After a 4-2 win in Chicago last night the Dallas Stars got on the plane and started back for Texas having closed the book on the first half of their 2010-2011 NHL season.
It was a pretty good half.
Third place in the conference, first place in the division, 52 points, six straight on the road, a six game win streak overall earlier in the year, a four game streak to start the season...This half season has had it all. Seriously, it has: It included a Matt Niskanen/Sidney Crosby fight.
When you get to the halfway mark or the first quarter mark or even the first "third" mark (if you're desperate for content) people like to start throwing out grades and evaluations and awards, etc, so we thought we'd vote on our mid-season MVP, though the outcome may be exceptionally predictable and the entire exercise be a race for second place. C'est la vie.
(a rundown after the jump...)
Brad Richards: The front runner. His 18 goals and 47 points are first on the team. He is in involved in nearly 50% of the team's offense. He's 6th in the league in scoring. He's got a +7 on the season so far. There isn't much explanation needed here. The future of the franchise is tied up in his complicated situation and the whole hockey world is watching but he just keeps doing his thing.
Kari Lehtonen: In my mind Kari should give Richie a real run for his money here. His numbers aren't spectacular and he won't wow you in the highlight's too often but he is the number one difference this team is so much better than last year. He's kept them in so many games when the team has come out flat (so many) and he's made the big saves at the big moments. The defense has a confidence in him that allows them to do their jobs more effectively. They've said if over and over again. With only one minor health issue he's stayed on the ice more than people thought he could and he's been the man Joe Nieuwendyk thought he'd be.
Brenden Morrow: The Captain doesn't have the fancy numbers that Brad Richards does but his resurgence this year has been a joy to behold. It seems Brenden has a taste for scoring BIG goals this year (see Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago in recent weeks) and his passion and determination, particularly following breaking his nose and coming back in the same game, have painted a perfect portrait of leadership.
Darkhorses: Stephane Robidas and Loui Eriksson: Loui sits tied for 8th in the league with 44 points and is Richards' right hand (let handed) man. During a stretch last week it seemed that Robidas made as many clutch saves in net as Lehtonen did and he's still probably the most under-celebrated d-man in the league. These two are indispensable parts of this team and deserve all the credit in the world for giving it their all every single night.