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Crashing the Net: NHL First half awards and an Olympic preview


Crashing the Net takes you around the league touching on hot and cold players, battles for ice-time and what's going on in net.

Normally this piece takes a look around the frozen pond and breaks down all kinds of fantasy related angles. This week, due to the Olympic Games, I'll switch things up a bit by discussing the thoughts of the staff as related in the piece entitled Fanball's Olympic Update: Staff Thoughts.

Note: I will list the award, then the staff voting. The number in parenthesis represents the vote totals each player received (possible total of six votes). In addition, I realize the season is two-thirds over already, so you can save the angry emails calling me an idiot for the title of this section. Since this is the first "break" of the year, I'm using the term "First Half" here even though it technically isn't accurate.

Carolina (three), Toronto/Calgary/Boston (one)

No shock here. The Hurricanes finished sixth in the Eastern Conference last year with 97 points. Only a scintillating 8-2 run over the last 10 games has them out of the NHL cellar. Still, they are 14th in the Eastern Conference with 55 points. They have been so awful until recently that even if they were to win their final 21 games they would only match last season's total of 97 points.

Brad Boyes (two), Chris Drury/Jay Bouwmeester/Henrik Zetterberg/Olli Jokinen

For those of you with a keen eye, you'll notice that two Flames are on the list. Well, at least until Jokinen was moved to the Rangers that is. Drury, the current Ranger, has 10 goals and 12 assists through 57 games, this after four straight years of at least 22 goals and 32 assists. In addition to the massive drop off in point production, he is also a poor (-11). Maybe he'll shine in the Olympics to save some face. Zetterberg easily has the best totals from this group, and a recent 4-game point streak has pushed his point total up to 48 in 53 games. He does have only three power-play goals and a +5 rating after at least 11 and a +13 in each of the previous four seasons, so he does have some room to grow as the Wings are finally getting healthy. However, there can be little doubt that Boyes has been the biggest failure in this group. After scoring 76 goals the past two years, the ninth best mark in the game, he has 10 tallies this year in 62 games putting him on pace for well less than half his goal scoring rate from the previous two seasons.

Steve Mason (four), Tim Thomas/Carey Price (one)

Thomas continues to cede starts to Tuukka Rask, hardly a shock given that Rask leads the league with a 2.08 GAA. Thomas, the Vezina Trophy winner from last season, just hasn't been able to keep up with the youngster this season going 13-15-7 for the Bruins. Price, continues to lag behind Jaroslav Halak according to almost every measurable number, and his record is awful (12-18-4). However, the easiest call here is Mason, last year's Calder Trophy winner, who has fallen on his face. Even with a spectacular four-game run in February (1.26 GAA, .960 save percentage), he still owns pathetic season long totals (3.08 GAA, .897 SV%). He'll need to finish off the season like he started February to even approximate last year's performance, and that ain't gonna happen.

Phoenix/Colorado (three)

Colorado is a team filled with youngsters and a guy in net who never before handled the No. 1 duties in the NHL in Craig Anderson. Sixty-one games with the recipe has resulted in an extreme amount of success as the Avalanche are currently sixth in the Western Conference. Phoenix is fourth in the Western Conference, a flipping amazing result for a team that was almost sold for a pack of bubble gum and a skate blade in the offseason. With all the turmoil this team has faced off the ice, it's astounding that they are currently second in the Pacific Division to the Sharks.

Tomas Plekanec (three), Patric Hornqvist (two), Alex Burrows (one)

Many thought that Burrows' 28 goal, 150 PIM, +23 season last year was a fluke. Clearly it wasn't as he currently has 26 goals, 86 PIMs and a +28 mark in 61 games. Hornqvist scored two goals in 28 rookie games, and this year he has 23 in 60 contests, the same goal total as Eric Staal. This category belongs to Plekanec who currently has 60 points in 63 games, the same point total as Ryan Getzlaf and three more than Rick Nash and Jarome Iginla. It's not like he hasn't been a point producer before, he had 69 points in 2007, but after last years total of 39 points he fell off many a fantasy radar entering this season.

Antii Niemi/Brian Elliott/Jonathan Quick/Ilya Bryzgalov/Craig Anderson/Tuuka Rask

A six way tie with each man receiving a single vote.

Niemi -- Second in the league with a 2.16 GAA, he has four shutouts in 22 games.

Elliott -- Took advantage of the injury to Pascal Leclaire to go 13-4 since January 1st.

Quick -- The NHL leader with 35 wins came into the year with only 47 games played.

Bryzgalov -- Thirty-two wins and six shutouts are both career bests.

Anderson -- Has a career-high 31 victories and leads Western Conference with 1,551 saves.

Rask -- He leads the league with a 2.08 GAA and has supplanted a Vezina winner (Thomas).

Alexander Ovechkin (six)

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There is no doubt who the leader should be as only someone who spent the last four months preparing for Olympic curling could possibly disagree (that's not a dig at curling by the way. If you haven't caught curling fever, make sure you check your local listings and catch him at some point over the next week plus). Ovechkin leads the league with 89 points and a +43 rating despite playing in only 54 contests. Don't forget he also is tied for the league lead in goals with Sidney Crosby (42 goals) as his team, the Capitals, lead the NHL with 90 points (one more than the Sharks). This one could eventually end up as a unanimous call for the Russian born dynamo who has won the award the past two seasons.

Martin Brodeur/Ryan Miller/Evgeni Nabokov (two)

The staff is clearly divided here, and with good reason. Check out how close the numbers are.

Brodeur: 34-20-3, 2.32 GAA, .915 SV%, 7 shutouts

Miler: 30-14-7, 2.16 GAA, .930 SV%, 5 shutouts

Nabokov: 34-9-9, 2.26 GAA, .928 SV%, 2 shutouts

Miller leads in the ratio categories, Brodeur leads in shutouts, and Nabokov leads in winning percentage. Obviously how each keeper, and team, finishes the year off will determine the winner in this category.

Alexander Ovechkin (five), Henrik Sedin (one)

Ovechkin has opened up a nine point lead on Sedin, almost overnight it seems. Alexander has points in 18 of his last 20 games during which time he has accrued 39 points. As for Sedin, he has finally cooled after going bonkers in December and January (50 points in 28 games) with a mere two helpers in seven games in February. If there is any way you can handicap this race in favor of Sedin, please let me know.

Alexander Ovechkin (four), Sidney Crosby/Patrick Marleau

I was the contrarian that chose Marleau who has already tied his career-high with 38 goals. Unfortunately, I submitted my selection before Marleau was moved down to center the second scoring line in San Jose to give the team some more depth on offense. If reunited with Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley he could challenge for the goal lead, but even then he's fighting an uphill battle. Crosby already has a career best with 42 markers, and he has gone crazy of late with eight goals in his last six games to tie Ovechkin for the league lead. AO has his 42 goals in just 54 games, and is eight goals from a fourth 50-goal season in five years (he lit the lamp 46 times in 2006). Ovechkin has scored eight times in his last eight games and 16 times in the last 22.

Tyler Myers (four), Matt Duchene (two)

Rookie blue liners just don't come in, skate 23:33 a game (good for 30th in the NHL), record a +5 and produce 32 points in their first 60 games in the NHL. Despite that fact, the towering right-handed shot that is Myers has done all of that while handling himself like a 10 year veteran in Buffalo. Duchene leads all rookie skaters with 20 goals, 42 points and a 16.4 shooting percentage. Those are all fine numbers, but he is going to have to elevate his game on the score sheet if he hopes to pass Myers for the Calder Trophy.

Chicago (three), San Jose (two), Washington (one)

That's 5-to-1 in favor of a Western Conference club beating down the beast from the east.

Of the six men who voted, there was only one dissenter in the choice for the Gold. Five of the authors selected Canada as the eventually gold medal winner with the lone dissenting vote going to Russia. Things were a little more muddled for the voting with the silver and bronze medals. Here are the overall totals.

GOLD: Canada (five votes), Russia (one)

SILVER: Russia (four), Canada (one), Sweden (one)

BRONZE: Sweden (three), Finland (one), Russia (one), USA (one)


For a review of the Olympic Games and the makeup of the squads involved, here are two pieces to wet your whistle.

James Duplacey gives an overview of the entire Olympic Field in Olympic Hockey Preview while Paul Bruno breaks down the Canadian Olympic Team.

Ray Flowers is Managing Editor for Owners Edge and You can also follow the happenings of the game of hockey on our Twitter Page, as well as read his book review of the hottest NHL trivia book on the market -- Timeless Trivia.