Mirtle's Midseason NHL awards
Well, it seems as though the letter I mailed four days ago failed to reach HockeyDirt.com in time to register my vote for their midseason awards.
Alas, I go uncounted.
And while such famous wizards of hockey punditry as Eric Mc'Offwing and Jesaslovakia Golbez weighed in ages ago, I will now present my (yes) late picks. And you will read — and like — this belated offering.
Mirtle says: Alexander Ovechkin
The Hockey Nerd Panel said: Ovechkin (71%)
OffWing: Ovechkin (Homer alert)
I said it before and I'll say it again, I'm glad I'm not on the voting committee for this one. While it may become clearer by the end of the season who in fact was the best rookie in 2005-06, it is at the moment no clearer than the banks of the Thompson Rivers (which are muddy — or silty, which doesn't sound like a word but apparently is).
This is a helluva lot closer than the above results would indicate, as all four of Ovechkin, Sid Crosby, Henrik Lundqvist and Dion Phaneuf are having the best rookie seasons since Peter Forsberg in 1995. Once upon a time, Chris Drury won the Calder with 20 goals and 44 points. Mr. Ovechkin has better totals than that in 38 games. 'Nuff said.
Mirtle says: Zdeno Chara
The Hockey Nerd Panel said: Wade Redden (45%)
I'm not sure what Golbez has against tall Slovaks, but I'm a big fan of what Chara brings to the table. The Senators' success this season is as much due to his presence on the backend as that of Dominik Hasek. Whoever wrote in Marek Malik's name gets a gold star for not gluing their head to their shoulder a la Ralph Wiggum.
Mirtle says: Jaromir Jagr
The Hockey Nerd Panel said: Jagr (48%)
OffWing: Daniel Alfredsson
Listening to Jagr in preseason interviews, he sounded possessed, like a man on a mission or about to go on a mission. That mission? Make the Rangers not suck. Mission accomplished.
Mirtle says: Mikka Kiprusoff
The Hockey Nerd Panel said: Hasek (48%)
Kiprusoff has been ludicrously good, which is a tad better than the ridiculously good of Hasek, Manny Fernandez and Curtis Joseph. Heading into tonight's game, the Kipper's goals-against average at home was 1.81. Tonight, he shutout Toronto. His GAA? It's now inhuman.
Lady Byng Trophy
Mirtle says: Dan Boyle
The Hockey Nerd Panel said: Brad Richards (29%)
OffWing: Eric McErlain
Golbez: Pavol Demitra
Considering how tightly everything has been called this year, defencemen have been spending an awful lot more minutes in the box this season. Boyle? He's played a sound defensive game without using his stick, for which he gets the gold star. For that and not gluing his head to his shoulder.
Frank Selke Trophy
Mirtle says: Rod Brind'Amour
The Hockey Nerd Panel said: Brind'Amour (35%)
I love this award, but it generally tends to go to the wrong player. For one thing, a centre should win almost exclusively given the position's increased defenstive responsibilities. Brind'Amour has been lights out this season, logging big minutes on the power play, short handed and handing out free tickets in downtown Raleigh.
Jack Adams Trophy
Mirtle says: Lindy Ruff
The Hockey Nerd Panel said: Ruff (23%)
OffWing: Ruff (on a coin toss — this ain't football EMac)
Golbez: Peter Laviolette
It's close, but as a longtime sufferer in Buffalo, coach Ruff has finally put all the pieces together for the Sabres. His task is going to get monumentally tougher now with both J.P. Dumont and Danny Briere out for most of the year, so it may not shake down this way by season's end. I also liked Buffalo's team heading into the year, but I was by my lonesome there.
Comeback Player Award
Mirtle says: Selanne
The Hockey Nerd Panel said: Hasek (42%)
Golbez calls Hasek's comeback the most surprising, but let's face it — he's one of the greatest goaltenders of all time. I also knew Cujo would be good, as he was for the Wings in the playoffs, but Selanne — man oh man that's a surprise.
Mirtle says: Abstain
The Hockey Nerd Panel said: Sean Avery (54%)
I think the whole Avery stuff is a little overblown. Mmmm kay maybe a lot overblown.
Tough Guy Award
Mirtle says: Derek Boogaard
The Hockey Nerd Panel said: Brian McGrattan (53%)
The 'Boogey man' is definitely one of the best fighters in the league and is also, to my knowledge, the heaviest player to play in the NHL. Seems like a good enough reason to vote him a tough guy.
Mirtle says: Vladimir Malakhov
The Hockey Nerd Panel said: Sergei Fedorov (32%)
OffWing: Nikolai Khabibulin
Considering I touted what the New Jersey Devils defence looked like heading into the season (link not provided), I watched the team closely to start the year. Malakhov had some of the worst performances of any NHL defenceman I've seen in recent memory. He literally went out onto the ice some nights, laid an egg and went back to the bench. Well, maybe he didn't do that literally, but if he had, it would have been more effective than what he actually did, as perhaps the egg would have tripped up an opposing forward or slowed a puck a fraction.