Sunday, April 8, 2012

Handing Out Hardware

Despite everything that went wrong in the last half of this hockey season, it was still a hockey season. I'm going to try and find positives in this season in the coming weeks, so if you are looking for doom and gloom you can buzz off (If you wish to seek help with putting this season behind you check out First Round Bust's 2011-12 Wild eulogy. This should help the healing process).

Today, I'm going to hand out some hardware for the 2011-12 Minnesota Wild Season and look at some of what went right.

Team MVP: Dany Heatley-Despite posting career lows in Goals (24), Assists (29), and Points (53), Heater was still this team's best player. One would figure his numbers would of been better had he not had four different centers line up with him this year (Koivu, Cullen, Brodziak, and Peters). He was also the most consistent player as he was one of three Wild players to suit up for all 82 games this season. Heater gave an honest effort night in, night out, and that played a huge role in why I chose him as the MVP. (Kyle Brodziak was strongly considered for this award as well, and I was at a stalemate between choosing the two, but my gut feeling is Heatley here)

Rookie of the Year: Nick Johnson-No one knew who Nick Johnson really was when the team picked him off waivers from Pittsburgh during the preseason. But, following a season in which his hard nosed type play was noticed on a nightly basis, everyone sure knows him now (He played so well you can get his jersey shirt from the Hockeylodge). Johnson only put up a line of 8-18-26 this year, but those numbers don't tell the whole story. He would constantly do the little things (Drawing penalties, beating out icings, give a big hit) that would make a big difference in the game. With all the rookies on the team this year, there were many candidates for this award, but no one played the way Nick Johnson did.

Keith Carney Award (+/- leader): Mikko Koivu-Injuries limited Mikko to just 55 games this season, but that didn't stop him from being one of three regular players (Koivu, Clayton Stoner, and Heatley) that finished the year in the plus column. Koivu finished with a team high +10 and the team was on a pace for 94 points had he remained in the lineup for the entire season.

Performance of the Year: Niklas Backstrom vs Boston-A 48 save performance by the Wild's netminder against the defending Cup Champs on a nationally televised game. For evidence as to how good he was, see the save and reaction by Milan Lucic at 1:52 on this video.

Hit of the Year: Mikko Koivu-The Wild were on a power play in overtime, seeking back to back wins against Detroit for the first time, in a long time (I can't find the actual dates for this). The puck went into the corner and Koivu and Kronwall went after. I'll let the video do the rest of the talking.

Goal of the Year: Dany Heatley-It was a game all Wild fans would rather not like to remember. A 4-1 lead over Nashville with 10 minutes left to play in the third, was wiped away as the Predators scored 4 goals in the final 10 (including 3 in the last four minutes of the game) to win the game. But, Heater scored two goals in this contest, including the Team of 18,001's winner of the goal of the year.

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