First half awards (cont.)
Naming Wideman as the league's top defender when he wasn't even considered the best blueliner on his team by the All-Star selection committee might make this seem this an out-of-left-field choice. But we can all agree that a particular league process is open to some second guessing, can't we? I mean, Mike Modano over Loui Eriksson? When will Ashton Kutcher pop out?
Look, Zdeno Chara has the reputation as the tower of power in Boston's zone, but the truth of it is that Wideman has been the best all-around defender on the league's best defensive team from Day One. Acquired from St. Louis in exchange for Brad Boyes in one of those rare deals that benefited both sides, Wideman has matured from a mistake-prone puck fumbler into an exceptional two-way player in just two years. The numbers back it up. Logging nearly 26 minutes a night, Wideman has 27 points and is a plus-24. The only thing hampering his candidacy is a lack of recognition. That starts to change right here.
Weber has elevated his play to an elite level in his third full season, and his candidacy is gaining momentum around the league, but Nashville's record may stymie his Norris dreams. It's been nearly 30 years since a player on a losing club last won this award (Randy Carlyle, Pittsburgh, 1980-81). Boyle might split votes with teammate Marc-Edouard Vlasic, but he's emerged as San Jose's best all-around option over the past few weeks.
JACK ADAMS TROPHY
Bruce Boudreau, Washington
Seems like there are more worthy candidates for this award than any other hunk of NHL hardware. I'll be honest: If you'd asked me a week or so ago, I could have made a passionate argument for either Julien (whose system has produced four of the league's top-five plus players) or MacLellan, who has the talent-laden Sharks finally living up to their paper.
But it's impossible to ignore the miracles being performed nightly by Boudreau. Cruel fate has yet to allow last season's winner to field his best 20-man roster. Most nights, there have been nearly as many guys wearing PHPA hats in the locker room as legitimate NHLers, and neither of his goalies would make any other team's wanted list. Yet somehow, Boudreau's rag-tag unit is not only running away with the Southeast, it's in position to challenge for the Eastern Conference title. There hasn't been a repeat winner of the Adams since Jacques Demers of Detroit captured it in 1987 and 1988. At this rate, it looks like that 20-year streak is about to end.
LADY BYNG MEMORIAL TROPHY
Zach Parise, New Jersey
Let's face it: no player grows up dreaming of taking home the Lady Byng. That's too bad, because this award has evolved into something more than a consolation prize for Hart Trophy losers, with recent honorees including Datsyuk, Joe Sakic and Wayne Gretzky. Not bad company to keep.
No knock on three-time defending champ Datsyuk (45 points and just 10 PiM), but it's time to step aside for a very worthy successor in Parise. The diminutive dynamo has been lights-out for the surprisingly offensive Devils. His 22 goals and 46 points both rank fifth in the league while his eight minor penalties testify to the value of clean living.
The honorable mention to Iginla was no typo. Like Stan Mikita four decades ago, Calgary's captain has figured out a neat trick -- remaining hard-nosed while eliminating the overly aggressive infractions that serve no purpose other than to inflate his PiM stats. Have to admit -- I'm kind of rooting for him to pull off the upset.
So what's your take? Click here and fire away.