As a hockey writer, my favorite activity is obviously stirring up controversy. It's my calling. It's what I do best. Drama, chaos ... I crave it. But sometimes, there's no rivalry or enmity at all. That is, however, exactly why hockey writers exist: to create it, baselessly and shamelessly. Narrative is birthed from thin air.
So, do you really need an article about why Shayne Gostisbehere is better than Connor McDavid? No, you don't but Shayne Gostisbehere is facing McDavid for the first time and the Flyers are facing the Oilers for the first time since McDavid's injury. This means that I'm going to give it to you anyway, in hopes of ratcheting up Ghost's chances of winning the Calder and of course, to provoke some unnecessary conflict.
My favorite type of feverish national pride is vague and sometimes shameful sports-based feverish national pride. Why America over Canada? Because America is where I'm from, dammit, and we are better at hockey (sometimes)! Ooh, that's right. Stings, doesn't it? Getting owned like that? Better just delete your entire account now, Canada. Save yourself the pain later on.
Fact of the matter is that, in my experience, Canada beats America in two things: best Lay's (thank you, All Dressed, for being there for me when I needed you most) and developing the most Claude Girouxs. They've developed one, and so far, we've developed zero. We've got them beat everywhere else. America over Canada, Shayne over Connor.
2. Dog of the "under" variety.
Connor McDavid grew up in the nucleus of the hockey world. Shayne Gostisbehere grew up about ten miles from a beach. The first time Connor McDavid stepped into a rink, he was probably skating circles around people. The first time Shayne Gostisbehere stepped into a rink, he was attending one of his sister's figure skating practices. The closest ice to Connor McDavid was a quick walk down the block. The closest ice to Shayne Gostisbehere was on his neck, baby.
I think you get my drift. Shayne Gostisbehere wasn't supposed to be a phenom. This wasn't how it was supposed to go down at all. He was the darkest of dark horses. And yet here he is, all 75 South Floridian pounds of him, vying for the Calder.
3. The Streak™
Shayne Gostisbehere's out here breaking league records for rookie defensemen and everyone's like, yeah, well, who cares, here's one single tweet on the matter. Then all of a sudden, Connor McDavid scores a pretty goal and everyone tosses Ghost aside! Like yesterday's hockey garbage! Nay. We're not gonna do that. I'm not gonna let it happen. We're not gonna let the liberal Canadian media machine ignore Shayne Gostisbehere's excellence anymore. I'm gonna start to inundate TSN with Ghost gifs and 140 character bits of analysis of his most spectacular plays. Someone has to do it.
4. Stats, or whatever.
I'm sure there are some weird, lesser known stats to support my thesis that Ghost is better. I am not a statistician, though, nor am I an analyst, so I will leave this point to your imagination. I don't know, ask Charlie or something.
Speaking of lesser known stats, this one isn't even really a contest, but I do think it is worth mentioning. Everyone knows that hair is an important facet of hockey success. Historically speaking, all great players have had great hair at one point or another in their careers (just google "Wayne Gretzky glamour shots" if you need proof). A deeper look at the manes of these players certainly demonstrates another way Ghost is utterly superior.
Look at Shayne's wild locks here after scoring a gorgeous overtime winner:
Wow! He looks like a wild stallion! Unable to be tamed! He's beauty, he's grace. His slap shot will hit you in the face. He is Mr. United States.
Meanwhile, Connor McDavid looks like he gets his haircut at Sears Hair Studio in the West Edmonton Mall. Tragic. He must not be as great as everyone keeps saying.
I'm not an expert on personality, but if I was deciding what dude I wanted to hang out with after a game, what guy to maybe buy a beer for, I'm going Gostisbehere every day of the week. He seems chill! He seems down-to-Earth! Not to get too deep here, but it seems like he'd be willing to listen to all my terrible jokes and even give me some courtesy laughs! Would he fit in on Claude Giroux's beer pong team? You betcha, and he'd pull his weight too.
Connor McDavid has never played beer pong before in his life, or if he has, no one would ever know. He is too careful. He is an enigma wrapped in media training. And can you really blame him? He's been in the public eye since before he was granted Exceptional Player Status. It would take a hell of a guy to retain some semblance of personality after that. Connor McDavid is like the hockey version of Doctor Who's Cybermen. Him and Sidney Crosby. Hockey robots who are just happy to help the team out, eh?
Bottom line is that Shayne Gostisbehere is better, and everyone knows it. It is, how they say, Shayne Gostisbehere's world and we are just living in it.