Here we are. Halfway through the marathon NHL season, the San Jose Sharks find themselves in an unfamiliar position: at the top of the leader boards in the standings. With a complete change of coaching staff, Team Teal definitely has a new steam in its stride.
With 40+ games completed (and mostly won), it's time for a little mid-season evaluation and awards banquet. Find your tables, folks. The ceremonies are about to begin...
The Sharp Shooter award goes to Devin Setoguchi. Who knew that the kid could find the net so easily? With effortless ability, Setoguchi trails only the team captain in goals scored this season with 20. Quite an improvement from last season, to say the least.
The Helping Hand award goes to Joe Thornton. Jumbo Joe has the uncanny ability of making *any* of his teammates better players. We've seen him bring Jonathan Cheechoo up to Rocket Richard levels of play, and this season we've seen Devin Setoguchi and Patrick Marleau benefit from Joe's amazing on-ice vision and passing skill. He is an indispensable member of Team Teal.
The Silent Partner award goes to Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Announcers hardly ever say his name during games because they never need to. He shows up, he does his job and does it well. He may not be a flashy player, but night after night, his solid contributions keep the opposing team's score down.
The Brick Wall award goes to Douglas Murray. This award is given to the player that best exemplifies Newton's Third Law. When an opposing player crashes into a semi- stationary Murray, a completely elastic collision occurs, where Murray stays relatively still and and the opposing player flies backwards onto the ice. A lesson in physics, indeed.
The Garbage Collector award goes to Ryane Clowe. This award may not sound like a positive thing, but most of Clowe's goals are scored after a goalkeeper gives up a juicy rebound that he then puts squarely in the back of the net. Clowe's physical presence in front of the net allows him to score off of the goalie's garbage, hence the award.
The Tall Drink of Cement award goes to Alexei Semenov. What exactly does he do out there, anyways? While I like that he will drop the gloves every now and then, would it kill him to actually throw a punch that didn't look like it came from a third grade girl? With his size he could be a very valuable player, but with his lead feet stuck in cement, he's just another body that gets in the way of the guys doing the actual work.
And as much as it pains me to do it, The Clunker award goes to Jonathan Cheechoo. My goodness, what happened here? As of late, he's been contributing on the third line, but for him to even be on the third line is a fall from grace in and of itself. He was the Sharks' golden child two seasons ago, scoring goal after goal. Half way through the season, Cheechoo has six goals in total. Six. Ouch.
Despite a few minor hiccups, the season so far has been one that every Sharks fan has been dreaming about.
Will San Jose have enough left for the second half of the season to keep the incredible momentum up and win it all?