Tom “Invisible Airwaves Crackle With Life” Callahan, Pete “No, I’m not Shea’s Dad” Weber, Terry “Will Pundit For Rink Time” Crisp and Jay “Fanger” Levin have all weighed in on their picks for the best at midseason. Have to say that it’s hard to argue with their choices. Not that anybody asked, but here are mine with a few additional categories:
First Half MVP: Patric Hornqvist This wasn’t an easy choice, when the Predators started coming back from their shaky start, there were so many turnarounds in performance and people who have played above and beyond what Prednation was starting to expect that I had to go with the player who is not just good, but is consistently good game after game. Hornqvist is starting to spoil us with all those goals and his work ethic and frankly, I think we like it.
Best Forward in the First Half: David Legwand I have to agree with Jay Levin on this one. Legwand is the dependable and (sometimes not so) quiet man who puts in the time and the work. He contributes in numbers and presents a solid, reliable presence on the ice. Numbers don’t lie when it comes to scoring, assists and ice time and when something spectacular happens, he’s almost always one of the supporting players.
Best D-Man in the First Half: Ryan Suter Suter wins this category for a lot of the same reasons Legwand gets the nod. I’ve twitted him for admitting to being focused on Team USA but when the puck hits the ice, The Wisconsin Express is there. He’s the whole package, someone who can offer outstanding plays in his own right and who has the ability to stay aware of who is on the ice and what he needs to do to support their play.
Best Newcomer: Marcel Goc Acquiring Goc was one of the really good choices David Poile made in 2009. He’s tough, he’s fast and he plays like he loves being here. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does in the second half.
Breakout Players: Jordin Tootoo, Ryan Jones, Martin Erat Before his foot injury, Tootoo was showing that he had developed beyond being the NHL equivalent to Dennis the Menace by playing smart and hard. There was a lot more finesse that nicely complimented the sheer damned bonehead-hard play that we’ve come to expect from the M-41 from Nunavut.
Ryan Jones has returned from Milwaukee more focused and mature. He has a good idea of what his strengths are and uses those to be a dependable presence on the ice. He’s having a very good seasons and while I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do some extraordinary things in the second half, I think next year is going to be his year to shine.
Saying Martin Erat is good is stating the obvious. This year he’s earned the respect he’s gotten from the press, the league and the homers. Like the other winners in this category, he is more focused this season and darn if he’s not showing us why he’s on the Czech Republic’s Olympic Team with the supportive play and scoring he’s given Nashville this year.
Most Likely To Punch Out A Mime: Shea Weber At the December 22 game in Vancouver, Weber got sent to the tank for some quiet time and was greeted by the Vancouver “Green Men”. Some players laugh when they see them, others seethe, look at the ceiling, check the tape on their sticks or simply stare straight ahead. Weber looked like he wanted to put a fist through the glass and pull them into the penalty box with him. I suspect those wiry little guys were very thankful it was there or they wouldn’t have been.
Dude…I Mean, Dude…: Wade Belak During the NYE edition of “Wade’s World” he told Dan Ellis he looked like a chihuahua. Belak is just too big and pink to stand next to Ellis and mention asthma hounds. I can’t be the only one who immediately decided they resembled Ren and Stimpy.
Embarrassment of Riches: Dan Ellis and Pekka Rinne Their bad nights are often better than a lot of other goalies’ best. They need some love and more of the good help they’ve been getting. It did my heart good to see Weber skate over, nostrils flared and looming like a peeved rhino when the Sedin twins got too cute during the second Western Swing.
Coming Soon To A Rink Near You: Jerred Smithson and Ryan Ellis What we’ve seen has been like the coming attractions reel to that summer blockbuster we can’t wait for. As Molly Ivins used to say: Nothin’ but good times ahead!
See ya on Twitter, fellow Predizens!