So here we are, at the halfway mark of the NHL 08-09' season, and that means it is time for some mid-season awards for a team that may or may not deserve much recognition at this point. I will not waste too much time with idle talk though, so lets get right into it.
Team MVP: Thomas Vanek. How can you deny him this award? For the majority of the season he has been up with the rest of the goal scoring leaders in the NHL, while keeping the sabres offense moving at full steam.
Pack-rat Trash: Max Afinogenov. How much worse do you have to be for the Sabres management to get rid of you?. Max is proving that it must take much worse than two goals in 41 games to get tossed into free agency. Max is so bad at this juncture, that Portland wouldn't want him if they decided to ship him off to the minors.
Last minute saving grace: Ales Kotalik. My buddy will roll his eyes when he sees this pick, but honestly, it is the only recognition this man deserved right now. Kotalik has been nearly a "gimme" in the shootout helping the Sabres roll back to being a dominant shootout force in this league. And this isn't the first time it has happened; the last three seasons he has been one of the best at this spot in the league. Though I love him, it may be the only thing keeping him on this team this season.
Back-seat driver: Tim Connolly. What else is there to say; he plays 20 games or so a season, watches from home for the rest, yet still makes a full-season's worth of pay in doing so. Sorry Timmy, but your talent is not worth that much money for only 20 games.
The "WHAT?!" Award: Ryan Miller. I am sure people will want an explanation, and it is very simple: you sit on the couch and watch Miller let a soft goal over his glove when nobody is standing between him and the puck and the first word out of your mouth is WHAT?! You do not know what Ryan Miller is going to show up on any given night keeping our mouth's gaped open without any sound being omitted. He simply needs to step up his play more often. But all in all, not a bad season for him so far.
Breath of Fresh air award: Chris Butler and Matt Ellis. It seems like every season we get a couple of solid new-comers onto this team, and these youngsters are those guys this year. Though critics still remain in doubt of Ellis' talent because of a not-so-great showing in Los Angeles before being acquired by the Sabres. But so far, he has showed his work ethic and it is making a difference on the ice for the Sabres.
While on defence, the Sabres are still recovering and rebuilding to get a bigger, stronger corps. Together, Butler has simply been stellar so far. He leads all defensemen with a plus four, making him the ONLY defensemen on the team with a +/- rating in the positive.
Better Late than Never Award: Derek Roy. So the kid decides to not play the first half of the season (virtually) and just as of late switched on the after-burners. Beginning in December, he has been averaging over a point per game making him the hottest player on the team right now. Imagine how good he would have been if he started this when the season began?!
The "Ramone in the Stands" Award: Chinzilla. That's right, I am guessing that I am not the only person in Buffalo who encountered this guy and all of his glorious chin wonderment in the stands of HSBC Arena. He is a Canadian from Ontario who came for at least a few games in Buffalo simply so he can get into arguments with Buffalo fans attempting to tell us all that Vanek is a lazy player. REALLY, LAZY?!
He has been on at the top in goals all season with choice others, and you, Lord of the Chin's, have the nerve to assert this near-retarded statement? But I Digress, I know that there are at least a few handful of fans who have run into this chin-disaster (and no, it wasn't just an old Quentin Tarrentino you saw), and had their share of "No, You Suck" rebuttals. So congratulations you Prince of all that is Chintastic, you got yourself recognized, now go back north of the border.
So There it is... Remember, these are personal assessments, however, I would love to hear some responses from fans on these choices, and any others you may want to add in.
As Always, GO SABRES!!!!! Lets make the playoff's this year!!!!