Boston Bruins Mid-Season Seventh Player Award Finalists
It is about that time, Bruins fans, time to start thinking about the annual "Seventh Player Award".
This is arguably my favorite award in all of the NHL. It is a chance for us B's fans to speak out, cast our votes, and elect the Boston Bruin who most deserves the Seventh Player award.
This long-time tradition is an award given to a player, voted by the fans, who went above and beyond their limitations, and who have exceeded the expectations of the Bruins fans. Last years' winner was Milan Lucic.
So this year, since we are almost halfway through the regular '08/09 season,(38 games played) I have decided to compile my top three finalists for this years' Seventh Player Award.
Finalist 1: Matt Hunwick
It seems as though every time the Bruins are plagued with an injury, they simply make a phone call down to Providence, and send up a more than sufficient replacement.
Case in point:
Defenseman Matt Hunwick, the Bruins seventh round pick back in 2004.
When the 23-year-old came up from the Providence Bruins in mid-October to fill-in for Andrew Ference on defense, the Michigan native has been a nice surprise.
With big shoes to fill, Hunwich has racked 15 points in 26 games played, since being recalled. He is also at a +15, which is good for 10th best on the squad.
He is not a top four defenseman on this team as Ference was, but he has certainly got my attention, and is playing at a level right now that I do not think anyone expected.
Finalist 2: Phil Kessel
Okay, so we already knew this kid was going to be good, but at just 21-years-old, did any of us really expect the fifth overall pick in 2006 to be THIS good?
Having played in all 38 games this season, Kessel has already surpassed his career-high in points with 39. His 23 goals leads all Bruins, and is good enough for fourth in the NHL. His offensive aggressiveness shows peppering goalies with an average of almost four shots on goal per game.
Playing under the tutelage of coach Claude Julien, Phil has become a better two-way player by being accountable on both sides of the puck. Defense first is Claude's motto. Each year playing for Julien, Kessel's +/- rating has drastically improved. From a -12 in 2006-2007, to a -6 last season, and now a +16 this year for the Black and Gold.
Phil has taken his God-given-talent, and the coaching advice (and last years' benching) to a Superstar-like level this year. He is on pace for over 80 points and roughly 50 goals. Who would have thought?
P.S. Can we please do something about this All-Star balloting, Mr. Bettman?
Finalist 3: David Krejci
Tied for 12th in the NHL with 41 points, this 22-year-old from the Czech Republic is slowly, but surely gaining more and more national exposure. Coming off a white-hot December, David Krejci racked up 21 points in 13 games played throughout the month.
Having played in all 38 games thus far, Krejci is fourth on the Bruins in the +/- category with +22.
The center was Boston's second round pick in 2004, which was an absolute steal considering he is second on the team in points. Not too shabby for a third liner, eh?