overrated because most players with high plus/minus ratings also have high point totals. In some cases, it does show a player's value in goal differential.
In 45 games, Meszaros has only two goals and 14 assists for 16 points, which ranks 57th in the NHL among defenseman.
What does that tell you? That Meszaros' rating is an excellent example of what the plus/minus stat is supposed to demostrate: how good of a defensive player you are.
Meszaros is a shutdown defenseman for the orange and black.
Playing on the Flyers' third pairing for most of the season, Meszaros is averaging just over 20 minutes per game, but while Pronger has been out of the lineup with a broken bone in his foot, the 25-year-old has been logging around 22 minutes a night.
He leads the Flyers' defenseman with 95 hits, including a nice hit on the Capitals' Boyd Gordon in last night's 3-2 overtime win against Washington. Oh, did I mention he scored the game winner?
While Lidstrom, Kris Letang, Zdeno Chara and Dustin Byfuglien have been enjoying great seasons themselves, Andrej Meszaros is quietly making a case for the Norris Trophy.
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