Yes, it has already been half a season! I couldn't believe that we are already half way to the the playoffs. In this blog I will give all the teams grades, and give my take on who wins the midseason awards. So, lets get to it.
Anaheim Ducks: This team had such high exceptions heading into the season, even though they lost Pronger. They have felt the loss of Pronger though, they are 10 points out off the playoffs and have given up the 23rd most goals. Hiller nor Giguere have succeeded. Even with Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan having really good years, after slow starts, and being named to their Olympic teams, it hasn't been enough. Another big reason the Ducks have struggled has been the poor play of Niedermayer who is playing his worst hockey of his career. Grade: D-
Atlanta Thrashers: They are only 3-points out of the playoffs, with 2 games in hand, but they have hit a bump in the road of late, getting one win in their last ten games. Ondrej Pavelec looked really good of late, but hasn't had a game with a SV% above .900 in ten games. The Thrashers though still have a shot at the playoffs, but they will have to keep Kovalchuk, and that is highly unlikely. Grade: C-
Boston Bruins: They rank 25th in goals, but have the best 1-2 punch in net. They have struggled with injuries with key players like Lucic, Krejci, Savard, and Bergeron, but they have been able to stick around and are 5th in the East. This team isn't as good as last years, and they miss Kessel but no one thought that they would be. Grade: B
Buffalo Sabres: Great goaltending has got this team in second place in the East. They have also had Tyler Myers come through with a great rookie campaign. They haven't had a great offensive year with Vanek getting injured and struggling and Roy not having his best season, but they haven't needed that fire power to win. Lindy Ruff is doing a great job. Grade: A+
Calgary Flames: Tied for the led in the North-West division, with one game in hand, the Flames are right where they were expected to be. There offense is in the middle of the pack lead by Iginla, but Kiprusoff has bounced back after a rough year and has a .928 SV% and is back-stopping the Flames as one of the best defensive teams. Grade: B+
Carolina Hurricanes: After a great playoff run, this team has struggled big time with Ward and Eric Staal being injured for much of the first half. When healthy, both have struggled, and the Canes are in dead last, they are eight points out of 29th. Expect the Canes to move Maurice to a front office job and hire assistant Ron Francis to be coach. Grade: F
Chicago Blackhawks: First in the NHL, giving up the least goals per game, and scoring the second most per game. They have the second best penalty kill, and eighth best powerplay. All of this with Hossa missing some serious time. The Hawks have two good goalies, the starter Huet has a .912 SV% and a 2.08 GAA, and the backup Niemi is 11-2-1 with a .925 SV% and a 1.83 GAA. He has 4 shutouts in 12 starts! Grade: A+
Colorado Avalanche: The Avs started really good, but have slowed down. Craig Anderson has done the same thing in slowing down, and wasn't even named to team USA, and as Anderson goes, so does this team. But, with that said, Joe Sacco has done a great job as coach and has them 7th in the East and one point out of the North-West division lead, and this is for a team that most people predicted to finish in a lottery position. Grade: A-
Columbus Blue Jackets: Maybe Nash signed his extension too soon, as he thought that the Jackets would be a force in the West for a long time. But, the Jackets are 14th in the West and are 12 points out of the 8th seed in the West. Rookie phenom Steve Mason has played terrible, posting a .890 SV%, and no team in the NHL has given up as many goals as the Jackets. Grade: F
Dallas Stars: They are 10th in the West, and six points out of a playoff spot. They are in the top ten in goals per game, and in goals against per game, but they haven't won more than two games in a row once this season. Turco started the year strong, but has slowed down. The Stars have plenty of offensive weapons with Richards, Eriksson, Neal, Morrow, Ribeiro, Benn, and Robidas from the back end. I don't understand why this team can't seem to get into the playoff picture. Grade: C+
Detroit Red Wings: Going to game seven of the Stanley Cup finals in back-to-back years on this older team looks like it has finally taken its toll. They are currently 9th, but have struggled with injuries to key players like Holmstrom, and Franzen, and others like Lidstrom have had their worst years of their career. If this team manages to sneak into the playoffs, no team will want to face them. Grade: B-
Edmonton Oilers: This team has been terrible, especially of late. They are dead last in the West, and their best player, Hemsky, has been injured for most of the first half of the season. The bright spot on this team so far has been Penner playing great, and that they have a shot at Taylor Hall. This team has a bright future with the two best forwards of the WJC belonging to them in Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, add in a top five pick and this team is set for the future. Grade: F
Florida Panthers: They are 13th in the East, and haven't really impressed anyone. They are getting okay goaltending from Vokoun, as he has a .924 SV%, but he has been very inconsistent. Grade: D+
Los Angeles Kings: They started very strong, but have cooled off. It started to go down for the Kings when Ryan Smyth got injured, but they are still 8th. Doughty and Kopitar are having great years, but it hasn't been enough, as their play has dropped way down. The Kings though are still very young, and I expect them to still make the playoffs. Grade: B+
Minnesota Wild: The Wild started extremely slow, and were dead last in the NHL for a while, but they started to turn things around, around the time they got Chuck Kobasew from the Bruins. Since, they have climbed up the standings and are 11th. Grade: C
Montreal Canadiens: They are in 8th, and two points up on the 9th place Flyers, but they have played two more games than nearly every other team. This team survived the period when Markov went down, but now they need to step up their game in the second half. Price and Halak have had a roller-coaster season, and Halak now is playing really good, but wants out. Grade B-
Nashville Predators: Barry Trotz is one of the three best coaches in the NHL, every year he has them in contention with little to work with. He currently has them tied for fifth, and have surprised many. Grade: A-
New Jersey Devils: First in the East by three points, and four points out of first for the entire NHL and have three games in hand. Brodeur is having a great season again. Grade: A+
New York Islanders: This has been a very hard working team, and are just three points out of the playoffs. This team has been far better than last years team, with Roloson leading the way. Grade: C+
New York Rangers: Talk about a one man show with Marian Gaborik. The Rangers are in a tie for sixth in the East, and the main reason for this has been Gaborik and Lundqvist. Gaborik has 28 goals and 53 points in 42 games, and Lundqvist has a .920 SV% Grade: B-
Ottawa Senators: They have been hanging around the 6-9 seed all season long, and have shown that they haven't missed Heatley one bit. Spezza and Kovalev have had really bad seasons, and if they can get going they will make the playoffs for sure. Grade: B
Philadelphia Flyers: Started real strong, but then struggled big time, but have appeared to turn it around of late. This team just has way too much talent, and Michael Leighton is holding down the fort good with Emery out, Leighton has gone 7-4-1, and once Emery (who had a .920 SV% before his injury) comes back this team should be good to go. Grade: C+
Phoenix Coyotes: Ilya Bryzgalov has been this teams MVP. The Yotes are 4th in the West, and Dave Tippett has his group of guys out working every other team and playing a very defensive style. Grade: A
Pittsburgh Penguins: Malkin is having his best season, 13 goals, 41 points, in 38 games, but they are still 4th in the East. A big reason for their success has been for Sidney Crosby, who already has 26 goals and 51 points in 44 games. The Pens started great, but have went 3-7-0 in their last 10 games, and Marc-Andre Fleury has really played bad in his past ten games, but before that he was playing real strong. Grade: A-
San Jose Sharks: Thornton, Marleau, and Heatley have had great years, as most of the Sharks. They are second in the East, and two points out of first in the West and NHL. But, who really cares what the Sharks do in the regular Season, all that really matters for that team is the playoffs. Grade: A+
St.Louis Blues: They have already canned their coach, and after a great finish to last season, they are in a tie for 13th. This team has been a big disappointment, and most of their players have been disappointments, just look at Boyes who only has 9 goals and 28 points. Grade: F
Tampa Bay Lightning: Five points out of a playoff spot in the East, this team has disappointed me. Vinny Lecavalier only has ten goals, but my pre-season pick for breakout player of the year, Steven Stamkos, has 21 goals and 40 points. Grade: C
Toronto Maple Leafs: The Leafs started terrible, but then went really hot and got within two points of the playoffs, but since Kessel has seemed unmotivated and the Leafs haven't been able to help their goaltending. They are eight points out of the playoffs now, and their real problem has been the penalty kill. Heading into tonight the Leafs had the 3rd worst penalty kill of all-time, they are below 70%! But, they have surrendered a three powerplay goals tonight, and have killed off none and they now have the second worst penalty kill of all-time, and are less than a percent away from the worst all-time. You know what they say, special teams are a reflection on the coaching staff. I say fire Wilson, but we all know that wont happen. Grade: D-
Vancouver Canucks: This team has been good, and are tied for the North-West division, and they have done this with Luongo being injured for part of the year. The only real problem with the Canucks this season has been they haven't lost enough in OT, they only have one OT loss. The Canucks have the third most wins in the NHL this season! Grade: B+
Washington Capitals: The Caps are third in the East, and have the most goals by a fair bit in the NHL, and Ovechkin and Semin have missed significant time this season. They have a great 14-3-3 home record, and will be a force in the playoffs. Grade: A-
There has been many great players this season, like Sedin and Thornton. But, I think the two runnerups should be Sidney Crosby and Marian Gaborik. They are among the league leaders in points and goals, and have been their teams best players by far. The winner should be Ryan Miller, he has lead the Sabres to become the second best team in the East. He has been by far the best team in the NHL.
I believe that Ovechkin will finish the year with the most goals. He has 27 goals in 35 games, while missing 8 games already, but he is still second in the NHL in goals and only one back. If he can stay in the lineup, he will win his third straight Rocket Richard award.
Ryan Miller is of course my Vezina winner if I have him winning the Hart. He leads the NHL in SV% at .934 and has a great 2.05 GAA. Martin Broduer and Ilya Bryzgalov will be my runnerups, as they have both played really good for their respected clubs, as they have been the corner stone for their clubs.
This is a tough award to pick, but I will go with a darkhorse in Travis Zajac. He is the number one centre in NJ, and has played a big role in them having the least goals in the NHL. My runnerups are Jordan Staal and Patrice Bergeron.
My coach of the year is Lindy Ruff, he has coached the Sabres to a great season, with not much talent. My runnerups are Barry Trotz and Joel Quenneville.
I have Drew Doughty winning it at the mid-point of the season. It is tough to just look at stats for the Norris, but see him play and you'll be blown away. My runnerups are Dan Boyle and Duncan Keith.
The winner of the Calder halfway through the season is Tyler Myers. He has been great for the Sabres, logging huge minutes at over 23 a game. My runnerups are John Tavares and Semyon Varlamov.
This is my mid-season report, hope you enjoyed. Also, for the record I will stick to my pre-season Stanley Cup picks with the Flyers over the Canucks, especially as both heat up, but watch out for those Hawks.