[Ed. Note: Throughout the All-Star Break, the Anaheim Calling team will be giving their mid-season reports. First up is our intrepid Crunch reporter Alex and her analysis of our Ducklings.]
First Half Most Valuable Player: Iiro Tarkki, goaltender
I picked Tarkki because he seems to be the player we can't win without. Guys like Kyle Palmieri and Patrick Maroon have certainly been instrumental in the Crunch's success, but we've had wins without them on the team. Tarkki, however, is the one player I'd choose every time to go into battle with. Tarkki has a 9-12 record, with 2 shootout losses. His wins are the most on the team. Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers has 6 wins and Marco Cousineau (who has not been here as long, obviously) has 3.
First Half Least Valuable Player: Bryan Rodney
In the interest of disclosure, I will admit up front that I have issues with offensive defensemen. Most of them drive me insane. I realize their potential for making a team great. I realize their selection for quarterbacking a power play. In theory, I can see why it's wonderful to have one on your team.
Bryan Rodney is not wonderful. He's killing his own team.
Just in the last game, I can give three examples of what I'm saying: Rodney was on the ice for the two shorthanded goals scored against the Crunch, and was also on the ice for an even-strength goal. He was on his knees an hour behind the play for one of the goals, was out of position for another, and was right in front of Tarkki for the final goal. When Rodney's out there, he exhibits all the qualities of a bad offensive defenseman: the chances he takes very rarely result in goals - in 34 games, he's scored 4 goals - while the mistakes he makes almost always results in the other team scoring. Watching him play is one of the most frustrating experiences I've ever had.
Bold prediction for the second half: Due to a trade to get a needed player for the Ducks, Kyle Palmieri will end up for the rest of the year with Anaheim, leaving breakout player Peter Holland to take over in points and scoring for the Crunch. Fairly invisible action-wise for the first half of the year, Holland has been quietly building up his totals. He's currently third on the team in points (31), behind only Palmieri (33) and Maroon (45). He has improved every month spent with the team, totaling 5 points in October, 7 in November, and 13 in December. He's currently at 6 for January, with two games left to play. I predict he'll go hog wild in the second half of the year, eclipsing both Maroon and the called up Palmieri!