[Ed. Note: Throughout the All-Star Break, the Anaheim Calling team will be giving their mid-season reports. Next up, Ms. SK and a possible chick fight.]
First of all - I just want to state if there was ever to be a serious disturbance to the magumbo around here, you can blame Jen for this one. She's making us pick these players and make these predictions which only means that things are going to get all whacky and crazy out there on the ice for a while. You know, like the first half of the season. Come to think of it, she made us make predictions then too!!! *shakes fist* damn you, Jen! [Ed. Note: MUAH! My plan is coming together beautifully...]
MVP - first half of season
Teemu Selanne. What, you thought I was going to pick Jonas Hiller? Please. I think we'd all be hard pressed to come up with someone other than Teemu Selanne. He's the only player so far this season that has been somewhat consistent. He's leading the team in points (45), assists (30) and is the only player to put together a legitimate scoring streak. He's 41 playing like he's 14, and through it all he's never given up or given in. I never thought that amongst the players on this team he'd be the guy I'd point to as an early MVP, but so be it.
Runner-Up. I'll skip my obvious Corey Perry (Christ) selection here and go with Francois Beauchemin. He's been a silent runner this season and a much improved defenseman under new coach Bruce Boudreau. There were times when it felt as if he was the Ducks best defensemen, and that really mattered when Lubomir Visnovksy was out of the line up. It seems that even with the recent turn of events, Beauchemin has stepped up and become better and more valuable. He plays in all and every situation on the ice because he's been smart and reliable. He's a hard worker and clearly ready to step in front of a bullet to protect his teammates...or the scoreboard. They should give him a contract extension. Oh wait...
LVP - first half of season
Cam Fowler. I almost said Jonas Hiller. Just Kidding (kinda). Then I thought about Ryan Getzlaf, but he's meeting my expectations. Which are obviously low. So I went with Fowler. I know, I know, I don't really want to talk about it. Turns out, my expectations for this kid are off the charts and it's his own fault, he started it. He thought he'd step into this league, be all bad ass at 18/19 and I'd take note, do the unthinkable and semi-declare him my favorite. Then the Hockey Gods would go all crazy on me and cause him to have a mediocre season - at best. So I guess it's all my fault, but still. He should know better. We know better and have seen better from him. Perhaps that's the problem.
The poor kid has been thrown in some of the worst possible, "can you believe that just happened?!" scenarios this season. Take the recent game against Dallas for example. But that's just one of many. Needless to say, something has shaken his confidence to the core and it shows. He seems to panic up against in the boards and in the corners unlike what we saw from him last season. I'm not sure if Randy Carlyle scared the crap out of him before leaving, if he's constantly second guessing himself, or if leaving the Niedermayer household for his own found freedom was the worst thing that could have happened. He's a minus 14 on the season, just ahead of teammate Getzlaf who's a team worst minus 15. I was really hoping this would be a temporary slump, but it just seems he can't shake it.
Runner-Up. Andrew Cogliano. If you recall, I got to preview two players before the season began...I took Fowler and Cogliano. Again, Jen, maybe I shouldn't take part in these player prediction thingies! [Ed. Note: Request denied!] Anyway, again this is another player I had high hopes for and it hasn't really been until recently that he's been of any value to the team. I know I was hoping to see more of a boost for the 3rd line in terms of production, but that all went to hell when Jason Blake was sidelined. However, it seems that now that Cogliano has been given regular linemates that don't involve the revolving door of Syracuse highlight makers, things are looking up. Well, better than the first half perhaps.
Outlook for the second half? Blame Jen when all goes terribly wrong? [Ed. Note: Bring it.]
I can't believe I'm about to do this...I think the Ducks are going to make the playoffs. I know, it's a long shot, but they know better now. They've seen what they can do and they know they are capable of doing greatness...and they're going to make it happen. They like winning and they like the new coaching staff. Not to mention, they love living in Southern California. Losing means trades which means no more SoCal.
Get it done boys, Jen is counting on you.