Since our last NHL Awards Watch, the Professional Hockey Writers Association released its first "midseason awards" ballot in decades, which gave us all a glimpse of what the voters are thinking halfway through the campaign. (Keep in mind the PHWA votes for the Hart, Norris, Calder, Selke and Lady Byng; broadcasters vote for the Jack Adams, and general managers handle the Vezina.)
Basically, it reaffirmed the chalk favorites for the awards -- but we frankly disagree with some of the picks.Here are my picks for the NHL Awards as we hit February, as a Professional Hockey Writers Association voter and through a dozen conversations with those around the game. Please keep in mind that all advanced stats are via Corsica.
MacKinnon was in our top spot last month, but he left the lineup on Feb. 1 and is out two to four weeks with an upper-body injury. Even if he misses a chunk of games, MacKinnon might still have a Hart Trophy claim if the Avalanche make the playoffs and he maintains his absolutely sick points-per-game average. He has 61 points in 49 games, which is 11 points better than Colorado's second-leading scorer, Mikko Rantanen (50), and 21 points clear of the Avalanche's third-leading scorer, linemate Gabriel Landeskog (40).
(Please note that I'm placing aside my "gotta be in it to win it!" mandate momentarily for the Avalanche, who stand a point out of the wild card with a game in hand on the Wild.)With Ovechkin, the Capitals are leading the Metro, and he's the only Washington player with more than 20 goals -- in fact, he has over double the goals of the team's next leading scorer Evgeny Kuznetsov (14). The best Ovechkin seasons for the Caps are the ones in which he lifts his entire team with a goal or a play, and this one has been a textbook example of that (he has three goals in overtime, for example).
John Tavares of the Islanders (58 points, third in the PHWA balloting), Johnny Gaudreau of the Flames (59 points), Anze Kopitar of the Kings (55 points) and Taylor Hall of the Devils (51 points) are all in the conversation, or at least should be. Auston Matthews of the Leafs (40 points) would need to get on a scoring bender to get [url=http://www.jaguarsofficialshop.com/authentic-telvin-smith-jersey.html]Womens Telvin Smith Jersey[/url] back into the conversation. I'm fond of the chatter about Patrice Bergeron getting an MVP look for all he does for the [url=http://www.ravensofficialfootballshop.com/WOMENS_YOUTH_NICO_SIRAGUSA_JERSEY.html]Nico Siragusa Jersey[/url] Boston Bruins, but let's face it -- he has 44 points in 45 games, and that's the problem with a lot of these candidacies.
As Tom Gulitti of NHL.com noted recently, only two forwards since 1960 have won the Hart without finishing in the top two in goals or points. Which brings us to the player we haven't mentioned yet: our sweet boy, Phil Kessel.The Penguins star just completed a January in which he scored 17 points in 12 games and generally electrified the team every time he stepped onto the ice. He fits the statistical requirement for a Hart winner: He's second in the NHL in points with 63 -- and closing fast on Kucherov.
As usual with anything Phil Kessel-related, there's an army of supporters trumpeting his accomplishments and ready to bemoan the media's ignorance of them -- they're still justifiably bitter about, for example, Kessel not winning the Conn Smythe in 2016. But it's hard to make a case for Kessel when Malkin has 60 points and Sidney Crosby has 58. Frankly, it was Crosby's 21 points in 12 games in January that really pointed the Penguins' ship toward the playoffs.That said, we're all for Phil Kessel being the Art Ross winner and becoming only the second American in NHL history to win the points-scoring title.
I've long felt Hedman's underlying numbers don't match up with other candidates for the Norris, and he hasn't done much to dissuade that. He's starting 53.3 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, more than Klingberg (51.0) and Doughty (52.3). His Corsi for percentage of 52.69 is a shade lower from that of Klingberg (53.55) and Doughty (53.48). Ditto his expected goals plus/minus of 4.8, lower than Doughty's 6.0 and Klingberg's epic 11.49. (Expected goals is a metric that estimates a player's contribution to his team's expected goals per 60 minutes.)
Subban, meanwhile, has played himself into the top three. The 2013 Norris winner has 22 points in his past 25 games and is third among defenseman in points, with 40. While some of his underlying numbers don't blow you away -- 51.47 in Corsi for percentage and a minus-1.05 in expected goals -- the key is context. Subban has had a remarkable season when you factor in that he's starting just 41 [url=http://www.officialmlbrangersshop.com/authentic-3-delino-deshields-jersey.html]http://www.officialmlbrangersshop.com/authentic-3-delino-deshields-jersey.html[/url] percent of his shifts in the offensive zone and has been dragging around the possession abyss that is Alexei Emelin all season.
Why Klingberg on top? The Stars defenseman is leading NHL blueliners with 50 points in 53 games, with 32 of them coming away from the power play. He's playing 23:34 per night on average in all situations and has a plus-131 Corsi count. Working under Ken Hitchcock and Rick [url=http://www.officialbasketballkingstore.com/Chris_Webber_Jersey]http://www.officialbasketballkingstore.com/Chris_Webber_Jersey[/url] Wilson has done wonders for his game, along with finding a little pushback this season. [url=http://www.wholesalejerseysall.us.com]cheap jerseys for sale[/url] [url=http://www.cheaperjerseysfromchina.com]baseball jerseys wholesale[/url] [url=http://www.elitejerseycheap.com]cheap nhl jerseys[/url] [url=http://www.nfljerseyscheapdiscount.com]cheap nfl jerseys china[/url]
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