Sometime on Saturday night, the NHL season hit the unofficial midway point of the season, somewhere between Game No. 615 and 616 of 2007-08.
(It may have even been during the ConkBlock.)
Here are a few midseason musings:
The Detroit Red Wings remain the class of hockey, a perch they've taken on quite a bit during the regular season in recent years. The Wings are on pace for an 128-point campaign this season, with 61 wins and just 15 losses, both marks that would be just shy of the greatest NHL seasons on record. (And they've done so with little help from the shootout.)
Honourable mention: After the Senators in second spot, there are 20 teams separated by 10 points, so pick as you please.
First thing's first: With his team in last place in the Eastern Conference, the scoring leader, Vinny Lecavalier, isn't eligible for this one.
Roberto Luongo's my pick at this point, as despite coming within two votes of the Vezina Trophy last season, he has improved his goals against average by more than 0.30 and his save percentage by .009. He's also on pace for 12 shutouts and has his team on pace to win its division.
It seems absurd that Luongo's going to be 29 years old before the season's over and has yet to win an individual award.
Honourable mention: Jarome Iginla, Nicklas Lidstrom, Sidney Crosby
Barring a 15-20 game injury, Lidstrom deservedly wins again. He's on pace to finish the season at +65; his career high is +43 — 14 years ago.
Honourable mention: Zdeno Chara, Chris Pronger, Sergei Zubov
At midseason, it's Patrick Kane, but after another five or 10 games, this spot could easily be occupied by Nicklas Backstrom, who has caught fire lately. Backstrom has 16 points in his last 15 games, while Kane has slowed down a little and has just two goals in his last 24 games.
Honourable mention: Tobias Enstrom, Tom Gilbert, Alex Edler
Luongo's my Hart pick, so he gets the nod here, but that doesn't mean there aren't other candidates. Evgeni Nabokov has started 41 games in a row and has terrific numbers, while Martin Brodeur's on pace for yet another 40-win campaign.
And even Chris Osgood is 19-2-1 right now and deserves more of the share of playing time in the Detroit net.
Another Red Wing, which probably isn't a surprise given this is the best defensive team in hockey. Henrik Zetterberg has put up incredible numbers at both ends of the rink this season, but defensively has squared off against opposing team's top lines and had 19 fewer goals scored against than for at 5-on-5. Teammate Pavel Datsyuk deserves a mention here, too.
Honourable mention: Sami Pahlsson, Brian Rolston, Mike Grier
Jack Adams Trophy
Mike Babcock never gets a mention for this one, but with his team well out in front of the huddled pack, he certainly deserves it.
The Red Wings have been dynamite on special teams, No. 2 on the power play and fifth when down a man, and he's coaxed terrific performances from some of the supporting cast here and kept the team on top despite a few injuries and inconsistent goaltending from Dom Hasek.
Honourable mention: Alain Vigneault, Brent Sutter, Andy Murray, Ted Nolan, Dave Tippett, Wayne Gretzky
Normally I'd find some unheralded defensive blueliner to stick in here, but how about Radim Vrbata in Phoenix? He's on pace for almost 40 goals this season, and his team is in the playoff hunt despite an almost complete lack of proven talent.
Vrbata rates in the top 40 or so with some of the league's top talent at even strength, and when he's on the ice the team's goal-scoring rate goes from 1.72 to 3.09 at 5-on-5.
There are better examples of players giving their club a boost, but has anyone at all talked about Vrbata's play this season? Or any of the other Coyotes, for that matter?
Honourable mention: Shawn Horcoff, Derek Morris, Anton Volchenkov, Paul Martin
Best Power Player
The Canadiens have been dominant on the power play again this season, proving Sheldon Souray wasn't quite the only weapon in the arsenal there, and Alex Kovalev has been right at the front of their attack. He leads the NHL in points per minute played at 5-on-4 (10.30/60) and is having a terrific season with 18 goals and 38 points at the halfway point.
Honourable mention: Andrei Markov, Zetterberg, Iginla, Daniel Briere
Best Penalty Killer
Patrick Sharp's had an incredible season in a lot of ways, but in addition to being on pace for 44 goals, he's also been on the ice for nine 4-on-5 goals for and only three against while picking up not insignificant ice time on the penalty kill.
Only Dallas's Zubov has played more minutes and seen fewer pucks go in his net, and he plays second-pair minutes on the Stars' top-ranked PK unit.
Honourable mention: Trent Hunter, Brendan Witt, Grier, Adam Foote, Mattias Ohlund
Shot Blocker Award
Here's another area where the Canadiens are excelling this season, and defender Mike Komisarek gets a lot of the credit. At the halfway point, he's blocked 25 more shots than any other player in the NHL, and teammate Roman Hamrlik ranks fourth overall.
Those two would have some serious competition had Ottawa's Volchenkov not broken a finger blocking a shot and missed 15 games.
Honourable mention: Jason Smith, Brendan Shanahan, Ryan Johnson, Grier
Can't Hit The Net Award
Not much of a trophy to take home.
Alex Ovechkin is miles ahead of the NHL leaders here, putting up 100 missed shots in a half season, which is 32 more than second spot (Brad Richards).
Dion Phaneuf, Markov, Sergei Gonchar, Dennis Wideman and Lidstrom miss the most from the blueliners.
Gold Star For Drawing Penalties
Here's one for Crosby, who according to Behind The Net leads the league in drawing penalties per minute (which is quite a feat given all of the time he logs out here) at even strength.
Following Sid the Kid are: Erik Cole, Kovalev, Ryan Kesler, Rick Nash, Dustin Brown, Eric Staal, Petr Prucha, Chad LaRose, Ovechkin, Nikolai Zherdev, Daniel Paille, Ryan Malone, Mike Richards, Dan Carcillo, Tuomo Ruutu, Ales Hemsky and David Clarkson.
There's a lot of speed there.
Defencemen don't draw nearly as many penalties, but the leaders there are Phaneuf, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, Barret Jackman, Michal Rozsival, Dennis Seidenberg, Mike Green, Dan Girardi and John-Michael Liles.