With the 2014-15 NHL season officially hitting the midway point this weekend, we polled four SI.com staffers—Allan Muir, Sarah Kwak, Brian Cazeneuve, and Sam Page—for their picks of our midseason award winners.
With the 2014-15 NHL season officially hitting the midway point this weekend, we polled four SI.com staffers—Allan Muir, Sarah Kwak, Brian Cazeneuve, and Sam Page—for their picks of our midseason award winners. Surprisingly, the voting was fairly consistent, despite a strong field of contenders in every category.
Here's who we selected:
There's an argument to be made that Nashville's Pekka Rinne is well on the way to becoming the first goalie to win the Hart since Jose Theodore of Montreal in 2002, but in the minds of our panel the award goes to the best skater on the NHL's best team. Getzlaf, who was the Hart runner-up last season, has been even better this season despite having to play most of December without long-time wingman Corey Perry. He's third in scoring (45 points), second in assists (32) and fourth in time on ice (20:30) among forwards, proving his resilience as the Ducks have reached the top of the NHL standings.
Quarter season winner: Sidney Crosby, Penguins
Preseason pick: Crosby (additional vote for Patrick Kane, Blackhawks)
Pekka Rinne, Predators
Take away new coach Peter Laviolette and this season's dynamic new first line and the Preds are still in the mix for one reason: Rinne. He leads the NHL in wins (26) and ranks among the top four in goals-against average (2.00) and save percentage (.929). It's not the Triple Crown, but he's in the hunt. No knock on runner-up Price, but he's not even close.
Quarter season winner: Jonathan Quick, Kings
Preseason pick: Tuukka Rask, Bruins (additional vote for Cory Schneider, Devils)
True to the spirit of the award or not, the Norris tends to go to a player who ranks at or near the top of the scoring race among defensemen. Giordano quietly established himself as a competitor last season, but he became the favorite thanks to coach Bob Hartley's decision to keep the green light lit. The vet has led the league in blueliner scoring almost from the first puck drop and while he's tied with Kevin Shattenkirk now (35 points), he's blowing the Blues defender away at even strength (26-13). Oh, and he's racking up the points while facing a heavy defensive workload against the toughest competition. Add in his leadership, grit and heart and Giordano is the obvious choice.
Also receiving votes: Shea Weber, Predators
Quarter season winner: Giordano
Preseason pick: Weber (additional vote for Victor Hedman, Lightning)
Filip Forsberg, Predators
Both Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau and Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad have mounted strong charges during the second quarter of the season, but the consistent excellence of Forsberg makes him the clear choice. He's averaging nearly a point per game (14-24-38 in 39 games) and has already smashed Nashville’s rookie scoring record before the season hit the midway point. He has strong possession numbers (56% Corsi), ranks third in the league in plus/minus (+23) and leads all rookies in power play points (11) and game winners (4). Tough to argue against numbers like those.
Also receiving votes: none
Quarter season winner: Forsberg
Preseason pick: Jonathan Drouin, Lightning (additional votes for John Gibson, Ducks; Sam Bennett, Flames)
He may not do any one particular thing better than anyone, but Bergeron's ability to do everything—especially the little things—so well makes him our choice. He ranks second in the league in face-offs (920), second in wins (545) and second in winning percentage (59.4). His possession numbers are upper echelon (59.2% Corsi), he consistently lines up against top competition and he's one of the game's top penalty killers. Given a lead to protect, he's the guy you want on the ice.
Quarter season winner: None
Preseason pick: Bergeron (additional votes for Toews; Anze Kopitar, Kings)
JACK ADAMS AWARD
Jack Capuano, Islanders
Sure, GM Garth Snow retooled the roster over the summer, but that was a double-edged sword. Capuano had more talent than ever at his disposal, but with it came the pressure to make it work. Fast. The fifth-year coach has done just that, leading to Isles to a franchise-record start and keeping them in the hunt not just for the playoffs, but the top spot in the East. A look at the stats makes it clear that this team has improved almost across the board: goals-for (2.92, up from 2.63 in 2013-14); goals-against (2.78, down from 3.18); power play (19.9%, up from 17.8); shot differential (5.3 up from .9) and five-on-five play (1.03, up from .83). Seems like a long way from the “Fire Cappy” days ...
Also receiving votes: Paul Maurice, Winnipeg Jets
Quarter season winner: Willie Desjardins, Canucks
Preseason pick: Lindy Ruff, Stars (additional vote for Barry Trotz, Capitals)
BEST GOAL: Gustav Nyquist, Red Wings (Dec. 27 vs. Ottawa)
BEST SAVE: Kari Lehtonen, Stars (Nov. 13 vs. Los Angeles)
BIGGEST STORY: The NHL's mumps epidemic
A relic of Depression-era childhood raged through the league, sidelining nearly two dozen players including Sidney Crosby, Corey Perry and Ryan Suter, along with several on-ice and team officials.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: The revival of Rick Nash
The big winger followed up his harshly criticized playoff performance (three goals in 25 games, none in the Stanley Cup Final) with a smashing return to form that's seen him score 25 goals in 37 games, a 55-goal pace.
BIGGEST FAIL: The tireless blockheadedness of management in Edmonton
They're not just bad. They're committed to being bad. Until they're not (just kidding about sticking with Dallas Eakins!) and then they are again (giving David Perron away without maximizing the return).