One Puck Short’s Midseason Awards
With the NHL season now officially half way through, early fortune has either given way to reality or formed itself in to a fully fledged ‘good year’ for many of the game’s leading lights.
Few would have predicted Sidney Crosby’s stumbling start, but Alexander Ovechkin’s 500th goal was always likely to come during the 2015/2016 season.
For those who wish to look back on One Puck Short’s now hilariously off base preseason predictions, you can find them here – but for now, enjoy our slightly less hilarious midseason nods:
Vezina Trophy – Braden Holtby
Despite some strong performances from other goaltenders, this one does’t feel close.
The Washington Capitals number one leads the league in wins, GSAA and quality starts (minimum 600 minutes played), is fourth in save percentage and third in goals-against average whilst posting a top ten worthy adjusted save percentage at both even strength 5v5 and in all situations (again, minimum 600 minutes played).
Norris Trophy – Erik Karlsson
The superstar Swede has scored at more than a point per game through the first half of the season, average more time on ice than anyone and continues to change the way we think about defence in the modern game.
Karlsson is undoubtedly the Senators best player, the 25-year old also stacks up pretty darn well against other Norris candidates:
Where once Karlsson was seen as an all out attack, defensive liability he is now regarded as the bringer of some kind of new age – where speed of movement, thought and puck are far more useful in ones own end than old fashioned brawn.
Calder Trophy – Max Domi
One of the tougher decisions awards to hand out, with Chicago’s Artemi Planarian and Detroit’s Dylan Larkin also excellent through the first half of the campaign, but few – if any – had Arizona pegged as a play-off team.
But they sit second in the Pacific and a three game winning streak has helped the Coyotes open up a four point gap on third placed Vancouver.
Part of that streak might be due to Louis Domingue’s recent hot streak, but Domi has put in the kind of performances that bring fans to their feet and help give the Coyotes a genuinely bright future to look forward to.
Jack Adams – Claude Julien
The Bruins lost Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton over the summer, started the year without influential Captain Zdeno Chara, saw starting goaltender Tuukka Rask stumble out of the gate and then lost Dave Krejci to injury.
And yet Boston are still in the playoffs right now.
It’s not perfect, but maybe Julien deserves a little credit for righting the ship after a choppy start and making the Bruins look like a genuine threat again.
Hart Trophy – Roberto Luongo
The idea that a goaltender could win the Hart but not the Vezina may seem odd, but this is a case of a player living up to the true meaning of the Hart Trophy and being the most valuable player to his team.
Florida sit atop the Atlantic Division, on a 12-game winning streak and almost certain to make the playoffs for only the second time in the past fifteen seasons – in no small part due to the play of veteran puck stopper Roberto Luongo.
The 36-year old is among the statistical leaders this season, but more than that has provided the kind of rock solid goaltending a young team like the Panthers need to play with the kind of freedom we have seen from them this season.
While many believe their underlying numbers will lead to a fall in the future, they boast the best defensive record in the NHL at the half way stage. As nice as we might like to be, and can be, about Al Montoya, that success is largely due to Luongo.