The Hockey January Awards

Chad AinsworthCorrespondent IJanuary 16, 2009

Once again, it's January and a New Year has begun... the holidays are over... football has it's playoffs wrapping things up... So now what?  Is it time to sit back and start planning the family beach vacation for next July?  No, it most certainly isn't.

The Washington Capitals' season is only half way through with 40 games down and 40 to go.  So, where do the Caps stand in the Eastern Conference standings?  Southeast Division Standings? And who on the Caps deserves recognition for the great or...  not so great things they have done so far. 

Well, here's a little segment I like to call "The January Awards". 

Firstly, the Washington Capitals are currently sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference with 59 points.  Boston still remains in first place with 70 points and the Rangers sit right behind the Caps in third place with 56 points.  But, in the Southeast Division the Capitals are far ahead of the second place Carolina Hurricanes who have 47 points.

As far as these midseason January awards go, the first is going to be "The Game Changer" award.  The winner of this must be the kind of player who steps up to the challenge and does something drastic to alter the pace or outcome of a game.

"The Game Changer" award goes to Alexander Ovechkin.  Ovie currently has 29 goals and 28 assists, most of which are scored during the third period where a game changing moment might be most critical to happen.

The second award is called "Best Unexpected Surprise".  The winner of this award resembles someone who stepped up to the plate and did much better than anyone thought they could have. 

The "Best Unexpected Surprise" goes to Simeon Varlamov, the Caps' third-string goaltender.  He only played two games, but shocked everyone with his amazing play, which resulted in 1.5 goals allowed per game average (a 0.953 percent save percentage) and two wins.

The next award is called "Most Productively Persistent" and the winner of this award has shown tremendous efforts and consistent positive production throughout the season even when a few slaps in the face where thrown his way. 

The award goes to Viktor Kozlov for his outstanding efforts.  He has twice now stepped up to the first line with Ovie when Alexander Semin was injured and produced great results.

But yet again when Semin returns he is sent back down to the second line even though he was doing a great job on the first line.  He plays better with Ovie and produces more points on that line as well, so he should have stayed there because he earned it...  twice now.

The fourth and final award is called "Best Cat Fight on Ice" and it goes to Alexander Semin for his first fight a few games ago where his shoulder pads, jersey and helmet were ripped off of him. However, he still ended up on top of his opponent... the funny part was that he was open-handed slapping the guy in the faces repeatedly till the referees broke up the "fight".

It was quite a treat to see.