Thursday, June 21, 2012

NHL All-Star Teams and the NHL Awards...My name is Geno, My name is Malkin, My name is M-V-P!!!

Here is your first and second all-star teams for this season.  I love seeing Malkin and Neal make it on the first team but the only reason this happened is because it's position specific.  They should probably just vote for 3 forwards instead of a Center, LW and RW.  This would have allowed Stamkos to be a first teamer because, well, the guy potted 60 goals, what else can you do??

2011-12 NHL First All-Star Team
G Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
D Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
D Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
C Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
RW James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins
LW Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils

2011-12 NHL Second All-Star Team
G Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
D Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
D Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
C Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
RW Marian Gaborik, New York Rangers
LW Ray Whitney, Phoenix Coyotes

Pietrangelo was the odd man out for the Norris Trophy finalists but he's going to be a stud.  Ray Whitney at 40 years old is a great selection here as well.  Not sure you can argue having both Quick and Lundqvist on either squad.

Last night was also the 2012 NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas. Celebrity presenters included Matthew Perry, Vince Vaughn, Kevin Connolly ("Entourage"), Colin Hanks (Tom Hanks kid), Joshua Jackson (Charlie from the Mighty Ducks!), Cory Monteith ("Glee"), Erin Andrews and Michael Vartan ("Hawthorne," "Alias").

Oh my goodness does Nickelback suck! Thank goodness I DVR'd this bad boy and could fast forward through that garbage.

It also featured special appearances by actors Will Arnett ("Up All Night," "Arrested Development") and Tracy Morgan ("30 Rock") and director/writer/actor Kevin Smith (Clerks, Jay & Silent Bob). Kevin Smith's stuff was kind of blah but Arnett did not disappoint with his interpretation of Brendan Shanahan and his videos describing NHL suspensions. Take a look because they are hilarious...

Tracy Morgan was not to be out done in this skit as a player for the Rangers during the 24/7 filming.  Classic.

Overall the NHL awards are super awkward, the jokes are terrible, and the players don't exactly wow you on stage.  However, it is nice to see all the players in one setting and here are your 2011-2012 award winners:

Norris Trophy (Top Defenseman): Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
Did not expect this one especially up against Chara of Boston and Weber of Nashville.  I picked Weber but apparently they like guys who score a lot and don't play that great of defense.  Not bad for a 22 year old though.

Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year): LW - Gabriel Landeskog - Colorado Avalanche
Nailed this one.  While Nugent-Hopkins had the same amount of points in 20 less games, Gabe actually played a full season and was much more vital in the Avs late season push for a playoff spot.

Ted Lindsay Award (Most Outstanding Player): C- Evgeni Malkin - Pittsburgh Penguins
This award is unique because it's not the MVP.  It's the award voted on by players as to who is the best player in the game.  I was very happy to see Malkin's dominance rewarded through the respect of his peers.

Vezina Trophy (Top Goalie) - Henrik Lundqvist - New York Rangers
I told my dad a couple weeks ago that Quick deserved this award but that Lundqvist would win it.  Henrik is a classy guy and the best part of his acceptance speech was that he dropped the F bomb and it was heard on live TV.  Awesome moment.  

Jack Adams Award (Top Coach) Ken Hitchcock - St. Louis Blues
This might have been the easiest award given out all night.  Hitch hockey was back in full force as he took over the team in November and led the Blues to the 3rd most points in the NHL.  

GM of the Year Award:  Doug Armstrong - St. Louis Blues
It seemed that with the hiring of Ken Hitchcock, this was Armstrong's award in the bag.  I voted for Dale Tallon of Florida but you can't really argue the choice here.

Masterton Trophy (Perseverance and Dedication to the NHL over past year) Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens
Not the greatest nominees this year in terms of moving stories but a good choice.  It was just super awkward because Zdeno Chara was in the building.  Max won the award because Big Z nearly broke his back.  

Lady Byng Trophy (Sportsmanship) Brian Campbell of the Florida Panthers
This award is silly.  It's basically the guy that plays the most with the fewest penalty minutes.  Is that deserving of an award for a sport where hitting is integral to the game?  Campbell was the first defenseman to win since the 1950s though.  

Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward) Patrice Bergeron - Boston Bruins
I was hoping he would win because he deserved it!  I love Datsyuk's style but he was not as dominant this year.  David Backes is a force to be reckoned with going into next season though.

King Clancy Award - Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators
To the guy who best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice.  Alfie has been with Ottawa his entire career and the video showing what he's done for the community is great stuff.

NHL Foundation Award - Mike Fisher of the Nashville Predators
He implements the core values of hockey to better service his community.  Fisher was a nice pick up for Nashville plus he's married to Carrie Underwood. BOOM

Mark Messier Leadership Award - Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes
Messier personally selects this award and Doan is probably the most deserving candidate of the short lived trophy (only about 3-4 years old).  He was drafted by the original Winnipeg Jets and has stayed with the team when they moved to Phoenix over his 16 year career.  As the captain, they finally got past the first round and into the conference finals.  Plus he's an awesome guy, great stuff.

This guy dominated the regular season with 109 points winning by double digits (thus also winning the Art Ross Award for most points).  Scoring 50 goals and having 4 different 5 point games, he even won the goal of the year voted by fans on Facebook.  Without Captain Sid Crosby most of the year, Geno put da team on his back.  He's the 4th player in the history of the league to now have won the regular season MVP, playoff MVP, rookie of the year, and scoring champion in his career.  The Penguins are also the first non-original 6 team to have 4 MVPs in franchise history.  Geno joins Crosby, Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr. 

This was the final award presented and Geno's English, while improved, isn't great but his thanking of former teammate, best friend, and countrymen Sergei Gonchar was fantastic.  Coming over to a new country with a different culture and speaking no English as a 19 year old, Gonchar helped ease him into our American ways.  Malkin has truly blossomed into THE best player in the world right now and he has all the hardware to prove it.

Other Notables:

Steven Stamkos won the Rocket Richard for most goals, 60.  He's the first player in 4 years (Ovechkin) to hit the 60 plateau.

The duo of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot won the William Jennings Award for fewest allowed goals during the regular season for the St. Louis Blues.

Effin Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers beat out Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators for the NHL 13 cover.  I guess I'll take Geno's MVP over that game contest hehe

Did I mention Nickelback sucks?