Sunday, January 21, 2007

The "Middies"

We've reached the halfway point of the 06/07 NHL season and George Richards writing for McClatchy Newspapers thinks it time to give out some mid-season awards.
_President's Trophy for Best Overall Record: Nashville. Sure, the Predators have to compete with Detroit for this trophy, but they still have a bunch of games against St. Louis and Columbus after the break.

_Art Ross Trophy for Most Points: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh. "Sid the Kid" missed out on the Rookie of the Year trophy last season, so he's making amends. In a big way. Crosby also is going to be the star of the All-Star Game - at least until the opening faceoff. Rookie of the Year winner Alex Ovechkin also is in the running for this, and could charge at the end and snag another major award away from Crosby. We'll see.

_Maurice Richard Trophy for Most Goals: Teemu Selanne, Anaheim. Selanne is having a great season, scoring 30 goals in his first 49 games with the Pacific-leading Ducks. Jonathan Cheechoo, last season's winner, has tailed off, and went into Friday's action with 16 goals. But playing alongside Joe Thornton, he could bag a bunch in a hurry and be back in contention.

_Hart Memorial Trophy for Most Valuable Player: Marian Hossa, Atlanta. Thornton came from the rear of the field to surprise Jaromir Jagr and win this last season, so why not Hossa? The former Senator has been a huge offensive lift to the Thrashers, and should lead them not only to their first playoff berth, but their first divisional title as well.

_Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh. The Penguins are a fun team to watch, and Malkin is a big part of that. If the Pens stay in Pittsburgh, what a future this franchise has.

_Frank Selke Trophy for Top Defensive Forward: Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina. Last season's winner, Brind'Amour has helped Carolina keep pace with Atlanta in the Southeast Division. Going into Friday, he had logged 160 short-handed minutes.

_Jack Adams Award for Coach of the Year: Barry Trotz, Nashville. The popular pick here - as always - is Buffalo's Lindy Ruff. As in Buffalo, the Predators are helped by Trotz's stability and longevity with the franchise.

_James Norris Award for Top Defenseman: Scott Niedermayer Anaheim. Playing with an injured Chris Pronger definitely hasn't hurt Niedermayer, who has been at the top of his game all season.

_Georges Vezina Trophy for Top Goalie: Martin Brodeur, New Jersey. Even at 34, Brodeur keeps on going. Coming into the weekend, the three-time Stanley Cup champion leads the league in just about every important category - and has eight shutouts. If Roberto Luongo keeps his recent hot streak going, he could challenge.
I can't find much to disagree on with George and his picks, except, I'd go with Luongo for the Vezina... maybe even Hart.

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