Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hockeyzen First Half Awards

First place was doggy style
The new year will just about mark the mid-point for the NHL 2010-11 campaign. I figured it would be a good time to do some mid-point analysis in the form of Awards With Silly Names (I saw sportnet did something like this in their xmas special but they have some kind of brilliant writing team to come up with the Grinch Award or the Santa Award).

Our first trophy winner after the hop.

Hockeyzen Golden Dookie Award

You know it seems like they always start with positive stuff so I thought I'd turn that on it's head and start off with the assholes who are indirectly taking fanbase ticket money and turning out performances that would make Ashley Simpson's voice coach blush. I present to you the award for the player making the the biggest cock-up of a big salary year. I could have done it by dividing real salaries by point amounts but I like my first impressions, so here goes. The first annual Hockeyzen Golden Dookie Award goes to (drumroll please):

1) Ilya Kovalchuk - Adding to his impressive array of playoff memories he can now cherish this statue that has a lot in common with both his team's play and his offensive output. Kovy is a guy who looks like his biggest problems are Nintendo Wii leaderboards and growing enough facial hair to reach second base with Sally down the street. Instead, he's a supposed NHL superstar with a fat-bastard-huge 100 million dollar contract. He's on pace for 21 goals, 44 points, and a mind-numbing -61. Ryan Jones, playing less than half of his ice time, with ZERO powerplay minutes, is on pace for 19 goals (all EV). I'd be lying if I didn't get a little bit of wood thinking about smug Lou choking on a decade and a half of Kovysuck.

2) Jiggy Giguere - Jiggy is putting up an incredibad .894 save percentage with 8 wins while making 7M real dollars. That's a lot of cheddar for way below league average goaltending. The good news is that it's the last year on the books. He's going to be making Raycroft money soon enough. [Edit: Yes, he's injured, I'm too lazy to re-type this section :)]

3) Scott Gomez - He will need a lifetime achievement award in this category (38gp 5-16-21 -7, 8M) since by the time his contract of cockamamie expires we will probably be playing hockey with rocket boots. Drury would probably be a better choice (every year) except that some sucker insurance company has been paying most of his salary this season.

1. Kovalchuk - 6M, 38gp 10-11-21 -29 2. Giguere - 7M, 18gp 8-7-2 0.894 3. Gomez - 8M, 38gp 5-16-21 -7

Hockeyzen WTF Award

So as not to start with too much negative energy we switch gears at this point to handle some positive meaning hardware. Next in our lineup we have the first (semi) annual award given out to the signing or trade that everyone questioned but seems to be turning out alright. Since this is only semi-serious, It's not like I took out the abbacus and built a system of algorithms for determining CapDollarIndividualWinPerformance or some such nonsense. I went with me noggin' and it told me to bequeath this lovely monstrosity of recycled aluminum and junk yard crap to:

1) Dustin Byfuglien - Perhaps there was a good argument for Clarke McArthur - his numbers are pretty surprising considering he's got a miniscule 1.1 M contract. Dustin, however, has a bunch of things going for his WTF factor. First, his last name looks like an anagram for Buffalo Lesbian or maybe Ugly F'in Ben. Maybe Big Ugly Lesbo. Regardless, he definitely has one of the most WTF last names in the league. Oh, I almost forgot, he's having a NORRIS CALIBER SEASON A YEAR AFTER PLAYING ALMOST ENTIRELY AS A FORWARD. All of those hockey fans who sniggered when he was moved to the backend at the start of the season by Atlanta put out your hand, for I shall slap it with the stick of told-you-so. Ow. Yes, I was someone who sniggered. Leads his team in points, goals, assists, 3rd in plus minus and PIMs. He's got 6! game winners (leads the league), and is second on his team for icetime. Personally I couldn't care less he has 5 total minutes of PK time, that's a Norris caliber season.

2) Clarke MacArthur - It's only the halfway mark (roughly speaking), so he can still fall back to earth but he has solid numbers for the plugger contract he's got. In 38gp he's got 10-19-29 and a respectable -1. Phil "The Thrill" Kessel, in comparison, is 14-11-25 and minus 14 (worst on the team). Oh yea, he's also getting paid 6M this year. Wait, can I change my vote for the Golden Dookie?

3) The Dallas Stars - Oh and you thought I could only award this to players. I am the ruler of this interweb domain foolish man-boy (and woman). Sure I could stick in Bob-rob-sky from Philly. But put your hand up if you thought that a few games from the mid point they'd be 7th in the league, and 5 points from 1st overall. To top it all off, they are sporting the 11th smallest payroll. Most of the 'experts' looked at that shoddy D-core and stuck the stars firmly in the bottom 5 of the league. I could have easily put Atlanta here, who was ordained to be a scum-sucker as well, but personally I thought they were a better team then the analysts were giving them credit for. They also have the second smallest payroll (only a few K more than the Islanders), so by seasons end they may just be at the top. For now, the nod to Byfuglien, who is driving some of that success, will do.

1. Byfuglien - 3M, 42gp 16-25-41 +8 2. MacArthur - 1.1M, 35gp 10-19-29 -1 3. Dallas Stars - 23-13-4 50pts 7th overall

Hockeyzen Sexy Sophomore Award

This one is easy pickin's but it highlights an interesting 2009 draft. As was likely to be the case for any such reward, the previous years draft class who made the jump right away are in serious contention. To refresh your memory, those top picks were Tavares, Hedman, and Duchene. were the draft to be redone, it is likely we would see a different ordering. Tavares is undoubtably having a tough time of it on the island, and the jury is out on whether that is due to poor linemates, or a lack of athletic ability. This is something that was never in doubt for Duchene. Right from day one he oozed a quicksilver, athletic presence, that was sure to generate on its own. Tavares posters will no doubt point to the fact that Duchene has been surrounded with greater talents. Hedman is the forgotten horse in this race, likely having something to do with his location in the South East corner of the United States. It seems like especially the larger defenseman take a while to get used to the rigors of an NHL life - He will not be gracing us with his presence on this list. Anyways, that's enough philosophizing. It's time to unveil our sexy sophomore winner.

1) Matt Duchene – I've only had a chance to watch this kid play about a dozen times, but from what I've seen he plays a very complete game. His game, in fact, reminds me a bit of Taylor Hall's, with perhaps a bit less bull, and a bit more swan. When it comes down to it, a lot of people will just look at the boxcar numbers and make broad decisions about that player. In this case, Duchene not only looks good on a TV screen, but also on the statistics page. He has shown a steady progression from his rookie season (24-31-55 in 81gp), putting up 16-24-40 +3 in 40 games, putting him on pace for a PPG campaign in his sophomore year. In terms of overall points, unless I'm missing somebody, I believe he has the highest sophomore point total, but more than that, he seems the most advanced in his game (sorry Tavares).

2) Evander Kane – he's the eighth youngest player to play in the NHL this season, which indicates how young he was when he debuted last year. He's playing about 17 1/2 minutes a game this year and this other statistics are respectable as well: 13-14-26 +3 in 39 games. He's doing most of his work at evens as well, going 10-11-20; indicating that with more power-play success he may be able to reach the next echelon of scoring numbers. He also averages about a minute a game penalty killing, pointing to a future where he may be a force in all three situations.

3) Erik Karlsson – I had a hard time deciding between Karlsson and Kulikov, but in the end Karlsson's bigger minutes on the team with more defensive holes swayed my vote. Ottawa has a goal differential of -31, while Florida is +7. Karlsson leads this team in points from the backend, with 8-16-24 in 38 games (on pace for 16-33-49), and is outscoring Gonchar, the coveted free agent pickup, by six points (Gonchar is looking to be the prize out of an unhappy meal). Of the big four defenseman on the Senators blueline, he also has the best plus minus rating at -8. Gonchar, in comparison, is -20.

1. Duchene - 40gp 16-24-40 +3 2. Kane - 39gp 13-14-27 +3 3. Karlsson - 38gp 8-16-24 -8

Hockeyzen Black Hole Award

This is the award given out to the player that most exemplifies the qualities of suckitude. This is for the grinders that can't grind, the fighters that can't fight, the pluggers that can't… Plug? in my heart of hearts, I wanted to call this award the JFJacque award, but I would not be fair to the dozens of other crap-masters that are playing in the league. To be honest, JFJacques simply does not play enough to be eligible for this award. I want to find players who played regular shifts and had at least 20 games this season. My short list for bags of suck in particular order are:

1) Simon Gagne – The numbers don't lie, kiddies. Even though it's been only 22 games (I cut off my search at 20), his amount of crapitude is pretty epic. He's averaging over 16 minutes per game, and his 5v5 GAON/60 is a terrible 4.25, especially in comparison to his 0.89 GFON/60. Of players that get over 10 minutes of ice time he has the worst +-ON/60 in the league at -3.35 (i.e. for every 20 minutes of icetime he averages about a -1). His box cars are equally bad, 3-4-7 -16 in 22 gp. Maybe it's too much Tampa sunshine and surf, but Gagne is officially the first half's worst player. I venture that Marc Pouliot would hurt his team less playing in Gagne's spot, even if he had zero points.

2) Ilya Kovalchuk – Man he must be pissed right now. He was soooo close to claiming his second piece of hardware at the hockeyzen awards. His level of suck is arguably as great as Gagne's since he's played almost twice as many games, but at least Kovy can bang in the odd PP goal. Kovy is averaging a colossal ~22 minutes per game and his EV minutes (about 17 of those) are an absolute Hindenberg-making-love-to-the-Titanic failure of suck. His GF GA split is 14/42 and his +-ON/60 of -2.68 is fourth worst in the league amongst regulars. You want to know who is EV goals per 60 company is (0.38 G/60)? Mark "Meatpole" Fistric, the stay at home Dallas D-man. John Erskine. Niclas Wallin. All players scoring EV goals at the same rate for their ice time. That's pretty elite company folks.

3) J.F. Jacques – Ha ha, and you thought he was ineligible. His suck knows no boundaries, foolish mortals. I could have slapped the New Jersey Devils into this category since they are probably the biggest fuck-up of a team I have ever seen considering their roster. The NJD's are as messed up as a three way with a weed whacker and an Elephant (no, I don't know how that would work). Regardless the Crappy Train haunts my dreams and I'm offered this simple method to exorcise him from my system. To be fair there are even worse Edmonton Oilers by the cold eye of the computertron, but damn it he's been on for two goals for, three goals against. He doesn't do anything worth value, and that now includes hitting. At least when he was wrecking dudes against the boards the cro-magnon's out there could hoot and holler. Without that, he's a floating fridge of febreeze, leaving a light scent wherever he goes and that's about it.

1. Simon Gagne - 22gp 3-4-7 -16 2. Kovalchuk38gp 10-11-21 -29 3. J.F.Jacques - 18gp 1-0-1 -1

I'll have fun revisiting these at seasons end, and perhaps I can do something similar for the Oilers on game 41.


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