With the season near an end, the people who vote on the annual NHL awards are making their decisions on best rookie, most valuable player, best goaltender, etc. Since we've reached the first of April, that means the playoffs are coming and ballots will be due in a few weeks.
In case any voters are sitting on the fence and happen to be stopping by our humble little site, we figured we could make some recommendations as to who they should vote for in each category. And with the season being so competitive, we can't agree. So below are our award candidates with our reasons for deserving a vote.
Hart Trophy: League MVP
Lee: Henrik Zetterberg. In 68 games he has 66 points for the team that is finishing the season as the hottest team in the league. The Wings have gone from a borderline playoff team to probably the fifth seed and the No. 1 team to be avoided in the first round. He's the best player on that team. Ergo, the league MVP. It was either him or Kris Draper.
Gallagher: Look no further than Chicago Blackhawk Patrick Kane. In just his third year he leads his team in goals, assists, points (obviously). He is the Hawks and it won't be long before he is the NHL and we can all get used to seeing more pre-pubescent girls and weird emo boys wearing No. 88 jerseys at the rink every game. It'll all be worth it though when we get our semi-annual "Did you see this Kane story?" email from our buddies.
Calder Trophy: Top rookie player
Lee: Jimmy Howard. The rookie has played in 58 games so far and has posted a 33-15-11 record. That's huge. That means he's gotten the Wings points in 44 games of those games. Amazing. Without him, the Wings are leaning on Chris Effing (new rules) Osgood. And nobody wants to do that.
Gallagher: Antti Niemi, Chicago Blackhawks. He's in the process of unseating Cristobal Huet as the Hawks' top netminder just in time for what will surely be a long and non-choky playoff run, he's got the stats (20-7-3, 90.9%, 2.31) and he's mastered the perfect Jeffery Dahmer look for his official NHL photo.
Vezina Trophy: Best goaltender
Lee: Jimmy Howard. Duh. He's 10th in wins, fourth in save percentage, fifth in goals-against average. And that's with Osgood playing in more than 20 games and having the starting job in the beginning of the season. Anybody who can beat out Osgood as a starter on this team deserves an award in my book.
Gallagher: Ladies and gentlemen, let's bring him back up to the podium, Chicago's Antti Niemi! I know the awards are based on top regular season performance, but awarding this to Niemi will make us look like we can see the future after the rookie netminder never bends under the pressure of the playoffs, doesn't choke and leads his team to the first Stanley Cup in Chicagoland since 1961. did I mention that there's no way a Coach Quenneville rookie goalie could possibly choke in the playoffs when the Hawks have arguably the best team they've ever assembled and due to contracts may only get one legitimate shot at winning it all? I did? Oh, good.
Frank Selke Trophy: Top defensive forward
Lee: Pavel Datsyuk. The king of the takeaway, the guy isn't just an amazing offensive player, he's the best defensive forward in the league. It's not even close. It doesn't even matter that he doesn't check or block shots.
Gallagher: Pay no attention to that minus-2 behind the curtain, John Madden of the Chicago Blackhawks remains the top defensive forward in the game today. That's why the Blackhawks spent $2.75 million to get him, after all. They wouldn't spend that kind of money frivolously, right? Not the Blackhawks, so he must be the best.
Norris Trophy: Best defenseman
Lee: One day they will re-name it the Nicklas Lidstrom Award because he will have won it so many times. Plus he's a hard-nosed player. You often forget he's European.
Gallagher: Brian Campbell. When you decide to pay a defenseman over $7 million a year, you definitely know what you're getting. And the Blackhawks have gotten seven goals and 31 points out of Campbell this year, good for second among their defensemen and 22nd in the league. But don't let that fool you, because $7+ million a year also buys you at least three turnover-caused heart attacks a year.
Lady Bing Trophy: Given to the league's most gentlemanly player
Lee: Datsyuk. He's played in 74 games and has a measly 18 penalty minutes. Playing his up-tempo defensive game, he should have double or triple that.
Gallagher: Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks. He's so gentlemanly on the ice that he makes us think he's a woman all the time. Plus, he has a shaved chest, so....
Jack Adams Award: Most outstanding coach
Lee: Mike Babcock. This is as much for the gold medal for Canada as well as leading the Wings through a ton of injuries over the year and keeping the Wings in the race and excelling after the injured players started coming back. Great job, coach.
Gallagher: Joel Quenneville. I have to admit it, I based this one only on ability to give outstanding moustache rides.
Masterton Trophy: Given to player showing perseverance towards hockey
Lee: Tomas Holmstrom. The guy sacrifices his body in the most dangerous place on the ice. He risks injury every shift. Gotta respect that.
Gallagher: Ben Eager, Chicago Blackhawks. Eager is a shining example to us all. From his breakthrough role on "Life Goes On" to his ability to make an NHL team, he has proven that he can achieve almost anything he sets his mind towards.
Lester B. Pearson: Voted on by players for best overall player
Lee: Hey players, vote for Zetterberg. He's the bee's knees. He's the (expletive deleted), the (expletive deleted). Right?
Gallagher: Oh, he's the best overall "playa" alright. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks. Because sometimes when you have a limo, you just have to take off your shirt and invite some of the ladies from the club to go for a ride.