Clearly I am a step behind here as many teams are approaching 50 games played, but let me run through my choices for the first-half award winners in the National Hockey League.
1) Alex Ovechkin (Capitals)-30 goals and 64 points in 40 games for the game's most dynamic player on the team that sits atop the Eastern Conference.
2) Henrik Sedin (Canucks)-Career-year and it's only halfway through; has been worth every penny from that big contract signed this past summer; stunningly leads league in points.
3) Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton (Sharks)-(pictured above) maybe a cop-out answer, but how you can seperate the top two players on the top team in the West? Marleau is the league-leader in goals, Thornton tops the NHL in assists.
1) Duncan Keith (Blackhawks)-It's not just the points (44 in 49 games), he is the shutdown defenseman on an elite defensive team. Averages 26:29 worth of ice-time. He is underrated no more.
2) Mike Green (Capitals)-League's top scoring defenseman (49 points in 47 games) does not receive eneough credit for improved defensive play. His +20 is a bit skewed perhaps because Caps score so much, but it still stands out.
3) Chris Pronger (Flyers)-Surprising that this is a surrpise pick. Perennial Norris candidate has quietly had very strong year for a team that has vastly underachieved. Is +17 on a team that has scored only 6 more goals then they have surrendered while playing in every big situation, averaging 26 minutes per night.
1) Ryan Miller (Sabres)-The backbone in Buffalo, leading the surprising Sabres to 66 points already. Insane .936 save percentage, stellar 2.01 goals against, toss in 5 shutouts and 27 wins. Not too shabby, as Adam Sandler would say.
2) Martin Brodeur (Devils)-The future Hall-of-Famer, coming off an injury-ravaged season a year ago, has proved to be ageless in leading the Devils to the top of the Atlantic, yet another surprising team in the NHL this season. Leads league with 29 wins and 6 shutouts, and became the NHL's all-time leader in shutouts.
3) Craig Anderson (Avalanche)-A lot of contenders here. Miikka Kiprusoff, Ilya Bryzgalov, Henrik Lundqvist, Tomas Vokoun, Evgeni Nabokov. But I go with Anderson, so solid in his first opportunity to be a true No. 1 goalie.
1) Tyler Myers (Sabres)-Has become shutdown defenseman, playing 23 minutes a night, as a rookie. Towering giant also is 5th among all rookies in points with 27. He gets my vote, so far, because he is excelling so at the most difficult position for a youngster.
2) John Tavares (Islanders)-The expectations and pressure for Tavares to live up to his tremendous hype has been enormous. Granted, he toils on Long Island---not exactly a hockey crucible---but he has delivered. Poised and as talented as advertised, he has a rookie-best 17 goals.
3) Evander Kane (Thrashers)-Maybe this is a reach, especially with Matt Duchene, Michael Del Zotto, Ryan O'Reilly, Tuukka Rask, and James van Riemsdyk excelleing so, but of the rookies I have seen in person, Kane really impressed me. Ten goals with guarded ice-time for the 19 year-old, and he is a plus player. And I like that he plays with an edge.
Jack Adams Trophy:
1) Dave Tippett (Coyotes)-Took over a team one week before season started that could have been relocated, and instilled his sytem immediately. More importantly, the players have bought in. Stunningly has the Coyotes in 5th place in the West. Just an amazing job, so far.
2) Joe Sacco (Avalanche)-Rookie head coach using plenty of rookies and a first-time No. 1 backstop to reach first place in the Northwest Division. Just a fantastic job, so far.
3) Scott Gordon (Islanders)-Second year on the job, and Gordon has stuck to his guns all the way from Day One a year ago, going with the kids and relying on a relentless work ethic. Kids are maturing nicely, key veterans like playing for him, and now Rick DiPietro is back healthy. Could be exciting second half on the Isle.