Well, we’ve made it to the halfway point of the season, so it is time to hand out a few awards to the deserving, the hopeless and the sensational.
Team of the season: I’m going to take the New Jersey Devils here since they are the one team to impress me more than I had expected. I thought Chicago and San Jose might be the quality of the West and so it has proved. The Devils; well I saw them as a decent playoff team but not the halfway top seed.
Martin Brodeur has been predictably brilliant, but the Devils continue to get offense from a team that lacks star quality after Zach Parise. And the biggest surprise among them? Has to be Andy Greene with 23 points in 37 games, already doubling any output he has managed in four NHL seasons.
Bust of the season: Plenty to choose from here but (sad for me since I am a fan) the Anaheim Ducks should try for the Anaheim Sucks. Twelve points out of the playoffs in the West and not even the best team around Los Angeles.
The goals haven’t been too hard to find and they have the scoring, but the defense has been shoddy despite Scott Niedermayer and Ryan Whitney being in town. They do have the talent to get out of their predicament and some NHL Predictions suggest they will, but it is not going to be easy given the strength of the West.
Surprise of the season: No doubt for me – has to be the Colorado Avalanche. Just on top of the Northwest Division after a season predicted to be dogged by youthful struggles. A brilliant free agency signing of goalie Craig Anderson has helped but Wojtek Wolski is finally becoming the player many thought he could be and watch out for Chris Stewart as well – the next top class power forward.
Player of the year: I’m going to go with Marian Gaborik, the one player among the leading scorers in the NHL who does not have a decent team around him. The Rangers have been playing switch the linemates on Gaborik all season but his production continues to amaze. At the time of writing he leads the league in goals and is close to Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk in points per game ranking.
Goalie of the year: Brodeur comes close to taking this one, but I’m going with Ryan Miller who is standing on his head to keep the Sabres in contention. A 23-8-3 record tells you all you need to know but Miller leads the league in GAA (2.02) and save percentage at .934 as well. Simply outstanding.
Bounceback of the year: I’ll go left-field with this one and take Tomas Plekanec of the Canadiens. Much had been expected of the Czech before the 2008-9 season when he scored a paltry 39 points (down 30 on 2007-8) but he is already at 46 after 48 games this season and seems to be able to play with whoever is placed on his wings.